Meet someone who says Italy ain’t all that and you’ve found yourself a liar. A gondola ride through Venice will soften the heart of even the most obstinately unromantic. Cinque Terre and Florence couldn’t be any prettier if they tried. And Rome’s like one massive café inside an art gallery inside a cathedral inside a pizzeria.
In ancient Rome, phalluses were thought of as good luck. They were worn as jewellery or hung up as wind chimes. We’ll stick to the four-leafed clover, thanks (walking around with phallic jewellery not recommended).
Meals included: 1 breakfast
Accommodation: Hotel Mondial or similar, Venice
Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with the hotel reception or the hotels noticeboard for confirmation of where and when this meeting will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early, so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please contact the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your trip leader.
A grand city of canals, Venice is built over a hundred small islands connected by 400 bridges. Still rich with artistic masterpieces, modern Venice combines history with contemporary life through food, performance, art and architecture.
There are only two ways to explore Venice - by boat or on foot. Some of the more popular sights include the Grand Canal, the shops of the Rialto Bridge, the Palace of the Doge (ruler of Venice), the Piazza and Basilica di San Marco and the Bridge of Sighs. Take the time to wander the narrow, cobblestone streets and spacious piazzas and cross the hundreds of tiny bridges, where shops, markets, galleries, churches and stunning buildings lie around every corner.
You can't leave Venice without going on a classic Venetian gondola. It's a common way for visitors to see the major canal routes from a fascinating perspective.
Meals included: 1 breakfast
Accommodation: Affittacamere Anita or similar, La Spezia
Travel on a series of trains to the Liguria region, home to La Spezia and the Cinque Terre (approx 5 hrs).
A medieval port town whose name is derived from its historic importance in the spice trade, La Spezia is our base for exploring the nearby (approx. 30mins by train) stunning stretch of coast known as the Cinque Terre.
Cinque Terre ('Five Lands') is an area famed for the beauty of its coastline and its picturesque villages. Before the advent of the railway, its ancient systems of hillside footpaths were the villages' only link to the outside world.
Walk along the famous path of the Cinque Terre. Olive groves and vineyards cover the mountains that plunge into the sea - the vistas here are breathtaking.
If you're feeling energetic, walking the entire path (12 km, approx 5 hrs) will give you the best taste of the villages and countryside. However, you can jump on a train between any of the villages or to get back to our base whenever you want. Please note that some sections of the Cinque Terre path can be quite difficult with challenging uphill stretches, narrow paths, steep cliffs and foot bridges. Appropriate footwear (trainers or light hiking shoes) are required for this day.
Cinque Terre path sections:
- Riomaggiore to Manarola is easy and takes 25 minutes on a paved path.
- Manarola to Corniglia is easy and takes about 50 minutes on a partly paved and partly rocky path.
- Corniglia to Vernazza is medium level difficulty and takes about 1.5 hours on a rocky path.
- Vernazza to Monterosso is more challenging and takes about 2 hours on a rocky path.
Important note for 2014 departures.
During October 2011 this region was hit by record flooding and serious mudslides, particularly Monterosso and Vernazza which were evacuated and closed for access. In addition, in the summer of 2012 a number of coastal walking paths were closed due to rockslides. Local authorities have since indicated that the restoration and repair work should be complete by summer 2014 and many walking routes will be re-opened, however, please be aware that there may be delays.
After working up an appetite, you'll appreciate indulging in the foods of the Liguria region, which take advantage of the products of the Mediterranean. Pesto is a speciality, and is often served with pasta, green beans and potato, or dolloped into a classic minestrone soup. Focaccia is also a speciality, and makes a great start to lunch - team it up with some cheese and ham and you have a simple yet delicious picnic.
Meals included: 1 breakfast
Accommodation: Plus Hostel Florence or similar, Florence
Board a train bound for Florence (approx 3.5 hrs).
Florence, the cultural heart of Tuscany, bursts with religious treasures and Renaissance masterpieces. It's been said that during the second millennium, a third of Europe's most important artists lived in Florence. The minds and talents of the Medicis, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Brunelleschi, Machiavelli, Donatello and Michelangelo all flourished here.
The principal sights of this beautiful 'outdoor museum' are easily discovered on foot - the Pitti Palace, the Ponte Vecchio, the Arno River front, the many statues and monuments of the Piazza della Signoria, the Palazzo Vecchio, the 13th-century Duomo, Baptistry and Belltower and the Santa Croce Church.
Visit the Uffizi, one of the world's oldest art galleries and a work of art itself.
See Michelangelo's famous statue of David in the Galleria dell'Accademia.
Florentine State Museums (Uffizi, Accademia, Pitti Palace, Medici Chapels, Bargello, Archaeological Museum, Davanzati) can all be booked in advance. Reserve tickets by phone on (+39) 055 294883 from Monday to Friday 8.30am-6.30pm, Saturday 8.30am-12.30pm. You can also book online at: www.weekendafirenze.com. We suggest that you book at least two months in advance especially for the Uffizi as this museum experiences enormous queues (up to 5 hours) all year round. The individual museums have slightly different opening times and closing days between them but the website - www.firenzemusei.it - has everything you need to know about all of them.
You will normally arrive in Florence mid afternoon on Day 5 leaving you with the whole of Day 6 free to do optional activities.
Meals included: 1 breakfast
Accommodation: Hotel Bolognese or similar, Rome
Crowded with ancient ruins and religious monuments, Rome still pulses to the beat of modern life and is packed with designer shops, restaurants, cafes and exciting nightlife.
See some of the world-famous sights such as the Colosseum, Arch of Constantine and the Forum (the centre of ancient Rome).
No visit would be complete without a trip to Vatican City and St Peter's Basilica. Entry to the Basilica is free, and there's a small charge to climb the dome for the ultimate breathtaking panorama over bella Roma.
Also make the time to visit the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. The Vatican Museum is closed on some days, including most Sundays. On the last Sunday of the month, it's open and free (but expect large crowds). Check the Vatican website for these dates: www.vatican.va
Tickets for the Vatican Museum can be booked online at http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/do
Alternatively, the Galleria Borghese can be booked online at http://www.galleriaborghese.it/borghese/en/einfo.htm
On the final day, you are able to depart at any time.
Tour leader, accommodation, transport and sightseeing.
International flights, airport transfers, departure taxes, visas, insurance (compulsory on all trips), meals (except 2 breakfasts in Venice and 2 breakfasts in Florence), any optional tours or activities during free time, camera fees, excess baggage charges, tips and items of a personal nature.
We have chosen a selection of some great optional activities to enhance your travel experience. You will need to cover any additional costs yourself. The below list is not exhaustive and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed below have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, our local operator PEAK DMC - Europe, can be reached on at the following number:- +49 8677 918 66 57
The operator for this Geckos Adventures trip is our experienced sister company Intrepid Travel. Your group will therefore be a mixture of Geckos booked passengers and other international like-minded travellers.
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please ensure that you have the most up-to-date information for your trip. We recommend that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
15 August 2014