We don’t leave for another 6 days, but before we go here’s an idea of where we’re going and what we’ll be doing both on our own and on our Contiki tour.
May 26 – Depart from Boston.
May 27 – Arrive in Geneva, Switzerland.
May 28 – Eurorail from Geneva to Milan, Italy. We’ll also be taking a trip to Piacenza, Italy which is about 45 minutes from Milan.
May 29 – Fly Milan to Rome where our tour will start.
May 30 – Rome to Sorrento.
Tour description: Head past gritty Naples, home of the pizza, and catch a glimpse of Mt Vesuvius. Then dive into Pompeii’s well-preserved past in an interesting optional excursion to this UNESCO World Heritage site, where our expert Local Guide retraces ancient history.
Next up: the knock-out location of Sorrento. Set on sheer slopes, Sorrento doles up sweeping views over the Bay of Naples. You’ll enjoy the vista and an included glass of prosecco (Italian champagne) when you arrive.
Tonight there’s an optional dinner, where you’ll feast on Italy’s most famous culinary offering – the pizza! Try pizza as it was meant to be (with a thin crispy crust, fresh basil, tomato and mozzarella) in a popular local pizzeria and eat Italian style in the heart of town.
May 31 – Capri Excursion.
Tour description: This morning, it’s a boat ride to the main marina of the island of Capri, famous for its stunning caves and surrounding rock formations.
Get out on the water of the Bay of Naples in an optional cruise around Capri in our very own traditional wooden motorboat. See the world-famous Green and White Grottos and choose to get up closer to the world-famous Blue Grotto, with its intense blue glow, on a separate boat ride into the cave.
With plenty of swim stops on the cruise around the island, cool off in the Mediterranean and then use your free time to explore even more of the island. Soak up the views and head off with some friends into the cute, white-washed villages where you can try out the region’s sweet lemon liqueur, limoncello.
If you have time, explore Sorrento’s web of narrow streets or the Villa Communale Park, which has stunning views of Mt Vesuvius.
June 1 – Sorrento to Florence.
Tour Description: Wind through the Apennine Mountains and Tuscan countryside to the Renaissance city of Florence.
Before arriving in Florence, we’ll stop off for a wine tasting in the rustic hills of the gorgeous Tuscan countryside, known for its iconic cypress trees and olive oil. In a historic villa, the group will see a working winery, complete with its old cellar and vats. Here you can learn more about the region’s wines as you taste a glass or two of the local wine.
Then, it’s on to breathtaking Florence. The scene-stealing Duomo cathedral rises above the city’s centre, which serves up frescoes, markets and priceless art. After dinner, walk along the River Arno with your Tour Manager, take in the atmosphere and head into the heart of Florence, where you can sit back and relax Tuscan style with a glass of Chianti wine.
June 2 – Explore Florence.
Tour Description: Jump start the day uncovering this open-air museum. Our Local Guide gives you the inside track as the group learns about Florence’s cultural beginnings and explores streets crammed with artworks from masters like Michelangelo. Then take a look into a skillful demonstration of Florentine leather making and understand this region’s traditional art.
With bargains and bustle, the city’s markets are a great place to hang out. Grab a gelato and enjoy this gorgeous city.
Tonight, there’s a choice of a group dinner – an authentic Tuscan feast. Try regional dishes in the pretty Tuscan country setting. Then keep it moving with a night out and get your groove on at Florence’s biggest club.
June 3 – Florence to La Spezia.
Tour Description: This morning, there’s free time in Pisa and some fun photo opps of its most famous monument, the Leaning Tower.
A little further on, we hit the national park and UNESCO World Heritage site of the Cinque Terre, where colourful coastal villages dot 18 kilometres of ragged cliffs and old walled vineyards tumble down the hillside almost to the water’s edge.
It’s a great travelling combination of cruising (if the weather holds) and training along the coast, giving you the chance to take in the unique atmosphere. Watch the locals fishing along the shore, rub shoulders with the rich and famous in Portovenere and check out picture-postcard towns of Riomaggiore and Monterosso.
One of the best things to do in your free time is walking the legendary Via dell’amore (Lover’s lane) for amazing sea views. Or if you want to just chill out and get a slice of the good life, grab a table at a beachfront cafe and try some mouth-watering pesto with locally baked foccacia bread.
June 4 – La Spezia to Milan.
Tour Description: Today the energy levels turn up a notch as we spend a day in Italy’s fashion capital and economic powerhouse, Milan.
Your Tour Manager will show off Milan’s monuments and talk to you about the massive Duomo cathedral, the elegant shopping arcade of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and the world-famous La Scala Opera House, where many singing greats have graced the stage.
With a free afternoon, hit the streets of this cool capital and you’ll be rewarded with designer stores and funky little boutiques. Your Tour Manager, who knows Milan’s ins and outs, will be happy to point you in the right direction for the best buys before you flash the plastic.
June 5 – Milan to Venice.
Tour Description: Along the pretty shores of Lake Garda, we drop into the quintessential European lake town of Sirmione, complete with vine-covered villas, Roman ruins and a castle. For amazing views of the surrounding Dolomite Mountain range and an interesting lakeside look at the local lifestyle, we’ve organised a chance to go out on Italy’s largest lake in an optional cruise.
Then we travel to Verona, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Get romantic and stand under one of the world’s most famous shrines to love, Juliet’s balcony from Romeo and Juliet. Check out the main shopping street and the Roman arena, before heading off to Venice.
June 6 – Explore Venice.
Tour Description: Known as the “floating city” Venice is packed with character, crammed with hidden lanes and linked by a network of canals.
The group travels on our private boat through the waters of the lagoon to visit the city’s historical heart. The limestone Bridge of Sighs, the gothic arches of Doges’ Palace and the expanse of St Mark’s Square (pigeons and all!) show off Venice’s unique beauty and way of life.
Learn about local artistry with a traditional glass blowing demonstration – a craft the city has been famous for since the 13th century.
Take some time to explore the floating city and lose yourself in the backstreets. There’s an optional walking tour where you can discover the labyrinth of interweaving lanes, waterways, palaces, piazzi and markets with our Local Guide. You’ll see historic monuments, hidden treasures and the Rialto market – a local favorite for food shopping. Maybe grab a table on St Mark’s Square and eat some delicious Italian food al fresco.
Cap off the day with an optional gondola ride with your friends. Take a bottle of prosecco (Italian champagne) and toast this unforgettable experience as you are punted through the waterways.
June 7 – Venice to Rome.
Tour Description: Criss-cross the Apennines Mountains as we head south.
Next up: Stylish Rome. This place oozes energy and overflows with relics from another age. Get into the thriving atmosphere of this living timeline as your Tour Manager shows you the Colosseum, the Pantheon, Piazza Venezia and Piazza Navona. Honor tradition at the Trevi Fountain and throw a coin in the fountain’s waters (it’s meant to improve your chances of returning to Rome!). Maybe hang out with your new friends at the Spanish Steps, sit back and people-watch before our included dinner at a local restaurant.
June 8 – Explore Rome.
Tour Description: This morning, make the most of our Local Guide’s inside knowledge and uncover the remains of an ancient empire with a fantastic optional tour of the Roman Forum and Colosseum.
Then check-out the smallest country in the world and home to the Pope, the Vatican City. There’s included entry and our Local Guide to show you St Peter’s Basilica and Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel.
Take off into the city and absorb the atmosphere, as vespas flash past time-worn monuments that are surrounded by fountains, pizzerias, cafes and bars. In your free time, live the local lifestyle by indulging in a long lunch on a paved piazza or knock back a shot of espresso at the bar, like the Romans do.
Before you hit the shops, let your Tour Manager point you in the right direction with some tips on the best buys.
Make your last night on tour special by hooking up with your friends for an optional dinner. In a typical Roman restaurant, you’ll enjoy an authentic Italian experience, complete with an opera singer, live music and pasta.
But don’t stop there – afterwards dive into Rome’s night action with your buddies and finish up your travels with a night to remember.
June 9 – Rome to Sicily. Our tour ends after breakfast, then we’ll be heading to Sicily on our own for a few days.
June 10 – Explore Sicily.
June 11 – Sicily to Boston.
We’ll be updating this blog as much as we can while we go!
-Lindsay and Chrissy