I was invited to experience Italy through the eyes of 3 of my tour companies in one trip this month. All three of them offer unique, hand picked experiences, but are geared towards different people.
One is higher end, luxury, the second dives into culture and discovering hidden gems, while the third is strictly for younger people ages 18 – 35 and focuses on having fun and making lifelong connections.
I am so excited to visit Italy again and experience Italy in this unique way.
Here are some of the highlights I am looking most forward to!
I will be starting in Rome on my own with a tour of the Colosseum and get a gladiator’s-eye-view by using their special entrance and stepping onto the normally off-limits arena floor. The arena floor is where people actually fought and died in the Colosseum. While most visitors only ever see it from the stands, I’ll bypass long, general entrance lines and step directly onto it via the special Gladiator’s Gate.
A Rome Catacombs tour is next on my list. I’ll get to explore a centuries-old burial site home to fascinating ancient human remains and uncover the darker side of Rome and explore what many deem as one of Rome’s best-hidden gems. I will then join my group for a truly Italian, home-cooked meal this first evening with our local host.
Our first full day is devoted to The Eternal City where we will join a Local Expert for an in-depth visit to the Vatican Museums, special priority entry and behind-the-scenes access to the Bramante Staircase, a marvel of Renaissance architecture which is normally off-limits to visitors. We’ll also visit the Sistine Chapel, where Popes are elected, to admire Michelangelo’s famous ceiling. We’ll end the day with a pasta cooking class with local chefs and learn to cook like a true Italian. I am really looking forward to this.
The next day, we will travel north into Umbria and to its capital city, Perugia where we visit an artisanal workshop to meet Marta and her weavers and see how the fascinating art of loom-weaving textiles has been passed down through the generations and learn how this ancient craft is being preserved. I have had the pleasure of meeting Marta the last time I was in Italy so I know I will be purchasing a few of her creations. Later, we head to Florence for a Tuscan Risotto Evening where we will take in the scenery of the Tuscan hills and learn how to make risotto with the chef & indulge in the local Chianti wine.
During our full day in Florence I signed up for a Tuscany Tasting Tour. We’ll sample lampredotto, schiacciata, olive oils, cheeses, pane toscano, pastries, hams and salamis and learn about the cultural and historical significance of the food’s origins. During our free time, I know I will be shopping for some leather items. We’ll end our day in a beautiful family owned property in the Tuscan countryside. I am getting hungry just thinking about it!
The next day we are off to Pisa and see the famous Leaning Tower in the Square of Miracles, as well as the baptistery and colonnaded bell tower behind the cathedral. Then we’ll continue through the marshes of the Veneto crossing the causeway into the floating city of Venice where our private boat takes you to your hotel to enjoy dinner.
Venice is known for its gondolas and on our last day, I will become a gondolier for the day. Later in the day, during a visit to a traditional arts centre, I’ll get to see how beautiful, handcrafted glass is made by expert glassblowers, safeguarding traditional skills. I think I see a souvenir in my future. We’ll end the tour with cruising the Venetian lagoon to Burano and sit down to a sumptuous Celebration Dinner sampling the local specialties.
I can assure you that not all tours are this jam packed. But, because we are there to experience 3 tours in 1 we will be cramming in more than a usual tour. I took a tour last year with one of these companies and had a wonderful time with plenty of down time. I made some great friends who I will be traveling with to Greece later this year – more to come on that later!