AIA Tours: private

Private Departure: Italy

Tour Dates: You Choose Your Dates! (12 days or 17 days extended tour)

Ancient Rome & the Renaissance

Schedule your own, private AIA Tour for your household, extended family, and/or friends and choose your own travel dates. Your itinerary not only includes 17 excursions with expert local guides, to immerse yourself in learning about and experiencing ancient and Renaissance art and architecture, but also time to relax and absorb your experiences. Enjoy hand-picked, 4-star hotels, all perfectly located for independent exploration during free time. Extend your tour with five nights in Florence, which include day trip options to Volterra, Siena, and/or Pisa.

Highlights:

  • A custom-designed, well-paced itinerary with five nights in central Rome, two nights on the Amalfi Coast*, and three nights in Naples overlooking the Bay of Naples.
  • Seventeen privately-guided daily excursions are included, plus there is time for you to explore independently or, if you prefer, choose from four optional, privately-guided excursions.
  • Eleven of the sites on the main tour and extension are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
  • Savor fine cuisine at carefully-chosen restaurants for included lunches, and enjoy the flexibility of independent dinners. Your expert guides can assist you with restaurant recommendations and reservations.
  • Choose the extended tour with a five-night program in Florence* that features the city’s highlights plus visits to Etruscan sites in Fiesole and Volterra, and/or Siena*, and/or Pisa*.

Privately-guided excursions include:

  • A full day exploring Rome’s* ancient monuments, including the Forum and Colosseum (with special entry requested to the Colosseum’s upper levels or underground tunnels), plus the House of Augustus on the Palatine Hill
  • A full day dedicated to Rome’s Capitoline Museums, with their magnificent Classical and Renaissance art; the awe-inspiring Pantheon; and the Borghese Gallery’s outstanding sculptures and paintings
  • A visit to Vatican City, with early entry to the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel and Raphael Rooms, and the Gregorian Etruscan Museum; plus St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world
  • An excursion to ancient Paestum*, with its three magnificent, Doric
    Greek temples
  • A high-speed hydrofoil ride to the isle of Capri, with Tiberius’ astounding Villa Jovis
  • Visits to archaeological gems in and around Naples*, including Pompeii and Herculaneum*, both of which were buried (and preserved) by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79; the superb Naples Archaeological Museum; and Villa Poppea (Oplontis), an ancient villa with splendid wall paintings
  • Four optional, privately-guided excursions are also available (at additional cost) in lieu of independent time:
    • a gourmet dinner with special wine tasting, including services of a professional sommelier, in Rome
    • a full-day excursion with a private guide and driver (including a gourmet lunch) to Tivoli for visits to Emperor Hadrian’s Villa*, a 2nd-century A.D. complex; and Villa d’Este*, a superb Renaissance palace
    • a half-day guided excursion to Castel Sant’Angelo, a towering cylindrical building built by Emperor Hadrian as his family’s mausoleum
    • a half-day excursion with private guide and driver to the enormous, elaborate, 18th-century Royal Palace of Caserta*

Your private group can be as small as two, but more travelers means lower prices. Choose your departure dates, estimate the number in your group, and contact AIA Tours for a per person price. Call 800-748-6262 or email aia@studytours.org.

* A UNESCO World Heritage site.

Rome - AIA Tours, Travel with the Archaeological Institute of America

House of Augustus, Rome © ANigro

A view of Amalfi © PBaldi

A courtyard at Rome's Capitoline Museums © lalupa

A view of the extensive ruins of Pompeii, Naples

Paestum, AIA Tours

Florence

Volterra amphitheater, AIA Tours

Siena, Tuscany - AIA Tours

Itinerary


DAY 1: Fly to Rome, Italy
DAY 2: Arrive in Rome | Private transfer to hotel | Meet your guide
DAY 3: Rome: Imperial Forum, Colosseum, Palatine Hill, House of Augustus
DAY 4: Rome: Capitoline Museums | Pantheon | Borghese Gallery | Optional wine tasting dinner
DAY 5: At leisure in Rome OR Optional full-day excursion to Tivoli (Hadrian’s Villa & Villa d’Este)
DAY 6: Vatican City: Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica | Rome: PM at leisure OR Optional Castel Sant’Angelo excursion
DAY 7: Sperlonga | Capua | Amalfi
DAY 8: Paestum | PM at leisure in Amalfi
DAY 9:  Capri & Villa Jovis | Naples
DAY 10: Pompeii | Naples Archaeological Museum
DAY 11: AM – Oplontis | Herculaneum | PM – Mt. Vesuvius winery lunch & free time in Naples OR Optional Palace of Caserta excursion
DAY 12:  Private transfer to Naples Airport | Fly home
or Continue on the Extended Tour

FLORENCE/TUSCANY  (Extended Tour Itinerary)

B= Breakfast • L= Lunch • D= Dinner

DAY 12: Naples | High-speed train to Florence | Uffizi Gallery
DAY 13: Florence: Walking tour, Accademia Gallery
DAY 14: Florence: Santa Maria Novella, Santa Croce, Medici’s Chapels | Fiesole | Florence
DAYS 15 & 16: Volterra, Siena, or Pisa | Florence
D
AY 17:  Private transfer to Florence Airport | Fly home

 

View Detailed Itinerary

B= Breakfast • L= Lunch • D= Dinner

DAY 1: Fly to Rome, Italy

DAY 2: Arrive in Rome | Private transfer to hotel | Meet your guide
Upon arrival at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport (FCO) you are met for a private transfer to your hotel in the city center. The balance of the day is free to relax and perhaps stroll around the neighborhood. Meet your expert Rome guide at the hotel this evening for an introduction to your adventure and a typical Italian aperitivo. The evening is at leisure. (Recommendations for dining independently will always be provided.) Overnight at a 4-star, centrally-located hotel for five nights.

DAY 3: Rome: Imperial Forum, Colosseum, Palatine Hill, House of Augustus
Begin with a walk through the Roman Forum, the public center of ancient Rome where the popular assembly and senate met. Next view the splendid Arch of Constantine and enter the Colosseum, Rome’s amphitheater, the largest ever built, which accommodated 50,000 spectators. Enjoy a specially-arranged visit to the upper levels or underground tunnels (pending confirmation). Savor a traditional Italian lunch just a few steps from the Colosseum, and then visit the Palatine Hill, centermost of the Seven Hills of Rome, standing above the Roman Forum on one side and the Circus Maximus on the other. From the time of Augustus, Rome’s first Emperor, imperial palaces were built here. Visit the House of Augustus, which reopened in 2008 after extensive restoration; its colorful wall paintings and mosaic floors are stunning. Return to your hotel for an evening at leisure. (B,L)

DAY 4: Rome: Capitoline Museums | Pantheon | Borghese Gallery | Optional wine tasting dinner
Ascend the stairs of the Piazza del Campidoglio, designed by Michelangelo, overlooking the extensive ruins of the Roman Forum. Enter the Capitoline Museums, the world’s oldest public museums, and view magnificent Classical sculptures as well as paintings by Caravaggio, Rubens, Titian, Van Dyck, and other masters. After lunch, visit the awe-inspiring Pantheon, built in the 2nd century A.D. by Emperor Hadrian as a temple to all the gods. It remains the largest unreinforced concrete dome ever built and a testament to ancient Roman engineering. We end our afternoon at the Borghese Gallery, housed in a splendid, 17th-century villa with an exceptional art collection, including sculptures by Canova and Bernini plus paintings by Titian, Raphael, and Caravaggio. The evening is at leisure, or you may choose (at additional cost) an optional wine tasting with dinner at a cozy restaurant not far from your hotel. (B,L) (optional D with wine tasting)

DAY 5: At leisure in Rome OR Optional full-day excursion to Tivoli (Hadrian’s Villa & Villa d’Este)
Enjoy a full day at leisure to relax and explore Rome on your own or choose an optional, full-day excursion (at additional cost) to Tivoli, a town hosting some of Italy’s top cultural treasures, less than one hour’s drive from Rome. Begin at the World Heritage site of Hadrian’s Villa, a 2nd century A.D. complex of buildings featuring marvelous pools, baths, fountains, gardens, theaters, and the Imperial Palace. Enjoy a specially selected, gourmet lunch in Tivoli’s charming town center. Continue on to another World Heritage site, the magnificent Villa d’Este, a superb Renaissance palace with an elaborate garden and dozens of fountains. Return to Rome for an evening at leisure. (B) (L during optional excursion)

DAY 6: Vatican City: Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica | Rome: PM at leisure OR Optional Castel Sant’Angelo excursion
After an early breakfast at your hotel drive to the Vatican for an 8am entry, before the usual crowds, and enter the ornate Raphael Rooms and Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel. Then visit highlights of the Pio-Clementino Museum, featuring Greek and Roman sculpture, and/or of the Gregorian Etruscan Museum. Next enter the sumptuously decorated St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world, and see Michelangelo’s wonderful Pietà and the gigantic bronze canopy by Bernini. Enjoy some free time to perhaps see the tombs of the Popes or ascend the dome for magnificent views of the entire city. After lunch nearby, you may choose to be driven back to your hotel for the balance of the day at leisure, or to take (at additional cost) a guided walk to Rome’s famous Castel Sant’Angelo (Castle of the Holy Angel), a towering cylindrical building built by Emperor Hadrian as his family’s mausoleum that was later used by the popes as a fortress and castle. Return to your hotel for an evening at leisure. (B,L)

DAY 7: Sperlonga | Capua | Amalfi
Drive south to the cave of Emperor Tiberius at Sperlonga and the local museum with magnificent sculptures recounting the deeds of Odysseus that were carved by the same sculptors who produced the Laocoön and His Sons, which you saw in the Vatican Museums. Next stop is Capua to see the Flavian amphitheater, second largest in the world and renowned because the gladiator and slave rebel Spartacus trained here. Visit the adjacent, two-room Gladiator Museum. Continue driving to our lovely hotel right by the sea in Amalfi, and enjoy an evening at leisure. Overnight at a 4-star, centrally-located hotel for two nights. (B,L)

DAY 8: Paestum | PM at leisure in Amalfi
Drive along the Mediterranean coast to the World Heritage site of Paestum, the most impressive Greek site in all of mainland Italy. Founded in the 7th century B.C., Paestum has three magnificent and massive Doric Greek temples. Also visit the onsite museum with artifacts and frescoes from nearby tombs such as the famous Tomb of the Diver. After lunch, return to your hotel and enjoy the balance of the day at leisure in Amalfi. (B,L)

DAY 9:  Capri & Villa Jovis | Naples
This morning take a high-speed hydrofoil from Amalfi to the fabled island of Capri, the favorite place of Emperor Tiberius. Consider exploring the largest and most opulent of Tiberius’ twelve villas, Villa Jovis, a secluded spot of legendary debauchery. Completed in A.D. 27, the entire complex rises on many terraces atop Capri’s second highest peak, commanding lovely vistas. Villa Jovis is an astounding achievement of ancient Roman architecture and engineering. After lunch, take a high-speed hydrofoil to Naples while your luggage is transported directly from Amalfi by minivan. Check-in to your hotel and enjoy the evening at leisure. Overnight at a 4-star, centrally-located hotel for three nights. (B,L)

DAY 10: Pompeii | Naples Archaeological Museum
Explore Pompeii, one the world’s most fascinating archaeological sites. In A.D. 79, the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried and thus preserved the ancient city under tons of ash, pumice, and lapilli. Excavations have revealed life in this prosperous ancient Roman city beneath lofty Mount Vesuvius. Highlights may include the House of the Faun, Villa of the Mysteries, the brothel, Garden of Fugitives, and more. Enjoy acclaimed Napoli pizza for lunch. Then visit the Naples Archaeological Museum with one of the world’s finest collections of Greco-Roman art and artifacts. The Farnese Collection includes celebrated bronze and marble statues, as well as ancient paintings and important artifacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum (which you visit tomorrow). Return to your hotel for an evening at leisure in Naples. (B,L)

DAY 11: AM – Oplontis | Herculaneum | PM – Mt. Vesuvius winery lunch & free time in Naples OR Optional Palace of Caserta excursion
Begin your day with a visit to Villa Poppea (Oplontis), an ancient villa with superb wall paintings that was probably owned by Emperor Nero. Next we discover Herculaneum, where excavations reveal the customs, habits, and art of an ancient holiday resort for wealthy Romans that, like Pompeii, was also devastated by the eruption of A.D. 79. Among the most important buildings are the theater, the basilica adorned with marble and paintings, the spa with gym, and the House of Argos. Then enjoy a wine tasting with lunch at a winery on the slope of Mt. Vesuvius, before returning to Naples for the balance of the day at leisure; OR after lunch in Naples you have the option (at additional cost) to drive 30 minutes north to explore with your private guide the 18th-century Royal Palace of Caserta. This UNESCO World Heritage site is the world’s largest royal residence in terms of volume, comprising 1,200 rooms, a large library and theater, plus extensive gardens with fountains and cascades. Return to your hotel in Naples for an evening at leisure. (B,L)

DAY 12:  Private transfer to Naples Airport | Fly home
or Continue on the Extended Tour
You are met at the hotel for a private transfer to Naples International Airport (NAP) for flights homeward. Or, continue on the extended tour to Florence and Tuscany. (B)

 

FLORENCE/TUSCANY

Extended Tour Itinerary

B= Breakfast • L= Lunch • D= Dinner

 

DAY 12: Naples | High-speed train to Florence | Uffizi Gallery
This morning, depart Naples for Florence on a three-hour, scenic trip aboard a Frecciarossa high-speed train, in business class. Upon arrival, meet your guide, enjoy lunch at local trattoria, and then tour the Uffizi Gallery, one of best-known art museums in the world, whose collections include ancient Roman copies, from the Medici family, of lost Greek sculptures; as well as a vast collection of paintings, including masterpieces by Italian and other European artists of the 14th century and Renaissance. The evening is at leisure. Recommendations for dining independently will always be provided. Overnight at a 4-star, centrally-located hotel for five nights. (B,L)

DAY 13: Florence: Walking tour, Accademia Gallery
Set out this morning on a walking tour of Florence’s historic center. In Piazza della Repubblica, discover the city’s beginnings as a Roman settlement. Wander through narrow streets past the fortified houses and towers that marked the medieval town, and emerge onto the open Piazza della Signoria, the political center of the city since the Middle Ages. See the Duomo, the Baptistery, and Giotto’s bell tower. Stop for lunch at a local trattoria and then encounter Michelangelo’s peerless David and the evocative Prisoners (or Slaves) at the Accademia Gallery. The balance of the day is at leisure. (B,L)

DAY 14: Florence: Santa Maria Novella, Santa Croce, Medici’s Chapels | Fiesole | Florence
This morning explore the churches of Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce. Both of these churches have some of the most significant artwork in Florence. After lunch, visit the Medici’s Chapels, one of the Italian Renaissance’s masterpieces of architecture and sculpture. Then drive 20 minutes to Fiesole, an affluent suburb that overlooks Florence. Likely founded between the 9th and 8th centuries B.C., Fiesole was an important site of the Etruscan confederacy, as evidenced by the remains of its ancient walls. Explore the Etruscan necropolis, Archaeological Museum, and the Roman baths and theater. Return to your hotel in Florence for an evening at leisure. (B,L)

DAYS 15 & 16: Volterra, Siena, or Pisa | Florence
Over the next two days choose two out of three full-day excursions
(one per day) with your private guide and driver.

  • Volterra: Drive (about 1.75 hrs.) to Volterra. View the remarkable city walls that go back to Etruscan times as well as the historical and charming town center, including the Palazzo dei Priori and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. After lunch, explore the Guarnacci Etruscan Museum, Etruscan acropolis, and Roman theater.
  • Siena: Drive (1 hr.) to Siena and soak up its medieval flavor on a walking tour that includes the famous frescoes of the Palazzo Pubblico, Piazza Salimbeni, the Baptistery of San Giovanni, and the colorful, marble-clad Basilica di San Domenico. Savor a cappuccino and ricciarelli, a famous Sienese almond cookie, at the historic Caffe Nannini. Continue to the Piazza del Campo, one of Italy’s most beautiful squares. After lunch, step into the famed Duomo (Cathedral) with the Piccolomini Library, Pinturicchio’s masterpiece, the museum, and the crypt.
  • Pisa: Drive (1.5 hrs.) to Pisa and tour the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles), part of the Piazza del Duomo, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Learn about the famous campanile (Leaning Tower of Pisa), why it leans, and how it is being preserved. Visit Campo Santo, also known as the Monumental Cemetery, to see one of the world’s largest fresco restorations. On the way back to Florence, enjoy lunch at a winery.

Return to your hotel in Florence for both evenings at leisure.
(B,L both days)

DAY 17:  Private transfer to Florence Airport | Fly home
You are met at the hotel for a private transfer to Florence Airport, Peretola (FLR), for flights homeward. (B)


For reservations or questions, please email us at aia@studytours.org (and include your full name) or call us toll-free at (800) 748-6262 (toll: 603-756-2884). To reserve your space using the online form, click here.

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