Portrait of Italy
Visit the stunning Amalfi Coast. See the famous ruins at Pompeii, destroyed in an ancient volcanic eruption. Explore Rome, including stops at St. Peter’s Square, the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum. Visit Pastoral Umbria, the “green heart” of Italy. Enjoy an Italian cooking demonstration and sample local wines as we move through Italy. See timeless Venice, once one of the world’s grandest merchant cities.
Exclusive Departure: this departure is considered exclusive and the participants are U-M travelers, who consist of alums, family and friends.
Depart U.S. for Naples, Italy
Arrive in Naples/Amalfi Coast
Arrive Naples/Amalfi Coast After arriving in Naples this morning, we travel to the storied Amalfi Coast, a popular resort and our base for exploring Italy’s Campania region. We dine at our hotel tonight, as we will throughout our stay here. D
This morning we experience this breathtaking coast by sea as we cruise from our hotel to Amalfi Center (weather permitting). Here we enjoy a brief tour of the region’s largest town then have lunch on our own. Next we ascend to mountaintop Ravello, with its spectacular gardens and coastal views. B,D
Our full-day excursion begins in Pompeii, the city frozen in time by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE but not excavated until 1748. After a tour and lunch on our own here we embark on a breathtaking drive along the winding Amalfi Coast road high above the azure Mediterranean – with stops for photos and in Sorrento along the way. We return to our hotel late afternoon. B,D
En route to Rome today we visit the town of Montecassino, whose Abbey is the mother church of the Benedictine order and a center of medieval art. A German stronghold during World War II, the hilltop Abbey was destroyed by Allied bombing then rebuilt as a replica of the 17th-century original. We tour the Abbey, then continue on to the Eternal City. We arrive at our well-located hotel mid-afternoon; our tour director will lead an informal walk of the nearby area. B
This morning we tour the heart of ancient Rome: the 55,000-seat Colosseum, built in 72 CE to stage gladiator spectacles; and the temples of the Forum, ancient Rome’s political and legal center. The afternoon is free to explore on our own; the possibilities endless: shopping along the fashionable Via Veneto; sipping espresso in beautiful Piazza Navona; seeing the Pantheon, the city’s best preserved ancient building; tossing a coin into Trevi Fountain; or visiting any number of renowned museums and churches. B
Another morning of touring followed by a free afternoon. Today we visit the Vatican for a tour of St. Peter’s Square and Basilica, and the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museums. Highlights include Michelangelo’s Pieta in St. Peter’s, considered one of the greatest sculptures of all time; his frescoed ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, now restored to its original glory; and art-filled St. Peter’s itself, the most important church in all Christendom. B
Leaving Rome, we travel north through a pastoral landscape of gentle agricultural land bounded by mountain wilderness and dotted with traditional villages and medieval hill towns. Mid-afternoon we reach Orvieto, perched high on a plateau above a vineyard-clad plain. After we check in at our hotel in the heart of the city’s medieval quarter, our tour director leads us on an informal walking tour. Tonight we attend a simple cooking demonstration followed by dinner at Zeppelin Restaurant. B,D
This morning we embark on a guided walking tour of this dramatically set city. We visit the medieval Duomo featuring a frescoed chapel by Fra Angelico and Luca Signorelli’s masterpiece, The Last Judgment. Next we explore the formerly secret passages of Parco delle Grotte, a labyrinth of underground caves used since Etruscan times. The remainder of the day is at leisure. B
Today’s excursion is to Assisi, considered a gem of an Umbrian town with inviting plazas, abundant flowers, buildings of white marble, and a pervasive medieval air. We visit St. Clare Church and the renowned Basilica di San Francesco, the burial place of St. Francis and a sacred pilgrimage site. Inside are Giotto’s priceless frescoes, The Life of St. Francis. There’s time on our own to stroll the fountain-splashed piazzas and to enjoy local specialties for lunch. We also visit Deruta, known for its prized hand-painted Majolica ceramics. B
Continuing our journey, today we visit walled Siena, whose ochre-colored buildings and ancient ramparts evoke the city’s medieval past. Fan-shaped Piazza del Campo is one of Europe’s greatest public squares; its Duomo, one of Italy’s finest. We set out on a guided walking tour that includes an inside visit to the Duomo, housing masterpieces by Michelangelo and Donatello, then have free time for lunch on our own and to explore as we wish. B,D
A living monument to the Renaissance, Florence is the crown jewel of Tuscany. We discover this splendid city on a full-day excursion that includes a morning walking tour. Then we visit the Galleria dell’Accademia to view Michelangelo’s sublime David, as well as his pieces for the papal tombs; and the revered Duomo, with its stupendous dome by Brunelleschi. This afternoon is free to enjoy Florence as we wish. Tonight we enjoy dinner together at our hotel. B,D
We encounter classic Tuscany today as we visit the hill town of San Gimignano, known for the 13 watchtowers that have left its skyline virtually unchanged since medieval times. Later we visit a local winery and enjoy a tasting before returning mid-afternoon to our lodgings, where we have time to relax before tonight’s dinner at a local restaurant. B,D
Leaving Tuscany today, we travel through the Veneto region to Venice, which, along with its lagoon, is a UNESCO site. We arrive early this afternoon; the remainder of the day is free to explore this wondrous city on our own. B
This morning we take a guided walk through vast St. Mark’s Square and surroundings. Our afternoon is free to explore Venice independently; tonight we bid “arrivederci” to Italy and our fellow travelers at a farewell dinner. B,D
Depart for U.S.
We depart early this morning for our connecting flights to the U.S. B
Please note: This trip involves considerable walking up hills or stairs, and on uneven or cobblestone streets. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to its fullest.