Best Escorted Tours 2019
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Lake Garda, Venice and Wine Tasting in Trentino Tour
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples Tour 8 days
The Sorrento peninsula and the Bay of Naples has been attracting visitors for centuries in search of its outstanding scenery, tranquillity and some of the most wondrous ‘sights’ from throughout history. The Greeks, Phoenicians and Saracens have all left their mark, but none more so than the Romans.
Sorrento came to real fame, during the late 18th century when many of Europe’s aristocracy came to spend their winters here, attracted by its mild climate and outstanding natural beauty. Sorrento is everything you expect an Italian town to be: tiny cobbled streets and quaint squares with flowers decorating almost every building.
We see the legendary Amalfi Coast, with every guidebook proclaiming it the most beautiful in Europe. Next it’s Capri, which possesses a deserved reputation as a veritable Garden of Eden.
Wherever you travel in the Bay of Naples, the skyline is dominated by the majestic and still active volcano Vesuvius, rising loftily to over 4000 feet.
Departure dates: 11 May 18 €1129.00 pp 07 Sept 18 €1299.00 pp 05 Oct 18 €1149.00 pp
The price includes return flights as indicated, seven nights with breakfast and dinner, airport departure taxes and transfers, all local accommodation taxes and all tours as mentioned and the services of an experienced tour manager.
Included excursions are: guided tours of Pompeii, Naples Archaeological Museum and Sorrento, guided tour of and entrance to Herculaneum , and a cruise to Capri.
Sicily Tour 8 Days
Sicily – that beautiful island off the southern-most tip of Italy is one of the few places in Europe that genuinely can be called unspoilt! Its scenery has a natural and varied beauty that is truly breathtaking. Rugged, sometimes snow-capped mountains reaching for the sky are interspaced with rich meadows, adorned with wild flowers: during spring and autumn, spectacularly green and lush, yet during the sun-scorched summer, transformed into pastel shades of greens, yellows and browns.
Citrus and olive groves stretch into the distance and abundant pine forests lend the air that unmistakeable Mediterranean aroma. Punctuated by the occasional farmhouse and Tuscan-like hilltop village the countryside is remarkably empty. The island has a spectacularly indented coastline, with sweeping bays and blood-red volcanic rocks plunging into the deep blue sea, and snow-capped Mount Etna providing a magnificent backdrop.
At the crossroads of almost every Mediterranean civilisation, home to the richest cities in the Greek Empire, Sicily was conquered by Rome, the Moors, Normans, Spanish, French and finally the Italians. Their magnificent relics include temples, amphitheatres, churches, monasteries, villas and atmospheric old towns, with many being the most outstanding of their type in the world.
With an enviable climate, a fabulous cuisine plus some of the most accommodating and friendly people you will find anywhere, Sicily is an excellent destination to discover and you will be made welcome on this beautiful island.
Departure dates: 01 May 18 €1309.00 pp 05 Jun 18 €1279.00 pp 18 Sep 18 €1279.00 pp 02 Oct 18 €1229.00 pp
The price includes return flights as indicated, seven nights dinner, bed and breakfast, airport departure taxes and transfers, all tours as mentioned, guided tours of Valley of the Temples, Villa at Piazza Armerina and Monreale, visits to Palermo, Siracusa and Etna and the services of an experienced tour manager.
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona Tour 8 days
Italy’s contribution to European painting and sculpture surpasses that of any other nation. Blend this with the magnificent scenery of the Italian lakes and one of the world’s great cuisines and you have a superb destination for a tour.
Lake Garda, combines stunning snow-capped Alps in the background and picturesque villages. Further north, the Dolomite Mountains offer some of the most spectacular alpine scenery on earth.
It is only in the past 150 years that Italy has come to exist as a nation state formed from a collection of largely independent cities. They evolved totally separately and on this tour we shall visit two of them. Verona is without doubt one of the most attractive cities you will ever see and appropriately well known as the setting for the legendary story of Romeo and Juliet. Verona’s most striking monument is the arena.
Venice is a stunning city and you will see this when visiting St. Mark’s Square and Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and the Grand Canal.
Departure dates: 16 Apr 18 €959.00 pp 21 May 18 €969.00 pp 18 Jun 18 €1009.00 pp 23 Jul 18 €1079.00 pp 20 Aug 18 €1039.00 pp 17 Sept 18 €999.00 pp 08 Oct 18 €799.00 pp
The price includes seven nights’ dinner, bed and breakfast, all tours as mentioned, scheduled flights as mentioned, airport departure taxes, all local accommodation taxes, transfers and the services of an experienced tour manager.
Included excursions are: classic or undiscovered guided tours of Verona and Venice and tours of Lake Garda and the Dolomite Mountains.
Lake Como, St Moritz & the Bernina Express Tour 8 Days
There is no one thing or region that defines Italy. Seemingly blessed with the ideal combination of almost every desirable attribute a country could wish for: straddling almost the entire width of the Mediterranean, to the south Sicily approaches Africa whilst in the north, its lakes reflect the magnificent Alps. Between these two extremes lies a great diversity of people; of food and wines; iconic architecture; footprints of ancient and medieval civilizations and a huge variety of scenery ranging from almost desert to lofty mountains so high they appear to puncture the sky!
On this wonderfully varied tour we explore Lake Como, one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, plus some stunning icons of northern Italy and Switzerland. Described by Wordsworth as ‘a treasure the earth keeps to itself’, visitors have been attracted to the lake for centuries in search of relaxation, culture and inspiration. Both Verdi and Rossini worked in lakeside villas here, together with countless poets. Its atmosphere is one of an eerie, near-silence, broken only by the rhythmic lapping of gentle waves on the lake shore whilst above, birds of prey soar on the numerous thermals generated by the gentle mountain breezes. The scenery is just awesome with the mirror-like, deep blue waters reflecting the surrounding hills and snow-capped peaks dotted with tall, typically Italian, ochre and magenta coloured buildings and opulent villas lining the lakeside itself. Majestic mountains rise almost vertically towards the deep blue sky with the lower slopes covered in lush vegetation, adding an invigorating aromatic backdrop to a most harmonious scene.
Departure dates: 26 Apr 18 €1289.00 pp 19 Jun 18 €1369.00 pp 14 Sept 18 €1209.00 pp
The price includes seven nights’ accommodation with breakfast and dinner, return flights, airport departure taxes, return transfers, all tours as mentioned, all local accommodation taxes and the services of an experienced tour manager.
Included excursions are: one-way journey on the Bernina Express in standard class, a boat trip to Bellagio, guided tours of Bergamo the Villa del Balbianello.
Turin & Piedmont – Italy’s Best-Kept Secret
There is little in Italy to match the grandeur of Turin’s Baroque palaces, tree-lined boulevards and cobbled squares. There may be a hint of Paris and echoes of Vienna, but this cultured city’s identity is entirely its own and its historical significance is undeniable. In 1563, Turin became the capital of the Piedmont region and Italy’s first. It was home to one of the world’s oldest noble families, the French-speaking Duchy of Savoy, which facilitated Italian unification and provided the nation’s first king. All around the city, the wealthy Savoys created a constellation of some of Europe’s finest buildings, designed by the most prominent architects of the time.
Shielded by the majestic Alps to the west, Turin is home to the famous Shroud, one of the greatest and most controversial mysteries. The city is an enigma: both modern and ancient, calm and energetic; it is these captivating contrasts that fill it with timeless intrigue. Boasting the largest pedestrianised area in Europe, Turin is truly a walker’s paradise: its legendary arcades are beautifully decorated with coffered ceilings and impressive columns, which makes exploring the city an absolute pleasure.
Turin’s transition from monarchic to industrial power is mirrored in its architecture: compare the ostentatious palazzi with the futuristic Mole Antonelliana, Turin’s answer to the Eiffel Tower. Fiat, one of the world’s most successful and progressive automotive brands, has its headquarters here. This heritage of innovation extends to the city’s celebrated cuisine and some of Italy’s finest restaurants can be found here. Truffles are a Piedmont speciality, while the first commercial hard chocolate, Lavazza coffee, and the crisp breadsticks known as grissini all originate in Turin. Two of Italy’s finest red wines, the powerful Barolo and Barbaresco, come from the undulating Langhe hills to the south
On our insightful tour, we stay in Turin and explore this remarkable ‘cradle of Italian liberty’, plus visit charming Alba, a gastronomic hotspot renowned for its succulent white truffles. Step back in time with us and soak up all that this spectacular city has to offer – undoubtedly the essential ingredients for an unforgettable experience.
Departure dates: 13 May 18 €919.00 pp
The price Includes : The price includes four nights’ accommodation with breakfast, a guided tour of Turin, visits to Superga Basilica, Venaria Reale Palace, Alba, the National Automobile Museum, a wine tasting , return flights and transfers, airport departure taxes, all local accommodation taxes and the services of a tour manager.
Tour Juventus Museum and Allianz Stadium – from £27 per person. Go behind the scenes at Allianz Stadium, home to Juventus football club, and explore areas such as the players’ dressing room and media area. Then tour Juventus Museum to relive the club’s history as you experience its fascinating exhibits.
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn Tour
It is very difficult to describe the sheer stunning beauty of the Italian Lakes and it is hardly surprising that so many composers like Verdi and Rossini, plus countless poets and writers have sought peace and inspiration here. Its heady mix of serene, deep waters, fragrant orange blossom and verbena lend their delicate scents to the warm air, whilst forest-clad hillsides, typical Italian medieval villages, mouth-watering fresh food and an effervescent people unique on the planet make it hard to beat.
Lake Maggiore straddles both Italy and Switzerland, and we stay in Stresa, a stylish typical Italian town. We explore not only Lake Maggiore, but also the equally beautiful Lake Como, plus the hidden gem: Lake Orta. With the arc of the majestic Alps stretching out along the horizon, you will enjoy probably the finest mountain scenery in the world during your visits to Switzerland, chic Locarno and dramatic Zermatt, nestling famously at the foot of the mighty Matterhorn, the world’s most charismatic peak. Then there are the delightful lost valleys, tumbling glacial streams and classic chalet scenes all blended together to offer a truly inspirational tour.
Complimentary Guided Walk
An increasing number of you want to stretch your legs whilst away so you may want to join a complimentary guided walk. It’s not arduous, though it is best to have light walking shoes or good trainers.
Firstly, we take the eight-minute local train to the tiny hamlet of Verbania Pallanza, wonderfully nestling itself on one of Italy’s most gorgeous yet unknown lakes – Lake Mergozzo. We follow a delightful track through an unspoilt oak forest teeming with wildlife with our naturalist guide describing the flora and fauna we encounter. It’s always fascinating getting so far off the beaten track, and after time for a coffee at our final destination by the lakeside we return to Stresa by train.
It’s a superb, leisurely trip but places are strictly limited and must be pre-booked. This is not bookable online so please contact our reservations department for more information or to book.
Please note: This walk is around 3.5-4 miles and the day on which the walk takes place will be confirmed by your tour manager in-resort.
Departure dates: 22 May 18 €1249.00 pp 05 Jun 18 €1359.00 pp 18 Sept 18 €1279.00 pp
The price includes: The price includes return flights, seven nights with breakfast and dinner, airport departure taxes and transfers, all tours as mentioned, executive coach travel, all local accommodation taxes and the services of a tour manager.
Included excursions are: a boat cruise to Locarno, a journey on the Centovalli railway, a cruise to the Borromean islands with entrance to the villa and gardens, a visit to Lake Como and a panoramic journey to Zermatt.
Not included in the price is the optional cable car ride to the Matterhorn. The cost of this optional excursion is approximately £70 and is payable locally in Swiss Francs.
Please note that where hotels feature a swimming pool, this will be open summer months, weather permitting.
Puglia, Lecce and Vieste - Undiscovered Italy Tour
Puglia, one of the most fertile regions of Italy produces more olive oil than the rest of the country combined, most of its fish, 80% of Europe’s pasta and more wine than the whole of Germany. We mention this because this very fertility and resultant wealth has attracted attention from a host of envious invaders throughout history, with all leaving remarkably evident footprints. It is this which makes Puglia delightfully different. Colonised by the ancient Greeks in the 8th century BC; then came the Romans, then the Byzantines followed by the Saracens, the Normans, the Spanish and the Bourbons it finally became Italian in 1861.
Here in the deep, south-east of Italy, nature and history are powerful influences. The locals still wink cheekily at authority and the relaxed and communal way of life is in harmony with the sunny dry climate. There remains a deep rooted and historic suspicion of rule from afar, engendering a relaxed atmosphere perfect for ‘getting away from it all’ so why not join us and explore this hidden gem.
Departure dates: 11 Jun 18 €1229.00 pp 10 Sep 18 €1229.00 pp
Price includes: 7 nights’ accommodation with breakfast and dinner, all tours as mentioned, return flights and transfers, airport departure taxes, all local accommodation taxes and the services of a tour manager. Included excursions are: guided tours of Lecce, Bari and Matera and a pasta making demonstration and light lunch in Puglia.
Classical Italy Tour
For centuries Italy has drawn visitors in search of culture and romance with few countries comparing with its enormous Classical origins: its art, architecture, music, design, scenery, food or wine. Indeed Tuscany alone has more classified historical monuments than any other country, let alone province on earth. Italy’s contribution to European painting and sculpture far surpasses that of any other nation being home to the most extensive ancient civilisation, the Renaissance, the Roman Catholic Church and the Vatican. Blend this with the striking natural beauty of the Tuscan countryside, the vitality of Rome, the effervescence inside every Italian and you have an unbeatable destination for a tour.
Personalise Your Holiday
Tour The Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel with an Expert – €46 per person
Skip the queues and discover some of the world’s greatest art collections on a reserved tour with an authorised guide. Marvel at the finest classical statuary, the frescoed chambers painted by Raphael himself, and galleries displaying remarkable candelabra, tapestries and 16th-century maps. Then there’s the beautiful Sistine Chapel, featuring astonishing masterpieces by Michelangelo.
Twilight Trastevere Food Tour – from €90 per person
A 4 hour guided walking tour explores the vibrant and ancient neighbourhood of Rome’s Trastevere region, indulging in over 10 food and wine tastings at some of the most historic and locally loved places. You will meet the families who have created foodie treasures for generations. Taste everything from; the finest cheeses ;the freshest homemade pasta; the tastiest street food; visit legendary third generation delicatessens, taste wines in a cellar that’s a 150 years older than the Colosseum plus probably the tastiest ice-cream in the city!
Departure dates: 16 Jun 18 €1149.00 pp 17 Sept 18 €1149.00 pp
Prices include: 7 nights’ accommodation with breakfast and four dinners, all tours as mentioned, all transfers, all local accommodation taxes and the services of a tour manager.
Included excursions are: timed entrance to the Uffizi gallery, guided tours of Rome, Sienna, Florence and Arezzo and a visit to Assisi.
Not included in the price is the ‘Twilight Trastevere Food Tour’ (see ‘Personalise Your Holiday’ section for details).
Bologna, Parma & Ravenna Tour
Italy stretches from the lofty Alps almost to Africa and nestling pretty much in its heart, sandwiched between the two cultural gems of Venice and Florence, is the Emilia-Romagna region.
Our base for this fascinating Italian short break is the understated yet truly historic city of Bologna, known in Italy as “La Dotta, La Rossa, La Grassa”: The Learned – home of Europe’s oldest university, The Red – after its deep-red medieval bricks and roofs, and The Fat – being at the centre of a rich agricultural region since Etruscan times and evolving into the capital of Italy’s revered culinary heritage. Once Roman and home to Pope Gregory who bequeathed us the Gregorian calendar, the city is imbued with a wonderful optimistic ambience, and is acknowledged as one of Italy’s finest and wealthiest. The Bologna’s face today though, dates from medieval times – its series of atmospheric squares are linked by twisting alleys and tiny streets with the occasional brick “Pisa-style” leaning tower! However what strikes you most are the portico-lined thoroughfares sheltering stylish shops – these ornate covered walkways make a vivid first impression especially when illuminated.
Nearby, lovely Modena with its 12th century cathedral – one of Italy’s finest Romanesque buildings – imposing and austere, its frescoes and artwork covering the entire interior leaving a lasting impression. Then Parma, with its sublime cathedral home to the famed Palazzo della Pilotta, a huge complex of brick buildings housing works by Correggio among others.
Finally, Ravenna is nothing short of a masterpiece! After ancient Rome fell, Ravenna became capital of what remained of the Western Roman Empire. Subsequently coming under Byzantine influence, a huge building programme commenced – the resulting host of religious buildings are wonderfully adorned with superb early Christian paintings and the world’s finest mosaics, Ravenna is acknowledged as the high point of Byzantine art. There are a staggering eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites here and as you explore building after building, their detail, colour and sheer beauty will astound you.
Naturally, food and wine is revered throughout Italy but here it takes on an almost religious fervour, producing some of the world’s most iconic culinary delights. Home to the magnificent sweet prosciutto hams from around Parma, you’ll visit a traditional family producer learning how the legendary taste is imparted. We also sample Modena’s exquisite balsamic vinegars visiting another traditional artisan. Parmesan cheese originates here as do some superb wines. Wild boar and truffles emanate from the Apennine hills and in the maze of streets nesting around Bologna’s cathedral you find some outstanding food emporiums – to call them merely shops would be an injustice! “Foodie” cathedrals indeed – shelves laden with exquisite hams, salamis, fresh pasta, truffles and wild seasonal mushroom. Counters groaning under the weight of fish of every shape and size, fresh with the sea’s crisp aroma; vibrant plump vegetables abound – as do knowledgeable staff eager to share their expertise with you. Blended together, this recipe for a stunning platter of delights is yours to sample and enjoy on this easy-paced and relaxing tour.
Personalise Your Holiday
An Authentic Home-Cooking & Dining Experience in Bologna – from £58 per person
Savour an authentic home-cooked meal of Bolognese classics in the 16th-century apartment of your local host, a passionate traveller and wine expert. You’ll discover Bologna’s rich culinary tradition, help with the preparation and dine together.
Departure date: 21 Aug 18 €919.00 pp
Price includes: 4 nights with breakfast at four-star Hotel Internazionale; return flights; all taxes and charges; return transfers; guided tour of Bologna; guided tour of Parma including Cathedral entrance; visit to the Ferrari Museum in Maranello; guided tour of Ravenna including entrance to five UNESCO World Heritage Sites; tour of La Perla Parma ham with tasting; visit to Villa San Donnino local producer of Balsamic Vinegar with tasting; all touring as mentioned; services of a Riviera Tour Manager.
Lido de Jesolo
Venice and Lido de Jesolo Experience