Central Italy offers a wealth of cultural riches, overlooked by many visitors as they whizz between Naples, Rome and Florence. This new 16-day tour explores the multilayered history at the heart of Italy, from the sophistication of Etruscan culture in Cerveteri, Tarquinia and southern Tuscany, to the rise of Rome at Capua, Sperlonga, Palestrina and Tivoli. The tour is rounded out by the exploration of atmospheric medieval abbeys and basilicas, the beautiful landscapes of central Italy’s volcanic lakes and tufa towns, and harder-to-reach spectacular gardens, such as the Villa Lante, Bomarzo’s Sacro Bosco and world-renowned Ninfa.
The world of the Etruscans, from Cerveteri, Tarquinia and south-west Tuscany to the Villa Giulia in Rome
Ninfa: the most romantic garden in the world
Roman art and archaeology beyond the Colosseum: Capua’s gladiators, imperial villas, Nemi’s sacred boats and Ostia Antica
Medieval art and architecture: Sant’Angelo in Formis, Orvieto cathedral, Fossanova Abbey
The geography of Italy off the tourist trail, from volcanic lakes to tufa towns
Cardinals at play: Villa d’Este at Tivoli, Villa Lante’s parterres and the evocative world of the Sacro Bosco at Bomarzo
Days 1–4: In northern Lazio, encounter Etruscan architecture, painting and sculpture at Cerveteri and Tarquinia. See the might of ancient Rome at Ostia Antica and Trajan’s Port.
Days 5–7: A surfeit of beauty at Ninfa; Benedictine tranquillity at Fossanova Abbey and Sant’Angelo in Formis. Capua’s amphitheatre, mithraeum and Gladiators’ Museum; imperial splendour at Sperlonga, Terracina and Palestrina.
Days 8–10: From Frascati, explore Tivoli’s villas, the pope’s gardens in Castelgandolfo and sacred boats on Lake Nemi. Italy’s premier Etruscan museum, the Villa Giulia.
Days 11–16: In south-west Tuscany, discover tufa towns, Lake Bolsena and medieval Orvieto. Splendid Renaissance gardens at Villa Lante and the Sacro Bosco of Bomarzo.
Start & Finish
The tour begins and ends at Rome Fiumicino airport. Emirates and Qatar Airlines both offer suitable connections into out of Rome from most Australian cities. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
A detailed itinerary for this tour will be available in the coming weeks. To receive a copy of the published itinerary once available, please register your interest below and we will be sure to email you a copy. If you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 02 9235 0023.
A Walkley Award-winning illustrator, artist and art historian who has lived in Italy for over 30 years.
Born in Oxford, Neil grew up in Melbourne and Canberra and has an Honours degree in Fine Arts from the University of Sydney, where he also taught art history in the Power Department of Fine Arts. Neil’s profile photo is of his work “Self Portrait with Blue Scarf“, 2011, Oil on Panel 35 x 27 cm.
In 1979 Neil began a new career as an illustrator, and caricaturist, winning a Walkley Award in 1980 for his work in newspapers. In the following decade he travelled in Europe, fascinated first by France and then Italy, and began to produce original work in the medium of etching. In this period he lived in Berlin, had an artist’s residence in Paris, and exhibited in Germany, France, England and Italy.
Since 1988, Neil has lived in an Umbrian hill town, restoring a medieval ruin into a family home and focusing on his work as a painter. For over 20 years, he has designed and led small group cultural tours to Italy, and he brings this extraordinary wealth of experience as a tour leader to his work. In recent years he has won the Shirley Hannan National Portrait Prize (2012) and done caricatures for Australia’s news magazine The Monthly.
We asked Neil, what he enjoys most about leading tour groups?
“It enables me to see through fresh eyes what I might otherwise start to take for granted. I’ve been living in Italy now for more than thirty years but it still seems to me an exotic place, and I’m sure this is partly to do with continually being with people for whom it most certainly is. But I think, though, there’s more to it than that. Italy is like no other country in the world for the richness of its history, and the fascinating thing is that it’s anything but a museum. Those two thousand and more years of history are not just archaeological layers but bear strikingly on the present, and when I’m able to make real to people the connections between the modern, living Italy and those past millennia I get a great deal of satisfaction.”
“And then there’s the art! I’m a professional artist who grew up in Australia seeing the art I loved either in galleries marked off from everyday life, or dismally reproduced in textbooks, so the experience of coming to Italy and finding out that here art just seems to grow naturally out of the ground was a profound one. That you can be walking down a cobbled lane in a minor Italian town and walk through a door to see a Renaissance fresco that would be the top billing in any Australian (or indeed American) art collection makes this place more than special.”
In order to avoid unnecessary transfers and allow for individual exploration, we select comfortable, centrally-located hotels wherever possible. Where possible, most of the hotels we use are 4-star. We prefer smaller hotels if available, and we are constantly researching and reviewing our choices.
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, taxis or public transport are 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
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required and when stated as included
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?
Our 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
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. We aim to be fair and reasonable in all our dealings with our clients. We aim to provide full and accurate information about our tours and promptly provide information of any changes or alterations that take place before departure.