Viva Italia! A wonderful trip to Italy!

Italy has been on my wife’s list of countries to visit for a few years now.  We went there this past summer with some friends.  The trip exceeded all our expectations.  Since we had never been to Italy before, we decided to keep the stress level down and avoid driving.  We took a Globus bus tour and I can’t say enough good things about the tour.  Our tour director, Remo Beretta, was extraordinary and the other people on the tour were great travel companions.

The tour covered far more ground in about 12 days then we could have on our own.  We took hundreds of photos.  I posted some of the highlights.  I’ll be back with some personal reflections on the trip, but it has gone on so long I thought I would post the itinerary now.  Maybe I can convince my wife to do a guest blog entry with some day by day impressions and highlights as she has been pouring through the photos to pick the best to capture our trip.

Not to be a Globus advertisement, but here is the itinerary directly from the brochure:

Day 1 Arrive in Rome, Italy

Time to rest or start exploring the “Eternal City.” At 6 pm, meet your Tour Director and traveling companions for a special welcome dinner with wine at one of Rome’s lively restaurants. (Dinner)

Day 2 Rome

Sightseeing with your Local Guide starts with a visit to the VATICAN MUSEUMS and SISTINE CHAPEL, world famous for Michelangelo’s ceiling paintings and The Last Judgement. Continue to monumental ST. PETER’S SQUARE and BASILICA. Cross the Tiber and visit the COLOSSEUM and the ROMAN FORUM, where Roman legions marched in triumph. Then, time for independent activities and exciting optional excursion possibilities. (Breakfast)

Day 3 Rome–Pisa–Florence

North to Pisa for pictures of its amazing Leaning Tower. Continue to Florence, the capital of Tuscany and home to Renaissance splendor. Why not join an optional dinner at a Tuscan restaurant? (Breakfast)

Day 4 Florence

Follow your Local Guide to the ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS with Michelangelo’s David. Admire the magnificent cathedral, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistry’s “Gate of Paradise,” and sculpture-studded SIGNORIA SQUARE. End your tour with a visit of SANTA CROCE BASILICA with the tomb of Michelangelo. Afternoon free to relax or to find out more about Florence’s artistic wealth. (Breakfast)

Day 5 Florence–Milan–Lugano, Switzerland–Lake Maggiore, Italy

Drive through the Apennine hills past Bologna, home of Europe’s oldest university, to dynamic Milan. An orientation features its gothic DUOMO, glass-domed GALLERIA, and famed La Scala Opera House. Then, continue to Lugano in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. A leisurely break to stroll along the lake, window-shop on the refined Via Nassa, or sip an espresso on the Piazza Riforma. Next, a scenic drive along Lake Maggiore, one of Italy’s most beautiful areas. Spend two nights at your elegant resort. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 6 At Leisure by Lake Maggiore

A restful day to sleep in or maybe join an optional excursion to the baroque palace and peacock gardens of enchanting Isola Bella (open Mar. 26-Oct. 23, subject to change). (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 7 Lake Maggiore–Verona–Venice

East to Verona, medieval setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, to see Juliet’s Balcony and the well-preserved Arena. Join the locals for lunch before continuing to Venice, deemed by some the most romantic city in the world. Enter in style by PRIVATE BOAT. (Breakfast)

Day 8 Venice

Highlights of your guided walking tour are ST. MARK’S SQUARE and the byzantine BASILICA, lavish DOGES’ PALACE and the BRIDGE OF SIGHS. Then, watch skilled GLASSBLOWERS fashion their delicate objects in the age-old manner. Later, discover Venice at your own pace or take an optional gondola ride. (Breakfast)

Day 9 Venice–Ravenna–Assisi

Follow the sparkling Adriatic coast to Ravenna to see the mosaics in the 6th-century BASILICA OF ST. APOLLINARIS IN CLASSE. Afternoon arrival in Assisi. Visit ST. CLARE’S CHURCH and ST. FRANCIS’ BASILICA with a Local Guide. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 10 Assisi–Pompeii–Sorrento

Today, visit POMPEII, the Roman city both destroyed and preserved by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Overnight in the charming, bayside resort of Sorrento. (Breakfast)

Day 11 Sorrento

Excursion to Capri. Speed across the bay by JETFOIL to the Isle of Capri. Ride the FUNICULAR to Capri village for a guided visit of this pretty town. Free time to explore the little shops on the Piazzetta before returning to Sorrento. The remainder of the day is at leisure. (Breakfast)

Day 12 Sorrento–Rome

A short drive back to Rome. This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner with wine in a local restaurant to celebrate the success of your vacation. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 13 Rome

Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (Breakfast)

… So much for the facts.  I’ll follow this up with a personal summary soon – if you can use the word soon when 6 months have already passed.

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