Italy is a well-known destination for art, fashion, food and religion. Europe’s boot always delivers on its promise of la dolce vita, and travelers, whether for the first time or the tenth, are captivated by the country’s breathtaking architecture, picturesque views, storied history and sumptuous cuisine. Trafalgar’s 10-day “Great Italian Cities” guided vacation runs from Rome to Venice, stopping in some of the top cities to visit in Italy.
Your vacation starts in the country’s capital—undeniably one of the top cities to visit in Italy. The Eternal City is steeped in culture; its ancient sites are as much a part of modern Roma, evidence not only of the city’s rich history but also of its immortal charm as a favorite travel destination. The centro storico (historic center) houses the former empire’s relics: the Forum; the Colosseum; and the Circus Maximus, a site for chariot races. Across the Tiber river, Vatican City welcomes more than 6 million visitors each year to St. Peter’s Basilica, filled with ornate gold and marble statues, and the Sistine Chapel and its famed frescoes. Enjoy an exclusive walk up Donato Bramante’s spiral staircase in a part of the Vatican not open to the public.
Nestled in the hills of Umbria, Assisi is best known as the birthplace of St. Francis; many make the pilgrimage to the 70-square-mile town of Italy’s patron saint. Its 13th-century Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is bisected: the lower church holds the tomb of St. Francis, and the upper church features colorful mosaics and Giotto frescoes of the saint.
As the birthplace of Renaissance art, Florence isn’t short on masterpieces and it’s definitely one of the top cities to visit in Italy. Works from Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Brunelleschi can be seen throughout the city’s piazzas and palazzos. The museums are world-class; iconic works by Botticelli and Caravaggio line the corridors of the Uffizi Gallery. Il Duomo is 89,340 square feet of opulence that dominates Firenze’s cityscape. The cathedral’s pink, green and white marble neo-Gothic façade and the Pantheon-inspired dome were completed in 1436. Once a center of commerce between wealthy merchants and artisans, Florence is still a shopper’s paradise. Walk along the Arno to the famed Ponte Vecchio, where you’ll find shops built along the 276-foot bridge. The city is also home to fashion houses Gucci and Ferragamo, and the grand Mercato Centrale is packed with stalls selling meats, cheeses, pastas and fruits.
Want to enjoy an exclusive dinner in the Vatican Museums? Ask your AAA Travel Counselor about the 10-day “Contrasts of Italy” guided vacation.