“La Bella Italia” Tour: September 12-24, 2013!

Buon Pomeriggio/Good afternoon!

Are you still looking for the perfect getaway for this year?  Through Italian Tours by Diana, I am so excited to open up a very special tour to beautiful and romantic La Bella Italia to all of you for this September 12-24, 2013 !  Our voyage will encompass: Tuscany, Umbria, Rome, Amalfi Coast + add on option in the picturesque Northern Lake Region {Lago Maggiore and Lago di Como}.

Below please find all in depth travel details and cost.  We have already gathered a nice group for this journey but there are 6 spots available!  Let me know as soon as possible if you are interested or have any additional questions at mignosafrancesca@gmail.com    I would love to have you aboard for this incredible journey of a lifetime through my native land!

La Bella Italia Tour  – September 12-24, 2013

The lively and picturesque "vicoli" (alleys) of Trastevere quarter in Rome
The lively and picturesque “vicoli” (alleys) of Trastevere quarter in Rome

Day 1  Thursday September 12, 2013       Depart

International flights USA- Rome, Italy.

Day 2 Friday September 13, 2013                Rome

Benvenuti/Welcome nella Bella Italia ! Arrive Rome Fiumicino International Airport – I will be there to greet and welcome all of you to sunny Italy!  Our private transfer will accompany us to our hotel for check in and time to settle in after your transatlantic flight.  Remainder of day at leisure for rest and relaxation or independent exploration of the city.  In the evening we will share our first “Welcome to La Bella Italia” dinner together.  Overnight in Roma.  PT/D/H

Day 3 Saturday September 14, 2013            Roma Religiosa

Breakfast at hotel.  Today will be devoted to Religious Rome.  Our private, bilingual and certified guide will meet us in our hotel lobby at 10.00am.  This tour will begin with a visit to the Pio-Clementino Museum and will then move on to the visitation of The Vatican, The Sistine Chapel and The Vatican Museums.  The journey through the Vatican Museums will proceed through the Gallery of the Candelabre, the Gallery of Tapestries and the Gallery of Maps and from these Galleries, we will enter directly into the Raphael Rooms, where we will observe the extraordinary frescoes executed by Raphael and the Sistine Chapel.  The actual visit to the Basilica, the largest Christian place in the World, will include a viewing of the magnificent Pieta by Michelangelo, Bernini’s bronze Baldacchino (canopy), and the throne of St. Peter.  If you wish, you can visit the Underground Catacombs of the Popes at the end of our tour.  We will have all entrance tickets prearranged to avoid long lines.  Entire afternoon at leisure.  Dinner is already organized at another of our favorite Roman dining spots.  Afterwards, we will take a walk to the Trevi Fountain and toss a coin into the fountain.  Legend has it that if you toss a coin into the fountain and make a wish to return to Italy, it will come true.  Overnight in Rome. B/G/ET/D/H

Day 4 Sunday September 15, 2013              Roma Antica

Breakfast at the Hotel.  This morning will be entirely devoted to the tour of Ancient Rome and all its glory.  Our private, bilingual and certified guide will meet us in our hotel lobby at 10.00am.  As we plunge into the vivacious morning traffic of Rome, our senses will be simultaneously stimulated by antiquity and modern day society.  We will feel the heartbeat of the city as we drive through the Piazza Venezia where we will admire the huge monument to the first Italian King Vittorio Emmanuelle II. Today, this has been dedicated to the memory of the unknown soldiers with the eternal flame.  We will pass the Teatro Marcello and The Circus Maximus, the site of many chariot races.  We will take a stroll through the Roman Forum, rich with antiquity.  Through the main square of Rome, crossing the Via Sacra (the Sacred Way), the most important street in ancient Rome where many triumphant processions took place.  We will see the ruins of some ancient monuments as well as the Triumphal Arches of Titus and Septimius Severus, the Curia, seat of the Roman Senate, the Basilica Emilia and the Basilica Julia which were both used for business transactions. We will also see The Vesta Temple with the house of the Vestal Virgins, and finally the Temples of Antoninus and Faustina, Vespasian and Saturn.    Included are the Piazza Navona which is the most important Piazza of Baroque Rome, The Pantheon, and The Piazza di Spagna.  We will enter The Coliseum (we will have tickets prearranged for you to avoid long lines), the magnificent Flavian Amphitheatre where we will envision the gladiator duels, wild beast fights and naval battles which were arranged for the entertainment of the Roman people. The Arch of Constantine is visible from here as well.  Return to hotel or time at leisure until dinner.  This is an opportunity to revisit an important Piazza or area of antiquity, do some last minute shopping or simply find a cozy Roman Osteria to relax in and reflect upon your unforgettable days in the eternal city.  Remainder of day at leisure.  Overnight in Roma.  B/G/ET/PD/H

The vibrant and fragrant Amalfi Coast

Day 5  Monday September 16, 2013   Rome, Pompeii, Sorrento

Breakfast at hotel and then our private driver will accompany us to the archeological remains of Ancient Pompeii.  Guided tour of Pompeii.  As we stroll through the stone streets of a city built over 2,000 years ago we are magically transported in to antiquity.  We will view homes in which mosaics and frescoes have been preserved despite the treacherous devastation sustained during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius on August 24th in the year 79 AD.   As well we will visit the once busy commercial centers in order to gain a thorough knowledge of life in Ancient Pompeii.  We will have lunch together at one of our favorite pizzerias in Sorrento.  Continue to our hotel in Sorrento to check in and settle.  Remainder of day at leisure to explore Sorrento or simply rest.  Overnight in Sorrento.  B/PD/G/L/H

Day 6 Tuesday September 17, 2013             Sorrento, Amalfi Coast

Breakfast at hotel.  Morning departure from our lovely hotel in Sorrento for one of the most spectacular drives you will ever experience along the scenic Amalfi Coast.   Today we will leisurely explore the quaint seaside towns of this magnificent coast.  We will learn how to make the famous limoncello, the delicious liquor which originated in this area.  Upon arrival in Ravello we will journey up the mountain to visit the famous Villa Rufolo.  With a rich history and at 350m above sea level, Ravello is one of the most fascinating places along the Amalfi Coast.  Its wonderful view has fascinated and inspired writers such as Gore Vidal (who has lived here for years), actors such as Greta Garbo and composers such as Richard Wagner, who composed his Parsifal here.  You will surely capture some of the most memorable pictures of the coast line from this glorious spot.  We will stop in Amalfi as well to view Amalfi’s cathedral which was built in the 9th century and partly reconstructed at a later date in Arabian-Sicilian style. A number of its original ancient features remain, such as the bell tower, the bronze posts on the main door and the Chapel of the Crucifix.  Plenty of time at leisure to wander through the winding streets and take in the bustling vitality of this small seaport town.   Lunch together with the group.  Dinner at leisure and Overnight in Sorrento.            B/PD/L/H

Day 7 Wednesday September 18, 2013        Sorrento, Capri

Today is a lazy day on the boat and at the beach.  After breakfast and weather permitting, we will board a private boat for a leisurely ride to the upscale Island of Capri.  We circumnavigate the entire island during our private island boat tour and visit the most spectacular grottoes characteristic of the island, such as the Blue Grotto, Green Grotto, White Grotto, and around the famous Faraglioni Rock formations. Provided the seas are calm, we will be able to go into the Blue Grotto (an extra fee applies for entrance to the Blue Grotto).  Lunch and beverages will be provided for you on board.  By early afternoon we will dock at Capri and you will have time to independently visit the island or hang at the beach.  Late afternoon return to Sorrento for overnight. B/Boat/L/H

Day 8  Thursday September 19, 2013Sorrento, Orvieto

Breakfast at hotel.  Private transfer from Sorrento to Orvieto.  Today we will transition to the green heart of Italy, the region of Umbria.  Upon arrival, we will check in our hotel and have the remainder of day at leisure – independent lunch and exploration of Orvieto.  The origins of Orvieto date back to the Etruscan Civilization.  The first Etruscan settlements, going back to the 9th century B.C., in fact were found inside the turfaceous caves in the bedrock upon which today rises the city itself.  During your free time, you may choose to visit the Duomo as it is the most famous Cathedral of the city.  Construction of this Italian Gothic style structure took 100 years to complete and dates back to 1263.  The Duomo houses the blood soaked cloth which is the relic related to the miracle at Lake Bolsena which occurred in the same year.  The modern day Roman Catholic Festival of Corpus Christi is a result of this miracle. Another possible sight could be Saint Patrick’s Well or you may simply enjoy sitting and sipping a cold glass of local white wine as you observe the local color of the town.  If shopping is your goal, there are many beautiful shops to explore as well.  One of my favorite things to do is to sit back and observe the Orvietani (citizens of Orvieto) themselves as Orvieto is a very tranquil and contained city and independent exploration is a pleasure. In the evening, we have arranged an unforgettable dining experience at one of our favorite restaurants in town for ambiance and flavors.  Prepare your cameras, you will want to remember this one for a while to come! Overnight in Orvieto.  B/PD/D/H

Travel Pictures Ltd
The spiritual hamlet of Assisi in Umbria

Day 9 Friday September 20, 2013       Orvieto, Assisi

Breakfast at hotel.  In the morning, we will meet our private driver for a leisurely drive to the spiritual hamlet of Assisi where we will meet our private, bilingual and certified guide for a beautiful walking tour of the town.  Assisi is the famous city of San Francesco, symbol of peace around the world.  The city was a Free Town during the XII century, and it was in this period (1182) that Giovanni di Bernardone (San Francesco) was born.  The complex of the famous basilica dedicated to Saint Francis is composed of two churches, one built above the other.  The lower church dates back to 1228-1230 and the upper one from 1230-1253.  Far below both of these is a crypt which houses the saint’s tomb.  He influenced life, religion and culture of Assisi and later of the entire world.  Return to Orvieto late afternoon and prepare for special pizza night with Claudio, our favorite pizzaiolo (professional pizza maker) in town prior to overnight in Orvieto.  B/G/PD/H/D

Day 10 Saturday September 21, 2013Orvieto, Montalcino, San Gimignano

Breakfast at hotel and then we will meet our private driver for transition to one of the most beautiful regions of Italy: Toscana!  Have your cameras ready for we will drive through the gently rolling hills of Tuscany and breathtaking sceneries will meet us at the horizon.  Late morning arrival to the beautiful valley where the coveted Queen of Italian Reds is produced, the famous Brunello di Montalcino.  Our tasting will include olive oil, Vin Santo and grappa and will consist of a light meal.  In the afternoon, we will continue our journey to the idyllic town of San Gimignano, a true Tuscan jewel.   We like to refer to this genuine Tuscan town as an outdoor living room.  This tiny and pristine city has remained intact over the centuries and is situated on top of the rolling hillside.  It is famous for its numerous medieval bell towers, frescoes and other art treasures.  Overnight in San Gimignano.  B/PD/WT/H

Day 11  Sunday September 22, 2013  San Gimignano, Firenze

Breakfast at the hotel.  In the morning, we will meet our private driver for transfer to the magnificent, Florence, Cradle of the Renaissance, where we will meet our private, bilingual and certified guide for an unforgettable walking tour of the city.  We will begin our tour with a visit to the lovely Santa Maria Novella.  Then onto the Galleria Academia to view the beautiful sculptures by Michelangelo, the slaves or prisoners of the rocks and the unforgettable statue of David. To avoid long lines, we have prearranged all entrance tickets for our group members.  The Academia houses some of the most important sculptures of Florence.  Then we are on to the famous Duomo of Florence (the fourth largest church in the world), with its grandiose cupola by Brunelleschi, Giotto’s bell tower, and the Baptistery with its famous bronze doors.  Our guided tour will end with a visit to the Viale dei Colli up to the Piazzale Michelangelo where a wonderful panoramic view of the city will be awaiting us.  Afternoon time at leisure.   At this point, you may choose to rest at an outdoor café or visit the open air markets of the San Lorenzo or the Mercato Del Pulcinello for some genuine Florentine artifacts, leather goods and souvenirs.  If you wish to visit an authentic Florentine Cantina, I have a great recommendation!  Late afternoon transfer to San Gimignano for a genuine Tuscan dinner at one of our favorite restaurants prior to overnight.  B/PD/G/ET/D/H 

Day 12  Monday September 23, 2013San Gimignano

Breakfast at hotel and then entire day at leisure to enjoy the elegance of this wonderful walled city.   Time to prepare for your overseas journey and then in the evening, we will have our farewell dinner as we reminisce about the memories created over the last several days. This is also a good time to complete your souvenir shopping!   Tonight, we will share our “farewell dinner” and for dessert, we will have gelato if you wish at one of the best gelaterias in town and in all of Italy!  Overnight in San Gimignano.  B/D/H/GTO

Day 13  Tuesday September 24, 2013Depart

Breakfast at hotel and then transfer to Florence/Pisa International Airport for overseas departure.  Arrivederci Bella Italia!!  B/PT

Sunflower fields in San Gimignano, Tuscany
Sunflower fields in San Gimignano, Tuscany

Special Optional Add-On to the Luxurious Lake Region of Northern Italy

Day 13 Tuesday September 24, 2013 

continued…..If you opt for the special add-on, you will enjoy a private transfer to the picturesque town of Stresa, on the shores of Lake Maggiore.  Situated in the South Side of the Alps, Lake Maggiore is the second largest of Italy and the largest of the canton of Ticino, Switzerland.  It extends 70km between Arona and Locarno. The weather remains mild all year long as beautiful Mediterranean gardens and vegetation grow through the seasons.  Time to check in hotel and settle.  In the evening, we have arranged an authentic Northern Italian dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in town.  Overnight in Stresa  B/PD/D/H

Day 14 Wednesday September 25, 2013      Stresa, Isole Borromee, Lago Maggiore

Breakfast at the hotel.   Morning departure from hotel in Stresa.   This morning we are off to Isola Bella one of the beautiful Borromeo Islands.  With a private water shuttle, we will arrive to the island for a guided visit.  In 1670 Count Vitaliano Borromeo started construction of the monumental baroque palace which dominates the island, and began to landscape the majestic scenery of the gardens for which the Island became so famous. The stately Borromeo residence contains priceless masterpieces: tapestries, furniture, and paintings by great masters. The gardens bloom with every variety of trees and rare flowers which, one can imagine and provide an excellent example of the celebrated “Italian garden” of that period.  Afternoon at leisure.  In the evening, a memorable and romantic dinner on Isola dei Pescatori prior to overnight in Stresa.  B/G/Boat/ET/D/H

Day 15 Thursday September 26, 2013          Stresa, Lake Como, Bellaggio

Breakfast at hotel and then mid-morning drive to the stunning city of Como.  Situated in the South-West arm of Lake Como, the city borders both Switzerland and Italy.  You will have some independent time to explore the city – we recommend visiting the “Duomo” (Main Cathedral), tasting some of the sweet homemade breads at one of the many local bakeries/pastry shops and tasting them as you stroll the alleys and many boutiques around town.  We will continue our journey to one of the most luxurious and upscale areas of the northern lake region as we will drive by the villas that have made Lake Como so famous such as Villa Olmo, Villa Erba, the stunning Hotel Villa d’Este, Villa Fontanella of the Versace family and of course Villa Oleandra owned by George Clooney!  We will stop in Bellagio, the “Pearl” of Lake Como, for independent exploration and lunch.  Late afternoon return to Stresa for dinner and overnight.  B/PD/D/H

Day 16  Friday September 27, 2013             Depart

Breakfast at hotel and then private transfer to Milano Malpensa International Airport for overseas departure.  Arrivederci Bella Italia!! B/PT

Isola Bella, Lago Maggiore
Isola Bella, Lago Maggiore


Your Custom Journey to Italy includes (Day 1-13):

11 Breakfasts

3 Lunches which include wine

6 Dinners which include wine

11 Nights stay in 3 star superior and 4 star hotels

5 Private bilingual guides

3 Entrance tickets

1 Boat ride to Capri

1 Wine tasting which includes a light meal

2 Private Transfers

A private driver throughout Italy

1 if not more treats of gelato

The 24/7 accompaniment of a bilingual professional representative of ITBD

A Kick Off reception hosted by Diana Maiola Cirino and staff which includes a lesson in the Italian language

Price per person based upon double occupancy for land portion of this journey is

$4,466 for 10 pax

$4,245 for 12 pax

$4,050 for 14 pax

$3,900 for 15 pax

$3,795 for 18 pax

$3,715 for 20 pax                 (Single room Supplement is 375.00)

Optional add-on extras and inclusions:

3 breakfasts

3 dinners which include wine

3 nights stay in a 4 star superior hotel

1 private bilingual guide

1 entrance ticket

1 boat ride on Lake Maggiore

1 private transfer to the airport upon departure

Private driver throughout

24/7 accompaniment of ITBD bilingual representative

Price per person based on double occupancy for this additional portion of the journey is as follows:

$ 1,586 per person up to 14 participants        $1,475 per person for 15 + participants Single room supplement is $165.00

Get in the mood for Italy!   Andiamo!!!



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