Explore Paris, Milan, Venice and a legendary train
Take in seductive Tuscany and beguiling Venice, before boarding the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, stepping back in time to a world of romance, indulgence and adventure.
Your holiday begins with a flight to Pisa, home to Italy's famous Leaning Tower. On arrival, we transfer to our hotel in Florence, a city synonymous with Italy's art culture, often referred to as the 'jewel of the Renaissance.' After time to settle in at our hotel, the 4-Star Starhotels Michelangelo, we enjoy dinner together in the hotel's restaurant this evening.
We enjoy a guided tour of Florence's many treasures today, including the Duomo with its iconic red-tiled dome, and the beautiful Ponte Vecchio - a 14th century bridge that is home to 43 jewellers' shops.
Your afternoon is free to explore Florence at leisure. Picturesque narrow streets and squares, including the Piazza della Signoria - the people-watching centre of Florence - are only part of the city's charm; much of the beauty of the city is found indoors. One fifth of the world's Renaissance art is kept and displayed in Florence's museums, galleries, churches, monasteries and palaces; many in the Basilica Santa Croce and as many as 1,700 masterpieces in the world-famous Uffizi Gallery.
Our excursion today is to delightful Siena, a remarkably well-preserved medieval city that boasts a mix of narrow streets, pretty open spaces and magnificent buildings focused around the great central Campo, a shell-shaped piazza. Although many of the oldest remaining structures date back to the medieval period, the town itself has a much longer history, having developed under the Etruscans, before Roman occupation around the first century BC. We take a guided tour of the city's enchanting streets, enjoying it's delightfully traffic-free winding streets and haphazard layout, lined with terracotta-roofed houses and dotted with small community churches. Sights of interest in Siena include the magnificent Duomo, one of Italy's great cathedrals with a nave flanked on both sides by intriguing giant striped columns, constructed from black and white marble.
After exploring Siena, we move on to a typical winery in the rolling hills of Tuscany. Here, we have a tour of the vineyard, uncovering the secrets to Tuscan wine production amidst some of Italy's most famous countryside scenery, before enjoying a tasting. Later, we visit the striking walled town of San Gimignano, where you are free to explore. The village is perhaps best known for the thirteen towers dominating the skyline, visible for miles around, which were built by competitive Tuscan families in the Middle Ages. After time to discover the town's charms, we return to Florence this evening.
After breakfast today, we travel by rail (Standard Class) to Pisa, where we have a guided tour that includes the city's beautiful Field of Miracles. Here we see the world famous Leaning Tower, which began to lean as soon as it was built and was used by Galileo to study gravity, and the marvellous white marble Duomo. The cathedral is often overlooked by tourists who flock to see the bell tower, one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture. After free time for lunch, we continue to Lucca - Tuscany's best-kept secret; a place of true beauty that has managed to escape the tourist crowds. You are free to wander through the ancient streets at your own pace, before we return to Florence.
Sit back and enjoy our First Class train journey to Venice, the floating city of shimmering waterways, elaborate bridges and ornate palaces. Arriving at the city's Santa Lucia station we are greeted by a truly glorious view of the shimmering Grand Canal, before we transfer to our hotel, the Hotel Splendid Venice. This afternoon, we enjoy a guided tour of Venice, including the magnificent St Mark's Square, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful city squares in the world. Overlooked by St Mark's Basilica, the large open space is surrounded by the Doge's Palace, the Procurator's residence, the famous Sansoviniana Bookshop and the iconic bell tower, as well as the waters of the lagoon.
Our local guide takes us on a walking tour of the city, leading us around the narrow streets and small squares to visit some of Venice's main sights, the famous Rialto Bridge, completed in 1591 and an architectural gem that spans the Grand Canal.
Today gives you the opportunity to further explore Venice. Perhaps visit the nearby island of Burano, famous for its lace-making and full of colourful streets lined with pastel-painted houses, or the island of Murano, which is renowned for its gorgeous glassware. Explore Murano's sparkling art history at the Museo del Vetro, which houses some of the best examples of locally-produced glass artworks. With Roman pieces dating back 1500 years, to 17th century works adorned with delicate gilt work, to modern-day pieces and an explanation of the glass-making process available in an adjoining salon, this is the best way to experience Murano's greatest claim to fame. Tonight we enjoy a four-course farewell dinner in a local restaurant.
This morning we embark on the highlight of our adventure, as we board the world-famous Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. This glorious train harks back to the 'Golden Age' of rail travel in its sumptuous interiors and exceptional service. We are welcomed on board with a glass of sparkling wine, after which your steward settles you into your comfortable private vintage cabin. All we need to do is relax and watch the stunning scenery unfold before enjoying a delicious three-course lunch, as we pass through the magnificent Italian Dolomites, with tea and pastries served later this afternoon in your cabin, as the train travels through picturesque Austria. Then it's soon time to dress for dinner in one of the stunning three restaurant cars. We are treated to an indulgent four courses, prepared by talented on-board chefs and enjoyed at a leisurely pace.
Afterwards, why not linger over a nightcap listening to the sound of the baby grand piano? Retire to your cabin when you're ready, which has now been transformed into a cosy bedroom.
We wake up on board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express this morning, where a continental breakfast is served at a time of your choosing in your private cabin. Sit back and watch the final landscapes pass by, before we pull in to Paris. Here, we have a chance to disembark and stretch our legs, before we continue to the French coast for the Channel Tunnel crossing. En-route we enjoy a fantastic brunch in one of the restaurant cars, and as we disembark in Calais, a luxury motorcoach is waiting to take us under the English Channel.
On arrival in the UK, we join the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express's sister train, the Belmond British Pullman, an iconic vintage train that takes us on the final leg of our journey. The height of 1920s elegance and style, the Belmond British Pullman sails serenely through the stunning English countryside - a truly genteel way to pass through the best of British scenery. Each carriage is individually named and steeped in its own history, with some carriages having been used extensively by the British royal family, and wherever you are on board, you will be subject to the greatest of luxury. As we pass through the great British countryside, a traditional afternoon tea accompanied by English sparkling wine is served, as a final highlight of our tour. On arrival in London, we disembark, and our tour concludes here in the capital.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.
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
Enhancing your tour
Please note that for cancellation purposes, this holiday is classed as a 'Private Train' holiday. See our Booking Conditions for further information.
Explore Paris, Milan, Venice and a legendary train