Depart your gateway city for Florence, Italy aboard scheduled jet service. (Provided for Air-Inclusive participants only.)
Upon your arrival in Florence, transfer by motorcoach to the Hotel Vis à Vis in
stunning Sestri Levante. (Provided for Air-Inclusive participants only.)
Local Flavor: Tonight, enjoy a Welcome Reception at the hotel and a dinner that will
introduce you to the wonders of Ligurian cuisine.
Santa Margherita and Portofino
Educational Focus: The Riviera del Levante: A Painter’s Palette. Explore the history and diversity of this enchanting region, a home to artists, writers and explorers and crowned by the magnificent Cinque Terre.
Excursion: Walking Tour of Sestri Levante. Walk along the winding streets to see the Piazza Matteoti, with its baroque Town Hall and Gothic Basilica of Santa Maria di Nazareth.
Excursion: Santa Margherita and Portofino. Travel the breathtaking coastal road along sun-soaked panoramas to tour
glorious Santa Margherita, a town of colorful flowers, swaying palm trees and hillside villas. Linger and dream by the glamorous harbor. Then, embark on a cruise to enchanting Portofino, a national monument and
playground of the rich and famous. Stroll its promenade between the yacht-filled harbor and the fragrant flower boxes of the brightly colored shops and houses. Smile at pink and yellow
cottages dotting the lush emerald hills from one of the Piazzetta’s cafés. Enjoy panoramic views of the sparkling bay from the Church of San Giorgio, the medieval fortress of Castello di San Giorgio and the Punta del Capo lighthouse.
Educational Focus: Genoa: The Suberb Maritime Republic. Genoa, the reputed home of Christopher Columbus is also known as La Superba. Examine its legendary history of seamanship and exploration between the 11th and 15th centuries.
Excursion: Genoa. During your guided tour, admire the amazing view of the city from atop La Spianata di Castelleto. See the incredible Renaissance palazzi on the lovely Via Garibaldi. Stroll the labyrinthine streets past medieval churches to see the Columbus House, believed to be the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. Walk to the magnificent Piazza Mateo, visit the superbly restored Palazzo Ducale, the impressive Church of Gesù and the majestic black and white-striped façade of the unforgettable Cathedral of San Lorenzo.
Local Flavor: Savor lunch at a local restaurant.
Independent Exploration: Enjoy time at leisure to discover Genoa’s many charms.
Excursion: Cinque Terre. Made up of five villages overlooking the sea, the Cinque Terre was isolated for centuries by the ruggedness of the surrounding mountains and is still only
accessible by train, boat or foot. Glide across the sparkling sea by boat to pretty Portovenere. Then, soak up the sun and sea on your way to Vernazza, a beautiful village of pink, red and yellow houses overlooking shimmering blue water. Explore its elegant architecture, Genoese towers and Gothic Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia. Next, relax on a train ride to Riomaggiore, where colorful houses stack up against the cliffs. Explore the shops and cafés
as you descend to the rocky beach. See terraced vineyards as you hike along romantic La Via dell’Amore, a paved trail that reveals breath-taking vistas of the glistening sea and craggy coast. At the trail’s end, Manarola’s vivid homes
clinging to the cliffs will captivate you before you return to Sestri Levante by train.
Local Flavor: Enjoy lunch and the scenery
at one of Vernazza’s charming restaurants.
Independent Exploration: After the tours, explore Portovenere and Vernazza on your own.
Educational Focus: Michelangelo: When Marble Comes Alive. The man who painted the Sistine Chapel actually
preferred to express himself through sculpture. Be awed by his incredible talent as you
examine Michelangelo’s magnificent works.
Excursion: Carrara. High atop these ancient hills where Michelangelo chose his prized marble, visit a local quarry and museum whose exhibits reveal Carrara’s renowned marble industry. Enjoy a demonstration by a local sculptor and see the town’s extraordinary Duomo, constructed using a variety of architectural styles. Study its rose window, considered to be a masterpiece in marble.
Local Flavor: Enjoy lunch in Carrara.
Independent Exploration: After returning to Sestri Levante, the afternoon is yours to
pursue your own interests.
Educational Focus: Meet the People. Participate in a panel discussion and learn about life on the Italian Riviera through the eyes of local residents.
Excursion: Villa Torrigiani and Lucca. Look and listen as you stroll through the magnificent gardens filled with ponds, trees and fountains of the Villa Torrigiani, perched on a Tuscan hillside. Explore the “Garden of Flora” with its statue-filled cave and see the stately manor house. Travel past olive groves for a memorable walking tour of the historic walled city of Lucca, birthplace of Puccini. Roam its ancient ramparts and visit the breathtakingly grand Romanesque Duomo di San Martino with carvings by Nicola Pisano. See the white marble, art-filled chapels of the Church of San Frediano and the astounding Church of San Michele.
Local Flavor: Enjoy a taste of Tuscany during lunch in a local restaurant.
Educational Focus: A Contemporary View of Italy. Learn about life in Italy and explore its role in the European Union.
Independent Exploration: Enjoy the day at leisure to explore or relax independently.
This evening, join your friends for a special Farewell Reception followed by your Graduation Ceremony and a Farewell Dinner at the hotel.
After breakfast, transfer to the Florence airport for the return flight to your gateway city. (Provided for Air-Inclusive participants only.)
NOTE: Itinerary schedule may change due to local conditions. Many excursions in this program involve an element of walking as some of the finest attractions are located in areas not closely accessible by motorcoach.