Experience the wonders of Italy in style, from the splendour of the ancient world in Rome and the Bay of Naples to the masterpieces of the Renaissance in Florence and the unique art and architecture of Venice. The great sites of Italy, including Pompeii and the Vatican Museums, are complemented by less-visited glories, such as the mosaics of Ravenna and the medieval towns of Umbria, and exclusive experiences such as a private viewing of St Mark’s Basilica. Enjoy Italy’s renowned regional specialities and fine wines at carefully selected restaurants.
Europe’s premier archaeological sites at Pompeii and Herculaneum; splendid Greek temples at Paestum
Outstanding Roman antiquities at the Naples Archaeological Museum
Classical and Renaissance Rome at the Colosseum and Forum, and the collections of the Vatican Museums
Italy’s leading art museums, including the Galleria Borghese, Florence’s Uffizi and the Accademia in Venice
Feast on fine food and wine as we explore Umbria’s rolling hills and rural villages
Private after-hours tour of St Mark’s Basilica to witness the illumination of the mosaics
Day 1: Arrive in Rome and transfer to Naples.
Days 2–4: Explore the Bay of Naples, with walking tours and visits to Pompeii, Herculaneum and Paestum.
Days 5–7: Visit the Archaeological Museum in Naples. Travel to Rome, with walking tours through its historic piazzas, art galleries, classical sites and Vatican Museums.
Days 8–11: Four nights in Umbria, exploring its medieval villages and hidden valleys.
Days 12–14: Travel via Gothic Siena to Florence, surveying key sites of the Italian Renaissance.
Days 15–18: On to romantic Venice, via Ravenna’s brilliant Byzantine mosaics.
The tour begins at Rome Fiumicino Airport and ends at Venice Marco Polo airport. Emirates and Qatar Airways offer direct flights into Rome for our group transfer to Sorrento, and out of Venice for this tour. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Tuesday 14 April: Bay of Naples
Tour leader Jeni Ryde will meet the group arriving at Rome Fiumicino Airport on early afternoon flights and we then transfer by coach directly from the airport to the Bay of Naples. Our trip south passes the medieval abbey of Montecassino and Mount Vesuvius. We continue to Sorrento, a resort town on the Bay of Naples. Light dinner and overnight at Sorrento (D)
Wednesday 15 April: Herculaneum and Sorrento
This morning we visit the very well-preserved ruins of the ancient seaside town of Herculaneum, destroyed in the earthquake of 79 AD. Less visited than neighbouring Pompeii, Herculaneum contains frescoes and mosaics in situ as well as well-preserved atrium houses and baths. We then head back to Sorrento, the remainder of the day is at leisure. Tonight there will be a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight Sorrento (B, D)
Thursday 16 April: Pompeii
This morning we travel by local train (20 minute trip) to the ruins of Pompeii. We tour the forum, theatres, amphitheatre, temples, shops and houses which make Pompeii such a compelling window on everyday life in the ancient world, and perhaps the most famous archaeological site in the world. After an extended guided visit, you are free to remain at the archaeological site for individual sightseeing or enjoy a free afternoon. Overnight Sorrento (B)
Friday 17 April: Amalfi Coast and Paestum
Today we follow the spectacular Amalfi Coast which runs from Sorrento south towards Salerno. Steep limestone cliffs meet a crystal-clear sea, providing an unforgettable experience. From the Amalfi Coast we continue south to Paestum, a wonderful example of a Greek Colony dating from the 6th century BC. As well as the archaeological site, there is an excellent small museum with finds from the ancient Greek world in southern Italy. We return to Sorrento in the afternoon. Overnight Sorrento (B)
Saturday 18 April: Travel to Rome
We head for Naples early this morning and on arrival make our way to the National Archaeological Museum, home to an outstanding collection of Roman antiquities, including sculptures, paintings, mosaics and everyday items found at Pompeii and Herculaneum. We then head north to Rome, our base for the next few days. Tonight there is dinner at a local restaurant close to our hotel. Overnight Rome (B, D)
Sunday 19 April: Classical Rome
We begin our time in Rome exploring the ancient heart of the Roman Empire, with a walking tour through the Colosseum, Forum and on to the Capitoline Hill. After lunch there is the choice of visiting the excellent Capitoline Museums, containing a collection of ancient sculpture as well as Renaissance paintings, or of having a free afternoon. This evening, we have a wine tasting and private visit hosted by the Marquis Patrizi at his magnificent Roman Palazzo. Overnight Rome (B)
This morning our walking tour begins in the atmospheric Campo dei Fiori. From here we continue to the Piazza Navona, adorned with Bernini’s Four Rivers fountain, before heading to the Pantheon, a Roman temple intact from the 2nd century AD. The afternoon is spent exploring some of the Vatican’s remarkable collection of art and sculpture amassed by various popes over the centuries and housed in the city’s museums including, the Sistine Chapel, considered one of the greatest artistic achievements in Western art. Overnight Rome (B)
Tuesday 21 April: Galleria Borghese – Travel to Umbria
The morning is free. In the early afternoon we check out of our hotel and then visit the Villa Borghese Gallery, where we make use of the Gallery’s excellent audioguides for our tour. The gallery, dating from the 17th century, contains the collection of the aristocratic Borghese family. As well as superb classical works and fine paintings by Titian, Caravaggio and many others, the gallery is renowned for its baroque sculptures by Gianlorenzo Bernini, such as the astounding Apollo and Daphne. In the mid-afternoon we travel north to San Luca, arriving in the early evening. There is dinner in our hotel this evening. Overnight Montefalco (B, D)
Wednesday 22 April: Spoleto and the Nera Valley
This morning we visit the nearby town of Spoleto. The town’s heritage goes back to Roman times, and includes a Roman theatre, a spectacular medieval aqueduct and fortress as well as superb Romanesque churches. We’ll tour the town with our local guide then head for the nearby valley of the Nera River. Nestled in the foothills of the Apennines, this quiet valley is a long way from the tourist beat. Here we stop at the picturesque riverside town of Scheggino and visit the nearby 8th-century church of San Pietro in Valle. Lunch in an excellent local restaurant is included today. Overnight Montefalco (B, L)
Thursday 23 April: Montefalco
This morning we explore Montefalco. A highlight of the town is the medieval church of St Francis, housing a cycle of frescoes by the Renaissance master Benozzo Gozzoli. The town is also known for its Sagrantino red wine, and there are a number of cellars in the town. We then enjoy lunch at L’alchemista, a friendly restaurant in Montefalco well known for its Umbrian specialities. The late afternoon is free for further exploration. Overnight Montefalco (B, L)
Friday 24 April: Assisi
In spite of its fame, Assisi retains a strongly spiritual atmosphere which gives it a special place among medieval Italian hill towns. In Assisi we tour the basilica of St Francis, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture with frescoes, some of which are attributed to Giotto and others by the Sienese artists Lorenzetti and Martini. We also view some other highlights of the town, such as the 1st-century AD Roman temple in the main square and the ancient Roman forum. You might also like to take the steep walk to the Rocca, the defensive fortress above the town, to enjoy the fine views over the valley. The late afternoon is free. Overnight Montefalco (B)
Saturday 25 April: Siena – Travel to Florence
We depart Umbria this morning, heading for Tuscany. Most of the day is spent in Siena, a once prosperous medieval city. Devastated by the plague of 1348 and little changed since then, Siena is an outstanding example of a medieval city-state. We tour the Palazzo Pubblico, and the overwhelming cathedral, where every available space is decorated with sculptures, floor mosaics and fine frescoes. There will also be time to stroll the winding streets of the town. In the late afternoon we arrive in Florence, our base for the next four days. Dinner is at a local restaurant. Overnight Florence (B, D)
Sunday 26 April: Florence Fine Arts and the Medici
This morning we visit the Accademia in Florence, home to Michelangelo’s David. This is a starting point for considering the role of civic pride and private patronage in Florence’s art. Near to the Accademia is the district associated with the Medici family, and we visit the family palace, the monastery of San Marco and the church of San Lorenzo, before heading to the grand Piazza della Signoria for a lunch break. In the late afternoon we visit the Uffizi Galleries, with their world-famous collection of Italian paintings, including major works by Botticelli and other Florentine masters of the golden age of the 1400s. Overnight Florence (B)
Monday 27 April: Streetscapes and the Oltrarno
This morning we view some of the fine public and religious buildings of Florence, home to some great art. This includes the massive cathedral, baptistery and campanile. We then venture to the western side of the Arno, crossing the Ponte Vecchio and strolling through the quiet streets of this lovely neighbourhood. The afternoon is free to stroll through the Boboli Gardens, visit the Bargello sculpture museum or just relax. Overnight Florence (B)
Tuesday 28 April: Ravenna – Travel to Venice
Early this morning we cross the Apennines to northern Italy. Most of the day is spent visiting Ravenna, capital of the Byzantine Empire in Italy from the 5th to the 8th century AD. The churches and baptisteries of this town are decorated with the very finest medieval mosaics, gorgeous compositions reflecting a variety of religious and imperial themes. We continue to Venice in the late afternoon, arriving at our hotel by private launch. Overnight Venice (B)
Wednesday 29 April: Venice
This morning we have a guided visit of the principal historic quarter of Venice, around St Mark’s Square. Here we tour the magnificent Basilica of St Mark’s, constructed in the 10th century and decorated with 7,000 square metres of mosaics and a dazzling array of columns, screens and sculptures plundered from the east. We also visit sites nearby, such as the Gothic church of San Zaccaria. This afternoon we explore the Giudecca canal by ferry, site of many fine monuments, including Renaissance architect Palladio’s two Venetian churches. This evening, we return to St Marks for a private visit. Overnight Venice (B)
Thursday 30 April: Venetian Decorative and Fine Arts
This morning we take the ferry across to the island of Murano, home to glass-making since the 10th century. The island’s glass workshops provide an excellent living example of how Venice’s medieval artisans’ workshops (‘botteghe’) functioned. We also visit the museum of glass and the ancient church of St Maria and Donato with its Byzantine-style apse and floor mosaics. We then make our way back to the Rialto where we have a break for lunch. In the afternoon we visit the Galleria dell’Accademia, displaying important works by Bellini, Carpaccio, Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, Tiepolo and others. This evening we meet for our farewell dinner at Bistrot de Venice, a restaurant specialising in Venetian cuisine and culture. Overnight Venice (B, D)
Friday 1 May: Depart Italy
The tour ends after breakfast this morning. Please consult your individual travel documents for your ongoing travel. (B)
Dr Jeni Ryde
A linguist and art history specialist, with a PhD focusing on Tourism, Heritage and Renaissance Studies.
Dr Jeni Ryde is a linguist and art history specialist with over fifteen years experience leading tours to Italy, Spain and Portugal. She is passionate about art, design and architecture both ancient and modern and particularly enjoys how both complement each other. Her special interests are the simplicity of the Romanesque and the breadth and depth of the Renaissance. When she is not traveling with Academy Travel she is able to indulge her interests in drawing, music and teaching the less fortunate.
Jeni holds two undergraduate degrees with majors in Anthropology and French and Interpreting and Translation with NAATI qualifications, two Masters degrees in Italian Linguistics and TESOL and a cross disciplinary PhD in Renaissance Art History, Tourism and Museum Management.
After an early career as an assistant director in film and television both for the ABC and BBC, she worked as an interpreter and translator and then as a senior lecturer at Western Sydney University with a focus on Italian language, history and culture. She was also head of the postgraduate programs in Languages and Interpreting and Translation. Teaching in Adult Education has included several courses in Renaissance Art History, the Italian language and Italian Cinema for U3A and other community organizations. Jeni speaks fluent Italian and Spanish and has an understanding of French and Portuguese.
Jeni first began designing and leading tours to Italy with her own company in 2002 in response to requests from travelers searching for small group tours with specific themes. She joined Academy Travel in 2009 and has since led many tours to various regions of Italy as well as Spain and Portugal.
We asked Jeni, what motivates you as a tour leader?
“I delight in being the catalyst for showing our travelers beautiful places and works of art and especially seeing their reactions – a tear in the eye before a moving painting, a sigh of wonder on entering a beautiful building, a gasp at the beauty of an exquisite landscape. This for me is the great privilege and reward of being an Academy Tour Leader.”
“Many travelers comment on my boundless energy and curiosity for paths less travelled. I like to think that people who travel with me are swept along by my waves of enthusiasm and are inspired to go beyond the obvious to explore and learn with me. I’m known for introducing many little surprises along the way! An added bonus for me is the shared experience of like-minded people enjoying each other’s company while traveling together.”
A family run hotel set on a clifftop overlooking the Gulf of Naples and 500m from the main square of Sorrento. www.hotelriviera.com/en
Rome, Hotel Ponte Sisto (3 nights)
The Hotel Ponte Sisto is located in a renovated historical palazzo in a quiet part of central Rome. www.hotelpontesisto.it
Montefalco – Villa Zuccari (4 nights)
This 16th century Villa, situated in the San Luca district of Montefalco, offers spacious and comfortable rooms, each with views over the surrounding gardens or village. www.villazuccari.com
Florence, Berchielli Hotel (3 nights)
The 4-star Berchielli is a modern luxury hotel overlooking the Ponte Vecchio on the banks of the Arno with many museums, restaurants and shops an easy walk away. www.berchielli.it/en
Venice, Hotel Al Codega (3 nights)
This lovely 4-star hotel is owned and run by the Dal Borgo family. Tucked away in a tranquil courtyard near San Marco it is within easy walking distance of most of Venice’s major galleries and museums. www.hotelalcodega.com
What is included in the tour price?
Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price?
Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.