Italy is a gondola ride, world-famous museums, espressos and, of course, the cuisine. Who doesn’t put these experiences at the top of their list when visiting Italy? Well, the answer is no one. Unfortunately, everyone has a check-list of the historic sites and foods they must experience before leaving this beautiful country. Luckily for Susan Entringer who just returned from a Heart of Italy Tauck tour, she didn’t miss a single attraction due to long lines or sell outs. Tauck offers many perks, such as “skip the line,” or after hour tours to the Vatican, which makes for a much more enjoyable travel experience.
Was this a guided tour?
This was a fully guided tour for a small group of 23. Included in the tour we stayed in Bauer Hotel on Grand Canal in Venice, Hotel Santa Maria Novella on Santa Maria Novella Square in Florence and Indigo St. George in the historic center on Tiber River in Rome. Touring was top notch with an excellent tour director (Birgit Ensslin) and very knowledgeable local guides in each city. We traveled by high speed train (1st class/assigned seats) between cities. We enjoyed “skip the line” access at every site. There were extensive tours and exclusive experiences in every city.
- private glass making demo in Murano
- private gondola ride with live entertainers on board
- St. Mark’s Basilica interior visit
- lunch at Contessa Tiepolo-Passi’s private home
- Scrovegni Chapel in Padua
- private art history presentation
- Ponte Vecchio
- Duomo complex
- Uffizi Gallery
- Nipozzano Winery
- private estate of Frescobaldi family for a wine pairing gourmet dinner
- Opificio delle Pietre Dure restoration workshop where priceless works of art are restored
- Gallery of the Academy – The David
- San Lorenzo Street Markets and Food Market
- Renaissance Palace – home of Gregoria Nardi for a piano concert with appetizers and Proseco served by Gregoria and his wife
- Piazza Navona
- St. Peters
- after hours PRIVATE tour of Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel – our group only and we were allowed to take photos (not allowed during normal hours)
- Bramonte stairs
- walking tour of Trastevere and Jewish Ghetto
There was excellent dining throughout with unique, smaller venues where wine was included (at most venues) and fabulous service.
Tell us your favorite destination.
Florence was my favorite city. It is smaller, very friendly and welcoming. It’s an easy city to navigate with outstanding sightseeing opportunities, rich history and culture. While the shopping is wonderful, you will find Florence to be a bit pricey.
What are your top 3 pieces of advice for someone going on a similar trip?
- Be ready to walk everywhere.
- Be prepared for large crowds
- Take a guided/escorted style tour so ALL details are handled with access to all major sites. You don’t have to worry about luggage, long lines, where to eat, how to find the hotel, etc. The guides provide an outstanding history lesson and really bring it all to life.
If you were to plan this trip again, would you do anything differently?
The only change I would make would be to spend more time in each of these cities.