Venice, Verona, Siena, Florence, and ROME!
Day 1 Depart for Venice
Flight departs for Venice traveling through the night with meal service en route.
Day 2 Venice
Our flight arrives in Venice where we are met by our Italian escort and USIT tour conductors. Departure from the airport our coaches will take us to the hotel for check-in, and time permitting, our escorts will take us over to old city of Venice on the train for a walk past the Jewish quarter and on to the Rialto Bridge. After a little time for pictures and exploration, we’ll return to the train station and board the train from Venice for the ten-minute ride to Mestre to return to the hotel for dinner at a nearby restaurant (incl.) in Mestre. Dinner and Hotel
Day 3 Venice
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll depart for our tour of Venice. Our coaches take us across the causeway to our private boat, which will take us to Piazza St. Marco, where we will begin our morning tour of Venice with local guides. They will take us into both the Doges Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica. The Doges Palace, the Palazzo Ducale, was the Venetian rulers’ palace from the time of the 9th century, and is filled with amazing artwork, as it is an architectural masterpiece itself. We’ll see the Bridge of Sighs, built as a passageway between the palazzo Ducale and the prison. You may want to come back in the afternoon and reenter the palace to its wealth of artwork more thoroughly. St. Mark’s Basilica, with its four domes and thirteen spires, is a blend of East and West, with a 4th century Egyptian sculpture of the Tetrarchs, 13th century bronze statues, 15th century statuary, 17th century mosaics. You may want to visit the treasure room, which is worth the small extra charge. We also see the 15th century richly decorated clock tower. St. Mark’s Square provides many places to eat lunch—you can eat to live classical music or to jazz—and the shopping district is centered here as well. We’ll visit the Murano facility in Venice for a glass-blowing demonstration and some time in their showroom. The afternoon is yours to explore and enjoy the many other sights of Venice. This is a good time to take that gondola ride under the Rialto Bridge and along the Grand Canal! (optional) At 5:00 PM, we sing a full hour concert at the Chiesa di San Moisé, a beautiful Baroque church on the Campo San Moisé. Then, at 7:00 PM, we’ll meet at the pier near St. Mark’s Square and take the boat back to meet at the coaches to return to the hotel. We’ll have some time to explore Mestre before dinner. Most restaurants open at 8:00 PM. Dinner is on our own tonight.
Day 4 Venice to Siena via Verona
This morning we depart for Florence and Siena, enjoying the countryside along the way, with comments by our Italian escort/guide. We’ll stop in Verona to for lunch on our own, to explore the cathedral, old coliseum and market, and to see Romeo and Juliet’s balcony. Then we depart for Siena, where we’ll arrive early afternoon at our four-star hotel in time for dinner (incl.). We can then enjoy the ambiance of Siena in the evening. Our hotel is on the edge of the pedestrian district of the old city. Hotel and dinner
Day 5 Florence
We enjoy breakfast at the hotel, and at 9:30 we’ll drive the short distance to Florence and we start our day’s touring with local guides. While much of Florence (Firenze) was rebuilt during the Renaissance, the eastern part of the city still is largely medieval. Rising above the center of the city, we find the richly decorated Duomo, or Cathedral, the Santa Maria del Fiore, with its famous orange-tiled dome and its 4th century Baptistery, famous for its bronze doors, where many famous Florentines, including Dante, were baptized. We’ll have a guided visit inside the Academy of Fine Arts, The Academia, founded in 1563, the first school established in Europe, founded specifically to teach techniques of drawing, painting and sculpture. Here we will see Michelangelo’s most famous work, the statue “David”, along with much of his other work. We’ll end by visiting the gothic church of Santa Croce, where we hope to sing informally. In this square, you may also visit leather artisan shops. We’ll have lunch on our own in the city. We meet at Santa Croce late in the afternoon to return to Siena, a delightful hilltop town with a maze of narrow streets surrounding the fan-shaped Piazza del Campo, considered by many to be Italy’s loveliest piazza, the setting for bullfights, executions, and a festival centered around a bareback horserace. Shops, cafes, and restaurants line the surrounding area. Dinner is on our own tonight.
Day 6 Siena to Rome via Bagnoregio
This morning we’ll have some time to explore Siena before we check out of our hotel and depart for Rome, with lunch on our own along the way. The highlight of the day is our visit to Civita Bagnoregio; an ancient tiny town perched atop a volcanic plug isolated in the hills south of Rome. After our visit there, we depart for Rome. We’ll arrive early evening, and after check in at our hotel, we’ll immediately go for dinner (incl.) at a typical local restaurant. Transfer back to the hotel.
Day 7 Rome
After breakfast at the hotel, we start our day with our visit the Vatican Museums, including the Gallery of Maps, the Raphael Rooms, and the Sistine Chapel, all beyond description, and St. Peter’s Basilica, Catholicism’s most sacred shrine and home to hundreds of precious works of art. After lunch on our own in the area of the Vatican, we’ll continue on with a guided tour of the impressive Coliseum with admission, the most famous symbol of Rome, commissioned in the year 72 by Emperor Vespasian, it was the site of deadly gladiatorial combats and wild animal fights all for the entertainment of the masses. From there, we walk to the Roman Forum to hear about its history. As we leave the Forum, we walk the Via Sacra. As we leave the area, we pass the Circus Maximus and the redbrick ruins of the Baths of Caracalla, which could accommodate 1600 bathers at once when completed in AD 206, originally included and array of galleries, gymnasiums, lecture rooms, and shops, and has more recently been the site of open-air opera performances. The coaches will leave us for dinner on our own tonight in the area of the Vatican
Day 8 Rome
Today is a half day sightseeing tour, beginning with the famous monuments of Rome: the Piazza Navona, with its three flamboyant fountains, whose luxurious cafes are the social center of the city, and Trevi Fountain, the famous Baroque masterpiece by Nicola Salvi. Our visit to the famous Pantheon, now a Christian Church, could include an opportunity for informal singing. Then, on to Piazza Barberini at the foot of the Barberini Palace and the Triron Fountain by Bernini, Piazza della Repubblica and the Fountain of the Nayads. The rest of the day is on your own. You may want to return to St. Peter’s or to shop for memorabilia in the specialized shops around the Vatican, or shop on the nearby Via Cola di Rienzo, the 5th Avenue of Rome. You also might have a special site you want to visit, and you’ll have time for this some last minute shopping before dinner, which is provided tonight at the hotel or a local restaurant before the concert. At 4:30, the coaces will stage at the Vatican to bring us all to the hotel to prepare for our concert. At 6:00 PM, we depart the hotel. Our Rome performance is tonight at 7:30 PM at the Basilica Parrocchiale S. Maria del Popolo, one of the famous basilicas in Rome, on the Piazza del Popolo. Our Arrivederci Dinner” (incl.) dinner is at a very special restaurant, dining under the stars with wandering musicians at the Ristorante da Meo Patacca, in the Trastevere the old neighborhood of Rome. Return to the hotel to pack for a very early departure for home in the morning.
Day 9 Rome
It’s an early start today. We depart our Rome hotel for Fiumicino Airport and return home.
Nota bene: All your breakfasts are provided at the hotels on the tour, and dinners are provided as shown on the itinerary.