Best of Italy - Overview



This was a Trafalgar “Best of Italy” tour, covering many cities and sights in two weeks.  There were 38 people on the tour from various countries - Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea, and the United States.

The photos are "geotagged"..  This adds GPS data (latitude, longitude, elevation, etc.) to the photo metadata, just as the camera brand and model, date and time, exposure info, etc. are automatically recorded by the camera itself.  (Most current smartphones geotag pictures and videos automatically, unless disabled for privacy or security reasons, but I use a Canon camera and add the geotagging information using external hardware and an app.)  This lets you see exactly where each photo was taken, usually to within a few meters.  The “Photos” links below don’t show the geotagged information, but Google’s Picasa web site does an excellent job with geotagged photos, including integration with Google Maps and Google Earth.  Indoor shots sometimes have trouble getting good GPS data, but all but a few of the photos were successfully geotagged.

If you don’t see a map on the Picasa pages, and you do see a yellow box saying “Click here to go back to Picasa Web Albums.”, click “here” as directed!  If you have trouble getting to the Picasa pictures at all, please let me know; getting Picasa to work from everyone’s device is sometimes a little tricky!

The photos here are not edited, except for adding the GPS metadata, though some would benefit from some adjustments.  They’re size-reduced for the web, but I’d be happy to send you individual photos or a DVD with the full-resolution photos.

I also took a few short videos - pasta-making, dancing (them and us), gondola ride, etc.

The itinerary that follows, and the text on each page of photos, is basically from the Trafalgar web site.  In some cases I’ve added additional info [in brackets].  A Trafalgar tour includes a lot of “free time”, with the ability to purchase optional local excursions from the tour director.  I decided to do all of these “optional” tours, so they’re noted in [brackets] for the approximate matching day.

Day 1 - Rome  (Photos, Picasa)

Welcome to Rome, the Eternal City. Spend the rest of your day relaxing or take a leisurely stroll around the city. Join your companions and Travel Director later for a Welcome Reception. Enjoy an orientation drive to see St. Peter’s Basilica and other sights - a great introduction to this beautiful city.   [Option: Piazzas and Fountains of Rome.]

Day 2 - Rome  (Photos, Picasa)

Your included sightseeing tour with a Local Specialist begins at the Vatican Museums. Experience a Cultural Insight in the Vatican when you ascend the smooth and step-less spiral staircase designed by famous architect Donato Bramante. Admire Michelangelo’s magnificent frescoed ceiling in the Sistine Chapel and then visit St. Peter’s Basilica to see his famous Pietà. Your tour continues in ancient Rome. See the Circus Maximus where chariot races were held and visit the impressive Colosseum. There’s time afterwards to explore the city on your own, or simply relax and watch the world go by. [Option: Roman Evening with Dinner.]

Day 3 - Rome, Monte Cassino, Pompeii, Sorrento (Photos, Picasa)

Visit the Commonwealth War Cemetery and view the Benedictine Abbey in Monte Cassino. Your Local Specialist tells you all about the devastation caused by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79 during your walking tour of Pompeii. Arrive later at your hotel in Sorrento where you dine tonight.  [Option: Amalfi Coast and Positno.]

Day 4 - Isle of Capri Excursion  (Photos, Picasa)

Witness the intricate art of inlaid woodwork, a Cultural Insight for which Sorrento is famous. Later embark on an included excursion by ferry to the Isle of Capri. Visit Capri Town and other sights during your tour with a Local Specialist. Spend time exploring this lovely island on your own.  [Option: Experience the Isle of Capri.]

Day 5 - Sorrento, Assisi  (Photos, Picasa)

Assisi is a mystical town perched on the slopes of Mount Subasio overlooking the peaceful Umbrian landscape. Under the protection of St. Francis this city is still enclosed by medieval ramparts. Your Local Specialist takes you on a walking tour which includes a visit to the Basilica of St. Francis, famous for its frescoes depicting the life of this much-loved saint. Spend time afterwards exploring on your own and shopping for souvenirs. Dine at your hotel this evening.  [Option: Neapolitan Dinner and Dance.]

Day 6 - Assisi, [Verona,] Venice  (Photos, Picasa)

Today enjoy the glorious countryside and historic architecture of the Emilia Romagna region. The area is also renowned for its cuisine such as tortellini, mortadella and parmesan cheese, which you could sample during your lunch stop. Arrive later in Venice, Queen of the Adriatic.   [We moved the Verona visit to today: This morning travel to Verona, the home of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers, to admire the Roman arena and Juliet’s balcony.]

Day 7 - Venice Orientation and Free Time  (Photos, Picasa)

Your cruise by private launch to St. Mark’s Square is magical. View the Bridge of Sighs, the beautiful Doge’s Palace and the Basilica. Gain a Cultural Insight into the ancient art of glassblowing at a traditional workshop on Giudecca Island. Spend free time seeing the sights of your choice. You might like to cruise across the lagoon to the Island of Burano and enjoy a delicious meal. [Options: Venice’s Secrets and St. Mark’s Basilica, Lagoon Cruise to Burano with Food and Drinks..]

Day 8 - Venice, Verona, Milan, Lake Maggiore  (Photos, Picasa)

[The Verona visit occurred on day 6.]  Cross the plains of Lombardy to Milan for a walking tour of this fashionable city with your Local Specialist. See the Duomo, La Scala Opera house and the famous Galleria. Dine tonight at your hotel. [Option: Treasures of Milan.]

Day 9 - Lake Como Excursion  (Photos, Picasa)

Travel to the beautiful Lake Como with free time to explore or simply soak up the scenery. This evening take a private boat to an island on Lake Maggiore for a special Be My Guest dinner experience. [Options: Discover Lake Como, Discover the Borromean Islands.]

Day 10 - Lake Maggiore, Pisa, Florence  (Photos, Picasa)

Cross the Plains of Lombardy, the forested Apennine Mountains, and pass by Genoa to Pisa. View the extraordinary Leaning Tower before arriving in Florence, birthplace of the Renaissance. Tonight you might like to sample some local Tuscan cuisine. [Option: Dinner, Wine, and Music in the Tuscan Hills.]

Day 11 - Florence Sightseeing and Free Time  (Photos, Picasa)

Your Local Specialist brings the city’s rich history to life during your walking tour. View the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio and visit Piazza della Signoria. Enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo. Spend free time exploring or shop for high quality leather and gold. [Option: Michaelangelo’s ‘David’ and Accademia.]

Day 12 - Florence, Siena, Rome  (Photos, Picasa)

Set in scenic Tuscan countryside visit the medieval town of Siena, famous for its exciting Palio horse race. This evening in Rome join your Travel Director and new friends for a Farewell Dinner.


Photo above is a pano taken near Circus Maximus, map pins show where photos were taken, and the purple line in the map above is the GPS track from the two weeks.