The journey begins in ancient Rome, before finding yourself in the hilltop villages of Tuscany. End this Italian vacation in Florence, Renaissance capital of the world.
Day 1: After an overnight flight, arrive in Rome. The hotel is an easy train ride from the airport. Upon request, airport shuttle is available.
Your next three evenings will be spent in a hotel located in a characteristic Art Nouveau building built in 1870. Guest rooms are tastefully decorated, some with antique furniture and others with sleek, contemporary design; fresh flowers are displayed throughout the hotel and on the terrace. There are slightly formal lounges and a cozy bar downstairs; the restaurant serves traditional Mediterranean cuisine.
Best of all is the easy access the hotel provides from the Rome Termini station, 400 metres away as well as the proximity to many of Rome’s famed attractions.
Day 2: Enjoy a delicious leisure breakfast at the hotel before venturing into the city.
Cairn Travels has included a three hour guided tour of Rome. First stop is the Colosseum, commissioned in A.D. 70-72 by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty as a gift to the Roman people. Explore the first and second levels of the Colosseum, as a guide tells stories and anecdotes that will enthrall everyone from the oldest history lovers to the youngest students.
After the Colosseum tour, head over to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, where you’ll skip entrance lines with special access Roman Forum tickets. Once inside, explore ancient palaces, temples, markets and monuments while walking the same streets that were once frequented by great historical figures like Julius Caesar.
The afternoon & evening is yours to explore on your own. Rome can be easily accessed by food or the public bus service which runs 24 hours a day. The hotel will give any instructions needed to help with public or private transportation while there.
Day 3: Visiting Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel is a highlight of vacation, but only if you beat the crowds. The best way to accomplish this is to go with a private guide at 730 this morning before opening to the public at 9am. Your guide is a passionate art expert, full of stories and familiar with even the smallest details of these massive museums.
After touring the Vatican Museums, use a special-access corridor to enter St. Peter’s Basilica, skipping the general-access lines. Inside, stand in awe at St. Peter’s Basilica viewing Bernini’s monumental altar canopy, Michelangelo’s moving Pietà and the titanic dome.
Spend the afternoon exploring this wonderful city….
Day 4: After breakfast, depart Rome by train. Travel an hour before the stop where you will pick up the rental car. The destination for the evening is reminiscent of a fairytale medieval village, jetting from striking, wild ridges and surrounded by lush valleys carved by rivers. Take it easy this evening in the quaint medieval village and watch the sunset from the view of your room before dinner.
Day 5: Today is your day to drive and explore the hilltop villages of Tuscany. Soft rolling hills, wheat fields that turn bright green in Spring and an intense yellow in Summer, and the occasional cypress tree, make the view just perfect.
In route to the next hotel, you may feel the urge to take a quick soak in the local natural hotsprings, free of charge. The natural stream has a lot of calcium, which over the years has created amazing rock formations which look like glaciers. At the bottom of these pools, you’ll find a rich deposit of thermal mud that is excellent for face and body masks so sit down, cover yourself in mud and enjoy the natural beauty treatment!
Your Tuscan villa for the next two evenings is situated in a unique, quiet location in the heart of Chianti. Found on a panoramic hill the Villa is no ordinary hotel: this historic Tuscan residence started life in the 17th century as a home for a noble family and after for an order of monks. Four centuries later it has been carefully and tastefully restored as a modern hotel with charm in the heart of Tuscany.
Every evening it is possible to taste the products of the region served with the bistrot formula: a selection of cold cuts and cheeses served with local Tuscan wines. At sunset, in the garden, enjoy aperitifs with appetizers. Dinner is included and offered are typical dishes of the Tuscan and Italian tradition.
Day 6: In the summer, breakfast is served outside on the terrace, amongst the roses and geraniums. On colder days you will be served in old cellars dug into the rock with vaulted ceilings, exposed stones and antique tables. Organic jam made in-house, honey, biscuits, pastries and cakes fresh from the oven, yogurt and cereals, seasonal fruit, as well as salads, meats and cheeses from the Arezzo area, tarts, bread and focaccia from the village bakery. Coffee, cappuccino, tea and warm milk are all served and eggs are cooked on the spot. Also offered are choices for vegans, vegetarians and coeliacs.
Savor the food & wine while relaxing at the hotel or opt for activities such as horseback riding, bike rentals, cooking classes and wine tours which are available (inquire for cost).
Day 7: After another leisure breakfast, hop in the car and strike out to some of the most idyllic areas of the countryside. Drive to the Etruscan village of San Gimignano. In the 14th century every wealthy family built a tower to show their status. Today, 13 of the 72 remain. Enjoy strolling the town before dropping off the rental car in Siena.
After the car has been returned, the train will be your mode of transportation on the short trip to the Tuscan capital. Florence, a city filled with historical relics and artistic masterpieces by the greatest masters of the Renaissance awaits you.
Accommodations for the next three evenings are centrally located in historic Florence in a charming hotel. This charming guesthouse is located in a heritage building in the historical centre of Florence, Santa Croce. Rooms are individually dressed with vintage-style design pieces, high ceilings and bright windows; the most spacious rooms have a balcony and mezzanine with living space.
Below is a lodging option with a fantastic view is available in Florence. Cost is $150 more per night for up to 6 person occupancy.
Day 8 & 9: Florence is a city that can easily be explored on foot. A private guide will meet you at the hotel for a four hour tour of Cathedral Square, Signoria Square, Ponte Vecchio (old bridge), church of Santa Croce and Galleria del’ Accademia where one stands in awe of the great statue of David. Over the next two days, immerse yourself in the culture, experience the Italian cuisine and shop the open air markets.
Day 10: After breakfast it will be time to be picked up and taken to the airport for your return flight home.