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Citalia’s Italy Experts have teamed up with Brand Ambassador Gennaro Contaldo to create a spectacular self-guided multi-centre itinerary which celebrates some of the best-loved Italian destinations. Tailor make the itinerary to suit your preferences or let our experts guide you through must-see destinations and iconic landmarks, experiencing Italy like a local. From world famous sights and culture to colourful lemon groves and mouth-watering cuisine, this trip has it all.
On board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, you’ll travel across stunning European countryside before visiting Venice, and then moving on to the beautiful Lake Garda. From here, head to Verona, the city of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Explore the galleries and museums of Florence, then venture to Rome – Italy’s ‘Eternal City’. Next, set off for the Italian coastline, and experience the plunging clifftop towns of the Amalfi Coast, before flying south to Palermo, for a taste of Sicilian living. End your trip by relaxing on the beaches of Taormina.
This is the ultimate Italian itinerary and showcases the very best of Italy.
At a glance
Travel in style on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express
Marvel at the beauty of Lake Garda
Experience the big 3 cities
Enjoy the stunning Tuscan countryside
Visit famous sights whilst staying in the coastal town of Sorrento
Day 1 : London to Venice - Venice Simplon-Orient-Express
Your Ultimate Italy journey starts at London Victoria and your holiday begins the moment you step off the platform and board the gleaming carriages of the Belmond British Pullman. Enjoy your brunch with a Bellini as you travel through the Kentish countryside towards Folkestone, where you will board a coach for your channel crossing on the Eurotunnel shuttle.
After crossing the Channel you will board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express for the journey of a lifetime. Enjoy a four-course dinner in one of the magnificent restaurant cars and visit the Bar Car to listen to the resident pianist play, before retiring back to your cabin which has been transformed into a cosy bedroom for the night.
Awake to the spectacular scenery of the Swiss Alps as a delicious continental breakfast is served in your cabin. After spending the morning relaxing in your cabin or in the Bar Car, enjoy a leisurely three-course lunch served in one of the beautiful restaurant cars. Admire the passing scenery as the train travels through the Italian Dolomites towards Venice. Afternoon tea is served in your cabin and then it is time to disembark at Venice's Santa Lucia Station. For a first-hand review of the journey, take a look at our traveller's guide to the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.
Day 2-3 : Venice
Arrive in Venice where you’ll be taken to your venetian hotel by private water taxi. During your stay in this incredible city you’ll visit Doges Palace and St Mark’s Basilica. On Day 3 take a boat trip across the lagoon and visit the islands Murano, Burano and Torcello with our Venice and the Islands excursion.
Gennaro Contaldo, Citalia Brand Ambassador recommends: “The best of Venice, for me, is to get lost among the secluded little alleyways, unknown little bridges, and the many campi (squares) with its churches and palazzi and neighbourhood cafés. As soon as I spot laundry hanging outside balconies, I know I’ve hit a local residential area and these are usually the best to stop for a drink and cicchetti. Not only more peaceful but you get more of a feel of what local life is like in Venice.”
Say arrivederci to Venice as you take your private water taxi to Venice Santa Lucia Station to board the train to Lake Garda. Take a private transfer from the station to your chosen hotel. Stroll around the lakeside promenade while enjoying your favourite gelato. Relax over dinner on the lake while the sun sets, absorbing breath-taking views.
The towns surrounding the lake can be accessed by local ferries. Sirmione is an ideal choice for those who love to explore the southern part of the lake, whilst towns like Gardone Riviera have easy access to the northern shores of Lake Garda where you can witness the stunning mountain backdrop. On a clear day visit Malcesine to take the cable car to the top of Monte Baldo for the best views in town.
Gennaro recommends: “The lake acts like a huge solar panel and the mountains as an insulator keeping the heat in making for a year-round mild climate. As a result, the olive and grape vines on the banks of the lake produce excellent olive oil and wine – look out for white Lugana or Bardolino red – and even lemons grow producing a local liqueur known as limoncino.“
Head to the romantic city of Verona made famous by William Shakespeare and visit Juliet’s balcony. Afterwards take a stroll around this beautiful city and finish off your day by enjoying dinner in Piazza Bra and watch the world go by. If travelling during mid-June – August, it’s a must to catch an opera in Piazza Bra at the famous Roman amphitheatre.
Gennaro recommends: “Head to vibrant Piazza delle Erbe for its daily market and enjoy a shopping spree Italian-style on the elegant Via Mazzini.”
Wake up early and travel by rail to the Renaissance city, Florence. Be transported by private car to your chosen hotel. Settle in, absorb your surroundings before taking a walking tour of Florence. Your first stop should be the Duomo.
Visit the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Gallery to admire Michelangelo's David. For peace and tranquillity, stroll through the Boboli gardens on the outskirts of the city centre. Spend the next afternoon visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa – an hour away by train. Alternatively escape to the Tuscany countryside – visit enchanting Siena, historic San Gimignano with it's 14 Medieval towers and the wine producing region of Chianti.
Gennaro recommends: “There is so much to see packed into a relatively small city, such as the Republica Square, the Duomo with Brunelleschi's famous dome and the Baptistery with its famous Gates of Paradise. The Mercato Centrale in Florence is not to be missed.”
Leave the Renaissance city of Florence and head to the iconic city of Rome by rail. We recommend the Hotel Forum - especially their rooms with a Forum view. Unpack your bags and start exploring the eternal city.
Take our Archaeological Wonders of Rome tour to visit the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and other fascinating ancient sights. Visit the Vatican museum, be awed by St Peter’s Basilica and admire the Sistine Chapel. End a perfect day with dinner and drinks in the fashionable Trastevere district.
Gennaro recommends: “Slightly off the beaten track, but within walking distance to Campo dei Fiori, is Rome's Jewish quarter - a ghetto built in the 16th century which has, over time, been reconstructed, and nowadays is where Romans flock to eat in the many Jewish trattorias. I like to eat at the family run Trattoria da Giggetto for their honest home cooking and their artichoke speciality, carciofi alla giudea.”
Take the one hour 15 minute train journey to Naples where a private transfer will take you to your hotel in Sorrento. Admire the views over the Bay of Naples and explore the cliff-side residences of Sorrento at leisure, before enjoying a meal at one of the many seafood restaurants in Marina Grande.
The history of this coastal town stretches back to the ancient Romans when it was used a lively summer playground. Sorrento is ideally placed for exploring the Amalfi Coast, Naples, Pompeii and other famous nearby sights. History lovers will be fascinated by Pompeii, the town that was wiped out by the volcanic eruption in 79AD. The island of Capri is a short hydrofoil journey away, 20 minutes from Sorrento. Whilst you are there head off the beaten track and walk up to Villa Jovis which was Emperor Tiberius's summer villa. The area is also well known for it's fabulous food.
Gennaro recommends: “Sorrento is particularly picturesque with plenty of squares in which to enjoy a coffee and a spot of people watching. It is also a great place from which to explore the surrounding area. I particularly enjoy visiting the island of Capri with its charming port of Marina Grande, home to the island’s fishermen, colourful houses and one of its most beautiful beaches. While here, I also recommend taking a boat trip to see the famous faraglioni (rock formations which rise out of the sea) and the spectacular Blue Grotto, a memory which will last with you forever.”
Palermo is the perfect starting point for your stay in Sicily, it is full of history, art galleries and architecture. One must-see is the Teatro Massimo, the neoclassical opera house of Palermo. Its claim to fame is the climax scene to the Godfather III, filmed on the opera house steps. After this, visit Palermo’s centuries-old working harbour, also known for its thriving local markets.
Gennaro recommends: “In Palermo I love to visit Vucceria and Ballaro’ markets – rowdy, crowded but such an unforgettable experience. Try Palermo’s pani ca’ meusa, a panino filled with veal spleen, cacciocavallo cheese and a squeeze of lemon! Believe me, it’s delicious!”
Enjoy the morning in Cefalu, this delightful town is a bustling seaside resort with a wide sandy beach and meandering cobbled streets lined with local craft shops. In the afternoon transfer to Taormina, often referred to the most beautiful town in Sicily thanks to its impressive amphitheatre, dramatic cathedral and cliff top location.
No trip to Taormina is complete without visiting Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano. Go off road with our Enjoy Etna Excursion, climbing to 1800m above sea level.
There are also plenty of waterfront activities to enjoy including a scenic boat tour around the Bay of Naxos or an excursion to the spectacular Aeolian Islands of Lipari and Stromboli, absorb stunning views of their volcanoes before heading back to your hotel.. Alternatively, head out of town to Syracuse, which is well known for its Greek and Roman history.
Or simply spend the day relaxing by the pool.
Gennaro recommends: “Be sure to try cannoli Siciliani, fried pastry tubes filled with ricotta and candied fruit, or cassata, sponge with ricotta and marzipan, beautifully decorated with candied fruit.”
Take your private transfer back to Catania airport and wave goodbye to Sicily.
25 days from £6635 per person
Direct flights to Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) are available from Birmingham, Edinburgh, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton, London Stansted and Manchester and take approximately 2 hours.
Direct flights to Milan Bergamo (BGY) are available from London Stansted, Bristol, Manchester, East Midlands and Belfast and take approximately 2 hours.
At the current time, British citizens do not require a visa to visit Italy.
You don’t have to leave a tip in Italy – most Italians don’t tip for restaurant meals, bar drinks, taxi rides or hair and beauty treatments. However if you do leave a tip, you might receive quicker service.
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