The cities of Venice, Florence and Rome encapsulate everything that is great about Italy: epoch-defining history, unparalleled artistic treasures, sublime food, and impossibly picturesque streets and waterways.
Travelling in a group may not sound like the most romantic way to see Italy, but in fact an escorted tour is a fantastic option for a couple’s holiday. With all of your accommodation and transport taken care of you can relax and enjoy each other’s company, without any arguments over map directions or the stress of trying to explain where your hotel is to a clueless taxi driver. Most tour itineraries include plenty of free time for independent exploration, and you’ll be able to enjoy an intimate dinner away from the group when you want time to yourselves.
Escorted touring also offers a number of benefits that you wouldn’t get if you were travelling independently, including expert local guides, unique excursions and exclusive after-hours access to key attractions. Here are just a few of the experiences you can expect on an escorted tour in each city...
This magical floating city, known affectionately as La Serenissima, has so much to offer, from the Renaissance architecture of St Mark’s Square to the modern masterpieces of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. A walking tour will help you to understand the rich history of Venice, a cultural crossroads and former maritime republic that once controlled lands as distant as Greece and Cyprus. Of course, you can’t visit Venice without taking to the water, and many itineraries will include a gondola ride or private boat tour of the city’s romantic canals.
At busy times of year the crowds in Venice can be overwhelming, which is where the services of your expert local guide come into their own, as you’re led down quiet back streets to visit handsome palazzi and churches that lie off the main tourist trail. Your itinerary will also usually include excursions to the outlying islands of Murano and Burano, famous for their glasswork and lacework respectively, as well as trips to nearby Verona, backdrop to Romeo and Juliet, and the foodie city of Bologna. And for an added dash of romance, why not book one of Titan’s special tours arriving in Venice by rail on the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express?
The artistic riches of Florence include the Uffizi Galley, a spectacular collection of Renaissance art gifted to the city by the Medicis, and the Galleria dell’Accademia, home to Michelangelo’s David. Tauck’s tours of Florence include an introductory lecture from an art historian, giving you the background to the remarkable treasures you’re about to see on your walking tour of the UNESCO-listed historic centre. And it’s not just the museums that tell the story of Florence - the city is one big open-air museum, as you’ll discover when you visit magnificent buildings such as the Duomo, with its stunning 15th century dome.
Florence is also a living, breathing city, and Collette’s tours give you the chance to see the city through the eyes of a local. You’ll learn how to make a classic Italian aperitivo, the Spritz, and enjoy dinner with a local family. You’ll also have the chance to explore the surrounding Tuscan countryside, with a Vespa tour through sun-dappled vineyards and olive groves. Many touring itineraries will include time in nearby Pisa, home to the famous leaning tower, and lovely Lucca, with its cobbled streets and grand piazzas.
There can be few cities on earth to rival the historical and cultural significance of Rome, the Eternal City. From the imposing ruins of the Colosseum and the majesty of St Peter’s Basilica to the simple pleasures of enjoying a gelato on the Spanish steps, this is a fabulous place to begin or end a touring holiday. It’s also a city where a specialist tour operator can open doors that would otherwise be closed to you. Tauck’s ‘Exclusives’ include an after-hours guided visit of the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, where you can marvel at the intricacies of Michelangelo’s famous ceiling without having to jostle for position amongst the usual crowds.
Abercrombie & Kent offer an in-depth appreciation of Rome’s art and architecture, who include a visit to the Villa Borghese, home to important works by Titian, Caravaggio and Canova.
In truth there is enough to see in Rome, Florence and Venice to fill a lifetime of touring, and the highlights we’ve spoken about are just the tip of the iceberg. Take a look around the TourHound website and you’re sure to find the perfect Italy tour for you - simply Search, Compare, Select.