Hidden Italy & The Keys to the Vatican
Save up to £100 per booking on 2020 departures when you book on or before 15/10/2019
Allow yourself to be immersed in the captivating culture, cuisine and history of Italy on this special tour. From pasta making and truffle hunting in the Umbrian countryside and staying at an authentic 'trulli' resort, to watching the Vatican City come to life before your eyes on a private visit, this holiday takes you off the beaten track to showcase the very best hidden experiences Italy has to offer.
Discover this different side to Italy on an exclusive small group tour, as part of an intimate group of no more than 20 like-minded travellers. With our small group tours, you have all the advantages of travelling in a group as well as access to certain experiences and hotels not suitable for larger parties.
From St Pancras, travel by Eurostar to Paris, continuing by rail to Turin for the night. On Day 2, travel by rail to the Renaissance city of Florence, which we discover on a guided tour before continuing to Umbria. A lesser-known gem in the heart of Italy, Umbria is known for its old-world appeal, rural landscapes, and farm-to-table food. Our hotel is the Abbazia dei Collemedio in Collazzone, a former 13th-century Franciscan monastery. With an idyllic location in the rolling hills, surrounded by Cyprus trees, this property epitomises Umbrian charm.
Travel by coach to peaceful Assisi. As the birth and resting place of St. Francis, who is interred in the Basilica of Assisi, Assisi's religious heritage has earned it UNESCO status. We are guided through the Basilica by a local Franciscan Monk, seeing the elaborate frescoes of the white-washed Upper Church and austere Lower Church. Continue to the Medieval walled city of Perugia for free time to explore the cobblestoned streets of the 14th-century town centre.
Spend a day immersed in authentic Umbrian culture and cuisine at a charming farm in Pettino, which has been in the same family since the 1400s. After a warm welcome, head into the nearby hills to partake in the centuries-old tradition of truffle hunting, sampling our findings with a glass of prosecco in a picturesque hillside spot. Returning to the farmhouse, learn about the family's culinary traditions with a pasta-making demonstration and a visit to the cheese room. Finally, sit down with the family for an authentic Umbrian lunch, made with fresh ingredients, along with plenty of delicious local wine.
After a relaxed morning, travel by coach to Montepulciano. Perched on a hillside in the undulating Tuscan countryside, this Renaissance town is known for its wine, with its prestigious Vino Nobile regarded as one of the finest wines in Italy. Enjoy time at leisure to explore the medieval streets before visiting one of the town's underground wine cellars for a tour and tasting of this famous red wine.
We travel to Foligno for a rail journey south to Puglia, the unspoilt 'heel' of Italy. Arriving in Bari, continue to the luxurious Leonardo Trulli Resort in Locorotondo for 4 nights. This resort is truly special, with rooms located in the Art Nouveau farmhouse or one of several authentic trulli - centuries-old, cone-shaped houses typical of this region, built using techniques that date to prehistoric times.
We uncover some lesser-known treasures on Day 7, heading first to Martina Franca, whose Old Town is a delightful labyrinth of narrow lanes lined with intricate Baroque façades. Continue to UNESCO-listed Alberobello, home to over 1,400 trulli, many of which have been converted into galleries, shops and cafés. Finally, explore historic Locorotondo, famous for its wines and circle-shaped centre.
We visit Ostuni, a stunning hilltop city whose white-washed buildings rise from a sea of olive trees which spread toward the coast. Ostuni is known for olive oil, and we visit an olive oil mill for an insight into its production. After a rustic lunch, we continue to Monopoli on the sparkling Adriatic coast, for free time. Unwind in a café, explore the quaint streets, or admire the impressive 16th-century castle.
We travel by rail (Standard Class) to Lecce on Day 9. We take in its Renaissance and Baroque heart on a guided tour, pausing en route to indulge in some coffee and a pasticciotto - a traditional filled Lecce pastry. Lecce boasts a captivating history, with evidence of Roman structures still visible today - the ancient amphitheatre is located in the central piazza. Later, there is time to explore the town at your own pace.
We travel by rail to Rome, where we check into the NH Collection Roma Centro. Soak up Rome's world-class blend of ancient history, art and cosmopolitan charm on Day 11. Perhaps visit the breathtaking Colosseum, where you can trace the footsteps of mighty gladiators as they prepared for victory. Toss a coin into the ornate Trevi Fountain, or simply stroll amongst the historic yet bustling streets, bursting with al fresco cafés, Medieval piazzas and artistic masterpieces.
We wake early on Day 12 for an out of hours Vatican tour. We meet the 'clavigero', the key keeper granted the privilege of opening the Vatican each day, and watch as age-old buildings are opened and lights are turned on, revealing centuries of art, history and architecture. A highlight comes as we reach the Sistine Chapel, stepping inside the sacred building as it is cloaked in darkness and watching it transform before our eyes. Our tour ends with breakfast in the elegant Courtyard of the Pinecone. Return to the hotel for some free time ahead of our flight home.
Please note: you will need to take your luggage back to the UK with you on your flight, rather than by our luggage transfer service.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
NEW FOR 2020: Inclusive Luggage Transfer
Please note: This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.
Immerse in the captivating culture, cuisine and history of Italy