Hill Top Towns of Italy Plus Rome and Venice

Hill Top Towns of Italy Plus Rome and Venice

Spring is the perfect time of year to enjoy this unique tour of Italy’s beautiful hilltop towns.

We begin in the great Renaissance town of Perugia for a 2-night stay. As well as touring in this well known artistic centre, we will also visit the nearby rose coloured medieval town of Assisi – birthplace of St. Francis.

Our next stop is Rimini, a premier resort on the Adriatic, for a 2-night stay. Excursions from here include the smallest and oldest independent republic in the world – San Marino, and Ravenna – which boasts some of the finest Byzantine mosaics in the world (Ravenna was the capital of the Roman Empire during the 5th century).

Our next 3 nights are in the small town of Mestre, close to the historic centre of Venice. We will cross the lagoon into Venice by private boat and make our triumphant entry into this magical city in order to explore its treasures.

Then comes a 4-night stay in Tuscany, a favourite region of Italy for visitors. Our touring here will take in Pisa with its leaning tower, and Florence – “Cradle of the Renaissance” – one of Europe’s most magnificent cities.

We continue to the elegant spa town of Chianciano Terme. This resort area is famous for its healing waters that for centuries have provided its visitors with cures for all sorts of aliments. Situated about 550 meters above sea level, Chianciano Terme boasts an ideal climate and is surrounded by hills of forests rich with oak, beach wood and chestnut. The greenery and dramatic landscape, unlike anywhere else in Italy, make this unspoiled region a pleasure for all the senses. During our stay here our excursions will include medieval Cortona – built on the dramatic slopes once enclosed by vast Etruscan walls, and Montepulciano – one of the region’s loveliest villages.

We end our tour in Rome – the “Eternal City” of endless art, romance, fountain-splashed piazzas and monuments that testify to its ancient, imperial and Christian past.

*** Those joining any of our tours to Europe must be able to walk fairly long distances and climb stairs easily.

Tentative Itinerary

Day 1: Depart

We depart for Rome.

Day 2: Rome / Perugia

We arrive in Rome and proceed to Perugia, the Umbrian capital. After some time to rest we enjoy an afternoon city tour that takes us along the bustling Corso Vannucci. We visit the Duomo and the National Gallery with its 33 rooms of Umbrian art, including paintings by Perugino.

Day 3: Assisi / Perugia

Our excursion to Assisi will include a visit to the Basilica of St. Francis. A short walk away is the 13th century church of Santa Chiara. There will be some free time for shopping (ceramics are a good buy!) before returning to our hotel in Perugia.

Day 4: Gubbio / Rimini

We travel to the atmospheric town of Gubbio, one of Italy's hidden gems. Gubbio clings to the side of Monte Ingino and its buildings just fit on the narrow terraces that step up the mountain side. We will visit the Ducal Palace to see the interesting architecture, then continue to the resort town of Rimini.

Day 5: San Marino / Rimini

We tour the tiny, independent republic of San Marino. This hilltop town is the oldest and smallest republic in Europe. After our visit we return to Rimini for an afternoon at leisure.

Day 6: Ravenna / Venice (Mestre)

Following the Adriatic coast we travel to Ravenna and tour this unique city. Dante (father of the Italian language) is buried here. We will visit the tomb of Galla Placidia with its fine Byzantine mosaics. Later we arrive at Mestre on the Venetian Riviera.

Day 7: Venice (Mestre)

We cross the Venetian Lagoon by private boat for a full day in this magical city. We see St. Mark's Square, the Bridge of Sighs, Doge's Palace and more, followed by time at leisure.

Day 8: Padua / Venice (Mestre)

We visit the university city of Padua where Dante and Galileo attended school. The walled city centre has tiny one-way streets and many piazzas and arcaded walkways. We see many Gothic buildings and the enormous and incredibly elaborate Basilica Del Santo. Afternoon at leisure.

Day 9: Lucca / Montecatini

We enter Tuscany and stop at Lucca, a charming town which looks like a movie set for a medieval epic. Most of Lucca is traffic free and therefore a pleasant place to stroll through the streets and see magnificent churches, squares and statues. Our guide will point out major sites of interest. We continue to the charming spa town of Montecatini for a 4-night stay.

Day 10: Pisa / Montecatini

We take an excursion to Pisa, and yes indeed the famous Tower is still leaning. We will spend our time here at the Campo dei Miracoli, which includes the Tower, the Duomo and the Baptistry. This evening we dine at a lovely local farm where we will tour the gardens and wine cellar before enjoying the local specialties.

Day 11: Florence / Montecatini

Today we visit Florence, “Cradle of the Renaissance”. Our first stop will be to see Michelangelo’s David, and then our walking tour includes the Duomo, the Palazzo Vecchio dating from 1280 and Church of the Holy Cross. Afternoon at leisure - perhaps take an optional tour to Santa Croce.

Day 12: Siena / Montecatini

This morning we enjoy a tour of medieval Siena, where we will see the fan-shaped Palazza Pubblico, Gothic Town Hall and the Piazza del Campo - site of the legendary annual Palio horse race. Those who wish may climb the Terre del Mangia - a 14th-century tower with sweeping views from its distinctive white crown.

Day 13: Cortona / Chianciano

We proceed to the scenic spa town of Chianciano, in the region of Tuscany and en route visit medieval Cortona, made popular by the book and movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”. Cortona has an unforgettable position sitting on the slopes once enclosed by vast Etruscan walls.

Day 14: Montepulciano / Chianciano

With a blend of renaissance, medieval and baroque architecture, Montepulciano is one of the loveliest hill towns and best preserved historic centres in the area. There are churches, palaces and great views of the valley below. Lunch today is at a farm and we will sample the "nobile wine" first mentioned in the 8th century.

Day 15: Rome

We travel to Rome, and our touring this afternoon will take in the Coliseum, Circus Maximus, Roman Forum and more. After our tour we transfer to our hotel.

Day 16: Rome

This morning we visit the impressive St. Peter's Basilica and Vatican City. Afternoon at leisure to explore Rome at your own pace. Our Farewell Dinner is tonight.

Day 17: Home

We fly back to Canada

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