Today, begin your scenic journey from Switzerland to Italy. You’ll meet your tour group at the Lucerne Railway Station and from here we’ll travel south through the Alps to the stunning city of Milan, one of the largest cities in Italy and Europe. Here we’ll get acquainted with the city with a guided city tour. Along the way we’ll visit the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the oldest shopping malls in the world. From here we’ll see La Scala, an immaculate opera house, and the historic and grand Sforza Castle. Lastly, we’ll see the icon of Milan, the Milan Cathedral, with its rich Gothic architecture.
Overnight in Venice.
Following breakfast at the hotel, we’ll explore the romantic and captivating of Venice, filled with lovey canals, ancient cathedrals, and incomparable architecture. During the tour we’ll get to visit the famous San Marco Square and the monumental and impressive Basilica di San Marco. This Byzantine structure is nearly a thousand years old and was built to honor the remains of the city’s patron, Saint Mark. We’ll also get to see another iconic Venice attraction, the Bridge of Sighs, which rests between the Doge’s Palace and the old prison. Then we’ll depart Venice briefly to visit the nearby island town of Murano and discover the amazing Venetian glassblowers who still practice their unique craft today. You’ll also have the option to take a romantic gondola ride on the Grand Canal, the perfect ending to a day in Venice (admission not included). We’ll end the day at our hotel in Rome or a nearby city.
Overnight in Rome.
After breakfast we’ll head directly to St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, originally built by Constantine the Great in 324 AD, then reconstructed between 1506 and 1615 under the direction of several famous architects including Bramante, Raphael and Michelangelo. You may also join the optional Sistine Chapel tour to view Michelangelo’s famous frescoes. Next you’ll see the famous Trevi Fountain, the lavish Baroque showpiece where people flock to throw coins into the water – an action which is said to ensure that you’ll return to the city again one day. After lunch, take a step even further back in time as you visit Italy’s unrivaled Roman relics. An optional guided tour of the Colosseum, built in AD 72, comes highly recommended. History comes to life as you imagine yourself witnessing gladiatorial combat inside the spectacular amphitheatre. You may also choose to walk at your leisure around the outside to admire the facade of this ancient wonder. After the Colosseum, get up close to the nearby Arch of Constantine, which dates back to the fourth century AD, then spend some further free time enjoying Rome, sampling the rich and creamy delights of gelato. After some free time you can either visit Basilique Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs) near Piazza della Repubblica, or head directly to the nearby Mitsukoshi Department store for some serious shopping
Overnight in Arezzo.
On this day you will be introduced to the sights and sounds of Florence, the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. We’ll head up to the Piazzale Michelangelo for a panoramic view of Florence, then to a local workshop to see how Florence’s fine leather goods are made. Afterwards, we’ll set out on foot to the Ponte Vecchio over the Arno River, the Duomo, Giotto’s Bell Tower and the Uffizi, which houses one of the finest art collections in the world. At Pisa, our last stop of the day, you will be free to wander; be sure to have your camera ready when you enter the Square of Miracles and the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa Cathedral and Baptistery come into full view. We finish our evening by continuing on to Genoa or a city nearby for an overnight stay.
Overnight in Genoa.
A breathtaking drive along one of the most sublime stretches of Mediterranean coastline awaits as we say goodbye to Italy and hello to Monaco. Our walking tour will take us first to the Prince’s Palace of Monaco, then on to the Courthouse, the Oceanographic Museum and Saint Nicholas Cathedral, the resting place of Grace Kelly. We’ll then travel to the Fragonard Perfume Factory to learn about the perfume-making process. At the end of the guided tour you will be able to purchase one of the fragrances for yourself. Next we’ll visit Nice for a sampling of the scrumptious local cuisine. We’ll stop over in Cannes to see the Palais des Festivals et des Congres, host of the city’s annual international film festival, and then make our way to Avignon Nord to check in to our hotel.
Take a well-earned rest today as you sit back and enjoy the rustic charm of the French countryside on our journey north to Paris, the Green Line terminus.