Grand Tour of Italy with Armando & Francesca
(Rome, Latium, Tuscany & Liguria – duration 8 days)

With this tour Armando & Francesca (both licensed guides and happily married since 1989) will make you experience the famous “Grand Tour” that since the late sixteenth century, and for the next 300 years, it became fashionable for young aristocrats, artists and intellectuals to visit Venice, Florence, Naples and, above all, Rome, as the culmination of their classical education. With their expertice in touring people since the last 20 years Armando and Francesca will make you experience the fascinating landscapes and cities of Italy bringing to mind the impressions of famous Grand Tourists such as Stendhal, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Turner, West…etcetera.
Our aim is to promote the knowledge of the Italian cultural and naturalistic heritage in the mood of the travellers of that age, a way to travel nowdays lost in the context of modern “mass tourism”.
We provide different type of Italy Grand Tours of various duration (from a minimun of 5 days up to 30 days), for private, families and small groups, off the beaten tracks and away from the crowded routes (the itinerary below is flexible and it can be modified on the base of clients’ interests).

Visits: Rome (2 nights), Vatican City, Caprarola, Tarquinia, Tuscania, Vulci, Mt. Argentario, Porto Ercole (1 night), Pitigliano, Radicofani, Abbey of St. Antimo, Montalcino, Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, Siena (1 night), San Gimignano, Volterra, Livorno (1 night), Pisa, Lucca, Viareggio (1 night), Cinque Terre, Portofino, Genoa.

Day 1st – Rome (2 nights): morning, pick up from the Leonardo Da Vinci Rome Airport and check into hotel; then you’ll start to discover Rome: its history spans more than two and a half thousand years, since its legendary founding in 753 BC; Rome is one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in Europe; it is referred to as “The Eternal City” (Latin: Roma Aeterna) and “Caput Mundi” (English: Capital of the World), two central notions in ancient Roman culture; In the ancient world it was successively the capital city of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and is regarded as one of the birthplaces of Western civilization; since the 1st century AD, Rome has been considered the seat of the Papacy and in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870. In 1871 Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, and in 1946 that of the Italian Republic. We’ll have lunch in a typical restaurant and in the afternoon we’ll show you the magnificent archaeological area of the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and Roman Forum, that reveals what the central goverment of the Roman Empire must have been like in ancient times; visit to the Basilica of St. Peter in Chains (Michelangelo’s Moses); then time for leisure and dinner in a typical restaurant.

Day 2nd – Rome & Vatican City: after a good breakfast we’ll get you to the Vatican City State: it is a walled enclave within the city of Rome; with an area of approximately 44 hectares (110 acres), and a population of 842, it is the smallest internationally recognized independent state in the world by both area and population; we’ll show you the wonders of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica; lunch in a typical restaurant, then we’ll walk to see Castel Sant’Angelo, the Tiber River, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, and Trevi Fountain; then back to your hotel, time for leisure and dinner in a typical restaurant.

Day 3rd – On this day we’ll leave Rome to drive to Porto Ercole (1 night): after breakfast we’ll drive to Caprarola to visit Villa Farnese, commissioned by the cardinal Alessandro Farnese senio in 1530 to the architect Antonio da Sangallo, one of the most important architects of the time; then we’ll drive to Tarquinia: it is one of the most ancient of Etruscan cities and the chief of the twelve cities of Etruria; visit to the Etruscan necropolis; we’ll then drive to Tuscania to visit the Church of Saint Peter, in Lombard-Romanesque style, begun in the 8th century and renovated in the 11th-12th centuries, and the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore; we’ll then reach the nearby Etruscan town of Vulci to see the ancient bridge Ponte della Badia over the Fiora River; we’ll then drive to Porto Ercole on Mt. Argentatio: a peninsula is connected with the mainland by three spits of land which form two lagoons, with a panoramic road that starts in Porto Santo Stefano, allowing splendid views of the coast and the Tuscan Archipelago, and leads to Porto Ercole, the village where the famous artist Caravaggio died in 1610; time for leisure and dinner in a typical restaurant.

Day 4th – On this day we’ll leave Porto Ercole to drive to Siena (1 night): after breakfast we’ll drive to Pitigliano: the quaint old town is known as the little Jerusalem, for the historical presence of a Jewish community that has always been well integrated into the social context and that have their own synagogue; we’ll walk the historic centre of the town; then we’ll drive to Radicofani to see its Rocca (castle) of Carolingian origin and documented since 978 occupying the highest point of a hill, at 896 metres (2,940 ft); we’ll then drive to the Abbey of Sant’Antimo, a former Benedictine monastery about 9 km from the Via Francigena, the pilgrim route to Rome; then we’ll arrive Montalcino: the very high site of the town offers stunning views over the Asso, Ombrone and Arbia valleys of Tuscany, dotted with silvery olive orchards, vineyards, fields and villages; we’ll stop to taste the famous local wine Brunello; we’ll then drive to the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, founded on 1313 by St. Bernardo Tolomei; visit to the cloister with fresco by Sodoma and Luca Signorelli; we’ll then reach Siena: one of the nation’s most visited tourist attractions, Siena is famous for its cuisine, art, museums, medieval cityscape and the Palio, a horse race held twice a year; visit to the Cathedral and Piazza del Campo; time for leisure and dinner in a typical restaurant.

Day 5th – On this day we’ll leave Siena to drive to Livorno (1 night): after breakfast we’ll drive to San Gimignano: it is a small walled medieval hill town known as the Town of Fine Towers, San Gimignano is famous for its medieval architecture, unique in the preservation of about a dozen of its tower houses, which, with its hilltop setting and encircling walls form “an unforgettable skyline”; we’ll walk the town to visit the Duomo (Cathedral); we’ll then drive to Volterra: the town was a Neolithic settlement and an important Etruscan center (Velathri or Felathri in Etruscan) with an original civilization; it became a municipium in the Roman Age; the city was a bishop’s residence in the 5th century, and its episcopal power was affirmed during the 12th century; visit to the Cathedral decorated with beautiful artworks; we’ll then arrive Livorno: it was founded in 1017 as one of the small coastal fortresses protecting Pisa; it belonged to the city of Pisa for several hundred years; Livorno was designed as an “Ideal town” during the Italian Renaissance, when it was ruled by the Grand Duke of the Medici family; time for leisure and dinner in a typical restaurant.

Day 6th – On this day we’ll leave Livorno to drive to Viareggio (1 night): after breakfast we’ll walk Livorno: in the late 1580s, Ferdinando I of Tuscany declared Livorno a porto franco or free port, which meant that the goods traded here were duty-free within the area of the town’s control; Livorno became an enlightened European city and one of the most important ports of the entire Mediterranean area; many European foreigners moved to Livorno; at the end of the 17th century, Livorno underwent a period of great town planning and expansion; visit to the “New Venice” district and to the Old English Cemetery that is the oldest foreign Protestant burial ground in Italy, it was founded around 1645 and contains over 300 Carrara marble graves of notable people from 10 different nationalities (Tobias Smollett and Francis Horner were buried here, but also some of the friends of Byron and Shelley and the husband of Saint Elizabeth Seton); we’ll then drive to Pisa: although Pisa is known worldwide for its leaning tower (the bell tower of the city’s cathedral), the city contains more than 20 other historic churches, several palaces and various bridges across the River Arno; much of the city’s architecture was financed from its history as one of the Italian maritime republics; visit to Piazza dei Miracoli with the Cathedral, bell tower (leaning tower), Baptistry and the Campo Santo (the monumental cemetery); we’ll then get to Lucca: it is famous among other things for its intact Renaissance-era city walls; visit to the House-Museum of Giacomo Puccini (where the famous composer was born on 1858), and to Piazza dell’Anfiteatro; we’ll then reach Viareggio: It is known as a seaside resort as well as being the home of the famous carnival of Viareggio (dating back to 1873), and its papier-mâché floats, which parade along the promenade known as “Passeggiata a mare”, in the weeks preceding Easter; time for leisure and dinner in a typical restaurant.

Day 7th – On this day we’ll leave Viareggio to drive to Genova (Genoa; 2 night): after breakfast we’ll drive to the “Cinque Terre”: a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera in the Liguria region, “The Five Lands” comprises five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore; visit of the villages by train or by ferryboat; we’ll then drive across Rapallo and Santa Margherita Ligure to reach Portofino: it is a fishing village and upmarket resort famous for its picturesque harbour and historical association with celebrity visitors; we’ll walk the town; then we’ll finally arrive to Genoa: it is one of Europe’s largest cities on the Mediterranean Sea and the largest seaport in Italy; Genoa has been nicknamed la Superba (“the Proud one”) due to its glorious past and impressive landmarks; the city’s rich art, music, gastronomy, architecture and history allowed it to become the 2004 European Capital of Culture; it is the birthplace of Christopher Columbus and Niccolo Paganini; time for leisure and dinner in a typical restaurant.

Day 8th – Genova: before 1100, Genoa emerged as an independent city-state, one of a number of Italian city-states during this period; nominally, the Holy Roman Emperor was overlord and the Bishop of Genoa was president of the city; however, actual power was wielded by a number of “consuls” annually elected by popular assembly; Genoa was one of the so-called “Maritime Republics” (Repubbliche Marinare), along with Venice, Pisa, and Amalfi and trade, shipbuilding and banking helped support one of the largest and most powerful navies in the Mediterranean; in the 16th century, the city attracted many artists, including Rubens, Caravaggio and Van Dyck; the famed architect Galeazzo Alessi (1512–1572) designed many of the city’s splendid palazzi, as did in the decades that followed by Bartolomeo Bianco (1590–1657), designer of centrepieces of University of Genoa; a number of Genoese Baroque and Rococo artists settled elsewhere and a number of local artists became prominent; visit to the Cathedral, and to the old seaside district of Boccadasse, with its multicolour boats; we’ll then walk by the monumental fountain of Piazza De Ferrari; we’ll also visit the Aquarium in the Old Harbour – the biggest in Italy and one of the major in Europe – and its Marina (the tourist small port which holds hundreds of pleasure boats); then we’ll visit the monumental Cemetery of Staglieno, in which the mortal remains of several known personalities rest, among them Giuseppe Mazzini, Fabrizio De André and Oscar Wilde’s wife; time for leisure and dinner in a typical restaurant (End of the Grand Tour).

The above itinerary is ideal for a couple, as well as for a family with children, or for a small group of people (friends/family), and it can be modified on the base of client’s interests; also it is possible to make a shorter vacation (minimum 5 days).

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