You’ll be met at the airport by a member of the team for our flight to Rome. On arrival, a coach will transfer us to the delightful medieval city of Arezzo in Tuscany, where we stay at the four-star Minerva Hotel for the next four nights. The hotel started out life as a restaurant fifty years ago, and we will dine there tonight on some traditional Tuscan fare.
After breakfast we set off for another of Tuscany’s medieval cities, Siena. Formerly one of the world’s largest cities, Siena still exudes style and class, especially around the crescent-shaped main square. We will have plenty of time to enjoy the many palaces, piazzas and the stunning black-and-white marble cathedral. Later today we journey past classic, scenic Tuscan landscapes to Arezzo for our evening meal and a chance to share stories of today’s visit with like-minded people also travelling alone.
Florence is a city on many people’s ‘must-visit’ list due to its fairy-tale, riverside location, monumental art collections and typical Italian buzz. We’ll enjoy a guided tour of the important sights of the city before our timed entry into the incomparable Uffizi Gallery. Containing works by the likes of Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Caravaggio, Raphael and numerous other artists, it houses one of the best art collections the world has to offer. Away from the gallery are wonderful markets and shops to discover, interspersed with an essential coffee at a pavement café.
After breakfast in our hotel, our tour takes you to the main town of Arezzo for a guided walk around this city that boasts a kaleidoscope of architectural styles. The cathedral is home to some of the world’s most detailed and best-preserved tapestries. The main square is a masterpiece, one of Europe’s most stunning. The afternoon is free for you to explore Arezzo at leisure before heading back to the hotel for our final dinner at the Minerva.
Today we leave Tuscany after breakfast driving firstly to Assisi. This delightful medieval town, with its flower-hung streets, lovely views over the Umbrian countryside and fountain-splashed piazzas is famous for a single event – the birth of Francis, the most revered saint in Italy. The man himself was one of the most extraordinary figures the Italian church has ever produced. He had a privileged upbringing, leading a very un-Christian lifestyle, but whilst imprisoned, God appeared to him. After release, he renounced his inheritance, living the life of a beggar, and mixed with lepers, but ultimately found his vocation founding the order of monks which bears his name, the Franciscans. Two years after his death, the basilica was built, financed by donations from all over Europe creating one of the most beautiful shrines in the Christian world adorned by arguably its greatest art collection outside an actual gallery. The building today is actually two churches, one on top of the other with St Francis himself lying under the floor in the crypt. The mood inside is most respectful, being in tune with Franciscan principles – silence being the rule, quite plain around the tomb itself and accompanied by brown-robed monks. We have ample time to visit the basilica together with the town, arriving in Rome early evening. Our hotel is the three-star superior Cicerone Hotel, well-located in Rome’s elegant Prati district, close to the Vatican, Castel Sant’Angelo and one of Rome’s best shopping districts. The hotel features a restaurant and bar, and the comfortable rooms are decorated in a classic style.
One of the most captivating cities in the world, Rome is the perfect blend of ancient history and modern times. This morning, we enjoy a guided tour of the city, where we will take in many of the best-known sights, such as St Peter’s, Palatine Hill, the Colosseum, the Forum and so much more. The beautiful Eternal City owes its majesty to the Roman Empire that commanded much of the world for nigh on 500 years, and also to the Papacy, which for much of its existence, held great political as well as religious influence. This afternoon, you are free to explore as you wish, be it on your own or with new-found friends. May we suggest a visit to the Vatican Museum? Or enjoy a wander through the maze of streets and welcoming piazzas.
Rome’s attractions are vast and diverse, so you have a full free day to explore Rome exactly how you choose to. Ancient ruins, grand churches, relaxed cafes, upmarket shopping – there will be ample time to make the most of your visit. And don’t forget that according to local lore, throwing a coin in the Trevi Fountain guarantees a return to the Eternal City. Or perhaps it’s the everlasting allure of this most magnificent of cities that brings people back time and time again.
After breakfast, our coach will return us to Rome airport for our flight home, after an exhilarating journey into the very heart of Italy.