Rome & the Renaissance
On arrival in Rome, you’ll be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel, the Hotel Degli Artisti. Take the rest of the day to settle in, or begin your explorations. On your first day, make your way to the Colosseum where you’ll skip the queues and head straight in with your local guide. The largest amphitheater ever built, construction of this edifice began in AD72. 80,000 spectators could be held here, witnessing everything from mock battles or mythological plays to gruesome executions and gladiatorial contests. Standing in the shadow of the seating areas, it’s easy to imagine being surrounded by thousands of people, raring for a show. Underneath your feet, you’ll see the complex hypogeum structure, a subterranean network of tunnels and cages used to hold animals and gladiators before they fought. Head next door to the Roman Forum, a rectangular piazza surrounded by the ruins of Ancient Rome’s government buildings. This was the heart of the Roman Empire, and even in its ruinous state, it is an impressive sight. The remainder of the day is yours to explore, and we suggest you head to the stunning Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and the Spanish Steps.
On day 3, we’ll reserve space for you on a very exclusive, early morning tour of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel and adjacent Museums. You’ll enjoy a buffet breakfast in the Courtyard of the Pine Cone, before heading to the Museums and the Sistine Chapel with an exclusive guide, appointed by the Vatican City State. This is a unique opportunity to admire the magnificent frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo, in relative peace.
The next day you’ll be transferred from your hotel in Rome to the train station, where we’ve reserved first-class tickets for your train journey to Florence. When you arrive, you’ll be met and transferred to the Hotel Degli Orafi, your home for the next three nights.
Today is dedicated to Florence’s artistic treasures. Skip the queues at the Uffizi Gallery with your guide, who will help you to understand renaissance masterpieces by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael to name just a few. The Uffizi building itself is worth admiration; originally built as administration buildings, they were converted into an art gallery to house the collections of the House of Medici. After the Ufizzi, you’ll visit the Santa Croce Basilica. The largest Franciscan church in the world, it is the final resting place of Galileo, Machiavelli, and Rossini – plus some other big names for you to seek out. Finally, head to the Galleria dell’Accademia and skip the queues to see Michelangelo’s towering sculpture of David, standing at an impressive seventeen feet tall.
Day 6 is entirely yours to explore Florence at your own pace. We highly recommend a visit to the cathedral to admire its magnificent Renaissance Duomo, and if you’re feeling energetic, climb to the top for an incredible view of the city. If you fancy something more unusual, seek out the Buontalenti Grotta, built among the Boboli Gardens; or the hidden drawings of Michelangelo which you can find in a secret room under the Medici Chapel. For those looking for something really quirky and ironic - visit the History of Science Museum where Galileo's middle finger is preserved, defiantly pointing at the sky.
Today you’re off to Venice, but first – you’ll stop in Bologna. After 40 minutes on the train, you’ll break your journey at the lively capital of Emilia-Romagna. The city’s rich food legacy makes it a perfect place to stop for lunch; or alternatively, spend longer here and we can arrange a food tour. Sample some of the region’s finest home-grown delicacies, including parmesan cheese, parma ham, balsamic vinegar, and Lambrusco wine. If you’d prefer to roll up your sleeves, try a traditional cooking class, eating your own dishes for lunch. Bellies full, take the 90-minute train journey to Venice. Here, take a private boat transfer to your hotel, the Palace Bonvecchiati, passing the famous Grand Canal. The evening is at leisure and we recommend you make your way to the Rialto Bridge, which is particularly romantic at night.
Your last day in Italy will be spent on a walking tour of St Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. Set on the eastern end of Piazza San Marco, the Basilica is decorated in glittering gold mosaics and was a Venetian status symbol – so much so that it was coined the ‘Chiesa d’Oro’ or Church of Gold. Particularly noteworthy is the floor of which been warped into waves as the tides beneath play with the building’s foundations. A symbol of Venice, the Doge’s Palace is attached to St Mark’s Basilica, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. The Doges of Venice were elected for life to lead the Republic, and this heavily decorative palace contained the Doge’s apartments and government offices. The remainder of the day is yours, and you can get away from the crowds by taking a boat across to the Island of Murano. This colourful little village is famous for its intricate glassmaking, and you can still see traditional techniques in action.
On your last day, you’ll be transferred by boat to the airport in Venice.