An above view of the Roman Forum with the Vittorio Emmanuele in the background

Highlights of Rome, Florence, & Venice

This 9 day, 8 night itinerary introduces you to Italy’s big 3: Rome, Florence, and Venice. We focus in on the main cities and must-see sites, as well as a few lesser knowns. As with all of our itineraries, it can be modified to suit your specific needs and interests.


Day 1: Arrival in Venice

Private transfers on arrival. Overnight in Venice.

Venice

Venice​ is romance. A bridge arching over a canal, a gondola gliding by, the moon reflecting off the water. Venice is history. The Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace), Piazza San Marco, the Grand Canal, great art, and great museums. Venice is modern. The headliners and the paparazzi of the Venice Film Festival, the buzzing excitement of Carnivale.

The city has a plethora of world-famous museums and artistic treasures. The Basilica di San Marco, in Piazza San Marco with its spectacular Golden Altar. There’s also the Bridge of Sighs, where prisoners could enjoy one last glimpse of the city on their way to jail. On the museum end of the spectrum is the Gallerie dell’Accademia, with its collection of art from the 14th-18th centuries. For fans of more modern art, there is the Peggy Guggenheim Collection of 20th-century art. That just scratches the surface, the list is long.

Venice is set on islands connected by bridges, with the Grand Canal as its main thoroughfare. Traffic moves by boats that range from the traditional gondolas to refuse barges. But what makes Venice so unique also challenges its very existence. The rising sea levels of global climate change threaten the city, and now, more often than ever, high tides flood whole sections of it.

Optional Activity: Excursion to Murano

Private Escorted Tour to Murano Island

Murano glass work

This half-day excursion includes a private water taxi to the island of Murano. You can’t escape the glass industry in Venice its colorful souvenirs are sold absolutely everywhere. Among the mountains of kitsch, however, you’ll find some of the best bargains around. Most of the glass workshops were moved to Murano in 1291 to reduce the risk of fires. A visit to the island offers the chance to see master glass blowers at work, as well as to browse store after store of glass items. Everything from gaudy curios to true art forms are represented here.

If you have any desire in buying Murano glass while in Venice, this is the best place to do so. As you walk the island, you’ll learn the history of the art and artisans of the town. If you’re interested, and time permits, you may also visit the Glass Museum, the Museo Vetrario, and some of the island’s stunning churches.

Service Duration​: Approximately 3 hours in length.


Day 2: Venice

Private Morning Walking Tour of Venice & Evening gondola ride with cicchetti. Overnight in Venice.

Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square)

Private Walking Tour of the City

The tour begins in St. Mark’s Square, undeniably the heart and center of Venice. After an introduction to the Piazza and the exterior of St. Mark’s Basilica, you’ll head inside the church. Built in 1063, St. Mark’s main characteristic is its Byzantine style. The domes, rich marbles, and mosaics found in the exterior reflect its Eastern influence like no other church in Italy. The interior is almost exclusively covered in gold tasseled mosaics. It’s a perfect example of the sheer opulence of the city’s time as a major trading empire.

Following the Basilica, you’ll move on to the Doge’s Palace. It was the house of the Venetian government until 1797, when Napoleon conquered la Serenissima. Today, you’ll find a large collection of Renaissance masterpieces (such as Tintoretto’s “Paradiso“), the Doge’s apartments, the Scala dei Giganti, and the Prisons. It wasn’t until the 16th century that new prisons were built. It’s these newer prisons that are connected to the palace by the famous Bridge of Sighs.

Gondola Ride With Traditional Venetian Cicchetti

Nothing says Venice quite like a gondola ride. For almost 1,000 years the gondola have been gliding through its canals. They’ve become a staple of the city unlike anywhere else in the world.

This gondola ride will take you through the lesser known canals which giving you a better idea of how things once were before traffic and tourists. Depart from the San Toma water bus stop on the Grand Canal and make your way towards the San Polo district. This is one of the quieter areas of the city and incidentally the perfect place to enjoy your Prosecco and cicchetti. Cicchetti are the traditional bite-sized snacks Venetians always have with their aperitivo.

Finally, you’ll proceed to the bustling Grand Canal, where you can see the most important palazzi in Venice as well as the Rialto Bridge. You’ll be dropped off at the starting point, near the Frari Church.


Day 3: Venice-Florence

Morning transfer by water taxi to rail station. Train to Florence. Private transfer to hotel. Overnight in Florence.

Florence, Tuscany

Everywhere you turn in ​Florence​, you find extraordinary works of art and architecture. It’s these features that attract almost 8 million tourists every year. From the Palazzo Vecchio to the world-famous Uffizi Gallery to the Cathedral with its magnificent dome and tower designed by Giotto. The Ponte Vecchio, with its jewellery shops is a must for anyone passing through the city, as is the splendid Boboli gardens across the river.

Florence is also an international center for food and wine. Chianti is its most famous local product together with the celebrated Fiorentina steak on the bone.

Optional Activity: Uffizi Gallery Highlights

Private Guided Tour of the Uffizi Gallery.

Uffizi Gallery, Florence

This collection was originally the private property of the Medici family. It wasn’t until their dynasty ended in the 1700s that it was open to the public. The museum contains the greatest collection of Italian Renaissance paintings and sculptures in the world. Starting with pre-Renaissance masters such as Giotto and progressing through Masaccio, da Vinci, Michelangelo, and countless others.

Service Duration​: Approximately 3 hours in length.

Optional Activity: Florence Artisans Walking Tour

Private Guided Tour with focus on local craftsmen & their shops.

Florence shops

Florentine artisans are some of the finest in the world and this walking tour introduces you to them. Goldsmiths, fine leather craftsmen, wood carvers, perfumers, and paper makers are just some of the options. You can watch the artisans at work and gain new insight into their creative process.

Service Duration​: Approximately 3 hours in length.


Day 4: Florence

Private Walking Tour in the morning. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight in Florence.

Michelangelo's David

As the birthplace of the Renaissance, ​Florence​ combines unequaled beauty with centuries of history in a heady mix. This half-day private tour of Florence’s historic center is the perfect introduction to the city. It’s also the best way to get a complete picture of what makes Florence so beloved. After a walking tour of the city center, you’ll conclude with a visit to the Accademia Gallery. The home of Michelangelo’s marble statue of David since 1873.

Optional Activity: Palazzo Pitti & Boboli Gardens

Private Guided Tour of Palace & Gardens.

Palazzo Pitti

This half-day tour combines art, history, and nature. The visit begins with the Pitti Palace, originally built in 1458 by banker Luca Pitti. It was purchased later by Cosimo I of the Medici family. Together, he and his wife enlarged it and commissioned the Vasari Corridor that connects the palace with the Uffizi. They’re also responsible for designing the Boboli Gardens. Successive generations of Medicis expanded the palace even more in order to house their courts.

The palace’s museums are located inside The Royal Apartments. There are eight separate museums in this huge property. The most important is the Palatine Gallery, which houses works by old masters. Among the others are museums devoted to silver and other precious materials, porcelain, art from the Napoleonic era to the 1940s, and period clothing.

Following the tour of the Palace, you’ll proceed towards the famous Boboli Gardens. Eleonora di Toledo, wife of Cosimo I of the Medici family, commissioned the garden in 1549. The greatest talents of the day were summoned to the task. The result is a true Italian garden with lush hedges, evergreen trees, narrow paths, grottoes, fountains, ponds, citrus trees, and a number of antique and late-Renaissance statues. It’s one of the most-visited sights in the city, and with your expert English-speaking guide, you won’t miss any of the highlights.

Service Duration​: Approximately 3 hours in length.


Day 5: Pisa & Lucca

Full-Day tour with Wine & Olive Oil Tasting. Overnight in Florence.

Piazza dei Miracoli

After breakfast, you’ll meet your driver at your hotel and begin your full-day excursion to Lucca and Pisa. Begin with a stop at Villa Maionchi in Lucca for a delicious olive oil tasting and tour of the oil cellar. Your guide will explain the process of olive oil making, and take you through the beautiful olive grove. Enjoy lunch here featuring a traditional Tuscan menu paired with wine and olive oil from the farm.

Your afternoon will be dedicated to Pisa. Specifically, a private tour of Piazza dei Miracoli which includes the Cathedral, Monumental Cemetery, and the Leaning Tower. Please note that entrance to the Leaning Tower is not included, so you won’t be going inside.


Day 6: Florence & Rome

Morning Transfer to rail station. Train to Rome. Transfer to hotel Overnight in Rome.

Rome

Known as “The Eternal City,” Rome is layered with different ages. The ruins of temples are the foundations of Christian churches. Ancient theaters become medieval family fortresses. Thousand year old Corinthian columns now support new walls. Everything that surrounds a visitor in Rome, be it the art and architecture, the terrible traffic, or the lively citizens, guarantees an unforgettable trip.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t expect to see it in one. The historic center alone can easily fill a week. There’s the Michelangelo-designed Campidoglio, the Pantheon, the Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum. Not to mention the nearby Colosseum and Baths of Caracalla. The basilicas take a little longer because they’re spread all over the city.

Optional Activity: Rome’s Historical Center

Private Walking Tour of Rome’s Highlights.

The Pantheon

This half-day walking tour of the city center will begin from Piazza di Spagna. Proceed towards the Trevi Fountain and don’t forget to toss a coin if you want to return to Rome!

Next up is the Piazza Colonna, where you can admire the colossal column built between 176-192 AD in honor of emperor Marcus Aurelius. Continue towards the Pantheon, one of the most impressive Roman buildings in the world, as well as one of the most ancient. Built in the 2nd century, it’s become a prime example of the endurance of Roman architecture.

The tour ends in the Piazza Navona, where you can admire Bernini’s stunning Fountain of the Four Rivers.

Service Duration​: Approximately 3 hours in length.


Day 7: Rome

Private Half-Day Tour of Ancient Rome. Overnight in Rome.

Colosseum

This half-day tour will begin with the Colosseum. Built in 72 AD it could house up to 50,000 spectators. People of various social classes would fill the arena to watch the incredible and often gruesome spectacles.

The Colosseum was and still is the epicenter of entertainment, history, and culture of Rome. After a guided visit of the interior, you’ll enter the Palatine Hill area. One of the most ancient parts of the city, it’s known as the birthplace of Rome. From there make your way down to the Roman Forum, the center of politics and daily life.

Optional Activity: Borghese Gallery & Gardens

Private Guided Tour

Borghese Gallery

This gem of a gallery is a must. It offers a feast of Bernini sculptures, from David, to Apollo and Daphne. Equally beautiful is Canova’s Pauline Bonaparte, Napoleon’s sister, who caused a scandal when agreeing to pose nude. Dozens of other sculptures, paintings, and ceiling frescoes will mesmerize you on the first floor. Upstairs are masterpieces by Titian, Raphael, and Michelangelo da Caravaggio. The gardens are a welcome break from the noise and heat of Rome. It’s a great spot for walking, jogging, and dog walking.

Service Duration​: Approximately 3 hours in length.

Optional Activity: Palaces & Villas of the Renaissance in Rome

Private Guided Tour

Villa Farnesina fresco by Raphael

Although Rome is known for its ancient ruins, it also has plenty of art and architecture from the Renaissance. This half-day tour begins with the Villa Farnesina. It just might be the best example of an Italian country villa. Built for affluent banker Agostino Chigi in the 16th century, the interior is famous for its frescoes, including work by Raphael.

Palazzo Cancelleria, Palazzo Farnese and Palazzo Spada are the focus for the second part of the tour. Your guide will walk you through the history of the families who owned the buildings as well as the architects and artists involved.

Service Duration​: Approximately 3 hours in length.


Day 8: Rome

Private Half-Day Tour of the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel. Overnight in Rome.

Sistine Chapel

Start at the Vatican Museums, which house the largest collection of art in the world. The best way to get through it all is with your expert private guide. Must-sees are the Raphael rooms, the Gallery of Maps, Tapestries and Candelabra, Giuseppe Momo’s Spiral Staircase, and the Pio Clementino courtyard with its marble statues.

Last but not least, the Sistine Chapel. Following the museums you will proceed towards Saint Peter’s Basilica. This center of the Catholic church, and also a major feast of art and architecture. An absolute must for anyone visiting the Vatican City.

Optional Activity: Pizza Making Class in the Heart of Rome

Private Cooking Lesson & Dinner.

Learn to prepare Roman pizza, everyone’s favorite Italian cuisine. Before handing you an apron, the chef will give you the history of this popular food. Unveil the secrets to making the best use of your dough and seasoning it with fresh ingredients. You’ll get to add your choice of toppings before popping it into the traditional wood-burning oven.

Once it’s ready, you’ll all sit down and enjoy it together. To end on a high note, you’ll be served a delicious dessert and get to keep the rolling pin you used as a souvenir.

Service Duration​: Approximately 2.5 hours in length.

Optional Activity: Jewish Rome

Private Walking Tour

Portico d'Ottavia

This tour gives you the opportunity to visit Rome’s Jewish Ghetto. A fascinating part of Rome with its architecture and complex history. Highlights of this tour include a private visit to the Jewish museum, the Ashkenaz and Sephardi synagogues, and the Ghetto itself.

Rome’s Jewish Ghetto is home to the Fontana delle Tartarughe, the Portico d’Ottavia, and charming medieval buildings. The tour will be led by a Jewish guide who is also a member of the local Jewish Community.

Service Duration​: Approximately 3 hours in length.


Day 9: Departure Day

Private transfers to the airport for scheduled departures.


Please note this is a sample itinerary and can be modified it to your preferences. Services related with ferries must be checked and scheduled according to the ferries timetable on the specific day of travel. All shared tour options must be checked for availability. 

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