DAY 1 - FLIGHT
Board your overnight flight, bound for Europe.
DAY 2 - MILAN
Arrive in Milan
Touch down in Milan, one of the fashion capitals of the world. After clearing customs, you’ll meet your full-time tour director and the rest of your group. Spend the night in the Milan region. If you’ve got money to burn, you might even buy a pair of authentic Italian shoes.
DAY 3 - VERONA • VENICE
Travel via Verona
On your way to Venice, stop in Verona, home of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. You can see the home of Juliet’s family, and even the balcony where she called out for Romeo in Shakespeare’s play.
Arrive in Venice region
Continue on towards Venice, once a huge naval power and now a major tourist spot. Venice is amazing. The one-of-a-kind canals have to be seen to be appreciated. See the gondolas, browse the shops, eat the gelato. At night you'll be hanging out in nearby Lido di Jesolo, a beachside area with lots of fun nightlife, good restaurants, and the hotel you'll be sleeping in.
Get to know the other travelers in your group over tonight's included dinner.
DAY 4 - VENICE
Sightseeing tour of Venice (local guide)
A local guide will lead you on foot through the narrow streets and open piazzas of Venice. Start at St. Mark's Square, whose basilica allegedly houses the saint's remains. See the famous Grand Canal and the 324-foot Campanile bell tower.
Visit the 14th-century pink-and-white palace, and walk over the famous Bridge of Sighs that connects the palace and its prison. According to lore, prisoners would sigh with sadness as they crossed the bridge and saw their city for the last time.
Free time in Venice (day)
Top 5 free time suggestions:
1. Castello district – Take a walk and try to make it all the way to the San Pietro di Castello Island.
2. Rialto Market – Browse the noisiest, most colorful spot in Venice, where vendors sell an assortment of fruits, vegetables and fish.
3. le Zattere – Walk along this picturesque quay, with its great views of the Grand Canal and its popular gelato stop.
4. Glassware shopping – Take home a piece of high-quality Venetian crystal.
5. Gondola ride – You have to do it, the classic Venice experience. If you’re lucky, your gondolier will serenade you as he directs the boat along the canals.
For more ideas and details, see our Lonely Planet city guide for Venice.
DAY 5 - FLORENCE
Travel to Florence
Drive through the countryside to Florence, the capital of the Tuscany region. Florence was king during the Renaissance, and it still holds on to that artsy, fashionable, cultural vibe. Top art museums, amazing food, great nightlife—for many, Florence is Italy at its best.
Free time in Florence (night)
Top 5 nightlife suggestions:
1. Santa Croce area – Hit some of the popular pubs in this central area, especially on Via dei Benci.
2. Moyo – This trendy bar attracts a mixed crowd of students and artsy Florentines; lounge out in the back or sit at the outdoor tables.
3. Meccano – Head here to get moving on the two dance floors, or hang out in the big outdoor garden.
4. All'Antico Vinaio – This has been one of Florence's most popular wine bars for the last hundred years.
5. Tenax – For a concert, check out the leading venue for new, established, and big-name international acts; enormous but easy-going, it becomes a club after hours.
For more ideas and details, see our Lonely Planet city guide for Florence.
DAY 6 - FLORENCE
Sightseeing tour of Florence (local guide)
Cover Florence on foot with a local guide. Get a feel for the city’s Renaissance glory days at spots like the Piazza della Signoria and the Ponte Vecchio (a medieval bridge; very photogenic). Continue past the gothic Basilica di Santa Croce, which houses the final resting places of many legendary Italians, including Michelangelo and Galileo.
Visit the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as the Duomo because of its famous dome. The dome was designed in the 14th century by sculptor and architect Brunelleschi, and it’s still quite a sight.
Optional excursion to Pisa (extra cost)
Travel to Pisa, home of the legendary Leaning Tower, and snap some photos of the 12th-century architectural misfit. The tower has been aslant ever since the third floor was built, and legend says Galileo dropped weights from its top to test his theories of gravity. Also visit the Baptistery, known for its interesting acoustics, and Pisa Cathedral.
DAY 7 - ASSISI
Travel to Assisi via Siena
Drive through Tuscany and stop in the medieval city of Siena. Longtime rival to Florence, Siena is a great city to just walk around in. Enjoy the Gothic buildings and the narrow lanes straight out of the Middle Ages. Then continue to hilltop Assisi, and visit the impressive St. Francis Basilica. Inside, you can trace the saint’s life through the wall frescos.
DAY 8 - POMPEII • SORRENTO
Sightseeing tour of Pompeii (local guide)
Take a trip into the preserved past at Pompeii. Doomed by the super-hot ash from Mt. Vesuvius looming above it, Pompeii is a remarkably intact ancient Roman town. Walk the streets and see the villas, temples and bath houses.
Arrive in Sorrento
Spend the night in the coastal hotspot of Sorrento. Italy’s favorite resort town, Sorrento gives you some unmatched views of the Bay of Naples.
DAY 9 - ROME
Optional excursion to Capri (extra cost)
Enjoy amazing views of the Amalfi coastline as you ferry across the Bay of Naples to the mountainous Isle of Capri. Travel by funicular to the ancient island resort of Capri, then board a cruise and take in the awesome views of the island’s coast. You’ll see the Arco Naturale, a huge stone arch on the eastern cliffs, and the famous Faraglioni, three enormous limestone rocks that loom out of the sea. (If weather conditions don’t permit a cruise, you’ll instead explore the scenic towns of Capri and Anacapri with your guide.)
Travel to Rome
Continue on to Rome. Though its imperial heyday was a couple thousand years ago, Rome today is as alive and action-packed as any European capital. Discover the busy coffee bars, the amazing food, and the incredible ancient sights.
DAY 10 - ROME
Sightseeing tour of Rome (local guide)
Go way back into the past with a local guide. Rome was the center of the Western world back in the day, and you can really feel the history as you go through the city and see the ruins of that ancient civilization.
Your tour includes a visit to the massive Colosseum, built back in 70 A.D. The huge amphitheater held up to 50,000 people, who would gather to watch anything from bloody gladiator contests to mock sea battles.
The Roman Forum was the commercial, political, and religious center of Ancient Rome. Today it’s a grassy field scattered with ancient columns and other ruins. With a little imagination, you’re walking with the Romans 2,000 years ago.
Optional Rome Cooking Class (extra cost)
This is your chance to become a real Italian chef. Learn the basics of the regional specialties, as a local professional chef guides you through the process. You’ll start by making two kinds of pasta from scratch (anything from ravioli to cannelloni). Next the focus turns to the sauces. Don't worry if your skills in the kitchen are lacking—when you're done cooking you'll be treated to a three-course dinner prepared by the chef's team.
DAY 11 - ROME
Visit to Vatican City
Visit this country within a city, home to the Pope. Walk through the famed St. Peter’s Basilica, which was built on the site where the saint was martyred. Also walk through the Sistine Chapel and see Michelangelo’s famous ceiling frescos.
Free time in Rome (day)
Top 5 free time suggestions:
1. Shopping on Via del Corso – Walk down the longest pedestrian street in the city for some prime shopping.
2. Capitoline Museum – Up on a hill overlooking the Forum, this museum has some amazing ancient sculptures.
3. Villa Borghese Park – Run, bike, or just relax in the city’s biggest park.
4. Trastavere – Wander the old streets of this newly-popular bohemian area across the Tiber River.
5. The beach – The Mediterranean is just 25 minutes away by metro, good for all the usual seaside activities.
For more ideas and details, see our Lonely Planet city guide for Rome.
Share some last laughs (and maybe shed a few tears) over a farewell drink with the group.
DAY 12 - FLIGHT
It's time to say your goodbyes. Head to the airport for your flight back home.