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To celebrate our 90th birthday, 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 iconic 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.
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Start your Ultimate trip to Italy in style as you board the Belmond British Pullman at London Victoria, sister train of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. A luxury coach will take you across the channel in style before starting the unforgettable journey to Venice on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. The Art Deco carriages have been meticulously renovated to their former 1920s glory. Sit back and relax as you enjoy the passing scenery. As the day draws to a close, return to your cabin for a comfortable night’s sleep.
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 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 colourful marketplaces.
Head further north of the lake to 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 iconic Verona and visit Juliet’s balcony afterwards take a stroll to nearby Piazza delle Erbe to enjoy dinner. 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!
Escape to the Tuscany countryside – visit enchanting Siena, historic San Gimignano and the wine producing region of Chianti. 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.
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.”
Embark on an evocative rail journey to Rome where you will stay in one of our many central hotels. 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 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.
History lovers will be fascinated by Pompeii, the town that was wiped out by the volcanic eruption in 79AD. From here, it’s just a short transfer to the island of Capri – a 20 minute boat journey from Sorrento. Board a small rowboat to experience the mesmerising Blue Grotto.
Sorrento is just a 40 minute bus journey from Positano – a magical coastal town where you can enjoy the Amalfi Coast at your own pace. Stop at Amalfi, or Scala or relax with a coffee in Ravello.
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.”
From Sorrento, transfer to Naples Airport for your flight to Palermo, capital of Sicily.
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!”
Sit back and relax as you travel through Sicily to Taormina. Start at the grand Greek-Roman theatre and then stroll down to Corso Umberto, Taormina’s main shopping street, for a late lunch or a sumptous dinner.
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 take a scenic boat tour around the Bay of Naxos or an excursion or to the spectacular Aeolian Islands of Panarea and Stromboli. Absorb stunning views of their volcanoes before heading back to your hotel.
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.”
Please call one of our Italy experts to discuss your accommodation choices
Take your private transfer back to Catania airport and wave goodbye to Sicily.
Direct flights to Venice Marco Polo airport (VCE) are available from Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton, Manchester, Newcastle and Southend and take approximately 2 hours. Transfers from the airport are by water taxi or water bus and take approximately 40 minutes to reach the centre of Venice.
Direct flights to Venice Treviso airport (TSF) depart from London Stansted, Leeds Bradford, Bristol and East Midlands and take approximately 2 hours.