Colorful villages cling to the dramatic coastline of the
Italian Riviera, with the glittering Mediterranean delivering
picture-postcard vistas in every direction and glamorous yachts
clamouring for attention alongside quaint fishing boats.
After meeting at our St Pancras Departure Office, we take the
Eurostar to Paris, continuing to Turin, by high speed TGV where we
Day 2 - To Sestri Levante
This morning you are free to explore Turin. Take a stroll under
the intricate arcades to Piazza Castello, or discover the
magnificent cathedral and Egyptian Museum, before we begin our
journey to Sestri Levante, a picturesque town overlooking the
Mediterranean. The town boasts a large beach, with houses built
right up to the edge of the sand. We travel by rail to Chiavari,
where we transfer by coach to Sestri Levante and the beautiful
Grand Hotel Villa Balbi, our base for seven nights. Set in a
stunning 19th century mansion, the hotel is surrounded by lush
private gardens and has a truly elegant feel.
Day 3 - At leisure in Sestri Levante
Today, you are free to explore Sestri Levante. Occupying a
beautiful position on a peninsula, surrounded by two gorgeous bays,
Sestri Levante is a delight. On one side is the Bay of Fairytales,
named in honour of Hans Christian Andersen, the most famous former
resident of Sestri Levante. With its port, promenade, and shops, it
is the liveliest part of town. On the other side is the Bay of
Silence, which is also known as Portobello. Considered one of the
best beaches in Italy, the Bay of Silence is a wonderful
destination for a gentle stroll - or to appreciate the incredible
colors of an Italian sunset.
Day 4 - Cinque Terre
This morning we explore the Cinque Terre - five picturesque
villages set on the coast: Monterosso, Vernazza, Manarola,
Corniglia and Riomaggiore. The villages are set within a National
Park and share UNESCO World Heritage status, thanks to the
breathtaking scenery along this stretch of the Italian coastline.
The regional train (Standard Class) winds its way along the rugged
coast, traveling through tunnels carved deep into the rock and
emerging into steep wine terraces. We visit Riomaggiore, before
continuing by train to Vernazza and Manarola, with time to explore
with our local guide.
Day 5 - Portofino and San Fruttuoso
Today we cruise to the famous resort of Portofino, a glorious
Italian fishing village surrounded by olive groves and pine trees.
Considered one of the most beautiful Mediterranean ports, the town
has a stunning harbor surrounded by pastelpainted houses. The
resort is really no more than a small fishing village, but thanks
to its unique beauty, has become a popular tourist destination.
Lunch is served in a local restaurant before we continue along
the stunning coastline to the Abbey of San Fruttuoso, which was
originally built in the 10th century. Over the course of its
history the abbey has had many uses; as well as its monastic use,
it has been a home for fishermen, a pirate den, and the property of
the Princes of Doria. Underwater, in the sea in front of the abbey,
is a statue of 'Christ in the Abyss', said to protect local divers
and sailors from watery peril.
Please note: landing at San Fruttuoso is dependent on
weather. If it is not possible, the boat will land at Santa
Day 6 - A day at leisure
Today you are at leisure to continue exploring Sestri Levante.
Perhaps spend the day enjoying the hotel's gardens, or else enjoy
the winding medieval streets, charming buildings and harbor views
with a walk through the town center.
Day 7 - Pisa and Lucca
This morning we travel by coach to Pisa, where we enjoy a guided
tour that includes the Campo dei Miracoli, or 'Field of Miracles.'
Here we see the worldfamous Leaning Tower, which began to tilt as
soon as it was built and was used by Galileo to study gravity.
Restoration work at the end of the 20th century prevented the tower
from falling, whilst preserving its famously jaunty angle. We also
see the white marble Duomo, often overlooked by tourists but a true
gem in its own right with its beautiful façade and sublime Moorish
This afternoon we visit the city of Lucca - one of Tuscany's
best-kept secrets and a place of true beauty. Majestic city walls
encircle a Roman and medieval heart packed with piazzas, art
galleries and tiny churches, all connected by an intricate network
of narrow cobbled streets. Splendid Renaissance architecture
mingles with historic buildings from the Middle Ages, making the
city a pleasure to explore. We enjoy free time to explore or
perhaps enjoy lunch. A stroll along the top of the ancient ramparts
is an excellent way to discover the true charm of the city.
Day 8 - Excursion to Camogli
This morning we travel by regional train (Standard Class) to the
picturesque fishing village of Camogli. The name Camogli is a
contraction of Casa Mogli (Wives' House) from the days when the
women ran the town while the men were at sea. Set on a steep hill,
Camogli climbs from the harbor and dark pebble beaches, up to
groves of pine and olive trees. After a guided tour of the center
and the harbor, which is full of colorful fishing boats, we
return to Sestri Levante and enjoy a farewell dinner in the hotel
Days 9-10 - To London via Nice
Today we travel west through Italy by rail, traveling along the
stunning Ligurian coastline to Nice, where we spend the night. This
evening, you are free to explore Nice at leisure.
On Day 10 we take the high-speed TGV to
Paris. Here we connect with the Eurostar to London, where our tour
The following departures are guaranteed to operate:
For this tour, we recommend arriving to, and departing from,
London Gatwick or London Heathrow airport (LGW or LHR). London
Gatwick is approximately 30 miles from your start and end point,
and London Heathrow is approximately 19 miles from your start and
It is your responsibility to check and fulfil the passport,
visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your
itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot
travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with
any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.
You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses
which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any
passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.
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.
The vacation overall was fine, as we had done this trip before, two years ago. The Villa Balbi is a very good hotel with excellent facilities and staff. The journey home was not something I would recommend to anyone. It was something that you, Great Rail, could not control; the total cancellation of our train from Sestri Levanti to Milan. We ended up in a coach, driven by someone who in my opinion, was dangerous, and had no knowledge of Milan and the location of our train station at all. We did, eventually, arrive at Mulhouse, after a couple of quick train changes, although rather later than was planned. The following day, when arriving in Paris we thought nothing else could go wrong. On getting ready to get on our Euro Star train we had a last minute alteration to all our tickets as the train had been changed, which meant that we were seated randomly in three different carriages, which spoilt the final journey home. Once again this was out of the control of Great Rail. Let me add that our tour manager, Rosie Sharp, was excellent in calmly dealing with all of the problems we encountered, and also, we were very lucky to have a gentleman on our trip who spoke fluent Italian.
This was our thirteenth journey with Great Rail. I have never been superstitious before.?
Mr P Reeves
Submitted Jul 11, 2019
Everything was excellent from start to finish.
Submitted Jul 04, 2019
Excellent accommodation, great excursions, brilliant tour manager
Submitted Jul 04, 2019
It was very well organised with an excellent leader who dealt with any problems efficiently and calmly.
Mr W Bower
Submitted Oct 18, 2018
Very disappointing room size at the hotel for a gold customer
Mrs M Steel
Submitted Oct 06, 2018
Wonderful vacation - marvellous company. Accommodation and food good. Trips were well organised and interesting, but we also had enough free time.