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8-Day Italy Culinary Vacation with Airfare $1,799

Posted on Jul 10, 2014 by in DEALS, SPOTLIGHT | 0 comments

Explore Italy’s Cities and Countryside

Italy is world-renowned for its rich espresso, rustic cuisine, and flavorful wines. Taste and learn about all three with this Italian vacation, which includes stops in Rome, Florence, and Semproniano. The trip includes a few tours and classes; a manual rental car gives you the freedom to explore the picturesque countryside at your leisure. This vacation includes:

  • Round-trip airfare between the US (New York, Chicago, or LA) and Italy
  • 3 nights of standard hotel accommodations in Rome at Albani Hotel or similar
  • 2 nights of standard villa accommodations in Semproniano at Locanda la Pieve or similar
  • 2 nights of standard hotel accommodations in Florence at Hotel Magenta or similar
  • 3-day manual economy car rental with pickup in Rome and drop-off in Florence (includes unlimited mileage, insurance, tax, surcharge, and fees)
  • Small group espresso-and-gelato walking tour in Rome
  • Cooking class, including lunch, in Tuscany
  • “Learn to Be a Sommelier” wine-tasting class in Florence

Days 1–3: Rome

Called the Eternal City, Rome’s commanding history is apparent at every cobblestone street’s turn. From the Colosseum’s crumbling columns to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes, Rome is a wellspring of culture and historic import. Here, streets lined with fashionable boutiques give way to such infamous landmarks as St. Peter’s Basilica. This 16th-century church—dressed up with a bronze-trimmed altar and a massive, vaulted dome—is both the world’s largest church and the main church of Catholicism.

  • The Colosseum: One of the Roman Empire’s great triumphs, this iconic amphitheater—the world’s largest—has stood since 80 AD. Stand in its center and imagine tens of thousands of spectators filling the ancient stadium.
  • Included walking tour: Taste rich espresso and gelato while wandering Rome’s picturesque streets on this small-group tour.
  • Visit Trevi Fountain: According to local lore, tossing a coin into the fountain over your left shoulder with your right hand ensures you’ll return to Rome.
  • Accommodations: Enjoy 3 nights of standard accommodations at Albani Hotel or similar.

Days 4–5: Semproniano

Tucked between the Albegna and Fiora Rivers in Tuscany’s famous rolling hills, Semproniano contrasts with Rome by revealing small-town life in Italy. This serene countryside is broken only by a cluster of humble churches and stone shops that, despite their Old-World appearance, are home to modern pizzerias, trattorias, and wine bars. The local shopkeepers are happy to chat with visitors and provide tips on where the locals like to dine.

  • Included class: Learn to cook authentic Italian food and enjoy a tasty lunch in a Tuscan villa.
  • Step back in time to the Middle Ages at the once-grand Fortress Rocca Aldobrandesca, whose crumbling walls toppled during a Spanish siege in 1536.
  • Explore the countryside on horseback, or hike or cycle through the small town’s streets.
  • Accommodations: Enjoy 2 nights of standard hotel accommodations at Locanda la Pieve or similar.

Days 6–7: Florence

The city of Florence is widely considered the 15th-century birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, thanks in part to the powerful Medici family. The House of Medici helped fund some of the country’s most renowned sculptors and painters, including Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Leonardo da Vinci. It was Lorenzo de Medici who commissioned 14-year-old Michelangelo to create the relief sculpture Battle of the Centaurs. The relief is now on display at Casa Buonarroti, a building once owned by Michelangelo himself. It’s just one of many world-class museums worth visiting on a trip to Florence. Upon arrival in Florence, you will return your rental car.

  • Included class: Learn the merits of different varietals and vintages during a wine-tasting class.
  • See Michelangelo’s David: Besides being home to this sculptural masterpiece, Florence’s Galleria dell’Accademia is filled with paintings by Botticelli and Bellini.
  • Florence Baptistery: Also known as the Baptistery of St. John, this bronze-doored building is nearly 900 years old, making it one of the oldest in Florence.
  • Accommodations: Enjoy 2 nights of standard accommodations at Hotel Magenta or similar.

Day 8: Return to the U.S.

On the final day, you’ll board a plane for your return flight home.

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