October 11th – October 23rd, 2018
12 Days – 11 Hotel Nights
Toll free: 888 733 9494
This is not a painting of fourteenth-century Florence (Firenze) Italy but rather an actual current photo of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Did you ever hear of the expression “breaking the bank”? You’ll find out it came from a famous bridge over the Arno River. You will learn that Michaelangelo’s David is just one of many local and regional highlights that we will explore and experience as part of our Dreaming Italian tour.
STEP BACK IN TIME TO THE WORLD’S MOST BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY
ITALY – CIVILIZATION, ART, CULTURE, CUISINE & ARCHITECTURE!
You’ve arrived in the capital of this great nation, where the sun always shines and the natives always have a warm embrace for their friends from America!
As soon as we arrive we’ll be greeted by our Rome based, professional Italian tour leader, who will assist us with our luggage and supervise our private motor coach transfer to the hotel in the heart of the capital. You will have the remainder of the day at leisure to begin your discovery of the capital of the Roman Empire and the seat of Christianity. Dinner this evening at one of our favorite landmark restaurants. After dinner we’ll enjoy a narrated tour of Rome By Night on our way back to our hotel.
There are so many sites for your eyes to feast upon all over this stunningly beautiful country, and we’re going to start at an iconic one: The Coliseum. With any luck, the lions won’t be there to greet us but in case they are we recommend to all our guests the purchase of a spray can at the entrance of “Roman Coliseum Instant Lion Repellant.”
The Romans were great builders and everywhere they went and conquered they built monuments to themselves and their culture (and asserted their architectural prowess). Both inside and out, you’ll marvel at the symmetry and beauty of the construction! How did they do it, particularly the arches? What holds it all together? You’ll find out from our Roman expert,
In the comfort of our private motor coach we’ll visit the other ancient ruins of Rome featuring the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and the Imperial Forum. We’re not done yet on this our first day in the eternal capital. We’ll continue on to the Arch of Constantine, Circus Maximus and Aventine Hill.
LA DOLCE VITA
We’ve reserved a little free time this afternoon to explore Rome on your own, at your pace. Perhaps you’ll head straight for the famous Trevi Fountain – don’t forget to throw your coins in to ensure your return to Rome! You may be tempted by a genuine Roman gelato or maybe an after-dinner drink in one of the many inviting cafes. One option will be to join our visit just outside the city gates to the ancient Catacombs of Domitillia.
The next day we’ll rendez-vous with our Roman guide to visit the Vatican Museum and Art Galleries, the Round Hall, the Hall of the Greek Cross, the Tomb of St. Helen and St. Constance, the Gallery of the Chandeliers, the Galleries of the Tapestries and Geographical Maps. Once again, we’ll be led by one of Italy’s most knowledgeable Roman guides. Finally, we’ll visit the Sistine Chapel, famed for Michelangelo’s frescoes, recently restored to their original colors.
We will conclude our tour of the Vatican with a visit to Saint Peter’s Basilica.This evening we’ve added a dining experience that is quintessentially Roman and unforgettable… and lots of fun!
ORVIETO: MEDIEVAL EUROPE
After breakfast together the next morning, we’ll depart Rome and head north towards Umbria and Florence. We will stop, en route, in the charming town of Orvieto, situated on the flat summit of a large volcanic butte. Make sure your camera is in working order!!! The precise location of the city is among the most dramatic in Europe, rising above the almost-vertical
face of tuff cliffs that is completed by defensive walls built of the same stone. The façade of the Cathedral is one of the most beautiful works of art you will ever see—mosaics to rival St. Peter’s!!!
It’s on to what many consider the crown jewel of Italy, Florence. You will have the rest of the afternoon to start your exploration of Florence, the Birthplace of the Renaissance. Our hotel’s location is ideally suited for strolling comfortably in this beautiful city. Be sure to visit RIVOIRE at Piazza della Signoria for the world’s best cup of hot chocolate! Dinner this evening at the renowned Il Latini.
The next morning, after breakfast at our hotel in Florence we’ll meet our local Florentine expert guide, Letitia, and set out on a pleasant walking tour to visit the Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David. Continue our visit to the Duomo – highlighted by Brunelleschi’s magnificent dome, Giotto’s Bell Tower and the ancient Baptistry with Ghiberti’s Doors of Paradise (The Divine Comedy from Dante).
The next morning we set off on a “Heartland of Tuscany” adventure, starting with one of Italy’s jewels, Siena! With our private guide we’ll visit the Duomo and of course San Domenico, while we learn of the famous spectacle known as Il Palio. You don’t have to have equestrian habits to enjoy the Palio…..this is high drama, joy, pain, and pageantry all rolled into one unforgettable event.
Next we’ll meander through country Tuscan roads to the region of Chianti to San Gimignano, perched on a hilltop and noted for its famous towers, often referred to as the “The Medieval Manhattan.” Step through the gates of San Gimignano and be immediately transported to a time when the height of a family’s tower determined its status in society. You will be immersed in the medieval character that is the essence of this town. The views down into the lush valley below and off on the horizon are spectacular.
Then later in the afternoon we’re off to a Tuscan Castle/Winery, called Castello di Oliveto. You will conclude the afternoon with a private cooking lesson held at the end of the visit to the winery. Dinner this evening will be prepared by you, under the watchful eyes and careful tutelage of a true master Italian chef, Donatella. Our host at the Castello, Luisa, awaits us as
always and you can tell from the photos what a joy it is at the castle in Tuscany!
The next day it’s off to one of the most iconic cities in the world – Venice, but before we disembark there we pay tribute to another one of Italy’s gastronomical icons: Balsamic Vinegar. Modena is home to this special condiment and we’ll visit one of our favorite local producers, certified as an authentic producer of the tradizionale product that you’ve probably never tasted, even if you think you have! Today you will taste several grades of Balsamic products before you savour the one reserved for royalty and you’ll be amazed when you learn the creative ways to employ this precious liquid! It’s so rich and delicate in flavor that it complements ice cream or fresh fruit, like strawberries, perfectly. In the afternoon we’ll head northeast as we traverse the Pianura Padana to Venice, stopping in lovely Padova along the way. After check-in at the hotel in Venice your tour leader will first give you an orientation and then a walking tour to the Rialto Bridge to start your visit to Venice.
The next morning your discovery of Venice begins in earnest. This small island city and its marine environment are more like a marvelous film set than a cosmopolitan locus, with its crisscrossing canals, gondolas and water buses, arched bridges, palaces, and peaceful hidden piazzas. There are many beautiful sites to see in Europe, but just a handful command the iconic status of Venice. If you haven’t yet had the good fortune to visit Venice all you need to know is that the picture perfect city of Brugges in Belgium is referred to as “The Venice of the North.” Venice is so captivating on so many levels that it’s often the focal point of an entire vacation.
The city itself is comprised of more than 100 islands; but, as always with Conservative Tours, we’ll start our tour in the most beautiful quarter and heart of this unique destination. The epicenter of Venice is Saint Mark’s Square where the imposing Basilica is located. Visit the Murano glass works! Our walking tour of Venice is romantic and leisurely paced and our expert local guide, Catrina, will share her secrets of her hometown with you. Catrina is a font of knowledge and you’ll appreciate her expertise! And the mosaic that depicts how the Venetians retrieved the skeletal remains of St. Mark from the Egyptians– — wait until you hear that story!!!
We’ll visit the Golden Basilica of San Marco, the Bridge of Sighs and of course Doge’s Palace and its Porta della Carta. It’s rare that we encourage our guests to go to prison but the Piombi Prison is well worth your momentary incarceration! You’ve heard of “Carnevale” in Venice and you’ve seen the costumes. No such dress code tonight as we gather to dine and say fare well and celebrate all that is Venice and all that we’ve seen and done in this enchanting island.
The next morning we’ll leave Venice and head towards Lake Maggiore. En route we’ll enjoy a guided tour of the fashion and business capital of Italy, Milan. From the comfort of your deluxe motor coach we embark on an orientation tour of some of the most famous landmarks of Milan, including the Sforzesco Castle, Vittorio Emanuel Gallery, Piazza Duomo– -famous for the Gothic Cathedral, and of course La Scala Opera House. By dusk we’ll be arriving at our lovely lakeside hotel in Stresa.
Our first day in the Lakes Region will focus on the majestic Lake Maggiore. We’ll start with a private tour of the Borromean Islands and its beautiful palace and gardens. From our base in beautiful Stresa, we'll cruise the tranquil waters of Lake Maggiore to two of the three Borromean Islands, considered the true jewels of Lake Maggiore: Isola Bella and Isola Madre. Isola Bella is the most famous of the islands because of Palazzo Borromeo and its gardens, painstakingly sculpted and terraced gracefully down to the water’s edge. Enjoy the magnificent sculptures amidst the gardens. Isola Madre is the largest of the
islands and its beauty is never ending! You’ll have the afternoon at leisure in Stresa. This may be your chance to take the cable car to the top of Mottarone Mountain. Magnificent scenery in an altogether different region of Italy.
On our next day we’ll head to Lake Como where we’ll enjoy a stroll through the charming town of Como. Next we’ll continue onwards to Bellagio, perched beautifully at the very tip of the narrow peninsula on Lake Como. From Bellagio we’ll see some of the best views of the Alps and the lake itself. Just up the road we’ll make a stop to see where Benito Mussolini met his ultimate demise as he tried in vain to flee Italy to neutral Switzerland. The contrast of this most violent end to Il Duce’s life with the jaw-droppingly beauty of the surroundings is vivid.
Tonight we prepare for our return to America….but first we celebrate our good fortune and this opportunity to discover (or rediscover) a truly special country. Join us for our farewell dinner together….and let’s raise a glass to this spectacular land of hospitality and unrivaled beauty: Italy!
- Upon arrival in Rome you will be greeted at the airport by one of your tour leaders from Conservative Tours who’ll help you with your suitcases and lead you to our motor coach for the short ride into the Eternal City.
- Imperial Rome: The Coliseum, The Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, The Imperial Forum.
- The Arch of Constantine, Circus Maximus, Aventine Hill.
- Via Veneto and “La Dolce Vita!”
- The Vatican: The Museum and Art Galleries, Round Hall, The Hall of the Greek Cross, The Tomb of St. Helen and St. Constance, The Gallery of the Chandeliers, the Tapestries and the Geographical Maps.
- The Sistine Chapel & Saint Peter’s Basilica.
- Piazza Navona.
- Trevi Fountain.
- The Spanish Steps.
- Florence. Need we say more? It’s Florence. For its size, many visitors will tell you it’s the most beautiful city in the world!
- Michelangelo’s David. Giotto’s Bell Tower, Ghiberti’s Doors of Paradise, (The Divine Comedy from Dante).
- Wine tasting at the famous Castello di Oliveto.
- Learn to cook with a private lesson for our group from an Italian chef in the elegant confines of a Tuscan hilltop castle.
- Dinner accompanied by three tenors, a night to remember at one of Rome’s most beautiful and entertaining restaurants.
- True gastronomical delights, always regional cuisine and bountiful portions in the Italian tradition– a tradition that makes you, our American guest, feel right at home.
- Historic Siena and all her medieval wonders. Learn about Il Palio!
- Historic and artistic tour of the stunning and unequaled city of Venice. The costumes. The pageantry. The peppermint sticks. Gondolas at sunset. Rialto Bridge. Saint Mark’s Square and the Basilica. The Murano glassworks industry– the way it’s been done for hundreds of years. Doge’s Palace and Piombi Prison and the Bridge of Sighs.
- San Gimignano– The Medieval Manhattan– you’ll see why!
- The lovely small city of Padova and her Basilica of Saint Anthony.
- Dinner at the famous Il Latini. Our host Michele awaits us with open arms and a sumptuous Tuscan feast. You’ll go away from Il Latini with the impression that most guests have: one of the best and most enjoyable feasts you’ve ever had! Italian hospitality and gastronomy at its best!
- Murano glass works authentic demonstration. Saint Mark’s and the Rialto Bridge.
- Lake Maggiore and all her splendeur and beauty, home to European royalty and film stars the world over. Isola Bella and Palazzo Borromeo. Isola Madre too.
- Bellagio & Lake Como.
- Balsamic Vinegar tasting session– quite an education and one that will surprise you!
- Round trip airfare from one Sacramento to Rome’s Fiumicino airport and returning to Sacremento from Milan’s Malpensa airport.
- Expert commentary throughout the tour event from our friendly and talented tour leader.
- All airport transfers in Italy.
- Six dinners, with wine included– and it’s very good wine!!! I’ll introduce you to the best Italian red I’ve ever had– and it’s affordable should you want to bring home a bottle.
- Breakfast daily in the comfort of your first class hotel.
- Three nights in a centrally located, first class hotel in Rome.
- Three nights in the heart of Florence in a four star first class property. A pleasant stroll
to the Duomo.
- Two nights in a first class hotel next to the main island in Venice.
- Three nights in a first class property on Lake Maggiore.
- All deluxe motor coach transportation. All water transportation as per the itinerary.
- Expert English speaking tour leader for the entire event plus local expert city guides.
- All entrance fees as per the itinerary.
- All taxes and service charges.
- Hear Clear– personal audio system to hear every word of your guide, even when you linger behind!
- Balsamic Vinegar tour and tasting session with a certified local producer in Modena.
Comprehensive Deluxe Group Travel Insurance Coverage from Travel Insured International included for all tour members
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
- Government air tax.
OPTIONAL TOUR EXTENSION
- Extend your tour with a side trip to the Ancient Roman Catacombs of Domitillia.
At Conservative Tours we love to dine. Some suggestions while in the Eternal City:
- One of my favorites in Rome: Piccola Cuccagna just off Piazza Navona. The best grilled
eggplant on the planet! You’ll be amazed at what Massimo does with vegetables– a meal
- My favorite seafood restaurant in Rome is on Via di Ripetta near Piazza del Popolo. One of
my favorite Trattorias in Florence is Trattoria Marione. Talk about cozy! Italy is a food
lover’s paradise and we intend to discover it all!
- The view from our roof top deck in Florence is a sight to behold; but if you find the time
visit one of the best restaurants in Florence with a view to match. It’s on the other side of
the river and it’s called Omero.
October 11th – October 23rd, 2018
12 Days – 11 Hotel Nights
$4388 per person
Toll free: 888 733 9494
Learn About This Tour
Dear Ken: Your team in Italy is superb. I don’t know what I liked the most during our 11 days on tour (maybe if I had to choose I’d say the cooking lesson at the Castle in Tuscany) but if I could go again I would in a heartbeat. Suzanne Hebert
Ken, your passion for what you do in Europe is what made a great itinerary the most enjoyable tour we’ve ever taken. Bob & Gwen Heckelberg