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Insider's Italy

Italy

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A medley of Renaissance cities and medieval towns

This comprehensive tour offers the chance to delve deeper into northern and central Italy, ideal for both first time and returning visitors. Spend two weeks exploring the regions of Veneto, Umbria, Tuscany and Trentino, combining the big names of Florence, Venice and Siena, with a selection of more unusual excursions.

Tour the medieval towns and villages of Umbria, discover the famed Italian Riviera, taste prosecco in the Valdobbiadene wine region, and visit one of the world’s smallest countries – San Marino.

Your journey takes you through pastoral landscapes, cloaked by olive groves and vineyards, into the foothills of the pink-hued Brenta Dolomite mountains, staying in a selection of well-appointed hotels along the way.

Including...

Hands shaking Included travel insurance

Bed 14 nights in hotels

Plate 28 meals: 14 breakfasts (B) and 14 dinners (D)

Cocktail Drinks included with dinner

Person Saga tour manager

Plus...

  • Return flights and transfers
  • Welcome drink and drinks reception
  • Porterage at all hotels

Map Excursions and visits

  • Padua guided tour
  • Insider’s tour of Venice
  • Feltre and Prosecco Hills tour
  • San Marino and Gubbio visit
  • Guided tour of Assisi
  • Guided tour of Lucca
  • Tour of Umbrian countryside and villages
  • Free time in Siena
  • Hesperidarium Garden of Citrus
  • Insider’s Florence tour
  • Tour of Ligurian Coast
  • Free time in Mantua
  • Visit to Bolzano
  • Dolomites scenic drive

Headphones Use of audio headsets on selected guided tours

View Full Itinerary

Day 1 UK-Venice-Bassano del Grappa

Basano del Grappa

Fly to Venice and transfer to Bassano del Grappa (69 miles, 90 minutes). The charming walled town is named after the looming Monte Grappa, which also lends its name to a fiery spirit for which this town is renowned. The old town boasts plenty of boutique shops, bars and cafes, while the architecture blends Venetian-style arcaded streets and piazzas with Alpine-style wooden balconies.

Stay four nights at the 4-star Bonotto Hotel Palladio (3Q), located in a residential area outside the walled old town. The famous Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) – a wooden structure designed by the architect Andrea Palladio in 1569 – is a short walk from the hotel. Enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel this evening. D


Day 2 Padua

Piazza della Frutta

Journey south today to explore the city of Padua, considered a jewel of the Veneto region. Take a guided tour of the city’s main attractions, including Prato della Valle – one of the largest squares in Europe, Piazza della Frutta, and Padua’s university, one of the oldest surviving universities in the world.

During free time in the city, perhaps visit the impressive Scrovegni Chapel, whose adorning frescoes are unanimously viewed as the most important work of Italian painter, Giotto. Return to the hotel for dinner late this afternoon. B, D


Day 3 Venice

Rialto Bridge

After breakfast, board the train and travel by rail into the heart of the romantic city of Venice on today’s included excursion. Venice has long been the inspiration of artists and writers alike, from Lord Byron to Thomas Mann. Everything is built on and surrounded by water. Byzantine and gothic style palaces and the Palladian churches illustrate the grandeur of Venice's past, when it was the capital of a wealthy independent Republic.

You’ll have the whole day to explore this remarkable city, beginning with a an insider’s tour, led by a local guide, offering an insight into life in Venice, and including a ride on an iconic Venetian vaporetto boat through the canals. You’ll also have free time for lunch and to explore independently. Perhaps further explore Piazza San Marco and St Mark's Basilica, Rialto Bridge or the pink marble Doges’ Palace.

Admire the stunning views of Venice across the lagoon as you return by train to Bassano del Grappa this evening for dinner at your hotel. B, D


Day 4 Feltre and Valdobbiandene Hills

Valdobbiadene vineyards

Spend the morning at leisure in Bassano del Grappa.

Delve further into the pretty Veneto region this afternoon with a visit to the provincial town of Feltre. Enjoy time to explore the maze of medieval streets, then continue to Valdobbiadene, a hillside wine region known as the ‘Prosecco Hills’.

Enjoy a scenic walk with a local guide, and then visit a vineyard for a tasting of this popular sparkling wine, before returning to the hotel for dinner. B, D


Day 5 Bassano del Grappa-Assisi

San Marino

Today make the long journey south to Assisi, via San Marino and Gubbio (312 miles, six hours). Landlocked San Marino is one of the smallest countries in the world, retaining its sovereign status after the unification of Italy in the 19th-century.

Enjoy free time for lunch in the capital, also named San Marino, and admire the panoramic views of the surrounding countryside from the city’s lofty perch on the slopes of Monte Titano.

Next, head to the medieval town of Gubbio, considered one of Umbria’s most beautiful towns, for a short visit, then continue to Assisi.

Stay three nights at the 4-star Hotel Valle di Assisi (4Q). The hotel is set on the outside of the town, surrounded by hectares of unspoilt Umbrian countryside. B, D


Day 6 Perugia and Assisi

Basilica San Domenico in Perugia

Visit Perugia, the capital of Umbria. This cosmopolitan city boasts a historic centre, characterised by cobbled streets, Gothic palazzi and arched stairways. There are also Renaissance frescoes, some created by Raphael, to discover during free time here.

This afternoon, return to Assisi and head into the city for a guided tour. This place of pilgrimage is the birthplace of Italy’s patron Saint, St Francis, whose elaborate tomb lies in the crypt of the town’s UNESCO-listed Basilica di San Francesco.

Return to the hotel late this afternoon for dinner. B, D


Day 7 Umbrian countryside and villages

Floral street of Spello

Discover the region of Umbria’s idyllic pastoral scenery on a scenic tour. Journey through the fertile landscape of olive groves and vineyards to the ancient town of Spello to explore its Roman walls and winding medieval alleys lined with colourful floral displays.

Continue to hilltop Deruta, a medieval town known for its ceramic manufacture, the town’s sole industry. Deruta boasts nearly 200 workshops and stores dedicated to the artistic tradition.

Return to the hotel for dinner. B, D


Day 8 Assisi-Lucca

Piazza del Campo in Siena

Travel north to Lucca, visiting Siena en route (176 miles, three hours and 30 minutes). Siena is a must-see destination for a visit to Tuscany, famous for its labyrinth of narrow, winding streets of pink and white buildings which lead to the Piazza del Campo – the shell-shaped square that hosts the annual Palio horse race.

Enjoy free time in the city for lunch and sightseeing, before continuing to through the gorgeous Tuscan countryside to Lucca.

Stay four nights at the 4-star Grand Hotel Guinigi (4Q), located on the outskirts of the city. B, D


Day 9 Lucca

Lucca Botanical Gardens

Spend the morning in the city, with an included guided tour. One of Tuscany’s most picturesque cities, Lucca is renowned for its well-preserved Renaissance walls encircling a historic centre of medieval lanes, piazzas and promenades.

This afternoon, visit Hesperidarium Garden of Citrus in Castellare di Pescia. This botanical gardens boasts an impressive collection of over 200 varieties of ornamental citrus from across the world.

Return to the hotel for dinner. B, D


Day 10 Florence

Florence

Spend a full day exploring the “Art Capital of Italy”, Florence. The perfect depiction of a Renaissance city, UNESCO-listed Florence was transformed during the 15th century into a centre of art and culture, and is home to Michelangelo's David, Botticelli's Birth of Venus and the iconic Duomo. Look forward to a city tour led by a specialist local guide, taking you off the usual tourist track, as well as time at leisure to explore independently.

Return to the hotel for dinner. B, D


Day 11 Ligurian Coast

Portovenere Harbour

Take a short but scenic drive to the Italian Riviera, famed for its azure waters and rugged coastline, dotted with colourful towns and villages. Stop in Portovenere, an authentic seaside town boasting a charming harbour lined with pastel-hued buildings, and views across the Bay of Poets – named so for having provided inspiration for many writers and artists including Lord Byron.

You’ll be free to choose one of the many eateries for lunch, with authentic Ligurian cuisine including pesto, foccacia and, of course, fresh seafood.

Return to the hotel this afternoon for time at leisure before dinner. B, D


Day 12 Lucca-Molveno

Ducal Palace in Mantua

Head north to Molveno (255 miles, five hours). Look forward to a stop en route in Mantua, one of the most artistically rich and romantic cities in northern Italy. You’ll have free time in Mantua for lunch and to explore independently. Stroll the cobbled streets for a glimpse of the city’s medieval past, and don’t miss the imposing Ducal Palace.

Arriving in Molveno, stay three nights at the 3-star Hotel Ariston (3Q), a family run hotel boasting panoramic views of Lake Molveno and the Brenta Dolomite mountains. B, D


Day 13 Molveno and Bolzano

Bolzano

Spend the morning at leisure in Molveno, then visit Bolzano this afternoon. Nestled in a valley, surrounded by green rolling hills, this fascinating town is situated between the Italian-speaking Trentino region and the German-speaking Alto Adige, giving it a unique identity.

Here you’ll have free time to explore the town to see some of its sights. Perhaps seek out the 15th-century Gothic cathedral with its intricate spire, or visit the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, home to to the mummified Otzi the Iceman – the world’s most renowned glacial mummy.

Return to the hotel for dinner. B, D


Day 14 The Dolomites

The Italian Dolomites

Today, embark on a scenic drive through the spectacular Dolomites. This UNESCO-listed mountain range comprises comprising 18 peaks in the northern Italian Alps, which are renowned for their shimmering pink hues. You’ll pass through postcard-perfect villages and outstanding scenery, with plenty of photo stops included.

Return the hotel for dinner. B, D


Day 15 Molveno-Venice-UK

Transfer to Venice (160 miles, three hours) for your return flight to the UK. B


Insider's Italy

Italy