The 'Eternal City' has captivated travellers for centuries and you'll not be disappointed as it prepares you for an exhilarating journey across Italy. On arrival in Rome, check in to your hotel, then get ready for your very own introduction to Rome or relax at your hotel and recover from your journey. Later this evening, you'll meet your Travel Director and fellow travellers for a glimpse into what lies ahead along your journey. Soak up the city's effervescent atmosphere during an optional sightseeing tour followed by a light dinner of Italian specialties.
With so much to see and do, you could explore Rome for an eternity without getting bored. Join an Optional Experience to Michelangelo's famous Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums or start your day the Italian way - slow and relaxed. Get to grips with the city's main attractions, joining a Local Specialist at the Vatican City, the world's smallest country. Stand in St. Peter's Square, sharing your space with devoted pilgrims and pigeons. Visit St. Peter's Basilica and view Michelangelo's greatest work, the sorrowful Pietà. Cross the Tiber next, to view the mighty Colosseum and the countless other ancient sites which featured prominently in the days of the powerful Roman Empire.
The Bay of Naples beckons and our first stop is in the picture-perfect resort town of Sorrento. Pastel-hued residences cling impossibly to craggy cliffs that plunge into the deep blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Enjoy your time soaking up the sun-drenched views. You won't need to venture far to catch the scent of the "world's best lemons", which you'll see in abundance at the local markets. Taste some of the mouth-watering fresh produce grown locally or consider an Optional Experience to the artists' paradise of Positano, followed by a scenic drive along the Amalfi coast. The Sirens of Sorrento may be nowhere in sight, but that doesn't mean their alluring call will be possible to resist.
Soak up the atmosphere as you explore the beautiful Bay of Naples during your free time this morning. You could choose instead to join an Optional Experience guided walking tour of Pompeii, buried under the volcanic ash for centuries after Mount Vesuvius erupted. Leaving the Bay of Naples behind, journey past Cassino and view the monastery which featured as a backdrop for some of the fiercest battles of World War II. This poignant reminder of war gives way to a place of pilgrimage, as you head north to Assisi where an orientation reveals a medieval town that has changed very little since the time of St. Francis.
After a leisurely morning, your journey continues across the Apennines and through the Emilia-Romagna region, credited with being the origin of tortellini, mortadella and parmesan cheese. Before you know it, you'll have arrived in Venice, the Queen of the Adriatic, where an Optional Experience will see you gliding through the city canals in a gondola.
Embark on a cruise by private launch to bustling St. Mark's Square in the heart of Venice. Admire the most famous of Venice's 417 bridges, the Bridge of Sighs, and enjoy views of the Doge's Palace and the Byzantine Basilica of St. Mark. There's time to explore the labyrinthine lanes of this floating city on your own terms. Later, the extraordinary talents of glassblowers take centre stage during a visit to their glassblowing workshop then consider an Optional Experience to the island of Burano for a relaxing meal with your travel companions.
The plains of Veneto are all that stand between you and Verona, the tragic stage for Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers. View the ancient Roman Arena, where concerts are still held to this day, and Juliet's Balcony, from which a fictional Juliet once called for her Romeo. Indulge in a romantic moment of your own before leaving Verona, bound for Italy's irresistible Lake District. Arriving on the shores of Lake Como, you'll see first-hand why this scenic setting has been a favourite summer retreat of the rich and famous for centuries. You could choose to board an optional cruise this afternoon to make the most of this idyllic setting. Your hotel in Erba is the perfect base from which to enjoy lakeside living at its best and you'll have dinner here this evening with your new friends.
The white marble façades of Pisa's Square of Miracles gleam in the sunshine, but it is the famous Leaning Tower that gets most of the glory when you visit this 'Meadow of Miracles', so named by 20th-century Italian writer and poet Gabriele d'Annunzio. Since Medieval times, the exquisite structures in the piazza have symbolised man's journey through religious life - the Baptistery representing birth, life represented by the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, and the Camposanto, death. After a short drive from Pisa, you'll arrive to your hotel near Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance. A full day of sightseeing lies ahead, so kick back and enjoy the company of your travel companions this evening at an optional dinner in the Tuscan hills.
There are few cities in the world with an artistic legacy equal to that of Florence. Your Local Specialist shares a superb commentary of the city's artistic and architectural heritage during a walking tour, which includes views of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Baptistery, the impressive Giotto's Bell Tower and the Ponte Vecchio. Visit Piazza della Signoria and squeeze in some time for shopping - Florence is particularly renowned for its high-quality leather and 18-carat gold jewellery. Later, return to Rome, where your journey began. You'll have an evening alone to forge final memories with new friends or consider an Optional Experience whisking you away on one last sightseeing trip with a mouth-watering farewell dinner followed by live entertainment.
If Italy has become engraved in your heart as it did for celebrated poet Robert Browning, you'll have a hard time saying arrivederci. As the legend says, if you tossed a coin in the Trevi fountain, you will return. Until then bid your Travel Director and travel companions a fond farewell. Find out more about your free airport transfer at costsavertour.com/freetransfers.