An intimate Italian adventure

Italy

If you are looking for a soul-enriching destination to fully immerse yourself in fascinating history, culture, cutting-edge style and scenery, the diversity and delights of Italy are unrivalled.

An authentic and deeply rewarding place to visit, it’s often the chance discoveries that make touring this ancient country so enchanting - the tucked-away bookshop down the cobblestone lane, the remarkable artisan wine you discovered, the people-watching during the evening promenade ...

And then there’s the food.

The birthplace of the Slow Food movement and the origin of many of the world’s favourite dishes, Italian cuisine is celebrated for its no-fuss adornment and fresh, robust flavours.

To the epicurean enjoyment, add the art treasures of Florence, the stunning land and seascapes of the Cinque Terre on the Riviera, the postcard vistas of Tuscany, the romance of Venice, authentic medieval and Renaissance towns like Lucca and Bologna and your senses go into overdrive.

There is so much to take in, your only disappointment is potentially not getting to see it all or even worse, missing the gems you didn't even know about.

A small group tour is the perfect way to guarantee you experience the best Italy has to offer and to see it in relaxed comfort, confident everything has been organised for you.

You can forget about booking risky accommodation or relying on local transport to make connections, leading tour specialists like the 100-year old Collette have perfected the art of tailored touring that artfully ensures you have plenty of time to explore on your own.

Collette’s expertly-curated 11-day “Italy’s Treasures” tour, for example, captures the essence of the nation’s astounding art, food and wine in one dreamy itinerary that begins with a cocktail party on the shores of Lago Maggiore at Stresa.

And those highlights of Florence, the Cinque Terre, Tuscany, Venice, Lucca and Bologna? This tour has them all and also adds exclusive extra touches at each location.

After a boat ride and welcome dinner on the beautiful Booromean island, Isola dei Pescatori, touring begins the following morning with a visit to an ancient mountainside village to sample the locally-made cheeses and wines.

From Stresa, the guided journey continues to Lake Orta for a short boat trip to the island of San Gulio where you’ll discover a charming working convent.

Further south, it’s time to explore the coastline many claim to be the most picturesque in the world, the spectacular “Five Lands” or Cinque Terre. Here, where pastel-coloured houses cling to the sheer cliff faces of the Ligurian stretch of the Mediterranean, farmers and fishers have been battling the elements for centuries.

Strolling the seaside tracks that link the villages of this splendid UNESCO World Heritage Listed region is one of the Collette tour highlights.

In Lucca, you have the choice to explore the stunning 16th-century walled precinct and its highlights, the Cathedral of San Martino, the Piazza Napoleone and the Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, by foot or bicycle.

If that step back in time wasn’t enough, the following day you’ll be spellbound by Florence and the iconic Piazza del Duomo, the centre of religious life in the ‘capital’ of Tuscany.

You’ll discover this incredible city at your own pace taking in highlights like Piazza della Signoria and the Museo della Casa Fiorentina Antica, housed in the 14th-century Palazzo Davanzati and of course, the famous Ponte Vecchio.

After Florence comes gorgeous Siena where an expert-led walking tour includes the town’s dramatic Cathedral that dates back to 1215 and remains a showpiece of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.

The following day touring the Tuscan countryside, incredible architecture makes way for culinary sensations. Here you’ll visit a family estate and tour vineyards and olive groves. There’s even a Tuscan cooking lesson hosted by an expert chef. Enjoy an authentic regionally-inspired lunch expertly paired with wines produced on-site.

To cap off an unforgettable day, dinner is held in a traditional Tuscan restaurant.

There’s a chance to walk off the excesses of gastronomic indulgence with a guided walking tour of Bologna the following day. Strolling through the city is like a step back to the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment; the city’s earthen-coloured architecture virtually unchanged.

To complete your own grand tour of Italy, what better way to finish than with two nights in Venice?

On this next locally-guided walking tour, you’ll experience the majesty of St. Mark’s Square and its famous clock tower, visit St. Mark’s Basilica, the Bridge of Sighs and visit Doge’s Palace.

The “Italy’s Treasures” itinerary also includes a boat trip to Murano Island to see a display of the region’s renowned glass-blowing in action and if you want to live the full Venetian dream, there’s even an optional serenaded Gondola cruise!


This article was published under license by Well Travelled Agency.

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