Italian Highlights Tour – 2016

Rome, Florence and Venice

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Visit and tour some of the most beautiful regions of Italy – Umbria, Tuscany and Veneto.

  • Stay three nights in Rome, the capital of Italy and the eternal city that has had a uniquely central role in the history of the western world and of Christianity.
  • Spend three nights based in Florence, exploring its wealth of art, culture and history and visiting stunning Tuscan highlights in Pisa, Siena and San Gimignano.
  • Spend three nights in Venice, “La Serenissima” - the most serene.

Arrive with an open mind and you will find yourself agreeing with Henry James, who wrote on his arrival in Rome that "At last, for the first time, I live."

Enjoy the land that gave the world pasta and pizza, Dante and Machiavelli, Michelangelo and da Vinci, Verdi and Pavarotti, Fellini and Sophia Loren, a wonderful sense of style and la Dolce Vita.  Discover Roman ruins and Renaissance palaces, admire tiny medieval hill towns, enjoy the special colours of Tuscany and Umbria and find out for yourself what makes this region so seductive.  Or simply come to enjoy the food and the wine.


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Board your flight from your home destination to Leonardo da Vinci / Fiumicino Airport, Rome, Italy.

This itinerary assumes this to be an overnight flight. 

Air fare independently arranged.


Arrival in Rome (Roma in Italian).

You are picked up individually after your flight and taken to your hotel in Rome.

Time to relax in the afternoon, or to go for a stroll or start sightseeing on your own.

Tonight you'll meet your travelling companions and tour director, and enjoy a welcome dinner at one of Rome’s fine restaurants.  After dinner join your tour director for a leisurely stroll to the Trevi Fountain.

>  Your tour includes: Transfer from Rome airport to hotel, welcome dinner with menu choices and wine (or, of course,
    something else), overnight in Rome hotel

Trevi Fountain


Sightseeing in ROME today starts with an inside visit to ST. PETER'S SQUARE and BASILICA.  Work started on the new basilica 500 years ago and took 150 years to complete, involving the contributions among others of Brabante, Raphael and Michelangelo, whose dome soars 119 metres above the papal altar and the site of St. Peter’s tomb.

Afterwards admire the COLOSSEUM – the greatest amphitheatre of the classical antiquity – built about 1,930 years ago.  It is considered an architectural and engineering wonder, and remains as a standing proof of both the grandeur and the cruelty of the Roman world.

In the afternoon join your tour director for a leisurely stroll to see the Spanish Steps and free time for shopping followed by dinner in a local trattoria.

>  Buffet breakfast, door-to-door transportation, entrance and guide fees for St .Peter’s and Colosseum, three-course dinner
    with wine, overnight in Rome hotel

St. Peter's


Late morning departure on a country excursion to TIVOLI for a visit to the famous VILLA D'ESTE, built by Cardinal Ippolito d’Este.  The park has over 500 fountains, including masterpieces by Bernini and Pirro Ligorio.

After your visit you have time for lunch and shopping, before we continue to FRASCATI, situated on the Alban Hills.  Frascati, known for the splendid villas built from the 16th century by the Popes, Cardinals and Roman nobles as status symbols of Roman aristocracy, has been called the Roman Versailles.  Not the least of its attractions is the famous wine, which you have time to enjoy.

From here it is a short ride to CASTEL GANDOLFO, famous for its Papal Palace, the summer residence of the Holy Father.  The lovely town is situated on the edge of an extinct volcano, the Alban Lake. 

Early Country Dinner on the way back to Rome.

>  Buffet breakfast, door-to-door transportation, entrance fees, three-course dinner with choices, one beverage and coffee,
    overnight in Rome hotel

Villa d'Este



Today say goodbye to the eternal city and go north.  Our first stop is PERUGIA, the capital of Umbria, for a guided tour of the city.  One of the best preserved Italian hill towns, it has a lively and bloody past.  It was also home to fresco painters like Pietro Vannicci, know as Perugino, teacher of Raphael.

After free time for lunch we go to famous ASSISI, home of St. Francis of Assisi.  Despite the millions of tourists and pilgrims it attracts every year, the town has managed to remain a beautiful and tranquil refuge.  Visit the Basilica with a Franciscan monk.

Continue to Florence, for your three nights stay.  Dinner at the hotel tonight.

>  Buffet breakfast, door-to-door transportation, entrance fees and guided tours, three-course dinner with choices, one drink
    and coffee, hotel in Florence



Today we focus on FLORENCE (Firenze in Italian), the cradle of the Renaissance, home of Dante, Machiavelli, Michelangelo and the Medicis – overwhelming in its wealth of art, culture and history, yet one of the most atmospheric and pleasant cities to visit.

Enjoy a guided tour and visit Michelangelo’s David, stand in awe of Brunelleschi’s magnificent Duomo, and Giotto’s bell tower.  Walk the Ponte Vecchio, and visit the Uffizi Gallery, the world's best collection of Renaissance paintings.  End your walk in Piazza della Signoria, the hub of the city’s political life through the centuries, which has the appearance of an outdoor sculpted gallery.

The afternoon is at leisure to do more sightseeing on your own, or shop for leather, fashion or art.  On the way back south we stop for a moment in Piazzale Michelangelo for a fantastic view over the city and then head for our perfect Tuscan garden dinner.

>  Buffet breakfast, door-to-door transportation, guided tour of Florence, all entrance fees, three-course garden dinner with
    menu choices, wine and coffee, hotel in Florence



Our first stop today is PISA to take your pictures of the most famous bell tower in the world. The top of the tower is more than 12 feet from where it is supposed to be.

Our next stop today is SIENA.  Go for a walk with a local guide in this beautiful, gentle city built on three hills and still surrounded by its ramparts.  Its medieval centre has streets lined with majestic Gothic buildings in various shades known as burnt sienna.

On a hilltop in the heart of Tuscany, just a few miles down the road from Siena, stands SAN GIMIGNANO, a majestic medieval walled town, its profile bristling with tall towers that are famous all over the world.  It has retained all its old streets, its walls, gates, palaces, strongholds and 14 of the original 72 towers.

San Gimignano is one of the most spectacular cities in Italy, and one of the best-preserved medieval cities in the world.  It has a quiet majesty about it, sitting on the top of a hill with 360-degree views into the surrounding valleys.

Dinner tonight is on your own in Florence.

>  Buffet breakfast, door-to-door transportation, entrance fees and local guide in Siena, hotel in Florence

San Gimignano


Today we go north to VERONA, perfectly located on the Adige River at the southern slopes of the Alps, the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  See “Julia’s” balcony and the well preserved Arena, home of a world famous opera festival each summer.  Enjoy free time to stroll in the market square, before we head to Venice for a late afternoon arrival.

When we arrive in VENICE check into your hotel on Lido Island – home of the Venice Film Festival, the Casino and the famous sandy beaches.  Lido is an under-appreciated gem, with upscale homes, historic architecture and an easy, island feel.  Access to Venice is quick and easy on the waterbuses.

Enjoy a first impression of St. Mark’s Square in the evening, and a nice dinner by the canal.

>  Buffet breakfast, door-to-door transportation, entrance fees, three-course dinner with choices, one beverage and coffee,
    hotel in Venice Lido


Day 9 – VENICE

Today see Venice with a local guide.  Arrive by boat at St. Mark’s Square and join the tour of this most unusual city.  See St. Mark’s Basilica, which blends the architectural and decorative styles of East and West to create one of the greatest buildings in Europe.  Tour the elegant Doge's Palace, the official residence of Venice's rulers.  The 14th century façade of the Palace inspired architects all over the world.  Walk across the Bridge of Sighs, and maybe go up the Bell Tower for an incredible view.

We see the Grand Canal in style on a gondola ride.

 Dinner on your own tonight with lots of suggestions.

>  Buffet breakfast, door-to-door transportation, entrance fees, hotel in Venice Lido



This morning we cruise the Venetian Lagoon and stop in Murano, the glass blowing island.  Murano has been the centre of the Venetian glassmaking industry since 1291, when the furnaces were moved here from the city.  Watch the creative process, and perhaps shop for upscale souvenirs.  Our next island stops are Burano, the fisherman island, and Torcello island, once the largest and most important settlement in the Venetian Lagoon, now a largely abandoned island with a very old basilica.

This afternoon go back into Venice or enjoy the sandy beaches of the Lido.

Tonight we are having a fantastic farewell dinner.

>  Buffet breakfast, door-to-door transportation, entrance fees, three-course dinner with choices, one beverage and coffee,
    hotel in Venice Lido


Day 11 – RETURN


After breakfast we have arranged for individual transfers to Venice Marco Polo Airport to reach your homebound flight, which arrives home the same day.

Buon Viaggio!

>  Buffet breakfast, transfer to airport


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Tour Features 

  • All features as per itinerary, departure guaranteed
  • Door-to-door transportation (all modes).  Leave the navigating to us.
  • 9 breakfast buffets
  • 7 three-course dinners with menu choices, one beverage, and coffee or tea after dinner
  • 9 nights' accommodation
  • All entrance fees, taxes, and local guide fees paid
  • No hidden extras, no optional excursions – already included
  • Maximum group size of 30 people, fewer on most tours
  • The tour language is English only.
  • Packing and unpacking is minimized.  Three nights each in Rome, Florence and Venice.
  • The days are well planned to offer you many highlights, but you are never rushed.
    Ideal combination of free time and planned activities.
  • Skip the lines at must-see attractions.
  • All visits are inside, not drive-by.  Learn the stories that bring old buildings to life.
  • You will see not only the highlights but also the spots where only the locals go.
  • Tour director – Let our experts make every day and destination fascinating!
  • Satisfaction assured – backed up by our money-back guarantee.


Complete printable itinerary in PDF format > Italian Highlights Tour Itinerary


Cortona, Tuscany




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St. Peter's Square

St. Peter's Basilica


Castel Gandolfo

Basilica, Assisi


Piazza di Santa Croce, Florence


Grand Canal, Venice

St. Mark's Square, Venice

Doge's Palace, Venice


There are more pictures in the In Depth section below. 
The Gallery has larger images of tour destinations, and Groups has photos of tour participants.


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Italian Highlights Tour  In Depth

Larger Pictures of Tour Highlights and Communities
Images of Italian Highlights Tour features, from public domain sources

Detailed Itinerary Destination Map
Italian Highlights Tour Destinations map from the top of this web page.

Links to Sources of More Detailed Information
Clickable links to detailed articles on major Italian Highlights Tour itinerary features 

Tour Group and Participant Pictures
Photos from the Italian Highlights Tour.



Other website pages, shared with other tours, also provide in depth information.

Tours Characteristics
Notes on the distinguishing features of the various tours offered. 
What's so special about these tours?  How do they differ from each other?

Comments from participants in this and other Castles tours.

Travel Info
Clickable links to air and rail travel resources, currency and time conversion, etc.


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I have been on 3 European Castles Tours: the River Castles tour; French Castles tour and the Italian Highlights tour.  Each one was fantastic!

Astrid Baur arranges everything so that the traveler can relax and truly enjoy these amazing trips.  Hotels, food, transportation, admission to castles, museums, etc. are all taken care of and she does a spectacular job of choosing the hotels, restaurants - everything! 

You get to see so much and still have time on your own. 

My suggestion is to bring comfortable walking shoes and pack light. 

My hope is to go on another of these trips with European Castles Tours.

-  Christina S., New Jersey,
September 2012

We have experienced two European excursions with the greatest tour guide in Europe, creating the most pristine package.  Astrid's tours are not only fun-filled, but collectively will provide you the most educational tour possible.  Her perfection in attention to detail is non-failing.  She protects and truly cares for each individual's needs, unconditionally at every level.  She provides, subsequently, only the best, equally caring narrators for portions of the world that require additional attention in touring.  She manages to juggle a beautiful balance between tours, personal time, shopping, and group activity.  Lastly, but not least of all, is her ability to create the most perfect well-rounded dynamic choices of highlights within each destination without any wasted traveling time.

-  Diana and Gary Leis, Oregon, May 2010

The Italian Highlights Tour is a wonderful way to experience Italy for the first time visitor and the repeating visitor. 

The agenda provides marvellous adventures through western civilization from the ancient ruins of Rome, the Christian pilgrimages, the hilltop towns, the architecture, the art, and topped with the magical city of Venice.  The itinerary is action packed with guided tours, excellent guides, time for personal exploration, and shopping.  The hotel villas were very accommodating and the meals were fantastic.

Thanks again for the awesome adventures!  We are looking forward to our 4th tour with you in 2012!

-  Joan and Vic Pepper, North Carolina, May 2010

Additional comments on other Castles Tours are provided on a separate  References Page .

Comments, experiences and recommendations from guests on past tours are featured in our  References Video .


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Dates and Prices


Complete printable itinerary in PDF format >



The Italian Highlights Tour is offered on the following basis:

Tour prices are for the land segment only.  Air fare is not included.

Prices are per person, in U.S. dollars, based on double occupancy.
Single Occupancy is available for a Single Supplement charge of US $ 300.
A child 8 to 16 years old sharing a room with two adults receives a 30% reduction on this tour.

Guaranteed Departure:  The Italian Highlights Tour is guaranteed to operate
as scheduled and will not be cancelled due to a low level of participation.

A deposit of US $ 300 per person is required to secure a reservation.


Italian Highlights Tour – 2016



Your overnight international flight leaves ...




Child 8-16
with 2 Adults


June 8, 2016

Available - Book now

US $ 3,070

US $ 3,370

US $ 2,149


September 7, 2016

Available - Book now

US $ 3,070

US $ 3,370

US $ 2,149


Reservation details and materials  >




Dates for all current multi-day Castles tours >

Tour Dates


Private Tour Option

Do our dates not work for you?  We can arrange the tour for you or your party as a private tour.  Same itinerary as above in a private limousine
or van, with bilingual, professional private guide / chauffeur.  Prices per individual are the same as for the regular group tour, plus a US $ 200 per day
private tour premium for the group.

Contact us with your preferred dates and specific requirements at  this private tour email link
.... or phone one of the numbers below, or write to the address on our Contact page.


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Contact Information

Email is fast, flexible, and free. You can write to us at  this email link .

You can phone Astrid Baur in Germany  (Eastern Time + 6 Hours)

        U.S. Phone:  (202) 580 - 8732  /  Castles Office:  +49  8362  924 8800 


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