COACH TOUR: Uncover the highlights of mainland Italy and Sicily on this 17-day coach tour. Explore Rome at leisure and 'skip the line' to visit the Vatican. See the Renaissance architecture of Florence and roam around St Mark's Square in Venice. Take in the ruined city of Pompeii, sample traditional pizza in Naples and discover picturesque Capri. In Sicily, tour Palermo and uncover the archaeological highlights of Agrigento and Syracuse. Enjoy wine tasting and lunch in Marsala and hike to the summit of Mount Etna.
Rome - Assisi - Siena - Florence. Welcome to Italy! It's an early start as we depart Rome at 07:15 and journey to the medieval walled town of Assisi. There's time to visit the picturesque Basilica of St Francis independently if you choose.
Then we continue to Siena, a UNESCO-protected town known for its incredibly narrow streets, medieval brick buildings and fan-shaped main square: Piazza del Campo. After a short visit, we continue to our hotel in Florence, where dinner is included.
Please note: The tour departs at 07:15 on Day 1 from the Hotel St Martin in Rome. Please arrive in Rome the day before your tour to ensure you don't miss the coach.
Overnight: Florence | Dinner
Today we enjoy a half-day sightseeing tour of Florence, 'Cradle of the Renaissance' and home of Michelangelo. Take in the beautiful Duomo, formally known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Other highlights of the city include the town hall - Palazzo Vecchio and the Basilica of Santa Croce, burial place for illustrious Italians including Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli. We enjoy lunch in a typical Tuscan restaurant in Piazza Santa Croce, and the rest of the day is at leisure. We recommend pre-booking a visit to the Uffizi Gallery or the Academia (home to the original David).
Overnight: Florence | Breakfast, Lunch
Bologna, Padua & Venice
Florence - Bologna - Padua - Venice. Departing Florence, we drive to beautiful Bologna, capital of the Emilia-Romagna region. Enjoy a walk through the elegant city centre to see some of the beautiful porticos and shopping streets. Stroll from Piazza Malpighi to Piazza del Nettuno and Piazza Maggiore in the heart of the city, and see the Basilica of San Petronio. There's free time to find a good restaurant for lunch.
In the afternoon we pay a short visit to Padua, a riverside city west of Venice. We'll see the Basilica of Saint Anthony, which is one of the most visited churches by pilgrims in the Catholic world. Then it's on to Venice, where we check into our hotel for the next two nights.
Overnight: Venice | Breakfast
After breakfast, it's time to explore perhaps Italy's most famous and romantic destination. The floating city is a photographer's dream, and we'll be taking in the main highlights. Our tour begins in Piazza San Marco, in English known as St Mark's Square. It's the focal point of the city, dominated by St Mark's Basilica. We also see the Gothic Doge's Palace and the legendary Bridge of Sighs.
After our tour, we enjoy some cicchetti (Italian tapas) and a glass of prosecco in our beautiful setting. Then there is free time for you to explore further - we strongly recommend a gondola ride on Venice's famous canals!
Overnight: Venice | Breakfast, Lunch
Tuscany's wine region
Venice - Tuscany wine region - Rome. Leaving Venice, we head into Tuscany, one of Italy's most idyllic regions. A land known for its beautiful scenery, historic castles, and some of Italy's finest wines. We enjoy a stop in the medieval town of Montepulciano for lunch, where you can try a glass or two of the region's vino. Then we enjoy a short amount of free time to explore the town further, before returning to Rome for the evening.
Overnight: Rome | Breakfast, Lunch
Today we explore Vatican City, home to the Pope and technically an independent country - another one you can tick off your list!
Departing the hotel after breakfast, we'll enjoy a guided tour of the Vatican's museums and galleries with 'skip the line' tickets. Take in the Gallery of Tapestries, the beautifully decorated frescoes of Raphael's Rooms, and of course, the Sistine Chapel. We can also admire the stunning St Peter's Basilica from the outside. This iconic landmark dominates the Vatican and is one of the largest Christian churches in the world, as well as being the pinnacle of Renaissance architecture. It is allegedly where Saint Peter was buried and titans of Italian design including Donato Bramante and Michelangelo had a hand in its creation. The rest of today is at leisure in Rome.
Overnight: Rome | Breakfast
Naples, Pompeii & Sorrento
Rome - Naples - Sorrento. As we set off from Rome once more, we head south this time, passing through Lazio and Campania to reach Naples, the birthplace of pizza! We'll take a short hike up Vomero Hill to enjoy panoramic views of the Gulf of Naples, Mount Vesuvius, Capri, Ischia and Naples below.
Then we make the short drive to Pompeii, in the shadow of Vesuvius. Lunch is included so you can try some authentic Neapolitan pizza before our tour of Pompeii.
In the year 79 AD, the residents of Pompeii, a prosperous and sophisticated Roman city, were going about their day. Suddenly and without warning, the normally quiet Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying the city in up to 6 metres of ash and pumice. Whilst many Pompeiians escaped, approximately 2,000 people were buried and perished. The ash perfectly preserved the city, and on our guided tour we will see some of the surviving artefacts, mosaics and buildings, and will find out more about the eruption and what life was like in the city before this fateful day.
After our tour of Pompeii we head along the picturesque Sorrentine coast to Sorrento, where dinner is included - please dress smartly as it is a formal dinner!
Overnight: Sorrento | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Capri day trip
Sorrento - Capri - Sorrento. Today we explore the beautiful and exclusive Mediterranean island of Capri. Weather permitting, we will visit the Blue Grotto sea cave by row boat. You can enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before there is free time to explore the island. Capri was a summer home for the Roman emperor Augustus and today is popular with celebrities. After our visit, we return to Sorrento.
Overnight: Sorrento | Breakfast, Dinner
Overnight ferry to Palermo
Sorrento - Palermo. There is free time this morning for you to explore Sorrento. Perhaps enjoy some shopping, or sample some local limoncello. In the afternoon we drive to the port of Naples, and board the overnight ferry to Palermo, capital of Sicily.
Overnight: Overnight ferry | Breakfast
Free time in Palermo
We arrive in Palermo and disembark the ferry before transferring to our hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure to head out and explore Palermo.
Monreale & Palermo sightseeing
This morning we visit Monreale, located in the fertile valley of La Conca d'Oro and renowned for its almonds, citrus fruits, and olive oil. We'll visit UNESCO-listed Monreale Cathedral and there will be time for some lunch and shopping if you choose.
Returning to Palermo, we enjoy a guided walking tour of the Sicilian capital. This 3,000-year-old city has a rich history which our local guide will share with you. Step back in time as we explore the narrow streets of the Old Town and visit the impressive Palermo Cathedral. After our tour, you will have free time to further sightsee independently.
Overnight: Palermo | Breakfast, Dinner
Medieval Erice & Agrigento
Palermo - Erice - Saline della Laguna - Marsala - Agrigento. We enjoy a busy day of Sicilian sightseeing today! Departing Palermo, we head to the medieval village of Erice, where little has changed since the 6th century. Hewn into the side of Monte San Giuliano, Erice offers incredible views and delightful labyrinthine lanes to explore.
Our next stop is Saline della Laguna, a historic salt pan. We then continue to a traditional tavern in the wine-producing region of Marsala. Here we can visit the wine cellar before enjoying included wine tasting and lunch. Then it's onwards to Agrigento, on Sicily's south coast.
This afternoon we visit the Valley of the Temples, one of the most outstanding surviving examples of Ancient Greek architecture in the world. We take in the incredible Temple of Concordia, Temple of Hercules and the Temple of Jupiter, which was once the largest Doric temple ever constructed. Reaching our hotel, the evening is at leisure.
Overnight: Agrigento | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Agrigento - Ragusa. Today we drive to the hilltop town of Ragusa and visit the enchanting historical centre, known for its Baroque palaces and churches. We see the old gate of San Giorgio, and the Giardini Iblei, a picturesque public garden with sweeping views of the surrounding area. Then we head to Piazza Pola to visit the Baroque Church of San Giuseppe, a hidden gem in the city. We also see the elegant Cathedral of San Giorgio and Cosentini Palace, a beautiful Baroque villa protected by UNESCO.
Overnight: Ragusa | Breakfast, Dinner
Ragusa - Noto - Syracuse - Taormina. Our first stop after departing Ragusa this morning is the picturesque town of Noto. We visit the Cathedral of San Nicolò, rebuilt in the years following an earthquake in 1990.
Driving along the coast, we then reach Syracuse, at Sicily's southeastern tip. We spend some time exploring Ortygia, an island that is also home to Syracuse's oldest area, with lots of medieval streets and Baroque architecture to admire. Continuing to Taormina, the evening is at leisure.
Overnight: Taormina | Breakfast, Dinner
Mount Etna & Taormina free time
Today we visit the largest active volcano in Europe - Mount Etna. This stratovolcano last erupted in 2022, and you may well see signs of volcanic activity including smoke billowing from the top of the volcano. On our visit, we learn about this volcanic activity and see the lava fields from previous eruptions. Weather and conditions permitting, we have the opportunity to hike to the summit, 1,800m above sea level.
Returning to Taormina, the rest of the day is free for you to explore this hilltop coastal town. We recommend visiting the Ancient Greek amphitheatre, Teatro Antico di Taormina, which is still in use today.
Overnight: Taormina | Breakfast
Enjoy breakfast in the hotel before our Sicilian adventure comes to an end.
Prices & Dates
Departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 2 persons. 'Twin Share' prices are per person when there are 2 people sharing a room. 'Single Room' prices are applicable to those who don’t have anyone to share a room with or anyone wanting the privacy of a single room.
The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard.
Raffaello Hotel, Florence
The recently renovated Raffaello Hotel is located in an atmospheric residential area, just a 10-minute tram ride from the city centre. When in the hotel guests can relax in the Raffaello Garden with a drink, or tuck into delectable Tuscan cuisine at Restaurant La Fornarina. A buffet breakfast is included and served daily and there is free Wi-Fi throughout. Rooms come with Sky television, minibar, safe and ensuite bathrooms and are tastefully decorated, as they should be in the city of the Renaissance!
Hotel Delfino Venezia Mestre, Venice
Hotel Delfino Venezia Mestre is located in the lively Corso del Popolo in the heart of Mestre, the mainland section of Venice. The hotel is just 10 minutes by bus from Venice itself, with a stop across the road - reception can arrange bus tickets for guests if needed. Rooms at this 4-star hotel are well appointed and spacious, equipped with ensuite bathrooms, air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi and television. Buffet breakfast is served onsite and there is a bar and lounge area where guests can enjoy cocktails and apertifs.
Hotel St Martin, Rome
With a great central location by the Piazza della Repubblica and opposite the metro, the Hotel St Martin is a perfect base for those exploring the Italian capital. Rooms in this modern 4-star hotel are bright and spacious, with ensuite bathrooms, air-conditioning, satellite TV and a kettle. There is complimentary high speed Wi-Fi connection throughout the property. A continental buffet breakfast is served daily and there is also a bar. For those not wishing to head into the city to eat, fresh Mediterranean food is also served at the onsite Restaurant Sidera.
Hotel Michelangelo, Sorrento
The idyllic Hotel Michelangelo is located in the heart of Sorrento, offering ocean views and developed around a rustic 16th-century tower. The harbour is located a 10-minute walk away and the historical centre of Sorrento is also just a short walk away. Rooms feature tiled flooring and wooden furniture, with ensuite bathrooms, TV and minibar. There are two onsite restaurants and a buffet breakfast is served daily, whilst guests can spend their free time lounging beside the outdoor swimming pool on the sun terrace. There is free Wi-Fi at the property and the rooftop terrace is the perfect place to watch the sunset over the Gulf of Naples with a cocktail in hand.
Hotel Mercure Palermo Centro, Palermo
The modern Mercure Palermo is centrally-located, a 15-minute walk from the city's iconic Cathedral and 10 minutes from the harbour. This contemporary hotel has a refined design, with wooden flooring and furniture, and rooms in smart black, white or grey finish. Each room features an ensuite bathroom, air-conditioning, satellite TV, tea and coffee making facilities and free Wi-Fi. Daily buffet breakfast is served in the onsite restaurant and there is also a bar and coffee shop.
Hotel Della Valle, Agrigento
Set amongst beautiful gardens, Hotel Della Valle is located just outside the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. The hotel boasts an outdoor swimming pool, spa, bar and two restaurants serving both international and Sicilian cuisine and offering outdoor dining. Rooms are simply but elegantly furnished and come with air-conditioning, minibar, TV, and ensuite bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi is available in public areas.
Poggio Del Sole Hotel, Ragusa
Situated between central Ragusa and the Mediterranean, the Poggio Del Sole is housed in an impressive 19th-century manor house with a backdrop of the rolling hills of the Hyblean Plateau. Large rooms feature a modern finish, ensuite bathrooms, flat-screen TV and a minibar. There is a large outdoor swimming pool and sun terrace, as well as a wellness centre. Dining options are the informal Hosteria for grilled meat and fish, or the Ristoria dell'Angelo, housed in the former stables. A daily buffet breakfast is also served, and there is a bar and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Splendid Hotel, Taormina
Built into a rockface and housed in a former monastery, Splendid Hotel Taormina is one of the best places to stay in this Sicilian city, just a short walk from the historic centre. There's an outdoor swimming pool and roof terrace, where guests can enjoy a drink overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Indoors there is a piano bar and onsite restaurant serving a buffet breakfast, also with marvellous sea views! Rooms are simply but elegantly furnished, offering sea or pool views and equipped with free Wi-Fi, ensuite bathrooms and TV.