FRANCE & ITALY HIGHLIGHTS
France and Italy are two of the world’s most popular luxury travel destinations. Not only for their centuries-old dedication to art, but also their passion for food, wine, and style. In our “France & Italy Highlights” itinerary, you will experience a three-week adventure to some of the most alluring destinations in these two countries. For France, you will explore Paris, Provence, and the French Riviera. In Italy, you will visit Venice, Florence, and finally, Rome. Additionally, enjoy several day trips to other wonderful destinations along the way!
PARIS – 3 NIGHTS
The first stop on your France & Italy Highlights itinerary will be amazing Paris. Upon arrival at the airport, we will arrange for a private transfer to your accommodations of choice in the city center. Bella Vita’s has a wonderful selection of 4 and 5-star hotels for you to choose from. These are all based on location, comfort, and travel style. From the hotel, you’re a short walk from many of the amazing sights and landmarks the city is so famous for. During your stay in Paris, we will arrange the following special experiences:
- A private “Paris Essentials” tour with our professional English speaking driver-guide will show you all the main highlights of Paris in just a few hours. This is a great introduction to the city since you will see the Eiffel Tower, the Arch of Triumph, Champs Elysees, Trocadero, the Opera House, Invalides, Vendome Square, Concorde Square, the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay buildings, the Latin Quarter, Notre Dame Cathedral, Montmartre & Sacred Heart Basilica, and the Pantheon.
- A Luxurious Boat for a Dinner Cruise with the incredible cuisine of by a renowned chef. The cuisine is full of delicate gustatory delights and top-rated wines. All of which you will enjoy while taking in the front row view of Notre Dame Cathedral, Conciergerie, Pont Neuf, Lovelock Bridge, Louvre, Grand Palais, Pont Alexander III, Eiffel Tower, Ile St Louis, and more.
- A half-day private Versailles Palace Tour excursion from Paris. Here you will meet one of our excellent historians to see the magnificent château and Jardins of Versailles, the seat of the royal court from 1682 until the Revolution. We’ll conceptualize the architectural and historical significance of this immense site, all the while taking in its awe-inspiring beauty. You will visit the exterior, interior, amazing gardens, and the hunting lodge.
- In our Louvre evening “Crash Course” tour, discover one of the largest museums in the world in the best-possible visiting conditions. With your private guide, you can choose your route based on interest, and he/she will make these works of art come alive!
- Our delectable Paris food tour, led by a local chef or food writer. You will stroll the charming streets of St.-Germain-des-Pres and the Left Bank, explore the culinary culture of Paris. Your private, expert guide will introduce the basics of French cuisine. You will also meet the owners of tiny food shops, taste artisanal products. Enliven your senses to the amazing culinary traditions for which France is known the world over.
PROVENCE – 3 NIGHTS
Up next on your France & Italy Highlights tour, the beautiful Provencal countryside. After checking out of your hotel, your private driver will be waiting to take you to the train station. From Paris, you will travel by first-class high-speed train to Avignon. Before heading to your accommodations, we have a treat in store for you. Here you’ll stay at one of our preferred hotels located in one of the hill-top villages of the Luberon. Note, you will have the choice to stay in the countryside accommodations as well. There is also the opportunity to rent your own car for your time in Provence. Your visit to the Provencal countryside will consist of the following:
- A special visit to Avignon & Chateauneuf-du-Pape winery. Upon arrival in Avignon, you will meet your private driver who will hold your bags while you enjoy a lovely stroll through the sophisticated city of Avignon and the Palace of the Popes. Afterward, discover the famous vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Here you will taste the outstanding red and white wines produced in this area at a private wine tasting.
- Visit the Luberon in a Day by Classic 2CV Cars! This is a wonderful and fun way to explore the various medieval hilltop villages of the region and gorgeous countryside. Some of the sites you will visit include Lacoste, Bonnieux, Roussillon, and Oppede le Vieux. In Oppede, you will enjoy lunch at one of our favorite lunch spots, Le Petit Café.
- You will also have the choice between two wonderful excursions. You can either enjoy a private walking tour in Aix-en-Provence with time to explore on your own afterward. Or you can visit the lovely villages of Saint Remy (famous for its market) and Les Baux, a fantastic medieval town built into the rock it sits on. In both cases, we can arrange winery visits, museum tickets, and other entrance fees. Don’t forget the amazing Carrières de Lumières (caves of light)!
NICE – 3 NIGHTS
Your last stop in France will be the French Riviera. There is a mix of everything on this lovely stretch of the Mediterranean. You have the colorful bustle of Nice and its characteristic old town. There are endless hill-top villages perched over the sapphire blue sea to meander along their cobblestones for breath-taking views. Of course, you can also enjoy a dip in the spectacular sea.
Your private driver will pick you up early morning and you will make your way toward the sea. En-route, you will have a treat in store with a visit to a local winery for a tasting and lunch. Then, it’s off to your wonderful accommodations along the sea. Here you will have the choice between staying in either Nice or a nearby resort and village. During your 3 days on the French Riviera, you will enjoy the following experiences:
- Your choice of Riviera Highlights tour. Since there is so much to do and see in this corner of France, we have created two separate excursions for you to enjoy. Either one will be in the company of one of our favorite drivers/guides. You can head west to visit one of the oldest medieval towns on the Riviera, Saint-Paul de Vence, and explore the grand old villas and old town of Antibes and the ritzy Cannes. Or you can make your way east to the picturesque perched village of Eze and then the elegant belle-époque Monte Carlo. The day will be tailored to your interests, with our fabulous local guide helping you see the most interesting sites in the area and some undiscovered local surprises as well!
- Our Nice Market Tour and Cooking Class. Starting in the Cours Saleya market, you will meet our wonderful food guide and chef. The narrow maze of centuries-old streets of the Vieux Nice opens up onto this splendid space lined with bars, cafés, and fish restaurants on either side and market stalls down the center. You will select the best meat and fish for your choice of menu. Afterward, make your way to her charming cooking atelier, where everyone will play a role in preparing the meal. A couple of hours later, sit down to an authentic Niçoise meal and toast your efforts with a glass of rosé or the beverage of your choice.
LAKE COMO – 2 NIGHTS
It’s time to bid “Aurevoir” to France and “Buongiorno” to Italy! Your private driver will take you to your next stop on your France & Italy Highlights itinerary, beautiful Lake Como. En-route, you can stop for lunch in the lovely Piemonte regions, well-known for their hearty food and exquisite wines.
Your driver will deliver you to your luxurious accommodations on the lake in the early evening. Here, there are several wonderful lodging choices based on your travel style and taste. You can’t go wrong with any of them! During your stay on Lake Como, we will arrange for the following special experiences:
- A very special Private Walking and Boating Tour of Lake Como for you. Your local expert guide will meet you at your hotel with a private boat and captain. You will cruise up the lake viewing charming villages and spectacular villas with wonderful history and commentary along the way. Eventually, you will come to the beautiful Bellagio where you will enjoy a walk through the village and visit the historical part of the town or have an optional tour of the garden of Villa Melzi. Villa Melzi is an English styled garden designed by the architect Luigi Canonica and by the botanist Luigi Villoresi, enriched with sculptural groups and statues from the various periods, and a long tree-lined avenue that leads from the main gate to the Villa. Next to the entrance, you’ll find a small bamboo grove and a Japanese garden with 25 Japanese maples. Villa Melzi’s gardens also include azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, and rare Mexican pinesan orangery, and a private chapel. Afterward, you will have the option of returning to your hotel, or you can go on to lovely Varenna for lunch and take the local ferry back on your own.
VENICE – 3 NIGHTS
Your France & Italy Highlights tour continues in unique and elegant Venice. Along the way, you will have a wonderful day in Verona and the Valpolicella Wine Region. After an hour’s drive, you will arrive in Verona where you will meet your local guide. The tour begins at the ancient city gates: Porta Nuova and Porta San Zeno. The second stop is Castelvecchio, a medieval castle with its bridge over the Adige River. Then, on to Castel San Pietro where you will have a spectacular panoramic view of the city. Stop by the famous Romeo and Juliet’s Balcony. Then, just a few steps away from this place you will be able to see the city center in lovely Piazza Delle Erbe. The last stop will be Piazza Brà where you will visit the Arena, a Roman amphitheater, which is internationally famous for the large-scale opera performances given there.
Finally, you will head to the Valpolicella wine region and our trustworthy winery. Here you will taste the famous Amarone wine, a personal favorite! You will have the choice of either lunching in town or the countryside.
Upon arrival in Venice, we will arrange for a private water taxi to deliver you to your beautiful accommodations on the island. From the hotel, you’re a short walk from all the amazing sights and landmarks Venice has to offer. During your stay in Venice, we will arrange the following special experiences:
- A Welcome Orientation & Cicheti Aperitivo with a member of the Bella Vita team. This meeting will help you navigate your days in this unique city as well as enjoy one of its favorite past-times of sampling the local tasting dishes and local (delicious!) wines.
- A wonderful half-day Venice by Land and Water tour giving you a chance to discover the highlights of the city. Visits to Saint Mark’s Square, the Rialto bridge, and more. Then, you will have the opportunity to explore the city for an hour by private boat. Here you will enjoy its sleepy back canals as well as the Grand Canal, the city’s main thoroughfare.
- A private tour to the outer islands of Murano and Burano. Enjoy a half-day on the lagoon away from the bustle of the main island. The internationally famous island of Murano has been the center of glassmaking for over 700 years. And still today, this artistry can still be seen and appreciated. Burano, once a full-time fishermen’s village, is an incredibly picturesque destination with its brightly painted houses. Time permitting, you will also visit the tiny island of Torcello.
FLORENCE – 3 NIGHTS
After checking out of your hotel, your private water taxi will be waiting to take you to the train station. From Venice, you will travel by first-class high-speed train to your next amazing stop touring Italy, the beautiful medieval city of Florence. Here you’ll stay at one of our preferred hotels or upscale inns for three nights. As always, it will be situated in the city center within a short walk of the city’s most famous sites. Continue the fun on your France & Italy Highlights tour!
Your visit to Florence will consist of the following:
- You’ll start your visit to Florence with our Leisurely Walking Excursion of the City with our private local expert guide. Florence’s rich past as the cultural center of the Italian Renaissance can still be seen today. Visits such famous sites as Il Duomo, Piazza dell Signoria, Ponte Vecchio, and more. Plus you will have the choice of a VIP, skip the line visit to either the Uffizi Gallery or Accademia (house of Michelangelo’s David).
- A private excursion into the Tuscan countryside. You will have the choice of visiting the Chianti wine region and the medieval town of San Gimignano. Otherwise, you can head to the rolling hills of the Val D’Orcia with its charming hilltop villages and pecorino cheese. In both cases, we can arrange for winery tours and tastings. Alternatively, you could do a half-day walking tour of beautiful Siena.
- A fabulous “Gastronomic” Tour at one of the city’s most famous and bustling markets followed by a hands-on and cooking lesson and meal. The Florence market is a place where the stalls are heaped with produce raised in the green belt around the city and brought in before dawn by the producers. The market offers everything from fruits and vegetables, fish, fresh meat, salt-cured meat, cheese, and much more in a true Italian farm-to-table experience. Your guide will take you through the market, explaining local products as you absorb the sights, sounds, and smells of this incredible foodie dream. Afterward, you will head to a wonderful kitchen for your hands-on rustic Tuscan cooking class with a professional chef. You will prepare a full 4-course menu, including appetizer, first and second course, and dessert. The menu will depend on the seasons and the availability of products. You will then “enjoy the fruits of your labor” with a delicious sit-down meal of your creations…Buon appetito!
- Private transfers upon arrival in Florence and to return you to the train station at departure.
ROME – 3 NIGHTS
Last but certainly not least, on your France & Italy Highlights itinerary will be Rome. It is simply a fascinating city. With its mix of modern, chaotic city life shadowed by endless historic landmarks and artistic masterpieces, you will be amazed and possibly overwhelmed by all it has to offer. That is where Bella Vita does some of its best work. By creating a haven of activities designed to give you a wonderful taste of this amazing city without exhausting you!
You will be greeted at the Rome train station by your private driver. He/she will then accompany you to your gorgeous accommodations in the historical center. During your 3 days in Rome, you will enjoy the following experiences:
- Our Private “Before Hours” Morning Vatican Tour. This incredible opportunity offers a more personal Vatican experience, and the ability to avoid noisy crowds. You will visit the Sistine Chapel at a more solitary, reflective hour. With our expert guide, you’ll discover masterpieces of the Renaissance as well as ancient statues from the Vatican collections. The tour will conclude in St Peter’s Basilica to admire Michelangelo’s Pietà. Your private guide will also give you access to the Basilica straight from the museums, avoiding the sometimes endless lines.
- Private Tour through Ancient Rome with VIP access to the Coliseum Underground (limited availability). Learn about its tragedies and love for entertainment. Also, discover some of its famous citizens, such as Julius Caesar, Emperors Augustus, and Nero. Visit Capitoline Hill, the Roman Forum, finishing off with the spectacular Coliseum.
- Lose yourself within one of Europe’s most extraordinary museums and one of Rome’s greatest patrician collections, the Borghese Gallery. It is home to glorious works by Bernini, Caravaggio, and other highly-regarded artists in Italian history. We consider it is an astounding showcase of Italian art and antiquity. Your art historian will make the artists and statues come alive in this short but captivating tour.
When it is time to bid goodbye to your France & Italy Highlights tour, we will arrange a private transfer to take you to the Rome Airport for your flight home.
If you are not yet ready to go home, we can add several options to your France & Italy Highlights tour. A few days on the Normandy or Amalfi Coasts? Or a visit to the castles of the Loire Valley, or even spending some dedicated wine time in either Burgundy or the Val D’Orcia of Tuscany? The choice is yours and we would be happy to design your trip as you wish.