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 Otranto 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.
The first stop is the hilltop village of Èze. Medieval and magnificent, this hamlet will dazzle you with stunning vistas, winding cobbled streets, and a ruined castle. You can also learn more about another French passion: perfumes. Just pop into the Fragonard or Galimard perfume factories and immerse yourself in the world of beautiful fragrances.
Back on the road, you cross the border and continue your journey along the Italian coast. Your next stop is the charming seaside town of Porto Maurizio where you can grab an early lunch. Take a photo of the pastel-coloured houses rising over the harbour like a pop-up book and continue south.
In the afternoon, you have the opportunity to stroll around Santa Margherita Ligure before you arrive in La Spezia, your base for the night. After checking in to your hotel, explore the town held by Napoleon for its strategic value while picking a local restaurant for dinner.
Buongiorno! Today is all about discovering the architectural wonders of Northern Italy.
You leave La Spezia in the morning and travel to Cinque Terre. Perched to the side of the cliffs and strung like colourful beads, Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore are yours to explore. Your guide helps you navigate the train and makes sure you get the most out of your visit.
After enjoying some free time in Cinque Terre, you meet your guide for the return train journey to La Spezia where you rejoin the mini-coach and travel to Pisa.
Once a maritime power competing with Genoa and Venice, this city is now famous for an architectural project which went horribly wrong. Tilting or not, the Leaning Tower of Pisa has beautiful, elaborate Romanesque architecture and fascinating history. Grab your lunch and take in the views of other architectural highlights at 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 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.
You journey through the famous Chianti wine region, peppered with vineyards, honey-coloured stone farmhouses, ancient olive groves, and sleepy villages.
As you travel over the green Tuscan hills, you notice the 14 towers of San Gimignano soaring like a medieval Manhattan. Listen to the story of the noble families who got caught up in a race for building the highest tower house. Then enjoy a walk around the well-preserved fortified old centre and sample some of the local delicacies for lunch.
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 chases his enemy in ‘Quantum of Solace’.
Next, you travel along the country roads, past cypress trees and olive groves to arrive in Chianciano Terme in the early evening. This spa town in 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 World Heritage site.
Start the day with a leisurely drive through the rolling green hills to Montepulciano, home to the Nobile wine houses. Explore little squares and crumbling churches in this charming hill town, and then reward yourself with a glass or two of the local Nobile as you drink in the views of the countryside.
Next, you travel to Pienza. This city is known as the ‘Ideal City’ and is 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 centre, marvel at the magnificent ensemble of the church, papal palace and town hall, and enjoy the local cuisine for lunch.
It’s time for you to try some of the best wines in the world in a local winery, Fattoria dei Barbi. This is home of Brunello, the famous red wine made of special grape variety with protected status.
Full of appreciation for the wine of Tuscany, you finish your day with a visit to Bagno Vignoni, a village renowned for its curative waters. The Etruscans, Romans, pilgrims of the Via Francigena, and the Medici appreciated the hot sulphurous waters here in the past. Today, you can admire this ancient spa and follow the flow of the spring waters across the archaeological park.
After experiencing and savouring the best of rural Tuscany, you arrive in Chianciano Terme in the early evening for your second night.
In the morning, you leave Chianciano Terme and travel south to the Maremma region. The adventure takes you to the area around Sorano, where you can grab an espresso and take in the dramatic views across the valley.
Next, get up close with the Etruscan civilisation, one of the most mysterious and complex ancient cultures. Stare in disbelief at the Sovana Necropolis and the Vie Cave which form an impressive road network carved out of tuff during the Bronze Age. You leave the secrets of these enigmatic people behind and explore the town of Sovana. Grab something to eat and wander the cobbled streets of this medieval beauty before you continue your journey towards Rome.
In the afternoon, you have a photo stop at another dramatic hilltop city, Pitigliano. Rising from the outcrop of the volcanic tufa rocks and surrounded by gorges on three sides, the city will make you ponder over the craftsmanship of its architects.
Next, 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 pictures and continue along the edge of the lake to Capodimonte. Here, you have a final comfort stop and a photo opportunity of the castle on the hill.
Take in the last views of the beautiful countryside before you can say ‘Ciao Roma’, as you arrive at the gateway to Rome in the evening.
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. Why not make the most of your time here and jump on the hop on hop off bus?
You can also get a map and follow the trail of the icons of Rome’s heyday. There’s the huge Colosseum; the architecture of the Pantheon; and the Roman Forum, the centre of the religious, political, and social activities.
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.
Then, you can soak up the atmosphere of this fascinating city. Stroll along the Tiber River and snap photos of the beautiful Castle Saint Angelo, count the legendary Spanish Steps, and 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 the hustle and bustle of Rome and head south towards peaceful Cassino.
Sitting atop of the mountain, the Montecassino Abbey is a sight to behold. 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 World War II. You have time to stroll through the cloisters of the monastery, admire fabulous frescoes and mosaics, and contemplate the turbulent history and violence of war.
Then, you visit the ruins of San Pietro Infine, a small village affected by World War II, before you travel past hilltop villages and mountains to Benevento.
Built on a hill with a stunning background of mountains, this timeworn city has a special aura. It’s filled with memories of the ancient Samnites, Romans, and Longobards. But Benevento is also packed with stories of witches. Legends say they gather from all over the world by an ancient walnut tree by the local river.
After a day of soaking up the history, legends, and stunning views; you travel south-east to Ariano Irpino your home for the night.
You wake up in the stunning region of Campania 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 World Heritage 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’.
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 Otranto. Enjoy your time here strolling around the fortifications or harbourside promenade and try some local dishes.
You continue your adventure 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. Here, you can climb up the stairs alongside the largest man-made waterfall and get rewarded with magnificent views from the lighthouse, located at what was once known as Finibus Terrae (“at the End of the Land” from Latin).
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 World Heritage 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.
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 Salerno.
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 Salerno 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 ancient times, this mountain was considered to be divine and had connections to Jupiter – god of sky and lightning. Legends say that the giants used to inhabit the volcano, which explained the loud noises and rumbling.
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 the exciting start of the day, you go to Pompeii, which fell victim to the eruption of Vesuvius. There was no time to flee, so people and buildings were buried and preserved in volcanic ash. Get a glimpse of the world of the Ancient Romans as you take your time to explore this archaeological site.
Then you leave the past behind and take a road that leads to Rome. Enjoy your leisurely ramble north through Campania and Lazio before you arrive in the Eternal City early 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 Ariano Irpino, two nights in Lecce, and two nights in Salerno.
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.
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.
Our Europe Tours have flexible payment options to help you budget for your dream holiday.
If you book more than three months before your tour departs, you can reserve your trip with a deposit of 10% or more. The full payment is required three months before your departure.
Call us on +44 (0) 131 226 3133 or email email@example.com to pay a deposit, discuss more payment options, or let us know of any changes to your travel arrangements.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
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.
Your friendly driver and guide are passionate about the places they visit and know all the local gossip. This means your tour itinerary can change a little due festivities, attraction opening hour changes, and spontaneous photo opportunities.
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.
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're travelling with more than 20kg, don't worry! There are left luggage facilities close to all our departure points, and courier companies who could ship your excess luggage on to your chosen destination. Our team are happy to help if you need any suggestions or recommendations.
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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