- David’s Blog
The Essence of Italy tour visits my all-time favorite Italian destinations in nine days. Beginning in Rome, you’ll visit the essential tourist sights and classic destinations. Then, travel to the delightful villages of the Cinque Terre to experience a seaside vacation where the mountains literally fall into the sea. Volterra, my favorite Tuscan hilltown, is sure to win you over to the la dolce vita lifestyle. Finally, you’ll have two days in Florence walking in the footsteps of Michelangelo and exploring the roots of the Renaissance.
Your Adventure Starts Here!
Rome – 2 nights
Cinque Terre – 2 nights
Volterra – 2 nights
Florence – 2 nights
Optional Single Supplement: $600
|June 24-July 2, 2018||no seats available||sold out|
|Sept 16-24, 2018||$2989 + air|
|October 14-22, 2018||$2989 + air|
|April 7-15, 2019||$3089 + air|
|May 5-13, 2019||$3089 + air|
|June 30-July 8, 2019||$3089 + air|
|Sept 22-30, 2019||$3089 + air|
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Exploring Europe – 4036 Hidden Acre Rd. – Middleburg, FL 32068 FAX 800-570-1351
Let’s plan to meet in our hotel lobby at 2:00 p.m. for introductions and a welcome drink. Then, we will set off to explore the sites of ancient Rome. Enjoy a guided walking tour through the Colosseum and Forum, giving an insider’s perspective on daily life dating back more than 2,000 years. Later, we will enjoy a grand “welcome to Italy” dinner at a favorite restaurant. Sleep 2 nights in Rome. Walking: moderate. Dinner.
After breakfast, join our local guide at the Vatican Museum. Enjoy an in-depth tour of this vast treasure trove of the world’s finest works of art, capped off with an awe-inspiring look at Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Then, enjoy a visit to the massive St. Peter’s Basilica, the world’s largest Christian church. After lunch, we’ll begin our walking tour of Rome’s historic central core visiting the Pantheon and several other sights in the area. You’ll have the remainder of the afternoon and evening to do a little exploring on your own. After an independent dinner, let’s meet up and take a gelato-licking stroll ending at the famous Trevi fountain. Walking: strenuous.
We’ll get an early start this morning on our way up to the Ligurian coast. Train travel in Italy is fun and mostly worry-free, so enjoy the ride. The Cinque Terre is a delightful collection of five little villages spilling from the mountains into the sea. After settling in, we’ll get you oriented to the region and set up with walking and transportation passes. Then, head out on your own to explore! We’ll meet later tonight for dinner featuring fresh food from the region. Sleep 2 nights in the Cinque Terre. Walking: light. Train: 4 hours. Dinner.
You’ll have the entire day on your own to explore the Cinque Terre. Traveling to and from the “five villages” in the region is easy by train, boat or foot. The National Park is loaded with scenic trails providing endless opportunities to get out and explore the outdoors. You may wish to stake your claim on one of the many beaches to catch some sun. Each village has its own character, decor, and ambiance as well as plenty of shopping and dining options. Walking: your choice.
It will take about an hour by train to get away from the coast and meet up with our driver. Then we’ll travel the backroads of Tuscany enroute to my favorite little hilltown. Volterra has become “famous” in recent years for The Lair of the Vampires in the Twilight book series. It has long been known as a quaint and off-the-beaten-path destination for savvy travelers. After settling in, enjoy a walking tour of the historic town followed by a guided wine tasting at my favorite wine cave. By now, you’ll be well on your way to knowing the town, so enjoy dinner on your own and an event-free evening. Sleep 2 nights in Volterra. Train: 1 hour. Driving: 1.5 hours. Walking: moderate.
We will take a short ride to Siena to explore another facet of medieval history and grand scale art. After an informative walking tour of the historic town center, you’ll be cut loose on the world famous Il Camposquare to enjoy lunch and a free afternoon. Returning to Volterra, prepare your taste buds for my favorite dining experience in all of Italy as we experience the cuisine of the Del Duca family ristorante. Walking: moderate. Driving 2.5 hours. Dinner.
Back on our bus and in less than two hours, you’ll be knee-deep in the Renaissance! After settling in at our hotel, join a walking tour linking together Florence’s famous historical sights followed by a visit to the Galleria Accademia, home of Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the statue of David. Then, enjoy more of Florence on your own and with the suggestions of your guide, consider your independent dining options. Sleep 2 nights in Florence. Walking: moderate. Driving: 1.5 hours.
You’ll have the entire day to explore more of Florence on your own. Visit another of the city’s museums, check out the Pitti Palace, get in some shopping, visit the market, or simply soak up the local ambiance. Tonight, join your group for a farewell to Tuscany dinner at a favorite ristorante. Walking: strenuous. Dinner.
It is easy to reach the airports and train stations in Florence or Pisa by taxi, train or bus. Your guide will be happy to assist with your post-tour travel needs. Ciao e buon viaggio!
Transportation provided by coach, minibus, and train from your Rome hotel to your Florence hotel.
8 nights accommodation in centrally located hotels, guesthouses, and B&B’s. All rooms have private en-suite baths.
All tips and gratuities to guides, drivers, restaurant and hotel staff.
Guaranteed Small Group with no more than 24 travelers.
All breakfasts and four of your dinners or lunches.
Traditional and gourmet dining experiences at some of David’s personal favorite restaurants. Eating well is a priority and you’ll enjoy fine regional fare featuring the best each locale has to offer.
All tours and admissions at no extra cost: Guided walking tours in Rome, Volterra, Siena and Florence ▪ Entrance and guided tour of the Colosseum and Forum, Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome ▪ Cinque Terre orientation and a train and trail pass ▪ Guided wine tasting in Tuscany ▪ Guided tour of the Galleria Accademia in Florence (Michelangelo’s David) ▪ and much more (itinerary specifics are subject to change).
A fulltime Exploring Europe guide and local experts dedicated to bringing to life the art, history, and culture of the tour destinations.
David’s printed tour handouts detailing each day’s historical and cultural experiences.
Free luggage tags and David’s custom-designed drawstring backpacks.
Our Unconditional Tour Price Guarantee that once locked in will never change.
Travel Insurance providing coverage for emergency medical, baggage loss, and trip delay from the moment your tour begins.
$50 Tour Alumni discount for each David McGuffin tour you’ve taken prior to 2017.
Water is included with all group meals. Sodas, wine, beer and other drinks are your responsibility.
Walking and Physical Activity: We have planned this trip to provide maximum tour experiences. The basic nature of Europe does require some degree of physical activity to get out and see the sights, especially in the big cities. To help you plan, we’ve included a daily projection of physical activity. Here is our key for our walking activity ratings:
Light – Walking done on level surfaces with some hills and elevation gains. Two miles or less of required walking during the day.
Moderate – Walking done on paved and gravel paths and city cobbled sidewalks. To enjoy the full tour experience, some up and down hill walking is to be expected as is standing while viewing sights or museums. Four to six miles of walking per day.
Strenuous – Walking done on rugged and rocky paths and city cobbled sidewalks. There will be steps and stairs. Up to three hours standing in museums or experience sites. Up to eight miles of walking per day.
Your Choice – No matter what your walking ability, we will help you find alternative ways to enjoy and experience all Europe has to offer. To get the most out of our tours you should be able to operate at the light level everyday with spurts of moderate and strenuous.
Submit your review
ESSENCE OF ITALY - There was so much to see, do, eat and be awestruck. David is so knowledgeable! He is a walking encyclopedia of fun and interesting facts about the things we saw. Our local guides were also great. Fabrizio was so interesting and knowledgeable about Rome, the history and the why's and why not's. Annie was the best in Volterra! The food was superb! Most dinners were a great experience, but I have to admit I enjoyed the breakfasts almost as much!
CUSTOM TOUR TO ITALY - The tour was well planned down to the final details. Volterra was simply beautiful. I could have spent a week in Volterra absorbing the atmosphere and culture. Al, our local guide in Rome, was full of knowledge and interesting lore. We are trying to determine where we will go next.
CUSTOM TOUR TO ITALY - Once again, we had a great time. The accommodations were perfect, the food experiences were fun, and the transportation went smoothly. David did a great job. All of the local guides were knowledgeable and informative, and the alabaster demo was awesome, too. I loved the hotel in Florence; the flat in Volterra was amazing; and the hotel in Rome was great, too. The restaurant in Volterra, Del Duca, had a beautiful atmosphere, and I enjoyed the restaurant on our last night in Rome.
TUSCANY VILLA TOUR - The Tuscan Villa Tour is advertised as a relaxing tour of the Tuscan countryside - and that's exactly what it is. With only 10 people on our tour, we were allowed to be flexible with the agenda which made for a very casual and relaxing tone for the week. The villa (or agriturismo) was beyond perfect and fulfilled my lifelong desire for a true Tuscan dream vacation. It's hard to pinpoint one "wow" moment, but the true highlight was visiting the small towns in the Tuscan countryside (Sienna, Lucca, & Volterra). Each of these quaint towns were enchanting with their own beautiful architecture and fascinating histories. Every local guide that we had on our tour was excellent. Each guide was very knowledgeable, fascinating to listen to, and truly passionate about the topic. Having these guides were imperative to truly enjoy these historical sights. Each hotel was the perfect combination of local charm with American comforts. As someone who can be picky about hotels, I was very satisfied. David knew the perfect places to eat at every location and the best things to order for our family-style dinners. It was a fabulous trip and I can't wait until my next one.
ESSENCE OF ITALY - The tour to Italy was amazing! We were able to see a lot in a week. David was very professional and knew a lot about the areas visited. I loved all that we saw, and it was planned out well.
Now that you’ve decided to join this tour, we are sure you’ll have some questions. Don’t worry, we are here to help you through each aspect of your tour from start to finish.
David and his team have produced an episodic video series detailing many of the destinations on this tour itinerary. They are all neatly organized on his YouTube channel. Watch the complete series or view one episode at a time on his Best of Italy Playlist.
Join David as he shares impromptu moments from his travels in Italy. Watching these short 60 second segments are a great way to experience David’s travel style and adventures. Watch David’s Explore Italy.
David and his team have answered many travel related questions and they are all tucked away on his blog. But, no need to go there, just type in a keyword in the search box at the top or bottom of this page (it’s the gray rectangle with a small magnifying glass icon) and you will get results for your query.
We are happy to answer your travel questions and give advice and suggestions. firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-570-1351.