Experience the very essence of Italy as we discover stylish Milan, the Eternal City of Rome, the tiny yet powerful Vatican City, graceful Renaissance Florence, the labyrinthine port of grand Venice, and iconic Pisa with its unmistakable Leaning Tower, with comfortable rail travel and 4-Star hotels throughout.
We meet at our dedicated Departure Office in St Pancras, before travelling by Eurostar to Paris, then onwards to Milan, where we overnight. On Day 2 we enjoy a fascinating guided tour of Milan, including the spectacular Duomo and the Teatro alla Scala. We also visit the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where we see Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting of the Last Supper. The rest of your day is then free to continue exploring Milan at leisure.
Today we travel by high-speed rail to Rome, and then walk to the Massimo D'Azeglio Hotel, our base for three nights. On Day 4 we are joined by a local guide for a visit to Vatican City. Our tour of the tiny principality includes the captivating Vatican museums and the wonderful Sistine Chapel, with superb frescoes painted by Renaissance artists including Michelangelo and Botticelli.
One of the most breathtaking sights in Rome is found inside St Peter's Basilica, which has the largest interior of any church in the world. Following the tour, you can spend more time in the Vatican, or continue exploring Rome at leisure.
Today we take a guided tour of the 'Eternal City', exploring some of the many fantastic sights and monuments in this remarkable city.
We visit the fascinating Roman Forum, the centre of Roman public life for centuries, see the Colosseum, the largest amphitheatre ever built in the Roman Empire, and admire the Trevi Fountain, Rome's world famous Baroque masterpiece. This afternoon you are free to savour the sights and sounds of Rome's seductive beauty at leisure.
This morning we travel to the beautiful city of Florence, the Renaissance capital of the world. We spend three nights here at the 4-Star Starhotels Michelangelo, located next to the station and close to the city's historic attractions. This afternoon we enjoy a guided tour of the city's many treasures, including the Duomo with its iconic red-tiled dome and the Ponte Vecchio - a 14th century bridge that is home to 43 jewellers' shops. Tonight we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Today you are free to explore Florence at leisure. Much of the beauty of the city is found indoors, with a fifth of the world's Renaissance art on display in Florence, including 1,700 masterpieces in the famous Uffizi Gallery. Known as 'the heart of the Renaissance', this world famous gallery features art by Botticelli, Giotto, Cimabue, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raffaello, to name some of the most famous. Otherwise, the Giardino Bardini, or 'Bardini Gardens' are a pleasure to visit. The beautiful gardens have a typical Tuscan feel, featuring azaleas, peonies and wisteria, which bloom in April and May. Perhaps enjoy a picnic and a stroll here during your free day.
Today we travel by rail (Standard Class) across the wonderful, rustic countryside of Tuscany, where rolling vine-covered hillsides stretch as far as the eye can see and acres of olive groves and row upon row of cypress, walnut and bay trees surround the railway lines. We pass remote farmhouses and isolated villages as we head to Pisa, the city famous for its leaning tower. In Pisa we enjoy a guided tour that includes the city's incredible Field of Miracles. Here we see the iconic Leaning Tower, and the marvellous white marble Duomo, one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture, with sublime Moorish mosaics.
Later we continue to the beautiful city of Lucca - a place of true beauty that has managed to escape the tourist crowds; one of Italy's best kept secrets. The heart of the city is filled with charming piazzas, small community churches and fabulous art galleries, linked together by narrow cobbled streets and intricate passageways, and we have time to explore the city at leisure. Splendid Renaissance architecture mingles with historic buildings from the Middle Ages, making the city a pleasure to explore on foot.
This morning we leave Florence by high-speed rail, travelling in First Class to the floating city of Venice. On arrival, we transfer to our hotel for three nights, the La Gare Hotel Venezia on the island of Murano. There is time for you to start your exploration before dinner tonight.
On Day 10 we enjoy a guided tour in the heart of Venice, beginning in St Mark's Square, which is dominated by the magnificent Basilica di San Marco and the venerable Palazzo Ducale, or Doge's Palace. This afternoon you are free to soak up the atmosphere of this romantic city. For a bird's eye view of the city, take the opportunity to climb the Campanile de San Marco, which offers incredible vistas over the buildings clustered around the centre and the shimmering lagoons further out.
On Day 11 you are free to continue exploring Venice at your own pace. Take an enchanting gondola ride on the canals or explore using Venice's water-bound public transport network - the Vaporetti.
Today we travel to Turin for the night. On Day 13 we travel to Paris, by high-speed TGV, before taking the Eurostar service to London.
At Great Rail Journeys, they’ve been providing market-leading holidays for 45 years, making them true rail holiday specialists. Their itineraries combine comfortable hotels, exciting excursions, many delicious meals, leisure time, and fantastic rail experiences – from journeys on modern trains to heritage rail adventures.
Alongside their classic escorted rail holidays, they now have more choices than ever. Their European chartered cruises sail on fantastic vessels with sublime dining options and some of the largest cabin sizes in the industry, and their small groups tours give you access to unique destinations and experiences that wouldn’t be possible in a larger group.
The key elements of their holidays are quality and value. Everything you see is included in the price, and their itineraries are carefully crafted to make the most out of each destination. They use professional Tour Managers, informative local guides and convenient transport. On many tours, they include special touches such as opera visits, special meals, or farewell dinners.
As well as being the leading UK provider of escorted rail holidays, they have also won a number of awards, most recently being awarded the gold award for Best Rail Holiday Company at the 2018 British Travel Awards – a testament to their commitment to outstanding holidays.
They ensure the security of currency fluctuation as part of our price guarantee, so you know you’re getting the best value. They are members of the Association of Independent Tour Operators and flight-inclusive holidays are ATOL or ABTOT protected, while non-flight-inclusive holidays are protected by ABTOT.
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