Day 1- Depart the U.S.
Overnight flight to Venice.
Day 2- Arrival and Tour Venice
Upon arrival in Venice, meet your professional Program Manager who will be with you to coordinate the details throughout your entire Italian Renaissance program.
Your bus will pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel in Venice Mestre.
Upon arrival at your hotel, store your bags with the bellman or, if your rooms are ready, you will check in.
Join the locals as you take the public bus for a brief 10-minute ride into Venice.
Your Italian Renaissance experience will begin in the heart of Venice, with a visit and stroll across the Ponte di Rialto. The oldest bridge spanning the Grand Canal, the current stone arch structure was completed in 1591. It replaced a series of wooden bridges which had collapsed multiple times over the previous centuries. The Rialto Bridge consists mostly of steps and is comprised of two inclined ramps covered by a portico with shops featuring Murano glass, linens, and jewelry on each side. For nearly 300 years, the Rialto was the only way to cross the Grand Canal on foot.
Learn about the history of this unique city from your professional guide as you enjoy a walking tour of the hidden squares and neighborhoods of Venice.
Relax and enjoy your included welcome dinner at a local restaurant tonight.
Day 3- Verona
Enjoy your breakfast which is included at the hotel this morning.
Following breakfast, you'll embark on a one hour train ride to Verona, home of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. You'll take a guided tour of "fair Verona" and see the presumed home of Juliet. The courtyard includes a statue that brings good luck and a wall of love features notes and good wishes from around the world. You'll also see the home of the Montegue's, Romeo's medieval home. Your professional guide will share the history of the city that resulted in epic battles between powerful families and served as inspiration for the play. You'll see the many Renaissance squares and buildings and one of the oldest arena's still in use in Italy, a mini colosseum.
Return to Venice, by train, this evening.
Day 4- Venice
Start your day with breakfast at the hotel.
Today you will head back into the heart of Venice. Your first stop is a visit to Doge's Palace, also known as Palazzo Ducale. This imposing structure, formerly the seat of power in the Venetian Republic, has both Gothic and Renaissance features and is now a museum.
Next, visit the Museo Correr, located in St. Mark’s Square. The museum offers a fascinating insight into the art and history of Venice and offers essential viewing for anyone interested in Renaissance Venetian painting.
After the museums, you'll have time to experience St. Mark's Square, known locally as Piazza San Marco. The Piazza, considered one of the most beautiful in the world, is the largest square in the city and is the main symbol of Venice. The centerpiece of the Piazza is St. Mark's Church built in Venetian-Byzantine style. The Piazza is lined with cafes where you can sit and enjoy a coffee al fresco while you appreciate the architecture and beauty of the square.
You'll have the afternoon free to explore Venice . Use your 24-hour water taxi pass to take a ride on the Grand Canal, visit the outer islands, Murano or Burano... or explore the labyrinth of back alleys and sleeping canals on foot.
Day 5- Venice to Florence
Following breakfast at the hotel, experience European rail travel as you take the high speed train from Venice to Florence.
Upon arrival at your hotel, store your baggage with the bellman, or, if your rooms are ready, you will check in.
A professional local guide will lead your walking tour of Florence today. Learn about this fantastic Renaissance mecca as you admire the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore with its impressive pink, green and white marble facade and dome by Brunelleschi. You'll learn about the bronze doors of the Baptistry which represent an early use of perspective. You'll continue on to Piazza della Signoria, the seat of Florentine power both past and present and admire the statues under the Loggia del Lanzi in the square. Retrace history as you walk towards the Ponte Vecchio, taking the same route via the Vasari corridor which was built to take the Medici family from their the municipality in Palazzo Vecchio to their to their home in Palazzo Pitti without ever touching the ground. You'll see the jewelry and goldsmith shops that replaced the butcher shops on the covered bridge in the 16th century. Your walking tour culminates outside of Santa Croce, the final resting place of Michelangelo, Machiavelli and Galileo Galilei.
You'll visit the Duomo, a Florentine cathedral known for it's distinctive Renaissance dome.This magnificent gothic structure built in the 1300’s includes art work by Giotto and engineering by Brunelleschi.
Your ticket will allow you entrance to the newly renovated Duomo Museum (which includes art and statues from the facade of the Duomo), admission to climb to the top of the Giotto tower and Brunelleschi dome, and entrance into the duomo and crypt.
You'll visit Basilica di Santa Croce which houses extraordinary works of art as well as the tombs of some of Italy's most elite citizens such as Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli.
Day 6- Florence
You'll have breakfast.
You'll visit Piazza della Signora, Florence's main square and the original location for Michelangelo's David (which was replaced by a replica in 1873 when the original was moved to the Accademia). The Piazza gets it's name from the Palazzo della Signora also known as Palazzo Vecchio or Old Palace, which is the city's town hall.
During your visit to Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of Florentine politics from the Renaissance times to the present, you'll tour the main hall used for political meetings and the private apartments of the former inhabitants, the Medici family. Your guided tour of the secret rooms of the palace include Francesco de Medici's studio, a testament to Renaissance learning, and the maps room.
No trip to Florence is complete without a visit to the Uffizi Gallery. Although not originally intended to be a museum, the Uffizi is one of the oldest and most popular art museums in Europe. The Uffizi is home to some of the world's most famous masterpieces and features the great Italian artists such as Botticelli, Giotto, Cimabue, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raffaello.
You'll visit Ponte Vecchio, the oldest bridge in Florence. The bridge was built during medieval times. Ponte Vecchio's current appearance dates back to 1345 when it was rebuilt after a flood. The bridge contains many houses originally used as butchers and tanners but the amount of refuse produced by these shops caused Duke Ferdinand I to replace them with goldsmiths in 1593. Many of the shops are now jewelry stores and souvenir shops.
Your afternoon is free to explore the monuments, churches, gardens, shops, and markets of Florence! Take a walk to Piazzale Michelangelo or Forte Belvedere for a view of the city, or take the city bus to Fiesole to view the city from a different perspective, or simply stroll along the main streets and enjoy the open air museum that is Florence.
Day 7- Florence to Rome
Enjoy your breakfast as you prepare to bid farewell to Florence.
Take the high-speed train from Florence to Rome.
After a five minute walk from the train station, arrive at your Rome hotel.
Upon arrival at your hotel, you'll store your luggage with the bellman, or, if your rooms are ready, you will check in.
You'll enjoy a half day of exploring Ancient Rome with a professional and knowledgeable guide.
You will see the Roman Coliseum, the largest amphitheater in the world. Emperor Vespasian began construction in 70 AD and it was finished in 80 AD by his son, Titus. Emperor Domitian (81-96) made further modifications. These three emperors are known as the Flavian dynasty and the Coliseum is also known as the Flavian amphitheater and is one of the greatest works of Roman engineering and architecture that the world still enjoys today. Crowds between 50,000 and 80,000, and even the emperor himself, attended gladiatorial contests, animal hunts, mock sea skirmishes, mythological dramas and famous battles. You'll continue on to the Roman Forum, the epicenter of the Roman Empire and the heart of public life. You'll see the remnants of Roman public buildings and squares where parades, elections and commerce took place.
Marvel at the 16th century Baroque Chiesa del Gesu, a Jesuit order institution that served as the model for Jesuit churches around the world.
Enjoy some free time in the late afternoon.
Day 8- Rome
Your breakfast is included at the hotel.
You'll enjoy a half day of exploring Vatican City.
Your guided tour includes St. Peter's Basilica and Square as well as the Vatican Museums. Marvel at the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio and Raphael. You'll have an up close look at masterpieces like the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo, the Chapel of Beato Angelico, the collection in the Raphael Rooms and Loggia and the Borgia Apartments.
You'll have free time in the afternoon to visit the trendy neighborhood of Trastevere that lets you experience a unique center of Roman life. It is one of Rome’s most popular districts where many artists and writers created their master works.
Day 9- Rome
Enjoy your breakfast this morning.
Today, you'll visit the Pantheon, the design of which gave Michelangelo his inspiration for St. Peter’s Basilica. Experts see the Pantheon as an icon of Roman architectural perfection. It was built as a Roman temple and later converted into a church when Christendom entered Italy. Marvel at the bronze doors, each weighing 20 tons. They were once covered in gold! Look up to see a perfectly round oculus, in the dome’s center. Brilliant Roman architects gently sloped the floor to allow for convenient drainage when it rained. The Pantheon is an important burial place for several noted figures including artist Raphael. Still an active church, the Pantheon is a popular place for weddings. If you close your eyes, you might just be able to imagine an ancient Roman wedding in this wonder of ancient and modern civilization.
You'll visit the popular Piazza Navona. It is built on the ancient Stadium of Domitian, built in 85 AD. This square could hold up to 30,000 spectators watching the contests just a few feet in front of them. Today Piazza Navona is a charming place with shops, restaurants and vendors. Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers sits in the center of the Piazza.
Live like a true Italian as you visit the Spanish Steps. These 135 steps connect the Trinità dei Monti church atop and the Piazza di Spagna below. During Renaissance times, these steps attracted Italy’s best artists and writers who created some of the world’s most beloved masterpieces. Today, the Spanish Steps are still a center for both locals and visitors as it is one of Italy’s favorite attractions.
The Trevi Fountain, one of the most famous places in ancient and modern history, is a breathtaking wonder to behold. Experience the “scenes of Italy” as locals and tourists mix where legend indicates that a young maiden revealed the secret water’s source to a group of Roman soldiers. Test the legend by throwing two coins in the fountain, one ensures a return trip to Rome while the other promises new romance.
You'll have the afternoon free.
Enjoy an included farewell dinner tonight.
Day 10- Return to the U.S.
Enjoy your final breakfast at your hotel.
Transfer to the airport, via bus, for your flight home. Arrivederci!
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