Why I love Italy
“Italy's 20 regions feel more like 20 independent states, each with its own dialects, traditions, architecture and glorious food. From nibbling on knödel in an Alto Adige chalet to exploring souk-like market streets in Sicily, the choices are as diverse as they are seductive. Then there's the country's incomparable artistic treasures, which amount to more than the rest of the world put together. It's hard not to feel...” Read More
Top experiences in Italy
Skip the Line: St Peter’s and Sistine Chapel
Skip-the-line Vatican tours are so popular, even the priority lines are long! But this tour includes exclusive access through a reserved entranceway, ensuring that you will not wait in any long lines. Head straight inside with your guide and enter the world’s most extensive private collections of art. Hear the stories and secrets of the intriguing Vatican while following your guide through incredible rooms like the Gallery of Tapestries and the Gallery of Maps, a seemingly never-ending corridor adorned with intricately detailed Italian maps. Pass through the Gallery of Candelabras, seeing ancient sculptures and opulent candelabras from Imperial villas, and wander through Bramante’s Pinecone Courtyard to pose for pictures in front of the bronze Pigna statue.Amble through Raphael’s Rooms, marveling at the interconnecting galleries that showcase the artistic genius of Raphael, and then enter the awe-inspiring Sistine Chapel – the crowning glory of any visit to the Vatican. Gaze up at Michelangelo’s famous The Creation of Adamceiling fresco, see The Last Judgement on the chapel’s back wall and absorb the sacred ambiance of the pope’s private chapel.Your tour finishes with a fully guided visit to St Peter’s Basilica, the home of the Catholic Church, where more artistic masterpieces await. See La Pieta, a stunning Michelangelo sculpture created by the artist when he was just 24, and admire Bernini’s Baldachino – the ornate bronze canopy that sits above St Peter’s high altar. Bid your guide farewell and take a stroll through St Peter’s Square if you wish.8:10am Small-Group Tour:Upgrade to the 8:10am tour, and not only will you skip the long lines to enter the Vatican Museums, but you’ll gain access as soon as the doors open -- before the general public step foot inside. Groups never exceed 12 people, ensuring you’ll see the Vatican highlights up-close with personalized attention from your guide.7:30pm Tour:Book the evening tour and explore the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel after the main closing times – an opportunity available for a strictly limited season. Access is only possible for people pre-booking an evening tour, so book now to secure your spot! The season runs every Friday from May 6 until July 26, and then from September 6 until October 30. Numbers are limited to 20 people. Tour does not include a visit to St Peter's Basilica.
Skip the Line: Ancient Rome and Colosseum Half-Day Walking Tour
Start your tour near Oppian Hill – one of the famous Seven Hills of Rome -- to enjoy panoramic views of the Colosseum, and then stroll down to it with your guide. As Rome’s premier crowd-drawing site, the Colosseum regularly attracts long entrance lines. Skip them with your priority-access ticket and head straight inside for your small-group tour.As you walk around the Colosseum’s first and second tiers, your guide will keep you entertained with tales of gladiators, mock sea-battles and executions -- a fascinating insight into the amphitheater's gruesome past. Wander its circumference and learn what it must have been like when the crowds were roaring and the gladiator’s fate was decided by an emperor on a whim.After exploring the Colosseum, head outside and walk the short distance to the Roman Forum for an up-close look at some of Ancient Rome’s most evocative ruins. See sites like the Temple of Julius Caesar and the intriguing House of the Vestal Virgins, before strolling up Palatine Hill to admire the views of the ruins below. Look down over Nero’s Circus Maximus, where chariot races were once held, and then finish your tour on the Palatine Hill – the most famous of the Seven Hills of Rome.Upgrade Options:If you want to explore the Colosseum, and enjoy access to the arena floor, the underground chambers and the third tier, then upgrade! These areas are either newly opened or normally off limits, so by upgrading you’ll experience the Colosseum as few others do. The Upgrade option last 3.5hours.Walk around the reconstructed arena floor, where the gladiators once fought, and peer down in to the underground chambers below. Then, head below ground to explore them yourself, seeing the pits where lions and tigers were once caged. Your Colosseum experience finishes with a stroll around the third tier where you can enjoy panoramic views into the Colosseum as well as out onto Palatine Hill. Your tour finishes with a visit to the Roman Forum as per the standard tour option.
Tuscany in One Day Sightseeing Tour
Meet your local guide before heading for the hills on a scenic drive through the Tuscan countryside. Your first stop for the day is gothic Siena, famous for its medieval streets. Choose to join a guided tour through the city(free entry inside the Cathedral is included). Or, alternatively, you're free to marvel the sights of Siena at your own pace, enjoy a drink in an open air cafe and meet the locals. Enjoy a stroll among Chianti vineyards, olive groves and wine cellars before indulging in a traditional Tuscan lunch amongst the Sienese hills where Chianti wine is produced. Surrounded by grapes vines you'll have the opportunity to meet fellow travelers while feasting on local foods including cold meats, salads, pasta and bread. A wine-tasting class will be held during lunch including free samples of wine and olive oil (which are also available for purchase). After lunch you will visit San Gimignano where you can roam the maze of cobbled streets and small squares, grab a gelato and walk between San Gimignano's famous 14 towers. Your final stop is Pisa, where you can take an up-close inspection of The Leaning Tower, view the Cathedral, the Baptistery and monumental Cemetery in Pisa before venturing back to Florence where your full-day tour concludes. Want to skip the long lines at the Leaning Tower of Pisa?Upgrade to the Tour & Leaning Tower of Pisa option and you’ll receive pre-booked entrance tickets. Go to the front of the queue at the Leaning Tower of Pisa without having to wait in line and experience a once in a lifetime opportunity to climb the world’s most titled tower. Leaning Tower of Pisa has 296 steps over 7 floors. The climb will take approximately 30-minutes. You will arrive in Pisa approx. 6pm and leave 6.50pm. Children aged 8 years and under are not permitted to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Cinque Terre Hiking Day Trip from Florence
Led by your knowledgeable guide you will trek scenic trails and wander through vineyards and olive groves, over stone walls and along a spectacular coastline. This tour includes coach transportation, rail and boat travel between villages, entry in to Cinque Terre National Park and a delicious lunch. The Cinque Terre takes its name from the five picturesque fishing villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. Each town has a distinct character, but all share alleys, arches and steep stone steps, best explored on foot. An idyllic snapshot of old-world Italy, the villages are surrounded by sunny beaches, narrow lanes lined with shops and stalls, brightly colored fishing boats, seaside promenades and sleepy piazzas. The ancient trails are rough but manageable. Be prepared for the hiking – although the path is open to everyone, remember that the ground can be slippery, uneven, and in places steep and narrow. The charm of the area is that it is natural and unspoilt, so do not expect hand rails or safety rails when steps are steep or when the path is close to the edge.
Pompeii Day Trip from Rome
Meet your guide at Piazza del Popolo and then hop aboard your luxury, air-conditioned coach for your journey south to Italy’s Campania region. As you travel, your guide will keep you entertained with tales about the region, and of its brooding nemesis -- the famous and fearsome Mount Vesuvius. As Europe’s best-known active volcano, Vesuvius gained notoriety for the destruction of the ancient towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum in AD 79. See the scars of ancient lava flows while traveling to the volcano’s foothills, and then hop off your coach to walk to the top. Hiking up to the crater is the best way to experience Vesuvius’ magic, and after 20 minutes of steady-paced walking along soft volcanic ash and pumice stone you’ll hit the top.Gaze down into the crater and enjoy some free time up on the ridge to soak up the volcanic views, set against the dazzling backdrop of the Bay of Naples. After taking pictures and drinking in the vistas, walk back down the volcano with your guide, and hop back aboard your coach for the short journey to Naples.Enjoy one of the city’s world-famous pizzas for lunch, and then head south to the ancient city of Pompeii. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pompeii’s archeological site is fascinating to explore with well-preserved fossils and ruins that lay beneath volcanic ash for centuries.See its sights with your guide, noting where the restaurants, shops and brothels of ancient Pompeii once stood. Marvel at the remains of the Forum and see Teatro Grande – an impressive theater that once sat some 5,000 people. See plaster death casts of the victims, and then hear how they were ‘discovered’ in the 18th century.After exploring the excavation site, return to your coach and travel back to Rome. Your tour finishes at the start point in the early evening.Please note: Mt Vesuvius is inaccessible from October 1, 2017 – March 31, 2018. During this time, the hike is replaced with a walking tour of the National Archaeological Museum of Pompeii. The site is home to an array of relics, excavations and art from Pompeii.
Skip the Line: Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica Half-Day Walking Tour
After meeting your guide in Vatican City, pay your entrance fees directly, and then head inside the incredible Vatican Museums with your skip-the-line ticket. As you walk through its corridors, your guide will regale you with tales of Vatican saintliness and sin – an intriguing insight into the holiest place in the Christian world.At a time when Italian art blazed a trail around the world, the Vatican employed only the best Renaissance and Baroque architects to furnish their surroundings. No surprise then that the popes amassed one of the world’s finest collections of sculptures, carvings, frescoes and paintings – a visual feast for art connoisseurs and amateurs alike. Walk through breathtaking galleries like Raphael’s Rooms, a series of interconnecting papal chambers that showcase the artistic genius of Renaissance master Raphael and his pupils. Stop to look at mesmerizing paintings like the School of Athens, which features images of Michelangelo and Raphael himself, and hear about the rivalries that resulted in some of the most influential works of Western art ever created.Stroll through more captivating rooms including the Gallery of the Maps and Gallery of Masks, and then head inside the Sistine Chapel – the popes’ private place of worship. Besides its sacredness, the main draw of the Sistine Chapel is the incredible frescoes, created solely by Michelangelo. Gaze skyward at The Creation of Adam ceiling fresco, and look to the back wall to see The Last Judgement.Finish with a walk inside St Peter’s Basilica – Italy’s largest and infinitely most spectacular church that’s built on the site of St Peter’s supposed burial place. Marvel at La Pieta, one of Michelangelo’s early sculptures, and stop to rub the foot of St Peter himself for good luck and a blessing. Your tour then finishes outside the church.8am Tour:Want to skip the line and the crowds too? Upgrade to the 8am small-group tour and after skipping the long entrance lines, gain access to the museums before the general public set foot inside! See all the classic Vatican sights in a small-group of no more than 12 people, with personalized attention from your guide.7:30pm Tour:Book the 7:30pm tour and explore the Vatican Museums after the main closing times – an opportunity available for a strictly limited season. Access is only possible for people pre-booking an evening tour, so book now to secure your spot! The season runs every Friday from May 6 until July 26, and then from September 6 until October 25. Numbers are limited to 20 people. Please note that entry isn't permitted to St Peter's Basilica in the evening tour.