Italy is at the top of many travelers’ wish lists, and with good reason. The country offers fascinating layers of history, from ancient Rome to medieval and Gothic wonders and the Renaissance’s explosion of creativity. Then there’s the cuisine: delectable antipasti, pizza, gelato, and more that adults will savor and kids will love. And everywhere you’ll find the Italian spirit, that ineffable attitude of dolce far niente—the joy of doing nothing. Here, there’s still a wonderful appreciation that on some days the most important thing to do is sip an aperitivo and catch up with a friend or simply observe life unfolding on a piazza.
This eight-day Italy itinerary with Adventures by Disney begins in Rome, includes several nights in Tuscany, and ends in one of the world’s most magical cities, Venice. Along the way you’ll experience what makes traveling with Adventures by Disney so memorable. There are hands-on cultural activities, like making your own Carnevale mask, which provide a deeper understanding of Italy’s culture. You’ll get exclusive access, as on an after-hours tour of the Vatican Museums. And you can’t miss Disney’s legendary commitment to quality and service. Every adventure will be led by two Adventure Guides—passionate professionals who are not only knowledgeable about the places they visit but also engaging storytellers.
After you read this itinerary, you may be ready to go. Italy awaits, and Adventures by Disney can show you the best of it.
Itinerary / 8 DAYSPLAN YOUR TRIP
DAY 1Arrive in Rome
You’ll follow in her footsteps this afternoon when you join a tour of the Colosseum, making your way along a similar route to the one she may have followed to the heart of ancient Rome. Even today, this monumental structure looms over not just the neighboring Forum, but the contemporary city as well. Completed in 80 C.E., the stadium could accommodate around 65,000 spectators. Despite being damaged by fires and earthquakes over the centuries, and at times being used as a quarry for stone for other buildings, the building remains mostly intact. On your tour, you’ll learn not only about the building’s architecture and engineering, but also the role that the spectacles presented here played in the daily life of ancient Romans.
After your visit, you’ll return to your hotel for a welcome cocktail reception and dinner with your fellow travelers and your Adventure Guides.
Your guide will then take you to a favorite restaurant for delicious salads and authentic pizzas.
In the afternoon, you’ll have a privately guided tour of the world’s most famous church, St. Peter’s Basilica. An earlier basilica from the fourth century long stood on the site of the current church, but by the middle of the 1400s it had become clear that it would need to be replaced after centuries of neglect. The current St. Peter’s took most of the 16th century to complete, and many of Renaissance Italy’s most famous figures contributed to its design: Bramante, Bernini, Michelangelo, and others. Its dome remains the world’s tallest, and the church is the world’s largest, attracting thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year.
Tonight’s dinner is on your own; your Adventure Guide will be happy to provide recommendations of restaurants that best suit the tastes of your family or other travel companions.
Afterwards, you’ll experience a trip highlight (and a backstage-access opportunity): a private, after-hours tour of the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel. Many of the thousands of visitors who make their way to St. Peter’s Basilica each year also visit the Vatican Museums. During the day, the crowds who want to see the museum’s incomparable collections of art, which extend from ancient sculptures to contemporary works, can be overwhelming. On your VIP experience, however, you’ll have room to admire masterpieces like the Apollo Belvedere, the Laocoön, and frescoes by Raphael in the Vatican apartments. The most famous work, of course, is the Sistine Chapel, with its ceiling and other frescoes by Michelangelo. It’s reason enough to make the journey.
DAY 3Travel to Umbria and Tuscany
You’ll arrive in Orvieto later in the morning, with time to explore one of Italy’s most magical hill towns. It sits on an outcropping of volcanic stone, high above the plains of Umbria. Its 14th-century cathedral, with a façade covered in biblical scenes made of mosaics, is the most famous landmark, and there are several former palaces that now house a remarkable collection of medieval and Renaissance works. The magic of Orvieto is perhaps, however, its streetscapes, with a twisting warren of alleys and lanes largely preserving the medieval design of the city.
You’ll have lunch in Orvieto, perhaps paired with a local wine—the ones produced here reflect the richness of the local grapes, which are grown in the area’s volcanic soil.
In the afternoon, you’ll continue on to Tuscany, and specifically the Chianti region, where you’ll spend the night at the Borgo Di Cortefreda, a hotel in Tavarnelle Val di Pesa. This hotel has a casual, welcoming air—you may feel like you’ve been invited to the country home of an Italian friend. After admiring the views of the rolling hills of Chianti, with olive orchards and vineyards in every direction, you’ll have some downtime to enjoy some of the property’s amenities: a swimming pool, Turkish bath, and Finnish sauna.
You’ll rejoin your group in the evening for a special dégustazione dinner, with multiple dishes featuring the best Tuscan ingredients in traditional preparations and paired with some of the region’s best wines. Younger travelers will have their own event this evening, beginning with lawn games and an Italian-soda tasting, followed by a kids-only dinner and a screening of a Disney movie.
DAY 4A Farm and Winery Visit
This morning is an example of that approach. After breakfast at your hotel, you’ll travel by motor coach to Fattoria Poggio Alloro, a working farm in the heart of Chianti. As you arrive at the farm—which sits next to San Gimignano, a fortified hilltop town famous for its dozen soaring medieval towers—you’ll be greeted by the chef for a pasta-making class. Later, you’ll tour the winery, learning about the grapes grown here and what makes the wines of Chianti and Tuscany prized around the world. Afterwards, the owners will uncork some bottles so you can sample the final product. If weather allows, you’ll eat a pasta lunch on the farm’s terrace while enjoying the views of San Gimignano.
You’ll then return to your hotel, where you’ll have some more time to enjoy the property or head into nearby Tavarnelle Val di Pesa. The town lies on the road connecting the city-states of Siena and Florence, and counts St. Francis of Assissi among its past famous visitors. But despite all that, it remains remarkably low-key. You can stroll along centuries-old streets and lanes, shop for olive oils, soaps, and other local products, or simply stop at an appealing café for an aperitivo or coffee.
When you rejoin your group in the evening, you’ll head to a 15th-century castello for a banquet served by costumed staff. The delicious meal and unique setting add up to an unforgettable meal.
Adventures by Disney will arrange a timed visit so you can skip the long lines when you visit the Galleria dell’Accademia to visit David, and afterwards you’ll explore Florence on foot. You’ll see the Duomo—with its famous dome by Filippo Brunelleschi—and the Baptistry, one of the city’s oldest buildings and an influence on Renaissance architects, who admired its elegant design. You’ll stop at several piazzas and cross the Ponte Vecchio, a bridge spanning the Arno that’s famous for the jewelers located, to this day, in small stores atop it.
Florence has an abundance of restaurants, and your Adventure Guide is ready to offer recommendations, from casual eateries to white-tablecloth restaurants. You may want to try some of the city’s signature dishes, like Florentine beefsteak, tagliatelle with mushrooms, pappardelle with wild boar. While you can find gelato everywhere in Italy, Florence is where it was invented, so sampling it here counts as a must.
In the afternoon, rejoin your group for a VIP tour of the Palazzo Vecchio. Construction of the palace began in 1299, and it was long a fortification intended to protect the city’s residents. It would later serve briefly as the seat of the Medici family, before they moved into the larger Palazzo Pitti on the opposite side of the Arno. Even later than that, it was the seat of the Italian government for six years in the 19th century, when Florence was the capital of the Kingdom of Italy. It houses works by Michelangelo, Vasari, and Botticelli, and the tour also includes an opportunity for kids to dress up in period costumes for photos.
You’ll have the rest of the day to explore this captivating city on your own.
DAY 6Travel to Venice
There is, simply, no other city in the world like Venice, built atop a series of islands on a lagoon at the northern end of the Adriatic. It has long drawn poets and artists, enchanted by this watery world. Most of the city is car-free, and while there are motorized water taxis and a public transit system of ferries, the most magical way to see it is from a gondola—the traditional mode of transportation to get around this city since the 11th century. We can’t guarantee your gondolier will sing, but as you travel along the Grand Canal and pass by the Rialto Bridge, you may be moved to belt out a song yourself.
Afterwards, you’ll join a walking tour of Venice’s most famous square—the Piazza San Marco. Here, the Doge’s Palace sits next to the Basilica San Marco, the city’s cathedral and one of the best surviving examples of the Italo-Byzantine style of architecture. Its ornate exterior and interior glowing with golden mosaics reflect the cultural influence of the Byzantine Empire when the building was constructed in the 11th century. The iconic horses atop the church and overlooking the piazza were in fact looted from Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, in the Fourth Crusade.
The piazza is more than the buildings that ring it, however. It has been described as “the drawing room of Europe” (a phrase often attributed to Napoleon). That nickname seems even more apt today. If you sit at a cafe and watch the world pass by, you’ll see visitors from every corner of the continent (and the globe, for that matter) taking delight in Venice’s beauty.
After your tour, you’ll board a private boat to the Hotel Hilton Molino Stucky, which sits on the island of Giudecca, across a channel from Venice’s principal islands. This hotel, located in a former flour mill (in Italian, molino) is an appealing base in Venice, with larger rooms and amenities like an enormous spa and a rooftop pool that you won’t find in most hotels on Venice’s main islands.
The hotel will host a welcome reception for your group, and then you’ll have an evening free to enjoy dinner on your own. Adventure Guides can recommend options both on Giudecca or back in Venice.
Along with gondolas and the Piazza San Marco, the masked revelers of Carnevale may be among the images that come to mind first when you think of Venice. After your tour of the Doge’s Palace, you’ll visit Tragicomica, a shop famous for its beautiful and elaborate masks, and take a workshop to create your own mask. Anyone can return from Italy with a bottle of olive oil or Chianti, but you’ll have a unique souvenir that you created yourself—with some help from the experts at Tragicomica.
After lunch, you’ll have the afternoon free to explore Venice on your own. Perhaps you’ll want to visit some of its museums, foremost among them the Galleria dell’Accademia, known for its many medieval and Renaissance masterpieces, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, with exhibits of modern and contemporary works. A visit to the Ghetto, the namesake of other ghettos that followed it, provides insights into the history of Jewish life in Venice. Or perhaps the best way to spend the day is simply wandering and not worrying if you get lost. You can’t ever stray too far, thanks to water on all sides.
In the evening, you’ll meet up again with your group for an exciting dinner cruise aboard the Jolly Roger. This pirate-themed galleon will host a fun farewell celebration full of lively entertainment and special surprises. You’ll also enjoy the magical perspective of Venice from the water, with its palazzos and other buildings illuminated and glowing under the night sky.