Arrive in Rome, where you are met and transferred to your hotel in the center of the city. Tonight, join your Resident Tour Director for dinner at the hotel.
Rome | Essence of the Eternal City
Begin your day discovering the evocative remains of the Eternal City. Start with the Palatine Hill, where your local guide brings to life the legend of the city’s origin in the eighth century BC under twin brothers Romulus and Remus. Then, pass the imposing Arch of Constantine to visit the mighty Colosseum. Built in AD 80, it held 50,000 spectators who reveled in watching gladiatorial combat, executions of criminals, animal fights and mock naval battles. After lunch at a local restaurant, stop at the lovely Campo de Fiori, one of Rome’s thriving markets. Visit the Piazza Navona, dominated by the Baroque Fountain of the Four Rivers, and continue to the Pantheon, instantly recognizable for its large granite Corinthian columns. Later, enjoy a moment at the Trevi Fountain to perhaps toss in a coin, and finish your day at the foot of the picturesque Spanish Steps on the Piazza di Spagna.
Rome/Vatican City | Michelangelo’s Finest
Today, tour Vatican City, admiring the stunning collections of antiquities, paintings and objets d’art in its vast museum. Behold the Sistine Chapel with its glorious frescoes painted by Michelangelo, and wonder at St. Peter’s Basilica, first erected in 324 on the orders of Emperor Constantine over the tomb of the saint. View the poignant Pietà of Michelangelo and the exuberant Baldaquin of Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini. Bernini, who was the preeminent sculptor of his day as well as an accomplished architect, was a favorite of popes and royals, and left an enduring mark on the cityscape of Rome.
Orvieto/Florence | Tuscan Landscapes
Drive to Florence, stopping en route at the small hilltop town of Orvieto for lunch. Enjoy a guided walking tour of this ancient community, entering the magnificent Piazza del Duomo and the cathedral housing Signorelli’s Cycle of the Apocalypse, which aggressively employs foreshortening techniques to create vibrant images as arresting as they are inspiring. Continue through the breathtaking Tuscan countryside, amid hill-towns encircled by Etruscan walls and slender cypress trees. Arrive in Florence and visit the Accademia, home to Michelangelo’s stunning masterpiece, David. Carved from white Carrara marble and standing 17 feet tall, the statue took three years to complete, with Michelangelo, then in his mid-twenties, working in almost complete secrecy throughout its creation.
Pisa | The Tower & the Duomo
Drive to Pisa to view its famed Leaning Tower, which stands — albeit at a nearly four-degree angle — 196 feet tall. Enjoy a guided tour of the inspiring 11th-century Duomo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the nearby Baptistery, itself a magnificent example of medieval architecture. Renowned for its superb acoustics, its design marks the transition from the Romanesque style to the Gothic style. Then, enjoy lunch before returning to Florence. This afternoon, a guided tour of the Florence Synagogue will reveal the importance of the Jewish community in Italian history. The synagogue, begun in 1874, was constructed with Byzantine architectural touches and features Moorish-influenced interior decorations.
Florence | Uffizi Gallery & a Farm-to-Table Dinner
Join a local art specialist for a guided tour of the Uffizi Gallery, originally designed to hold the uffizi (administrative offices) of the Medici Grand Duke Cosimo. Browse its celebrated assembly of artworks, which includes paintings from the late Middle Ages through the early 18th century, and admire such striking masterpieces as Caravaggio’s Medusa, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Da Vinci’s Annunciation and Raphael’s Madonna of the Goldfinch. Continue with a visit to the 13th-century Basilica of Santissima Annunziata, Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy’s restoration project. This evening, dine at a local farm-to-table restaurant for an authentic — and delectable — Chef’s Table experience.
Florence/Venice | St. Mark’s Basilica
Accompany your guide on a morning stroll through the San Lorenzo district’s famous Central Market before heading into the Tuscan hills to visit an ancient wine and olive oil estate. After a tasting and a light lunch, drive to Venice and take in spectacular views of the lagoon as you enjoy a Scenic Sundowner with your Resident Tour Director and fellow guests. Later, A&K arranges a private after-hours tour of St. Mark’s Basilica, exclusively for your group, led by an expert local guide. Examples of the many artworks on display include the dazzling golden altarpiece known as the Pala d’Oro and the life-size bronze Horses of St. Mark.
Venice | Marvels of the Doge’s Palace
Begin your day with a cruise down the Grand Canal to visit the city’s former Jewish Ghetto. Afterward, set out on a walking tour of the narrow streets around St. Mark’s Square and the Grand Canal. Visit the lavish Doge’s Palace, the seat of government here for centuries and the former residence of the rulers of the Venetian Republic. Take a moment to marvel at the lavish frescoes, graceful staircases and gilded stuccowork that reveal the glory and opulence of earlier times. Next, embark on a romantic gondola ride, before an afternoon at leisure. Tonight, gather for a farewell dinner with your fellow guests.
After breakfast, transfer by boat to the airport and depart.