Each month, we put the spotlight on one of our most popular trips, and January is all about our 13-day Best of Italy tour. This is one of our all-time most beloved trips, covering all the best places to travel to in Italy from ancient Rome and Renaissance Florence to glamorous Capri and dreamy Venice. From staying overnight in a Franciscan monastery in Assisi, to sailing the Italian Lakes and exploring the ruins of Pompeii, this is two weeks of pure la dolce vita. We look at 8 unforgettable highlights from this Italy tour and hear from our guests who have taken this trip with us.
Experience it for yourself: Best of Italy
1. Discover ancient Rome
There’s no better way to kickstart this Italy tour than in the Eternal City of Rome, walking in the footsteps of emperors, gods, and masters of the arts. Explore the ancient wonders with Local Specialists including the iconic Colosseum and Circus Maximus. Enjoy a guided tour through the Vatican Museums and see treasures like the Bramante Staircase and Michelangelo’s breathtaking frescoed ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. You might like to go a few steps further and experience an exclusive visit at Donato Bramante’s Staircase in a part of the Vatican not open to the public.
You could also choose to visit St. Peter’s Basilica or take a deeper dive into the Colosseum. Explore the stunning squares, laneways, and fountains of Rome’s historic centre, including icons like the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. You could even top it all off with dinner at a traditional trattoria where you can soak up delicious Italian cuisine and the Roman atmosphere.
“We visited so many fantastic places. Our tour guides were wonderful and extremely knowledgable.“
2. Explore the ruins of Pompeii
After the marvels of Rome, it’s off to Pompeii. This is one of the most moving Italy travel experiences and you’ll join a Local Specialist for a guided tour around the well-preserved ruins of Pompeii. Learn the story behind the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the devastation it caused. Walk down the ancient roads of the city frozen in time since the 1st century.
“The itinerary was excellent and allowed us to see everything great in Italy. The cost was exceptional considering everything we were able to do and see!“
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3. Frolic through the Amalfi Coast
A change of pace will see us arrive in the clifftop town of Sorrento. You’ll have the option to join us for a drive along the magnificent Amalfi Coast, where you can visit the artists’ enclave of Positano, with a backdrop of stunning beaches.
We’ll also take a ferry across the Bay of Naples to the glamorous Isle of Capri. You’ll join a Local Specialist to explore the highlights including the boutiques and cafés in Capri town. Later, enjoy some time to soak up this gorgeous island however you wish. Relax at the beach, explore the fragrant gardens, or explore the ancient sites… Capri is full of gems.
“The tour was labelled “Best of” and it sure seemed like we got to see the Best of Italy.“
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4. Stay in a Franciscan monastery in Assisi
As we depart Sorrento, we’ll see the Benedictine Abbey of Cassino and the slopes of Mount Subasio, before arriving in the fascinating town of Assisi. As the birthplace of St. Francis, it’s believed the saint protects this medieval town. You’ll join a Local Specialist for a guided tour of the Basilica of St. Francis, then take your time exploring this picturesque hilltop town. Tonight you’ll stay at one of Trafalgar’s most unique Stays With Stories – Hotel Cenacolo, a fully renovated old Franciscan monastery, originally built to welcome pilgrims arriving in Assisi.
“The itinerary was great. Saw so much. Always on the move. Didn’t miss anything.“
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5. Float through Venice
We arrive in the ‘Queen of the Adriatic’ – Venice. You’ll board a private launch to cruise your way through this dreamy city, once the greatest port in the world. Sail past the Bridge of Sighs and the Doge’s Palace to St. Mark’s Square where you’ll see the beautiful plaza and Basilica. You’ll also enjoy a Make Travel Matter Experience with the master glassmakers of Venice. Watch the centuries-old glassmaking traditions and help preserve this remarkable craft.
During your time in Venice, you’ll have the option to see the colourful fishing village on the Island of Burano. You can also uncover Venice’s secrets and hidden streets with a Local Specialist and cruise through Venice’s narrow waterways on a gondola. Later, relax in a cosy bacaro with a cool Venetian Spritz.
“This tour gave a fantastic overview many regions of Italy.“
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6. Cruise the Italian Lakes
After visiting Milan, we’ll continue our exploration of Northern Italy through the enchanting Italian Lakes. We’ll start on the dazzling shores of Lake Como, where you’ll wander through Como’s historic quarter, gelato in hand. Ride the funicular for panoramic views, or head down to the water to cruise the lake instead. You’ll also have the option to take a private boat to the gorgeous Borromean Islands of Lake Maggiore. Join a Local Specialist for a tour of the opulent palace and baroque gardens with its white peacocks.
In the evening, you’ll take a private boat to a secluded island on Lake Maggiore for a Be My Guest experience with the Cinque family. You’ll enjoy dinner with the family while hearing the fascinating history of Villa Toscanini, once the hideaway of the Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini.
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7. Marvel at Renaissance Florence
After snapping a photo at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, we continue our Italy tour across Tuscany to Florence, the ‘Cradle of the Renaissance’. There are endless adventures here, starting with exploring the iconic art and architecture with a Local Specialist. Visit the exquisite Piazza della Signoria, and admire the Duomo and the 700-year-old Ponte Vecchio from Piazzale Michelangelo. See Signoria Square, the marble cathedral, bell tower and baptistery, with Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise. You can also choose to get a deeper insight into Michelangelo and his masterpiece, David, with a visit to the Academy of Fine Arts.
“Great route that helped us know Italy well in 12 days.“
8. Dive into Tuscan treasures
With its rolling green hills and world-class vineyards, Tuscany is one of the most impressive regions in Italy. We’ll visit the charming Tuscan hill town of San Gimignano, where you’ll stroll through medieval architecture. Start with the UNESCO-listed centre and see the Piazza del Duomo, surrounded by 13th-century city walls and striking towers.
If you want to indulge in Tuscan cuisine and wine, you can enjoy a Tuscan dinner at Villa Machiavelli in the Chianti hills outside Florence. The villa is the former home of Niccolò Machiavelli, the great political theorist, and this ancient stone house is where he wrote his iconic work, ‘The Prince’. After a tour through the villa and the wine cellars, you’ll enjoy delicious Tuscan cuisine, music, and Chianti from the villa’s own vineyards.
What is your favourite Italy tour with Trafalgar? Let us know in the comments below!