Astonishing Italy September 15 – 29, 2019 13 nights $4295 Per Person
Few places on earth offer as much incredible history, scenery, culture, food, and ambience as Italy. If you’re looking for the travel adventure of a lifetime come along with Your Man in Europe on an amazing journey that captures both ancient and modern Italy – from the very old in Venice, Tivoli and Paestum to the very current and hip Amalfi Coast and Capri – and plenty in between! Thrill at your discovery of places in romantic Italy that are too often overlooked on other tours. Even if you’ve traveled in Italy before you will be delighted by the feeling that you’re a welcome guest – not just another tourist passing through.
September 15, Sunday – Depart US on flights to Venice, Italy – Plan to arrive by 12 Noon on September 16th.
September 16, Monday – Arrive at Venice (VCE) Airport by 12 Noon. Guests will be met at the International Arrivals gate and escorted to a water taxi to take everyone directly to our fantastic canal-side hotel in the heart of Venice. Our deluxe boutique hotel is very likely “the most photographed hotel in Venice”. You’ll understand why when you arrive!
"Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go." --Truman Capote
After settling in we’ll have a leisurely introduction to our fabulous neighborhood followed by a brief walking tour to familiarize everyone with the neighborhood and how to navigate boats and traveling on foot in Venice. Our first destination will be a lovely café for a nice lunch together.
After lunch everyone will have a free afternoon and evening to explore Venice on your own. Everyone will have a Vaporetto pass for use on the city’s “boat buses”. This reliable water bus system will get you to your destinations and give you spectacular grand tours at the same time. It’s easy to join in with the hustle and bustle of the main transportation system for locals and tourists alike. Of course water taxis are also available for getting around, but they tend to be quite pricey.
Take the rest of the day to explore this unique city with its labyrinth of canals and bridges. The islands abound with historic churches and monuments – “Kodak Moments” at every turn. For gallery lovers visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection housed in her former palatial home along the Grand Canal. It is an avant-garde shrine with works by over 200 modern artists.
This is a great opportunity for a Gondola Ride. Negotiate your best deal, and sit back and enjoy one of the most idyllic experiences possible. Most boats can take up to six passengers; so grab a bottle of bubbly and some glasses, and take in the romance of it all. Or you may just like to wander the narrow alleyways along the network of interconnecting canals to get yourself lost – and find the best of Venice, away from the tourist crowds. You won’t have any trouble finding a wonderful spot for a special dinner on your own this evening. Savor the magic of a Venetian night. After dinner return to the hotel by Vaporetto, on foot, or by water taxi.
September 17, Tuesday – After a delightful breakfast at our hotel we’ll set out to explore one of the most remarkable cities on earth – Venice! After a wonderful breakfast we’ll strike out to explore this incredible “floating city”.
We’ll visit one of the most important sites in the morning: Saint Mark's Basilica, and Basilica Museum. San Marco is the most famous of the many churches of Venice and one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture in the world.
In 828, Venetian merchants stole the body and relics of Saint Mark the Evangelist from their original resting place in Alexandria, Egypt. It is said the Venetians hid the relics in a barrel under layers of pork to get them past Muslim guards. The adventure is depicted in the 13th-century mosaic above the door farthest left of the front entrance of the Basilica. The relics were initially housed in a temporary chapel within the Doge's Palace, but a more substantial church was built to shelter the valuable relics in 829-32. This burned in a rebellion in 976, but was restored by Doge Domenico Contarini . The present basilica, which incorporates the earlier buildings, was completed around 1071. We’ll also visit the fascinating museum adjoining the basilica.
After a break for a tasty lunch together we’ll visit the fabulous Doges Palace. Known as the Palazzo Ducale, it was the residence of the Doges, who were the elected leaders of the Venetian republic. This impressive structure, built around a courtyard and richly decorated, was the meeting place of all the governing councils and ministries of the republic.
The first palace was built in 814 and was burned by the populace in 976. It was reconstructed but was damaged by a second fire; it was begun in its present form in the early 14th century. In 1424 the completion of this Venetian Gothic-style palace was undertaken. The grand palace is a feast for the eyes. It is brimming with fabulous art commissioned from such artists as Tintoretto and Paolo Veronese.
After the dazzling Doges Palace we’ll return to our hotel nearby for a little relaxation before going out for a very memorable dinner at an iconic restaurant before returning to our hotel for a well-deserved night of sleep.
September 18, Wednesday – After a wonderful breakfast we’ll go a bit off the beaten path to visit the nearby islands of Murano and Burano. In Murano we’ll get an introduction to the famous glass works there. While there we’ll visit the unique Museum of Glass. and have lunch together in one of the charming little canal-side trattorias in Murano.
From Murano we’ll continue by Vaporetto to Burano. This quaint island, known for lace-making, is a photographer’s dream with its colorful buildings and reflecting canals. The pace is slower in Burano, and though it’s just a boat ride away, this little side tour will give us a nice view of “the other side of Venice”.
After our taxi boat delivers us back to Venice proper enjoy a bit of free time before meeting back at our hotel in the early evening to get ready to go out for a most stunning evening. activity you will never forget! We’ll start with dinner together at a cozy little restaurant popular with the locals. Later in the evening we’ll cap off our incredible adventure with a very special surprise activity.
September 19, Thursday – After an early breakfast we’ll travel by water taxi to the Venice train station to board our high speed train to Rome’s Tiburtina rail station, just north of the city. We’ll enjoy an onboard “train picnic” of wonderful local specialties as we cruise along.
There our driver will pick us to by-pass the heavy traffic of central Rome as we drive through the Italian countryside to the ancient and enchanting city of Tivoli. We’ll check into our fantastic Palazzo rooms right in the heart of the oldest part of town. This afternoon we’ll take it easy. There’ll be time to rest and spend some time exploring our neighborhood. But we’ll gather again for a nice Welcome to Tivoli dinner at a very typical local restaurant before turning in for a good night’s sleep
September 20, Friday – After breakfast in an amazing setting we’ll continue our exploration of Tivoli. Our first stop will be very nearby. The incomparable Villa d’Este, dating back to the 1500s, is one of Italy’s finest UNESCO World Heritage sites. What stands out most at the Villa are the marvelous gardens defined by terraces, grottos, staircases, grand slopes, pools, and promenades. It all evokes the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon, now long lost in antiquity. The intricate water system, with an aqueduct and a tunnel under the city, resembles the highly-advanced engineering of the Romans. The 100 Fountains lining the longest promenade make a breathtaking impression. This stunning display has been a popular background for several films – such as in the banquet scene in William Wyler’s "Ben Hur". In addition to the gardens we’ll explore the magnificent villa itself, with its lavish decorations and impressive art collection.
All that splendor will have made us hungry, so we’ll break a quick lunch together. After lunch, for those feeling hale and hearty, we’ll venture to Villa Gregoriana, also quite near our palazzo rooms. This huge park is not actually a villa, nor is it a lavish garden, but rather a natural park with hiking trails set among Roman ruins and fabled, legendary sites. Located at the feet of the city's ancient acropolis, the massive project was commissioned by Pope Gregory XVI in 1835 to rebuild the bed of the Aniene River, which had been damaged by a catastrophic flood in1826. The undertaking served to protect Tivoli from future such floods. The site consists mainly of thick woodlands with paths that lead to the caves of Neptune and the Sirens, as well as a series of gorges, cascades, and the Great Waterfall. Plan to get plenty of exercise at Villa Gregoriana!
For those who prefer more level ground, take the afternoon to explore old Tivoli, shop, or just relax at a sidewalk café with a glass or two of the delicious local wine, and just think about your fellow travelers trooping up and down the crags at Villa Gregoriana.
For dinner enjoy one of the town’s many terrific restaurants on your own before returning to your palazzo rooms to luxuriate, or perhaps take a dip in our group’s own Roman bath. (Yes, really.)
September 21, Saturday – After our fabulous breakfast we’ll head for the outskirts of town to visit the magnificent Hadrian’s Villa. The Roman Emperor Hadrian was a consummate builder who chose the hills of Tivoli for his own residence. Designed in about 117 AD, the vast complex is a monumental living edifice that even today continues to display the lavishness and enormous power of Ancient Rome.
Not only is it a testimony to the power and wealth of the Roman Empire, but it’s a prime example of architectural genius. The symmetries and the interdependence of the structures – connecting one to another via guarded access points created for both the privacy and security of the Emperor – make it clear that, together, they composed a monumental compound that mirrored Hadrian's image as a great and sophisticated man. To show off his tastes and inclinations, he reproduced inside this residence many of the buildings and monuments that had fascinated him during his innumerable travels around the known world. Hadrian’s Villa is one of the finest Roman constructions to be found anywhere.
After our trek around Hadrian’s Villa we’ll return to Tivoli to enjoy an Italian cooking lesson! We’ll learn some secrets of real Italiano cuisine and prepare our own dinner together, which we’ll enjoy in a private courtyard setting.
September 22, Sunday – Ahhh, another wonderful breakfast! But, sadly, we must move on. We’ll travel by private minibus to the breathtaking village of Civita di Bagnoregio. The little town is perched atop a pinnacle of rock rising high above a deep canyon. Today, the only way in or out is by a footbridge. The main entrance is a huge stone passageway, cut by the Etruscans 2,500 years ago and decorated in the 12th century with a Romanesque arch. Passing through the portal is like entering another world. Inside the gate each lane and footpath holds surprises. We’ll have some free time to wander followed by a nice lunch on your own at one of the village cafes just off the main square. If ever there was a photo op, this little village is IT.
After our visit to Civita we’ll continue on our journey to fantastic Orvieto. Situated in Tuscany’s neighboring region to the south, Umbria, Orvieto holds a commanding position right on top of a tall plateau of solid rock overlooking cypress-dotted Umbrian plains. The town is virtually traffic-free because of its challenging location, and is most easily reached by traveling up the cliffs on the local funicular railway. In fact, we’ll be riding it to get to our boutique hotel which is located right on the Cathedral Square. Orvieto's fabulous cathedral, begun in 1330, features a beautifully colorful Gothic façade which has been compared to a medieval altarpiece — a gleaming mass of mosaics, stained glass, and sculpture.
After checking into our perfectly-located hotel we’ll see more of the town - and there is a lot to see here. Before dinner we’ll take some time to explore on your own. Like many of Italy’s charming hill towns, Orvieto can be busy with tourists during the day, but it’s lamp-lit , romantic, and quiet after the buses take the day-trippers back to Rome. This evening we’ll enjoy a relaxing dinner together at a delightful local restaurant before heading to bed for a good night’s rest after a busy day.
September 23, Monday – After our breakfast at the hotel we’ll be off on a guided tour of some of the town’s best attractions. After the tour, which won’t cover everything of interest here, everyone will have the rest of the day and evening on your own to explore, relax at the hotel, or find a table and watch the parade of visitors to this magical place. Enjoy a nice lunch on your own today. Maybe a picnic will sound good!
Some of the great things to see in Orvieto you won’t want to miss: Behind the Duomo exists a complex of medieval palaces called Palazzi Papali showing off the city's best religious art. Not to be missed is the marble Mary and Child, dating from the 1300s, who sit beneath a bronze canopy, attended by exquisite angels. A replica of this sculpture fills a niche in the center of the cathedral's façade, where this one used to be located.
Orvieto also boasts an incredible underground world. The town sits atop a vast underground network of Etruscan-era caves, wells, and tunnels. These medieval caves offer a glimpse into how these ancient Italians lived. The most remarkable must see attraction is St. Patrick’s Well. The well, dug through solid stone, is 175 feet deep, 45 feet wide, has 496 steps down, and amazes modern engineers to this day. Thanks to its natural hilltop fortification, Orvieto served as a 16th-century place of refuge for the Pope. Wanting to ensure he had water during a time of possible siege, he built this extravagant well, with two spiral stairways leading down to a bridge from which people could scoop up water. The double-helix design was crucial for allowing efficient two-way traffic flow. To this very day an Italian saying for very difficult tasks is "It's like digging St. Patrick's Well."
When the tourists have departed enjoy a quiet stroll to savor the pleasures of an Italian hill town as you look for just the right restaurant for a nice dinner on your own.
September 24, Tuesday – Right after breakfast together we’ll board our train to Naples, via Rome. In Naples grab a quick lunch on your own before meeting our driver to make the journey on to fabulous Positano by private van. We’ll be dropped off at our boutique hotel located in the best location possible. From our rooms and the magnificent dining terrace we’ll be treated to unparalleled vistas sweeping across the colorful coastal town nestled in the valley and out over the stunning blue water of the Mediterranean.
After we get checked in everyone will have some free time to explore this unique place – it’s winding hilly streets and alleyways, enticing shops, cozy tavernas, and breathtaking views. In the evening we’ll meet back at our fantastic hotel for a memorable dinner on the terrace.
September 25, Wednesday – After breakfast in one of the loveliest places in the world, we’ll head out for another adventure. This time we’ll board our boat for a short voyage to The Isle of Capri, another of the loveliest places. This unique rocky island juts out of the sea like a gigantic iceberg, but, not icy, is actually like a tropical paradise of blooming flowers and trees. A fragrance of perfume floats in the air.
On arrival we’ll check in to see if we can make the trip to the fabled Blue Grotto. If sea conditions permit, this uniquely Italian experience is not to be missed. In a swirl of happy chaos boats take visitors to the secret entrance to a sea-side cave which, due to an amazing natural phenomenon, is bathed in brilliant blue light. Whether we are lucky enough to see the grotto or not, Capri has many more charms to offer. To see the town, perched on the mountaintop, we’ll ride the funicular railway up the towering cliffs.
The little town is like no place else. You’ll find everything from the most exclusive shops – like Gucci and Hermes – to touristy kitsch outlets; great places to eat - from street food to gourmet restaurants; and, of course, absolutely astounding views in every direction. It’s a free day, so for lunch find just the right little café where you can soak up the atmosphere of this dream-like place.
History lovers might want to make the almost 3 mile trek even further up the mountain to visit Tiberius’s pleasure palace. The Roman Emperor actually ruled the Roman Empire for many years from this citadel. The stories of decadence surrounding this place are legendary.
In the late afternoon we’ll have to board our ferry to return to our other paradise, Positano. Either have dinner on your own at the hotel restaurant or make your way to just the right charming café in the town.
September 26, Thursday – After another breakfast-with-a-view together everyone will have a totally free day to really dive into Positano. You may want to catch the cute little city mini-bus to ride the entire circuit of the hillside town, and then be dropped off right where you started – at the bus stop just down below our hotel. Or you may want to venture down to the beach for an exhilarating swim in the blue Mediterranean. Or you may want to do some shopping, or send some postcards to make everyone jealous. Or you may decide to take Bruno Mars’s advice:
Lunch and dinner will be on your own today.
September 27, Friday - After yet another wonderful breakfast together we’ll take a different sea voyage – this time to an often overlooked treasure, Paestum. This remarkable place is located just south of the famed Amalfi Coast (where we are staying). The major attractions here are the impressive Greek temples set in a gorgeous archeological park. These massive structures were built 500 years before Christ, and remain as the best preserved Greek temples anywhere – including Greece! We’ll have lunch together overlooking the monuments.
After lunch we’ll visit the very fine museum featuring a huge array of artifacts found right in the local area. This is one of the very best archeological museums in the world. After our visit we’ll head back to our Amalfi Coast haven by private minibus. Then it’s one last dinner together in beautiful Positano.
September 28, Saturday – After breakfast on our splendid terrace our driver will pick us up for the drive to the Rome Airport (FCO). Along the way we’ll stop for a nice tour of fantastic Pompeii. There our expert guide will give us the inside story of this remarkable and iconic destination. There are several good cafes at the historic site, so we can have lunch there on your own before continuing on.
At our airport hotel we’ll have a “Farewell to Italy” dinner together in the very nice dining room before making preparations for departures tomorrow.
September 29, Sunday – The tour ends with breakfast. Access to the terminal is very easy and quick from our hotel for flights home from Rome (FCO) - or extend for a longer stay in Rome.
Please Note: For those guests intending to stay in Rome for a longer visit additional tour opportunities area available. Please coordinate with Your Man in Europe as early as possible for help in making arrangements.
What’s in store for us?
This tour is custom-planned for a small group of no more than 10 guests. Even if you are a seasoned traveler, you have never experienced Italy like this. We’re sure the magic will captivate you. You’ll be part of a magical adventure - complete with music, gourmet picnics, and surprises that will delight you at every turn.
This is not a “Big Bus Tour”. There will be no wake-up calls at 5 AM to herd onto the buses. Our travelers will have a friendly, extremely knowledgeable guide for the entire trip – not just a bus driver and hum-drum contracted tour guide. We do our best to set the mood, to weave a spell, and to make yours a total experience. Hotels and most restaurants on the entire tour have been selected for their very specific location or high level of “atmosphere”. The small group size allows us to personalize the experience in a way large groups simply cannot do. We make it easy, comfortable and stress-free. No guest has to worry about the details of where we are going next. You will feel as if you are not a tourist, but a guest of your Italian friends.
This is a complete tour; and the prices are not increased during the trip through unexpected charges for “extra” tours and arrangements you must handle on your own. If there will be any optional tours or activities not included in the cost everyone will be advised well before signing up for the tour. Most meals are included, and those that are not included are detailed in the itinerary.
Your Tour Guide: Larry Ivy is the Tour Coordinator and guide for Your Man in Europe, and a long-time veteran of European travel and unique private tour-leading. Larry wants just one thing: for you to have “the best time of your life”!
Complete Prices for the September 15 – 29, 2019 Tour
$4295 Per Person
*All prices are based on Double Occupancy. Single supplement is an additional $865.
A $500 deposit holds your place on the tour(s). Reservations and deposits for this fantastic opportunity should be made as early as possible, but not later than April 30, 2019. The final balance is due by July 1, 2019. Make checks payable to “Your Man in Europe”. Guests are invited to use our no-interest flexible payment plan.
Tour Includes: Thirteen (13) nights of overnight accommodation (based on double occupancy) in very specially selected hotels, all thirteen (13) breakfasts, six (6) lunches, and eight (8) dinners; all ground transportation; and First Class rail travel (where available), admissions to all attractions described in the tour itinerary, knowledgeable guide services, and standard gratuities. There will be no additional charges for the tours and events specifically included by Your Man in Europe. There may be extra charges for tours not included in the detailed in the itinerary. These are optional activities.
Not Included: Airfare to and returning from Italy, optional travel insurance, extra beverages (meals will include one beverage and will be budgeted accordingly); a la cart or premium menu selections beyond the established meal allowances; between meal snacks; gratuities for extra services such as baggage porters, or for superior service (normal gratuities are included in the trip cost); souvenirs; and privately arranged activities.
Also: All overnight accommodations, as well as railroad and minibus travel will be NO-SMOKING.
This tour is strictly limited to a maximum of 10 guests traveling together
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