An in-depth exploration of Italy’s inimitable history, landscapes, and art.
Cinque Terre - Imagine five pastel-hued villages perched on the rugged coast surrounded by terraced cliffs and clear deep blue water. It’s Bella Italia at its finest.
Pisa - A legendary city with the iconic architectural duo: the spectacular Romanesque Cathedral and the famous leaning tower.
Florence – Marvel at the finest collection of Italian Renaissance art and architecture in this fine city.
Val d’Orcia – Bucolic Tuscan hills dotted with cypress trees, olive groves and vineyards.
Pompeii - Ponder over the everyday life of the Ancient Romans as you stroll through the city that froze in time.
Salento Peninsula – The heel of Italy will steal your heart with the turquoise bays of Torre Lapillo, Gallipoli, and Santa Maria di Leuca.
Amalfi Coast – Pastel-coloured houses, steep cliffs, azure seas, lemon groves and a lot of glamour: Feel La Dolce Vita at its finest..
Mount Vesuvius – Vesuvius may look tame now, but this infamous volcano reshaped the ancient world.
Italy’s influence is immense.
Markets around the world sell their designer clothing, Renaissance art is found in millions of galleries, and pizza is delivered to almost every street you’ve walked upon.
But on this trip, you forget about the imitations and discover the originals.
You get as close to the Ancient Romans as possible in Pompeii, the city frozen in time; see the inspirations of Michelangelo and da Vinci in Tuscany, and amble through luscious coastlines and mountain-studded landscapes awash with folklore and myths.
Join this journey and discover how this boot-shaped country changed the world.
You leave the bustling streets of Nice and head east along the French Riviera. This area of the coast is also called the Côte d'Azur and it’s as stunning as it is famous. It’s where the greatest artists came for inspiration, and the rich and famous come to soak up the sun.
You cross the border and continue your journey along the Italian coast. Your first stop of the day is the charming seaside town of Porto Maurizio where you can get some refreshments. Take a photo of the pastel-coloured houses rising over the harbour like a pop-up book and continue your journey to Recco.
It’s time to have lunch and try a local focaccia with cheese. This little town, located on the aptly named Golfo Paradiso (Paradise Gulf), is the gastronomic capital of the area, so make sure to try as many culinary specialities as possible.
In the afternoon, you arrive in La Spezia, check in to your hotel, and get ready to uncover the gems of the Ligurian coast; Cinque Terre. Perched to the side of the cliffs and strung like colourful beads, Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore are yours to explore for the rest of the day. Just jump on the Cinque Terre train and decide where you want to go first. If it’s beaches and a seafront promenade you’re after, head to Monterosso. The wine lovers should explore Manarola which is surrounded by vines and offers some great local wine. And if you want to visit the hamlets with the great views and a dramatic location, travel to Riomaggiore, Vernazza and Corniglia.
After an afternoon and an evening exploring the Cinque Terre villages, you get on the train back to La Spezia, your base for the night.
Buongiorno! Today is all about discovering the architectural wonders of Northern Italy.
You leave La Spezia in the morning and travel to Pisa where you can explore the city for a couple of hours and have lunch. Once a maritime power competing with Genoa and Venice, this city is now famous worldwide for an architectural project which went horribly wrong. Tilting or not, the Leaning Tower of Pisa has beautiful, elaborate Romanesque architecture and a fascinating history. But remember, the Tower is just one component of a spectacular architectural ensemble. You should not overlook the Duomo, the Baptistery and the Camposanto, which are part of Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles).
Next on the list of our Italian delights is Lucca, known as the city of a hundred churches. Originally founded by the Etruscans, then a Roman colony, the city has gained its wealth through the silk trade. And you can see this prosperity in the abundance of graceful buildings and pretty piazzas. You have time to wander around shady promenades or along the Renaissance city walls before you continue your journey further.
All these impressive architectural gems of the day were just a warm-up. Prepare yourself for a real feast for the eyes as you travel to Florence, your base for the next two nights.
You have a free day in the ‘Birthplace of the Renaissance’ and can decide how you want to spend it.
You can start by following the paths of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Dante and Galileo - stare in awe at the Duomo, the city’s majestic Cathedral that dominates the skyline; see The Birth of Venus and some of the most celebrated treasures at the Uffizi Gallery; and visit Galleria dell’Accademia, to admire Michelangelo’s masterpiece, David.
Man does not live by art alone, so don’t forget to try some of the local specialities. The culinary delights like handmade pasta, pizza, bread, pastries, wine and gelato will help you to regain your strength.
In the afternoon, you could ponder over the Medici’s power and secrets as you explore Palazzo Pitti. The grand palace of this influential family is home to some of the greatest treasures of the Renaissance and the secret Vasari Corridor.
For a perfect end of the day, visit Boboli Gardens peppered with statues, fountains, ponds and hidden mazes. It’s your second night in Florence so spend the evening soaking up the atmosphere as you explore the bustling squares or excellent restaurants and bars.
It’s time to wave Florence goodbye and set off to discover the spectacular medieval hill-towns of Tuscany.
As you travel over the green Tuscan hills, you notice the 14 towers of San Gimignano soaring like a medieval Manhattan. Originally set up by the Etruscans, the settlement was named after San Gimignano, the bishop of Modena, who is said to have rescued it from Attila the Hun. You have a chance to explore this unique town, walk around the well-preserved fortified old centre, and ponder over the noble families who got caught up in a race for building the highest tower house.
You continue south to Siena, the highlight of the day. This gorgeous red-brick city celebrates Gothic architecture like no one else. The place’s essence centres around the unique shell-shaped Piazza del Campo. It’s here where the bi-annual horse Palio is hosted. And it’s also where James Bond madly chases his enemy in ‘Quantum of Solace’. Savour your lunch on the Piazza, watch as the world go by, and enjoy the atmosphere.
Next, you travel along the country roads, past cypress trees and olive groves to arrive in Chianciano Terme in the early evening. This hill-top town in the rural Tuscany is your home for two nights.
Curvy backroads lined by cypress trees, vineyards, olive groves, and old romantic villages.
This is the dreamy Tuscan region of Val d’Orcia where time seems to slow down. This area boasts unspoiled beauty and is steeped in history and culture. No wonder it has been declared a UNESCO heritage site.
Start the day with a leisurely drive through the rolling green hills to Bagno Vignoni. This extraordinary ancient site grew around a basin renowned for its curative waters. The Etruscans, Romans, pilgrims of the Via Francigena, and even the Medici appreciated the hot sulphurous waters here. Today, you can admire this ancient spa and can choose to take the waters at the hot springs bellow the village. So, remember to bring your swimwear and a towel for a quick dip.
Rejuvenated after your therapeutic bath, you continue the journey through the green and ochre hills dotted with chapels. This land, its culture, and identity are inextricably connected with wine production. So, it’s time for you to try some of the best wines in the world in a local winery. You can visit the historic wine cellars, discover the secrets of ageing wine, and savour the legendary Brunello di Montalcino.
Next, you travel to the medieval walled city of Montalcino surrounded by scenic vineyards. With its famous wine heritage and stunning location, it’s a perfect place for lunch. Your adventure takes you to Pienza after your delicious meal and possibly a few too many glasses of Brunello.
This jewel of a city is known as the ‘Ideal City’ and is a fruit of the Renaissance vision of Pope Pius II. Call it vain or forward thinking, but in the 15th century the Pope set about transforming his birthplace. And the results are so stunning that UNESCO designated Pienza as a world heritage site. Wander around the Piazza Pio II and marvel at the magnificent ensemble of the church, papal palace, town hall and accompanying buildings.
You finish your afternoon off with a visit to an organic cheese farm where you have a guided tour and discover more about rural life in Tuscany. Learn about cheese production, savour some local specials accompanied by a glass of wine, and enjoy a remarkable view of Val d’Orcia.
After experiencing and savouring the best of rural Tuscany, you arrive in Chianciano Terme in the early evening for your second night.
You leave Chianciano Terme and Tuscany in the morning and travel south to the Maremma region to discover Sorano. Literally carved out of tuff rock and built on a fortress, this hilltop city feels like a time capsule. It dates back to the Etruscan era and is a fascinating ensemble of towers, alcoves and cellars perched above the Lente river and gorge. Delve into the maze of small streets and alleys and marvel at the city gates and the impressive fortified medieval castle towering over the city.
You continue to another dramatic hilltop city, Pitigliano, where you can enjoy your lunch. The city rises from the outcrop of the volcanic tufa rocks and is surrounded by gorges on three sides. With its rows of jumbled houses and cobblestone streets, it looks like something out of an old fairy-tale. Pitigliano became known as ‘Little Jerusalem’ because it turned to be a safe haven for persecuted Jews. You can still discover their rich heritage in the local cuisine and enchanting synagogues.
In the afternoon, you get off the beaten path and travel through a patchwork of green fields towards the Bolsena Lake. It’s the largest volcanic lake in Italy and its deep waters sustain a thriving fishing community in the local area. You stop to take some pictures and continue along the edge of the lake to Capodimonte. Here, you have time to enjoy the sun and relax on the beach, or you can soak up the atmosphere, roam the town, and admire the castle and many of the town’s beautiful churches.
You continue your leisurely ramble south along the west coast of Italy taking photo stops along the way.
You can say ‘Ciao Roma’ as you arrive in the gateway to Rome in the evening.
You will say goodbye to this group here and will join a new group on the morning of day eight.
Haunting ruins, awe-inspiring art and vibrant street life. This is Rome, the Eternal City.
You have a free day to discover the delights of the city. You could start by visiting the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon and icons of Rome’s heyday as the caput mundi (capital of the world).
Once you’ve had a glimpse into the past, focus on the current culinary scene and grab an alfresco table on one of many elegant piazzas. Sit down, relax, and get your taste buds ready for the local delicacies.
In the afternoon, head to the Vatican City, the seat of the Catholic Church. Here you’ll be greeted by the largest church in the world: St. Peter’s Basilica. This beautifully designed sanctuary is the work of some of the Europe’s finest artists. Visit the opulent interior and climb the soaring dome for breath-taking vistas.
Then, you could head to the legendary Vatican Museums boasting one of the world’s greatest art collections. But the Sistine Chapel is the star here. This space is covered in famous Renaissance frescoes, including Michelangelo’s representation of scenes from the Old Testament.
Once you’ve had your fill of masterpieces, it’s time to unwind with a tasty gelato by the dazzling Trevi Fountain. Toss a coin into the water to make sure you’ll return here and start getting excited for the next part of your tour.
You leave Rome and get off the beaten track as you journey east to the Abruzzo region. With the Apennine mountains to the north and forests to the south, this green and wild region makes you feel like you’re miles away from civilisation.
You have a comfort stop in Celano, a lovely little town framed by the Sirente mountain and famous for the grand Piccolomini Castle.
Next, you travel past hill-top villages and silent valleys into the Majella National Park. The name means ‘The Mother of Mountains’. The legend says Maya, the Goddess of the Earth was unable to save her dying son, so she died of deep sorrow and turned into the mountain here.
You stop for lunch around Bolognano. This charming village in the Orta Valley has preserved its medieval character and will surprise you with its cuisine. After lunch, you have a chance to admire the beauty of the national park. From the Orfento gorge to a waterfall near the village, your guide will choose an itinerary to suit your interests.
You stop for refreshments in Caramanico Terme at the foot of Majella. This village is known for its thermal springs and beautiful Gothic and Romanesque churches.
You travel south-east and watch as the diverse landscape of Abruzzo change from mountains to flat and sandy coastline as you arrive in the early evening to Lesina, your home for the night.
You wake up in the stunning region of Apulia and head south to Trani.
Known as the ‘Pearl of Apulia’, this historic stone-built port and fishing village exudes sophistication. Walk along the promenade in the marina or stroll through the historic centre and admire the medieval churches, cathedral, and historic Jewish quarter.
You travel to Polignano a Mare, a small, idyllic seaside town perched on the edge of cliffs. Enjoy your lunch surrounded by sun-bleached stone buildings and enjoy the Adriatic breeze. You should also try to catch the sight of the beach in the centre of the town. Its spectacular location paired with crystal clear emerald waters is a recipe for a perfect photo.
Just when you thought your day couldn’t get any better, your adventure takes you to Alberobello. With over 1,500 small and rounded white houses, this town looks like it was inhabited by gnomes. These beehive-shaped buildings are called trulli and are so unique to Apulia that they were awarded UNESCO status. Take your time to meander around the narrow streets and marvel at the impossibly photogenic nooks.
Feeling that La Vita è Bella, you leave Alberobello and ramble south to the heel of Italy, where Lecce, the ‘Florence of the South’ and your base for two nights awaits. You arrive in the late afternoon, so you’ll have time to spend your evening exploring hidden piazzas and alleys.
Buongiorno! Wake up and start the day with some pasticciotto, the gorgeous breakfast pastry. Enjoy your free time in the morning by strolling through Lecce’s old town and admiring its unique architecture. The city’s Baroque style is so unique it got the name of its own, ‘Lecce Baroque’. Also, while you explore the city, keep your eyes peeled for any cherubs and gremlins.
Next, contrast the splendour of Lecce with the laid-back seaside towns of the Salento Peninsula. You leave at noon and travel through the ochre-coloured fields and olive groves to Torre Lapillo.
This peaceful town is surrounded by beaches, so have your swimwear at the ready. Some time ago, these beaches have appeared on lists of the most beautiful unknown beaches in the world. And when you see the emerald green water and fine white sand, you’ll know why. After a refreshing dip in the water, try some of the fresh local seafood and have a look at the 16th-century Tower of St Thomas.
You continue your journey along the coast via Gallipoli to Santa Maria di Leuca. Located on the southernmost tip of Italy’s heel, the little town sits between two seas. It’s steeped in history and the legends of its origin are influenced by various cultures. You have some time here, so visit the Sanctuary of Santa Maria de Finibus Terrae (“at the End of the Land” from Latin). According to the tradition, the sanctuary was converted from a pagan temple by Saint Peter who landed here.
Cast your eyes for the last time at the magnificent vistas of the coast and journey inland to Lecce, where you arrive in the early evening.
You leave Lecce and head to the UNESCO site of Matera. This city is so perfectly adapted to the terrain that it blends in with its rocky surroundings on a cliff edge. It’s a higgledy-piggledy jumble of sassi, the ancient cave dwellings, houses and churches. And it may have been continuously inhabited for 9,000 years.
Spend your time uncovering the rich history of this place and visit ancient churches with paintings on stone cave walls. You can also check out what the 18th-century dwellings were like and stumble upon locations used in Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ. And before you leave this captivating place, relish some of the local dishes which haven’t changed for centuries.
Your adventure takes you off the beaten track again as you journey into the heart of the Lucanian Dolomites and the village of Castelmezzano. One of the highest villages in the Basilicata region, it’s located on a narrow ledge that drops away into a dramatic gorge. But Castelmezzano wasn’t built here just for the stunning vistas. Find out about its rich history as you explore the village or go for a hike to see the ruins of the castle which gave the village its name. Alternatively, you can take a nature walk along the Path of the Seven Stones, a trail celebrating an ancient path connecting Castelmezzano with a nearby village Pietrapertosa.
After a busy day, you travel through the hills and mountains of Basilicata towards the west coast of Italy, where you spend two nights in Castellammare di Stabia.
You set off in the morning with a mission to discover the many faces of the region of Campania; the ancient, the new, the tragic and the euphoric.
Your first stop of the day is Pompeii. In 79 AD the nearby Vesuvius erupted and buried the Roman city under a layer of pumice stone. There was no time to flee, so the city and its people were tragically frozen in the volcanic ash. Ponder over this phenomenon as you explore the archaeological site. You have three hours to uncover this city, so take a look at the millennia-old buildings and get a glimpse into the way the Ancient Romans lived. After your time travelling in Pompeii, you head to the glamourous Amalfi Coast to celebrate the new and the beautiful. Pastel-coloured houses and villas, chic boutiques, gourmet restaurants; this is La Dolce Vita at its finest. Add mountains plunging into the sea, verdant woodland, and sheer crags and you’ll understand why this Italian heaven boasts the UNESCO status.
You stop in Positano, which looks like a colourful multi-tiered cake dramatically clinging to a sea-cliff. Find a restaurant to enjoy your lunch and drink in the magnificent views over the Tyrrhenian Sea. Then peruse the local boutiques, visit picturesque Santa Maria church, and take amazing photos as you meander through the pastel-coloured streets. Alternatively, walk down the steps to the beach for a swim and some sun.
Reinvigorated after your visit to Positano, you ramble along the dazzling Amalfi Coast and stop for photos on the way. In the late afternoon, you arrive back in Castellammare di Stabia where you can enjoy the rest of your afternoon and watch the sunset with a drink in your hand.
Today it’s time for something more dramatic. In the morning, you travel north to face Mount Vesuvius.
In the ancient times, this mountain was considered to be divine and had connections to the power of Jupiter – god of sky and lightning. Legends say that the giants used to inhabit the volcano, which explained the loud noises and rumbling.
But it was in 79AD when Mount Vesuvius acquired its evil reputation. A violent explosion buried Pompeii in pumice, destroyed a couple of other towns, and pushed the coastline back several kilometres.
Scary as this sounds, the titan is dormant now. So put on your sturdy boots because you can hike up to its crater. You arrive in Vesuvius National Park and walk up the path of the Gran Cono. Feel the thrill as you walk along the crater of this legendary menace, discover its biodiversity and admire unforgettable panoramic views.
After this exciting start of the day, you travel up north and have lunch en route to the Montecassino Abbey.
Sitting atop of the mountain above the town of Cassino, it’s a sight to behold. Destroyed numerous times, it always returns in its stunning form. In the past, a working monastery and a pilgrimage site, this place was a centre of art, culture, and learning. It was also the scene for a decisive battle near the end of the World War II. You’ve got time to stroll through the cloisters of the monastery, admire fabulous frescoes and mosaics, and contemplate the turbulent history and violence of war.
Breathe in the mountain air and cast your eyes on the lovely landscape before you travel north and arrive in romantic Rome in the evening.
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You stay one night in La Spezia, two nights in Florence, two nights in Chianciano Terme, two nights in Rome, one night in Lesina, two nights in Lecce, and two nights in Castellammare di Stabia.
To get more information about your accommodation, please contact our friendly team 3 weeks prior to departure.
A good night’s sleep is often needed for a good day of travel.
So, we’ve hand-picked three to four-star hotels in remote coastal villages, bustling towns, and mountain valleys.
Your accommodation is included in the tour price; and when you book your trip, you can choose whether you want double rooms, twin rooms, or single rooms.
In Paris, Nice, Madrid, Lisbon, and Rome, you stay at a hotel by the airport. These have excellent transport connections all across the city and let us avoid contributing to central traffic congestion.
The price you see is for all your tour's accommodation and for the tour itself. This figure is based on shared accommodation. When you're booking your tour and select a single room, an additional single room supplement will be added to the price.
A few European destinations charge tourist taxes. These funds help them keep the locations clean, safe, and beautiful. You usually pay these at the accommodation suppliers, and cost between 1€ and 5€ per night.
You may need a Schengen Visa to travel throughout Europe. Check the official tourism website of the country you’re visiting for up-to-date and reliable information. Travel between countries is easy because there are no passport checks at the borders.
Europe's historic city centres are full of narrow streets and winding roads. So, to speed up your departure and avoid contributing to congestion issues, we only start our trips from the airport hotel specified in your departure information.
Our friendly team will send you more information about your departure location closer to your departure date.
Arrive at the hotel lobby 15 minutes before your departure time. Unfortunately, we’re unable to wait for you if you’re late due to vehicle restrictions. But depending on your situation, we may be able to help you catch up with your tour.
We have a cancellation period of 42 days for our Europe tours. If you cancel your trip before this period, we give you a full refund minus a 10% admin charge. If you cancel inside this timeframe, you’re liable for the cost of the tour package.
We understand how disappointing it is when you have to cancel a trip with us, so please contact our friendly team who will try their best to resell your ticket and refund you.
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It's simple: you book, you go. This means we'll never cancel your tour because of a minimum numbers policy.
Due to logistical reasons, we're unable to let you pre-book a seat on the bus. But our comfortable mini-coaches have huge windows, So you always get a good view.
We like to keep our coaches small, nimble, and odour free. This means we have no on-board toilet facilities, but you frequently stop in local towns and villages for comfort breaks.
Most people can comfortably enjoy our tours, but it's worth bearing in mind that we often include optional short walks in scenic locations. Please also be aware that many of the old European towns are built on steep hills with cobbled lanes, and you may have to carry your own luggage at times.
So that we can ensure you're comfortable travelling with us, please let us know about any special requirements or needs at the time of booking. If you have any more questions, simply email email@example.com .
Unfortunately, we’re unable to have children under the age of five on our Europe tours.
You can ask us about the tours we recommend for younger children. And if your child is less than 1.35m tall, you should let us know, so we can provide them with a suitable booster seat.
We want you to enjoy your trip to Europe. And we believe the best way to do this is to get you off the mini-coach and out exploring. So, we give you plenty of stops to take photos, go walking, and explore ancient ruins.
We exclude visitor attractions in your tour price because it lets you travel your way. It means you can pamper yourself with a luxury lunch or skip an attraction whenever you feel like it.
You don't need to pack or bring along food on the mini-coach. We stop in small European towns, villages, and rural eateries where you can choose whatever meal pleases both your taste buds and your budget.
It’s more enjoyable to travel with light luggage. You can take less by cleaning clothes along the way. Most hotels provide affordable laundry service.
But if you are travelling with more than 20kg of luggage, we are very happy to help you. Options include storing your excess luggage or a courier service to ship it to a destination of your choice.
Let's be honest, our drivers and guides would never refuse a cheeky bonus. But it's up to you, and the amount is entirely at your discretion.
We highly recommend you take out travel insurance, so you can enjoy a stress-free journey.
You're protected by ABTOT when you choose to let us book your accommodation on a multi-day tour. This means you can claim back anything you've paid us if we run into any issues. Read our terms and conditions for more information.
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Travel the local way on small group tours of 16 people or fewer
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