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 be tame now, but this infamous volcano reshaped the ancient world
Rome - Immerse yourself in the vibrant street life and marvel at the masterpieces and treasures of the ‘Eternal City’
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.
We leave Milan and head for Parma in the Po Valley. You have time here to delve into the town’s prosperous past and plentiful palazzo’s dating back to the Middle Ages. It’s also a perfect opportunity to try Parma ham and Parmesan cheese in their place of origin.
We leave around midday and head for La Spezia, port town and gateway to the beautiful Cinque Terre. After checking in to your hotel for the night, your guide accompanies you on the short train journey to the first of the seaside towns. From there, you can roam free for the remainder of the afternoon and evening.
Each town has a unique character, so you decide what you’re in a mood for. If you want to see beaches and a seafront promenade, head to Monterosso. Wine lovers should explore Manarola and savour its local wine. And if you want to visit a hamlet with great views, choose one of this fantastic trio: Riomaggiore, Vernazza or Corniglia.
After exploring the Cinque Terre villages, you get on the train back to La Spezia, your base for the night.
Hotel CDH La Spezia or similar, La Spezia
Buongiorno! Today is all about discovering the architectural wonders of Northern Italy.
You leave La Spezia in the morning and stop in Pietrasanta where Michelangelo picked out the best marble for his sculptures.
We then travel to Pisa where you can explore the city for a couple of hours. 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 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, famous for its completely preserved city walls. Originally founded by the Etruscans, then a Roman colony, the city has gained its wealth through the silk trade. You can see this prosperity in the abundance of graceful buildings and pretty piazzas. With a couple of hours of free time, you can wander along the 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.
Hotel Monna Lisa or similar, Florence
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, pastries, wine and gelato will help you to regain your strength.
In the afternoon, you could ponder over the Medici’s power and secrets and explore Palazzo Pitti. The grand palace of this influential family is home to some of the greatest treasures of the Renaissance.
For a perfect end to the day, you can 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.
* As this is a free day, we would recommend that you book any attractions you are interested in visiting before you depart, to save time and avoid queues
Hotel Monna Lisa or similar, Florence
It’s time to wave Florence goodbye to go discover the spectacular medieval hill-towns of Tuscany.
As you travel over the green hills of the famous Chianti wine region, 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 to build 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 race ‘Palio di Siena’ is hosted. And it’s also where James Bond madly chases his enemy in ‘Quantum of Solace’.
Next, you travel along the country roads, past cypress trees and olive groves to arrive in Montepulciano in the early evening. This hilltop town in rural Tuscany is your home for two nights.
Albergo San Biagio or similar, Montepulciano
Today you explore 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 exploring Montepulciano on your own before travelling to Pienza. This jewel of urban planning is known as the ‘Ideal City’ and is the fruit of Pope Pius II‘s Renaissance vision. 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.
Then it’s time to try some of the best wines in the world on an included visit to Solaria Winery in Montalcino. This is the home of Brunello, the famous red wine made of a special grape variety with protected status.
We finish today’s exploration of the Val d’Orcia 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 Montepulciano in the early evening for your second night.
Albergo San Biagio or similar, Montepulciano
You leave Tuscany in the morning and travel south to the Maremma region. The adventure takes you to Sorano, where you can grab an espresso and take in the dramatic views across the valley.
Later on, you can choose to get up close with the Etruscan civilisation at the Sovana Necropolis and the Vie Cave. These form an impressive road network carved out of tuff during the Bronze Age. Then, you visit Sovana, where you can grab something to eat and absorb the atmosphere of this medieval town before you continue your adventure.
In the afternoon, you continue your journey towards Rome with a photo stop to admire another dramatic hilltop city, Pitigliano, and then on to Capodimonte. This small town is situated on the bank of Bolsena Lake, the largest volcanic lake in Italy. It’s your final comfort stop, so enjoy the charms of this little hamlet before your journey to Rome.
Hotel American Palace or similar, Rome
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.
Hotel American Palace or similar, Rome
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 your entrance ticket included and get time to stroll through the cloisters of the monastery and contemplate the turbulent history of war.
Then, you visit the overgrown ruins of San Pietro Infine, 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. Legends also say witches 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.
Hotel Incontro or similar, Ariano Irpino
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 sight of the brave cliff divers disappearing into a small inlet of water.
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 towards the heel of Italy to Lecce, your base for two nights.
Hotel Aloisi or similar, Lecce
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 a beautiful 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.
Hotel Aloisi or similar, Lecce
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.
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.
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.
Hotel Plaza or similar, Salerno
Today is all about the glamourous Amalfi Coast.
Pastel-coloured houses and villas, chic boutiques, gourmet restaurants; this is La Dolce Vita at its finest.
You start the day by exploring the gateway to the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento. This town of lemons and plunging cliffs allured literary geniuses from Byron and Goethe to Dickens and Tolstoy. Wander through the sun-drenched piazzas and savour a glass of cold limoncello before you continue your day.
The next stop is Positano which looks like a colourful multi-tiered cake clinging to a sea-cliff. Find a restaurant to enjoy your lunch and drink in the magnificent views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Then, peruse the local boutiques and take photos as you meander through the 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, visit another quaint town, and stop for photos on the way back.
You arrive in Salerno late in the afternoon where you can watch the sunset with a drink in your hand.
Hotel Plaza or similar, Salerno
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 and get ready for an unforgettable experience because you can hike up to its crater.
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.
You stay one night in La Spezia, two nights in Florence, two nights in Montepulciano, two nights in Rome, one night in Ariano Irpino, two nights in Lecce, and two nights in Salerno.
For examples of the accommodation, please see the tour itinerary.
A good night’s sleep is often needed for a good day of travel.
So we’ve hand-picked three-star 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 a double room, a twin room, or a single room.
The price you see is for all your tour accommodation and for the tour itself. It also includes a tourist tax. 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.
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 start our trip from hotels located conveniently on the edge of cities. We choose hotels with good public transport connections to the city centre, so you can enjoy your evening explorations.
To make your tour more convenient, you can add an optional pre and post-departure accommodation in the hotel we use as a pick up or a drop off point.
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 time frame, 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.
Click here to view full terms and conditions.
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 to 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 offer 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.
We're unable to permit children under 15 years old on our Europe tours due to the nature of the activities that are included.
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've arranged experiences for you on your tour. The 'included activities' are already booked and paid for as part of your trip, whereas you can purchase 'optional activities' while on your tour. You also have free time in many destinations to pick and choose which attractions you visit.
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 the majority of 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 book a tour with us. 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.
Our packages are covered by the Package Travel Regulations. For full details of your key rights please click here.
Travel the local way on small group tours of 16 people or fewer
You'll have a guaranteed experience, or your money back
Guaranteed departures: We’ll never cancel your tour because of minimum numbers
Our eco-friendly tours support local communities