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Sofia Travel Co.
3907 Cherrywood Road
Austin, TX 78722

T: 214-493-3702
E: Info@SofiaTravel.org

 

3907 Cherrywood Road
Austin, TX 78722

March 14 (3603).JPG

Experiencing Italy

Rather than simply visit Italy, we invite you to experience Italy.  We’ll show you our favorite sites, take you to the best restaurants, and ensure that you have an inspiring, renewing, and relaxing experience in this treasured country.  Our emphasis is on unique cultural encounters, beautiful landscapes and works of art, the best of Italian cuisine, and a curated journey through the 3,000 year history of the Italian people. Whether gazing up at Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel or over the rolling hills of Tuscany, you will come away with an unforgettable travel experience unlike any other.  

INCLUDED IN YOUR TOUR


  • Four and Five Star Hotel Accommodations
  • Flights and Transportation 
  • Meals and drinks at local restaurants 
  • Comprehensive guiding by Dr. David and Adam Sparks
  • Culture, history and language lessons
  • Site entrances
  • Authentic experiences with local Italians
  • Attentive support in the States and while abroad
  • Taxes and Tips
Hotel balcony view in San Gimignano

Hotel balcony view in San Gimignano

12 DAY ITINERARY


Day 1 & 2 – Depart USA, Arrive Florence
Depart USA, arrive Florence, Italy. Check-in to our hotel in the heart of this amazingly preserved Renaissance city.  Step back in time to the age of Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and the Medici as we settle in for three nights.  After an introductory meeting and cultural orientation, we enjoy our first taste of the wonderful Italian cuisine at a local trattoria. (D)

Day 3 – Florence
Florence is truly one of the world’s most amazing cities. Our walking tour will include many of the signature works of the Renaissance as we learn about the city that launched modern European culture.  We’ll begin at the heart of Florence, the magnificent Duomo, capped by Brunelleschi's gigantic, red-tiled dome. On the Baptistry of St. John we see Ghiberti’s famous Gates of Paradise, a seminal work of Renaissance sculpture, before continuing to the Academia to see perhaps the greatest work of art from the Renaissance: Michelangelo’s David.  We then get a taste of modern Florentine life at the bustling Central Market before free time to shop at the stalls of the outdoor San Lorenzo market or an optional climb to the top of Brunelleschi’s dome for stunning views of the city.  In the evening we enjoy dinner out and Italy’s best gelato. (B,D)

Day 4 – Florence
Our second day in Florence begins at the Piazza della Republica followed by an up close examination of the groundbreaking sculptures of the Orsanmichele.  Arriving at the political center of Renaissance Florence, the Piazza della Signoria, we explore this grand square with its public sculpture gallery, the Loggia dei Lanzi.  We then tour the Uffizi Gallery, which contains the single greatest collection of Renaissance art on the planet, including works by Giotto, Botticelli, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian, and Caravaggio.  After lunch, we visit the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge spanning the Arno River and the church of Santa Croce where many of Florence’s greatest artists lay in rest. (B)

Day 4 – Siena
Siena is one of the most appealing towns in Tuscany with its well-conserved medieval streets and its monumental square, the Piazza del Campo. The piazza's focal point is the Palazzo Pubblico with its frescoes regarding good and bad government, dating back to 1250. We also visit the impressive Duomo, Siena's cathedral, and allow free time to wander the picturesque city. In the late afternoon we arrive to the amazingly preserved medieval hill town of San Gimignano.  This picture-perfect Tuscan town will be our home base for the next three nights as we explore Tuscan culture, cooking, history, and wine. (B,D)

Day 5 – San Gimignano, Tuscan Vineyard Tour and Farmhouse Lunch
The morning begins with a guided tour of San Gimignano as we visit the 13th century Palazzo Comunale and cathedral with time for an optional climb to the top of one of San Gimignano’s famous Medieval towers.  In the afternoon we head to the nearby village of San Donato where we visit a family run vineyard and farmhouse.  After sampling the wines, we sit down to a festive Tuscan spread in this unforgettable setting.   (B,D)

Day 6 – Volterra, Tuscan Cooking Class
Our day begins in the nearby Tuscan town of Volterra.  Inhabited since the Stone Age, Volterra was an important city of the ancient Etruscan people, and we can see their engineering and artistic prowess at their 2,200 year old city walls and in the Etruscan Museum.  Our tour continues with visits to the beautiful Roman theater, 750 year old town hall, and cathedral.  After free time in this beautiful city, we head to the town of Certaldo for an unforgettable cooking class from a Tuscan chef.  Make and eat fresh pasta and traditional desserts while sipping wine and soaking up the vivacious culture of Tuscany. (B,D)

Day 8 – Assisi
Walled Assisi is miraculous with its many churches, including its main church dedicated to the matchless life of St. Francis.  St Francis was born here as the son of a wealthy merchant.  After renouncing his earthly possessions and living a life of holiness and poverty, Francis was venerated as one of the chief saints of the Catholic Church.  His basilica is a magnificent tribute to the venerated man, with frescoes by Giotto, Cimabue and Martini.  We then head to a family run country villa in the Umbrian countryside for dinner, a walk through the gardens, and overnight. (B,D) 

Day 9 – Rome
All roads lead to Rome.   For thousands of years tourists, merchants, and pilgrims have journeyed to the city of seven hills on the Tiber. Rome has unarguably one of the richest, fullest histories of any city on earth, all the while incorporating some of the finest architecture still surviving.  Upon arrival, we visit the elegant Borghese Gallery, a refined museum housed in the former Borghese estate that contains the greatest collection of Baroque sculpture by the artist Bernini.  After marveling at the delicacy of his works and the paintings by Raphael and Titian, we check into our hotel located in the heart of this ancient city.  (B,D)

Day 10 – Rome
Our day begins at the world famous Colosseum, where we’ll marvel at the impressiveness of Roman architecture while learning about the deadly games that once took place.  We then walk down the ancient Sacred Way to the heart of the Roman Empire, the grand Roman Forum, where we see the Temple to Divine Julius Caesar, the Temple of the Vestal Virgins, and the Senate building.  After leaving the forum, we take a walking tour to Rome’s most famous sites, including the Trevi Fountain, Column of Marcus Aurelius, and the unforgettable Pantheon before ending our day in the picturesque Piazza Navona.  (B)

Day 11 – Rome, Vatican City
In the morning we leave Italy as we step foot in the Vatican City for a visit to one of the world’s most important museums.  After admiring the greatest works from the ancient Greeks to the Renaissance masters, we visit the stunning Sistine Chapel where we marvel at its famous frescoes by Michelangelo.   We end our tour in monumental St. Peter’s Basilica, the spiritual center of the Catholic faith and its grandest church.  In the evening, we gather together for our closing meeting and a final, celebratory dinner. (B,D)

Day 12 – Depart Rome, Arrive USA
Depart Italy or spend four nights on the matchless Amalfi Coast. (B)


OPTIONAL PRE TOUR VENICE EXTENSION


For the full Italian experience, you simply cannot miss taking a gondola ride down the hidden canals of Venice. One of the most unique cities on the planet, Venice combines grandiose opulence with unforgettable surroundings. Enjoy three nights on the island listening to the orchestras in Piazza San Marco, observing the glass blowers on Murano, or getting lost in the romantic winding streets. 

Day 1 & 2 - Depart USA, Arrive Venice
Take a privately chartered water taxi from the Venice airport to the private water entrance of your five star hotel located just steps away from glorious St. Mark’s Square.  In the evening we enjoy a welcome reception and meet and greet together.

Day 3 - Orientation, St. Mark's Square
After breakfast in the grand hotel ballroom, we receive an introduction to the one of a kind history of the Most Serene Republic of Venice.  We then enjoy a guided tour of St. Mark’s Square as we see the Basilica, Clock Tower, Piazzetta, Doge’s Palace, and harbor, including the famous Bridge of Sighs.  The day is then at leisure to explore the matchless pleasures of this exceptional city. (B)

Day 4 - Grand Canal Boat Tour
In the morning we take a privately chartered boat ride down the Grand Canal, the main street of Venice, as we receive a guided explanation of the palaces, houses, churches, and bridges of this opulent thoroughfare.  We also veer off the Grand Canal to see the quaint residential waterways of Venice as we learn about modern life in this unique city.  The remainder of the day is at leisure. (B)

Day 5 - Transfer to Florence (Day 2 of the main itinerary) After a privately chartered boat ride to the bus terminal, we take our privately chartered bus to Florence to join the rest of the group as we begin exploring Tuscany. (B)


OPTIONAL POST TOUR AMALFI COAST EXTENSION


There is no better way to end your tour than to spend four nights relaxing in the most stunning 11th century villa overlooking their world renowned gardens and gazing over the blue waters of the Amalfi Coast from your balcony. Simply enjoy the breathtaking views from your hillside resort, spend the days shopping in Ravello and lingering over meals, or take day trips to Capri, Pompeii, and Sorrento.

Day 12 - Monte Cassino, Ravello
Leaving Rome, we stop at the Abbey of Monte Cassino on our way to the Amalfi Coast.  This famous monastery was begun by St. Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine Order, and is replete with beautiful inlaid marble.  Arriving in Ravello in the afternoon, we check into our five star accommodations for four wonderful nights in this beautifully serene hillside town overlooking the Amalfi Coast. (B)

Day 13 - Ravello
The day is at leisure to enjoy Ravello.  Shop at the stores of local artisans, marvel at the view, stroll through the immaculate gardens, and enjoy this one of a kind setting.

Day 14 - Naples Archaeological Museum, Pompeii
This unforgettable day gives us the opportunity to experience the world’s greatest archaeological site from antiquity: Pompeii.  Leaving Ravello, the day begins at the Naples Archaeological Museum, where the treasures of Pompeii are housed.  From works of art painted 2,000 years ago to haunting bronze statuary to magnificent mosaics to the unbelievably preserved artifacts of everyday life, this is perhaps the greatest Classical museum in the world.  After lunch along Naples’ beautiful harbor, we tour the site of Pompeii and enter into the public buildings, bath houses, and private homes of the ancient Pompeian people. (B)

Day 15 - Boat Tour to Capri
Today we explore the unforgettable towns of the Amalfi Coast as they were meant to be seen: from the beautiful blue waters of the sea.  Boarding our privately chartered boat, we cruise along the coast to the famous island of Capri.  Resort island to Roman Emperors and Italian nobles, we enjoy the natural beauty and charm of this green island.  We then return along the coast with time in the picturesque towns of Positano and Amalfi before returning to Ravello.  

DAY 16 - Depart Naples
A morning departure brings us to the Naples airport for our departure from Italy.

ITALY TOUR PHOTO GALLERY


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