Day 1: Arrive Milan and on to Lugano and the Italian Lakes
Tour begins 6:00 PM, Hotel Splendide Royal Lugano. A transfer is included from Milan's Malpensa Airport to Hotel Splendide Royal Lugano in Lugano. As you travel Italy Tauck-style, you'll see the best of this ancient country, from great cities to countryside villages and towns that are off-the-beaten track! Begin by heading through the beautiful northern Italian countryside from Milan to Lugano, Switzerland – an Italian-style city set on the edge of a bejeweled lake with views of the not-too-distant Alps. Enjoy free time to explore the waterfront promenade, then meet fellow traveling companions at a welcome cocktail reception and dinner at your hotel.
Day 2: Visit a villa and take a cruise on Lake Como to Bellagio
Your travels take you to Tremezzo to visit Villa Carlotta, built in the late 17th century, and noted for its garden landscaping and sculpture. Admire the dramatic views of the Alps silhouetting the famous villas along the shores of Lake Como as you cruise to Bellagio; enjoy free time to explore the picturesque town as you please. Cruise past some of Italy's most elegant lakeside villas to Como. Return to Lugano, where the evening is free to spend as you wish; enjoy dinner on your own tonight.
Day 3: Travel Italy from the lakes to Venice – St. Mark's Basilica and more
Journey across northern Italy from the lakes to Venice, among the world's best-loved cities, designed along an intricate system of canals within a lagoon. After lunch, head to St. Mark's Square, the heart of Venice, with a local guide. Visit Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square) and St. Mark's Basilica, one of the greatest buildings in Europe with its exquisite mosaics and detailed carving, and the Doge's Palace, a pink marble Gothic masterpiece containing a precious art collection. A serenade aboard a gondola cruise through the canals, and dinner at a popular Venetian restaurant, are the perfect endings to a perfect day.
Day 4: Explore Venice as you please
Spend the whole day exploring the museums and sites that interest you most in remarkable Venice, a highlight as you travel Italy with Tauck. Perhaps tour the Galleria dell'Accademia or the Peggy Guggenheim Collection – which featuring an amazing collection of modern art housed in Guggenheim’s former home on the Grand Canal, the 18th-century Palazzo Venier dei Leoni – or take a boat ride to some of the many islands in the Venetian Lagoon.
Day 5: High-speed rail to Florence, guided visit of the Galleria Dell'Accademia
Travel Italy by high-speed rail today from Venice to Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance. Get an introduction to the city’s architectural landmarks and great artists from a local art historian; view Lorenzo Ghiberti's bronze doors with detailed panels at the Baptistry, part of the Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiori complex. Your art lecture is a fitting prelude to today's visit to Galleria dell'Accademia, Europe's oldest art school and home to many of the world's most beloved paintings and sculpture, including Michelangelo's famed statue of David. Later, a walking tour explores the historical center of Florence, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Have dinner à la carte at your leisure this evening at your hotel in the heart of the city.
Day 6: Masterpieces of the Uffizi & time at leisure in Florence
We've made reservations for you today at Florence's extraordinary Uffizi Gallery, Italy's largest art museum and one of the first art galleries in the world, where you'll gaze at some of the world's greatest art masterpieces on a guided tour with a local expert. Admire works by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, and more; following your tour, you can spend as much time as you like looking at the art. The rest of the day is free to explore more of Florence as you please; perhaps you may want to visit the Pitti Palace, the Medici Chapels or stroll across the Ponte Vecchio to the lovely Boboli Gardens; enjoy lunch and dinner on your own today.
Day 7: Antiquities in Siena, then on to Rome through Tuscany and Umbria
Travel Italy through lush Tuscan landscapes this morning, featuring olive groves, cypress trees, and vineyards, including the region that produces Chianti wine. Stop in the medieval hill town of Siena, and wander through its narrow centuries-old streets. See the Piazza del Campo where the Palio bareback horse race is held, and visit the Duomo, one of Italy's great cathedrals, with scenes inlaid in the marble floors and sculpture by Michelangelo. Continue through scenic Umbria and Lazio to your final destination – Rome, the Eternal City that was the center of the once-powerful Roman Empire, and is today the capital of modern Italy – for a three-night stay at one of Europe's finest hotels. Indulge this evening in an à la carte dinner at a Roman neighborhood restaurant known for its regional cuisine.
Day 8: Visit St. Peter's, then the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel on an exclusive after-hours tour
Your first full day in Rome begins with a visit to one of the world's most famous houses of worship, immense St. Peter's Basilica, and St. Peter's Square. The remainder of the day is free to explore Rome as you please before this evening's Tauck Exclusive! An after-hours guided visit to the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel (subject to availability; day of the visit may vary) gives you privileged access to the treasures of the Vatican, without the day's crowds. See the Candelabra Gallery, Map Gallery and the Tapestries; it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see some of the world's great masterpieces, including Michelangelo's famous Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes, without the usual crowds. Up close and unhurried, you'll have a chance to see firsthand why the chapel's floor is as famous as its celebrated ceiling!
Day 9: The Colosseum and glories of Imperial Rome
Get an insider's view of Rome from a local guide on a city sightseeing tour – view such can't-miss sights as the Roman Forum, Piazza Venezia, and the Circus Maximus – and you'll avoid long lines with pre-arranged reservations for a visit inside the Colosseum. Opened in AD 80, the Colosseum once reigned supreme as an entertainment venue used by Roman emperors to maximize their popularity with the general public. Spend some more free time in Rome this afternoon prior to this evening's farewell cocktail party and dinner – a special finale to your extraordinary Italy travel days from the Italian Lakes to Rome.
Day 10: Arrivederci Rome
Your trip ends in Rome. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from The St. Regis Rome to Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Fiumicino; allow 3 hours for check-in.