ARRIVE IN ITALY.
Welcome to Rome! On arrival complimentary transfers are provided to your hotel, departing the airport at 09:30, 12:30 & 15:30. Later, meet your Travel Director for a Welcome Dinner in a local restaurant, followed by an evening orientation to see Rome illuminated in all its glory.
DAY 2 – RELAXED START
The day is devoted to the Eternal City. Join a Local Expert for an in-depth visit to the Vatican Museums, with Insight’s special VIP entry to avoid the crowds and behind-the scenes access to the Bramante Staircase, a marvel of Renaissance architecture normally off-limits to visitors. Visit the Sistine Chapel where the Popes are elected to admire Michelangelo’s famous ceiling. Continue to St. Peter’s Basilica to wonder at another of his works and stand beneath the dome which was completed after his death. During a guided walking exploration of Rome, toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain, see the Pantheon and enjoy free time in Piazza Navona.
GALLERIA BORGHESE AND FREE TIME.
A highlight for art lovers today with a visit to the Galleria Borghese, which houses a substantial part of the Borghese collection of paintings, sculptures and antiquities, begun by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V who reigned from 1605 to 1621. The rest of the day is yours to explore on your own before joining for dinner at a local restaurant this evening.
ORVIETO AND ONTO FLORENCE.
Travel into the heart of Italy to the hilltop town of Orvieto, located on a rock pedestal overlooking a vineyard-covered plain. Here, take in the flavours of the region, learn about the ingredients and Italian food culture when you join a local chef for a fascinating cooking demonstration, followed by lunch and a glass of the Orvieto Classico wine – a magical culinary experience! Continue through the idyllic landscapes of Umbria and Tuscany to Florence, birthplace of the Renaissance.
With a Local Expert, visit the Uffizi Gallery one of the oldest and most famous art museums in Europe. You’ll enjoy works by Michelangelo, Botticelli and Raphael amongst other masterpieces. Then embark on a sightseeing trip to see the multi coloured marble cathedral, bell tower and baptistry, adorned by Ghiberti’s ‘Gates of Paradise’. This evening is free for you to enjoy the ambience of this timeless city.
FLORENCE TO MILAN.
We travel first to Vinci, the birthplace of Leonardo Da Vinci, one of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance, and 2019 marks the 500th Anniversary of his death, so what better time to visit! Here we visit the Museo Leonardiano, dedicated to showcasing his genius. Continue to Lucca where we indulge in a wine and olive oil tasting before heading to the fashion capital Milan. This evening, we are treated to a dinner of local flavours.
This morning, visit the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie with a Local Expert. It is an outstanding work of architecture and is perhaps even more famous for its connection to Leonardo Da Vinci’s fresco of ‘The Last Supper” which is preserved inside its refectory* (dining hall). The Church is one of Renaissance Arts most important testimonies and has therefore been included as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Later, visit the La Scala Opera House in Milan regarded as one of the leading opera and ballet theatres in the world.
MILAN TO BASEL.
Farewell Italy and travel into the mountains of Switzerland. Stop first in Engelberg, an alpine town in central Switzerland. In the centre of the town is Kloster Engelberg, a 12th-century Benedictine monastery, founded in 1120 and even today, Monks live and teach there. Here we meet local farmers before embarking on a delightful horse-drawn carriage ride. Call in at a local farm where a wonderful spread of homemade drinks and snacks is served, Then it’s on to Basel situated on the Rhine River close to the border with France and Germany.
FOUNDATION BEYELER MUSEUM.
This morning, explore Basel with your Travel Director, concluding with a visit to the Foundation Beyeler Museum. In 1997, the Foundation opened a museum designed particularly to house the private collection of Ernst and Hildy Beyeler. The collection houses over 300 pieces of art including works by Cezanne, Picasso, Rousseau, Mondrian, Klee, Ernst, Matisse and Newman. The rest of the day is free for you to enjoy Basel at your leisure.
BASEL TO PARIS.
Travelling into the Burgundy wine region of France, we stop in the walled town of Beaune. After an orientation with your Travel Director, settle in for a tasting of the local wines. Then continue onto the French capital, Paris. This evening, enjoy a typical French style dinner.
THE BEST OF PARIS.
This morning on your orientation of Paris, see the Eiffel tower, the facades of the Louvre, the obelisk in the centre of the Place de la Concorde and enjoy a drive along the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. Then there is free time to explore Paris at your leisure. This evening, we visit the renowned Louvre Museum at night, offering a totally different perpspective. Formerly a royal palace, the Louvre has embraced the history of France for eight centuries and features works admired across the globe, including the Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, and the Venus de Milo.
Join your Local Expert to visit the Musee d’Orsay. The former Gare d’Orsay of Beaux-Arts architecture is now one of the largest museums in Europe and home to the largest collection of Impressionist and Post Impressionist masterpieces in the world. Be enthralled by the works of Monet, Manet, Degas, Cezanne, Van Gogh, amongst others. This afternoon, perhaps join an optional experience to Monet’s garden in Giverny to see the inspiration of some of his most famous works before heading back to Paris. Dine tonight at a local Parisian restaurant.
PARIS TO AMSTERDAM.
Travel into Belgium today and make a stop in the canal city of Ghent. Its centre is known for medieval architecture such as the 12th-century Gravensteen Castle and the Graslei, a row of guildhalls with their beautiful façades reflected in the River Lys. Relax at a café terrace, shop for belgian chocolate or simply take in the atmosphere. Continue on to the Dutch capital, Amsterdam, a vibrant metropolis and still a living museum of the 17th Century.
Admire world famous masterpieces in the Rijksmuseum. Among the collections are masterpieces by Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Johannes Vermeer. Then onto the Van Gogh Museum, home to the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings and drawings in the world. This evening, enjoy dinner while cruising through the canals and celebrate our time on this extraordinary journey.
Your journey comes to an end after breakfast. Complimentary transfers to the airport depart at 08.00 and 10.00am.