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The tour enhanced every aspect of my experience in Italy and I was able to see parts of Italy that I never would have if I had planned the trip on my own.Our tour guide, Sarah, was tremendous and was able to provide amazing guidance in each city we visited. One of my favorites was when we were driving up to our hotel in The Dolomites, and we were arriving as the sun was setting.The view of Lake Como from our hotel in Varenna, the German Dolomites, our immersion into the tradition and madness of Il Palio in Siena, experiencing Michelangelo's David and Sistine Chapel all deserve a wow but the Colosseum probably takes top spot for me." Great experience! "Very difficult to come up with just one "wow" but hiking alpi di siuisi(Dolomites) area .and hiking chinque terre were some of my favorites. Hiking in Dolomites, opening your window at night, and listening to the cow bells all night.Choosing the hotels to be central to each stop - makes great sense and really increased our time to explore."Almost too many to mention, but it's a toss-up for me between our optional dinner in Varenna hosted by Giovanni and his grandparents, or simply walking to Trevi fountain at night in Rome.Sleep in Monterosso (2 nights, may be split between 2 hotels). Hike along the trails, taking in lots of fresh air and panoramic views between Cinque Terre villages. Today we'll venture into the heart of magical Tuscany, stopping on the way to poke around the quiet lanes of a friendly hill town. Then we'll tour the elaborate cathedral and learn how Siena's rich medieval history and rivalry with Florence shaped this city. Let's make a modern-day pilgrimage to the hill town of Assisi, where, in a time of unprecedented church wealth, St.Or pick a village where you can spend your day exploring the stairways and alleyways, sunning yourself on the rocks, or sipping cappuccino and catching up on your journal at an outdoor café. Saving the best for last, we'll take an orientation tour of our home for the next two nights — remarkable Siena — a "living museum" brimming with some of Italy's finest Gothic architecture and perhaps its best public square, Il Campo. You'll be well oriented for your free afternoon and evening to enjoy Siena, from its dramatic city hall tower to its well-respected (wine bar/museum). Francis inspired a refocused spirituality through poverty, humility, and the beauty of nature in Umbria. This morning we'll visit Umbria's grand hill town of Orvieto.
We'll end our day amid the peaceful vines and olive groves, tasting several of our host's award-winning wines, and sharing a country-style dinner together. Then you'll be free to wander through the medieval old town and its shops filled with colorful pottery. We'll drive straight to Rome today and spend the afternoon uncovering the heart of the Eternal City. Today we'll focus on Renaissance (Catholic) Rome.The tour provided an appropriate mix of planned activities and free time and The local guides were, a delight!The optional group activities provided an unexpected and wonderful mix of local flair.We'll regroup tonight for dinner at our cozy hotel. After some free time for lunch, we'll set a course for Venice, where we'll board a vaporetto boat for a Grand Canal ride to our hotel in Venice's historic heart. Later tonight, your guide will help organize an optional romantic gondola ride for those who are interested. We'll see and learn about Brunelleschi's magnificent cathedral dome, Ghiberti's Baptistery doors, and other creations that helped define this world-changing era. Upon arrival, your guide will give you an introduction to the town, leaving you with plenty of free time this afternoon to explore on your own.Tonight we'll take an alleys-and-canals orientation stroll before setting you loose for dinner on your own. We'll end our walk at the Accademia Gallery to marvel at works of sculptural genius: Michelangelo's rough-hewn . We'll regroup tonight for an entertaining pesto-making lesson and special pesto dinner at a local family restaurant. Walking: moderate You'll take a "vacation from your vacation" today in our Mediterranean getaway. This morning we'll visit a stained-glass workshop where a local artisan will show us how he fuses traditional and contemporary stained-glass techniques.