Ciao Roma! Welcome to the 'Eternal City' – once home to gods and goddesses, emperors, senators and slaves. Explore the city's bustling boulevards and labyrinthine lanes before meeting your fellow travelers and Travel Director at a welcome Dinner. This evening, we embark on an orientation drive revealing some of the city's most celebrated sights.
The Holy See takes center stage today as we join a Local Specialist for a sightseeing tour that will see us visit the 16th-century St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City and witness Michelangelo's sorrowful Pietà, a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture. We cross the Tiber into Ancient Rome to delve into what was once the largest empire in the world and view such ancient sites as the imposing Colosseum where brave gladiators and slaves dueled to their deaths. Consider an Optional Experience to gain fast-track access to see the magnificent frescoes inside the Sistine Chapel and VIP entry into the Colosseum.
We travel north into the vineyard-clad hills of Tuscany and along the Arno River Valley bound for an unforgettable visit to a 12th-century castle where the Pazzi plot against the ruling Medici family was hatched so many centuries ago. Here you’ll Connect With Locals over lunch during an exclusive Be My Guest experience, learning all about the family feud and taking a tour of the castle, including its infamous dungeons. Beyond the extraordinary opportunity to dine in a Tuscan castle, you’ll know that your visit is helping to preserve this historic building for generations to come. Continue to Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance where you’ll learn about the quality and workmanship of one of this city's historic industries at a demonstration of Florentine leathercraft. Then, join a Local Specialist for an enchanting encounter with one of the world's cultural centers, admiring the exquisite architecture and artistry around every turn. You won’t be able to tear your eyes from the beauty of the marble Duomo and Piazza della Signoria, the political hub of Florence, before arriving at your hotel.
The romantic island city of Venice is our final destination today. We take to San Marco's waters, cruising the canals and admiring views of the imposing St. Mark's Basilica and ornate Doge's Palace. On this MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience, we’ll witness the centuries-old art of Venetian glassblowing using the same techniques that have been passed down through the generations. You’ll watch master craftsmen shaping the molten glass into the delicate pieces of art that adorn homes the world over, perhaps inspired to buy a souvenir for your own home to remind you of your visit. Later, we’ll enjoy an afternoon at leisure to explore narrow calle in search of a cozy bacaro where you can enjoy delicious Venetian cuisine washed down with a Venetian Spritz, or two. Take some time, venture to the enchanting canal-side setting of St. Mark's Square. The sounds of talented musicians, seagulls and lapping water provide the perfect backdrop for a memorable sunset over the Grand Canal.
We depart Venice, traveling north into the picturesque Italian and Swiss Lake Districts via Como and Lugano. Slicing through the Alps, we arrive in Switzerland and the laid-back lakeside city of Lucerne. The city is perhaps most famous for its solid wooden Chapel Bridge and poignant Lion Monument, a memorial to Swiss Guards. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure, amble through the Old Town or consider joining an Optional Experience and ascend one of the surrounding mountain peaks for panoramic views.
From Lucerne, we head into France and through the rolling vineyard-clad hills of Burgundy, one of the country's largest wine-producing areas. Arriving in Paris, we enjoy a free evening. Wander up grand boulevards and through quaint squares, grab a bite to eat and sip wine at a cozy bistro or perhaps take a cruise on the Seine followed by a tour of Paris’s illuminations.
Join a Local Specialist today to delve into the artistic and historic treasures of Paris, including views of the elegant Champs Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. View Notre Dame Cathedral and enjoy a stroll through the Latin Quarter. This afternoon, amble through the city’s stylish gardens, avenues and lanes, admiring the sophisticated atmosphere or consider joining an Optional Experience to the exquisite Palace of Versailles.
After breakfast, we bid our newfound friends a fond farewell as our memorable holiday comes to a close.