You'll depart on your flight to Italy.
Upon arrival in Rome, you'll meet your Tour Manager and begin exploring the capital of Italy. Your first stop is the Pantheon, 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 being 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 and how they lived, in this wonder of ancient and modern civilization.
You'll see the 16th century Baroque Chiesa del Gesu, a Jesuit order institution that served as the model for Jesuit churches around the world.
You'll visit Santa Maria Sopra Minerva which despite its Renaissance facade is one of the only examples of a Gothic church in Rome and includes works by Filippino Lippi and Michelangelo.
You'll visit San Luigi dei Francesi, France's national church in the city and home to three important works by Caravaggio.
You'll visit the popular Piazza Navona. It is built on the ancient Stadium of Domitian, also known as Circus Agonalis-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.
You'll visit the Rome Time Elevator which takes you on a full sensory voyage through the history of Rome including a reconstruction of the ancient ruins you will visit.
You will return to your hotel and rest for the exciting days ahead.
This morning you'll visit the Capitoline Museums. The smaller of the two structures, Palazzo Nuovo, opened by Pope Clement XII, contains fine selections of Greek and Roman Sculptures. The second structure, Palazzo dei Conservatori, contains masterpieces such as a huge sculpture of Constantine, Bernini's Medusa and fabulous paintings by Veronese, Tintoretto, Caravaggio or Van Dyck can be seen here. Outside the palace, the 'She Wolf' with Romulus and Remus can be found.
You'll visit the Mamertine Prison, a multilevel detention center that was said to have held St. Paul and St. Peter.
After lunch, you will see the Coliseum, the largest amphitheater in the world. Emperor Vespasian began in 70 AD and 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 to the Basilica of San Clemente with your tour guide and tour manager, and have time for dinner on your own.
Today you'll enjoy a half day of exploring Vatican City and take a guided tour of the Vatican Museums and St. Peter's Basilica.
Where else can you see the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio and Raphael right next door to one of the world’s spiritual leaders? The Vatican Museums lets you experience the artists who dominated the world’s art scene. The Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo lets you see how this artist painted in such detail. Other collections include the Chapel of Beato Angelico, the Raphael Rooms and Loggia and the Borgia Apartment. You will see why these museums are at the top of world and why they hold such an important place in the living history of art.
After you exit the museums you'll have a chance to visit the ift shop before exiting.
After lunch, you'll visit Saint Peter's Basilica and climb to the top of the dome.
This evening you'll 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. In the Renaissance 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.
This morning you will journey to Villa Borghese. At the Borghese Gallery, built in the the 17th century by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V. You'll view works by the world’s best artists including Raphael, Titian, Bernini, plus Caravaggio and Peter Paul Rubens.
You'll visit the Capuchin Crypt which contains thousands of skeletons of friars displayed in intricate designs and even used as light fixtures.
Next, you'll visit the National Roman Museum in Palazzo Massimo. The museum houses one of the largest collections of classical art.
The Baths of Diocletian were constructed in the 3rd Century AD and are the largest network of thermal baths in Rome accommodating over 3000 people at the same time. You'll visit the remains of this impressive site. Inside the baths were also gymnasiums, libraries and a swimming pool consisting of more than 3500 square meters.
This afternoon you'll visit the Ara Pacis Museum which houses the Ara Pacis or Altar of Peace. It is a symbol of Roman peace. The structure, built in 9 B.C., is surrounded by marble walls adorned with friezes depicting various figures.
After dinner you'll head to the Trevi Fountain. This is one of the most famous places in ancient and modern history. Experience the “scenes of Italy” as locals and tourists mix. See where a young maiden revealed the secret water’s source to a group of Roman soldiers. The Trevi Fountain, was the ending point for the aqueduct created from this legend. These pictures are depicted on the upper level. While Neptune, the statue’s focal point, sits astride two horses on the water’s below. Each horse is guided by a triton-a mythological divinity. One horse is calm while the other is restless symbolizing the different tempers of the sea. Test the legend by throwing two coins in the fountain, one ensures a return trip to Rome while the other promises new romance.
This morning you'll board the bus and drive to Pompeii. You will then explore the Catacombs of Rome. Consisting of over 40 catacombs, this labyrinthian system of tunnels was the burial place for Christians in Ancient Rome at a time when burials within the city walls were prohibited by law.
You'll depart for Naples making a stop at The Jubilee Church
You'll visit the san Severo Chapel and view the famous Veiled Christ Statue by Sanmartino
You'll visit the National Archaeological Museum of Naples and see its extensive collection on artifacts from ancient Greece and Rome including many gems from the archaeological site of Pompeii.
This morning you'll walk to the Pompeii Archeological site. Here you'll explore Pompeii and Herculaneum, two societies extinguished by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79AD. These well preserved sites will give you insight into what life was like during ancient times.
You'll then continue your journey to Florence. Upon arrival, you'll visit Piazza Michelangelo which offers breathtaking views of the city.
This morning you’ll take a guided walking tour of Florence and learn about this fantastic Renaissance city. You'll see the Duomo 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. You'll walk towards the Ponte Vecchio taking the same route as 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 jewelery and goldsmith shops that replaced the butcher shops on the covered bridge in the 16th century. You'll end outside of Santa Croce, the final resting place of Michelangelo, Machiavelli and Galileo Galilei.
You'll visit Accademia Museum, home of Michelangelo's famous sculpture, David, a marble statue representing the biblical hero, David. Originally, the statue was on display in the Piazza della Signora before it was moved to it's current location at the Accademia Museum in 1873. A replica of David stands in the Piazza della Signora marking the place the original sculpture held so long ago.
You'll visit the National Archeological Museum of Florence.
You'll visit the Medici Chapels, two structures built at the rear of the Basilica of San Lorenzo. One chapel, the Sagrestia Nuova, was built by Michelangelo and still houses some of his work. The other chapel, the Capella dei Principi, has a small red dome and is a collaboration between the Medici family and several architects.
After lunch, 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.
Next, you'll visit the church of Orsanmichele, and end the day on the Ponte Vecchio with some free time.
Today you'll visit 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 Gallery is home to some of the most famous works of art and features the great Italian artists such as Botticelli, Giotto, Cimabue, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raffaello,
This afternoon is yours to explore on your own!
This morning your adventure in Italy comes to a close as you depart for your trip home.