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For Art Lovers, These One-of-a-Kind Italian Itineraries Were Made for You

These five art-focused tours mix in history, cuisine, outdoor adventure, and more across Florence, Rome, Venice, and beyond for delightfully enriching trips.

Courtesy of HFerreira/Unsplash/Collette

Venice, Italy

Courtesy of HFerreira/Unsplash/Collette

Italy, as the seat of modern civilization, has an impressive, centuries-old artistic legacy that’s perhaps best experienced on a guided tour. Of course, visiting Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance, is a must for art and architecture enthusiasts traveling to Italy. Once a modest trading hub ravaged by the plague, it blossomed into a cultural center thanks to the patronage of the Medici family who nurtured the creativity of luminaries like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. But there’s even more for art lovers to explore in Italy, from ancient Roman ruins and the gorgeous baroque architecture of Sicily to the renowned design of fashion icons like Ferragamo and so much more.

To fully immerse yourself in Italy’s rich artistic and cultural heritage, it’s essential to choose the right mode of exploration. That’s where the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) comes into play. Whether you’re focused on art alone or want to incorporate elements of history, cuisine, or outdoor adventure into your travels, USTOA tour operator members offer expertly designed itineraries that cater to various interests.

Booking a group tour with a USTOA tour operator lets you enjoy distinctive experiences that combine different elements, guaranteeing your trip will be more comprehensive and satisfying. Also, USTOA tour operators prioritize transparency, safety, responsible tourism practices, and environmental preservation, guaranteeing convenience, reliability, and enrichment throughout your travels.

Given Italy’s vast offerings, it’s impossible to experience everything in a single trip. That’s why we’ve curated five unique tours for art lovers, recognizing that one visit to Italy can’t cover everything this fascinating country has to offer.

SUBHED 1: Experience Tuscany, the epicenter of Renaissance art

Italy conjures images of not just exceptional art but also vineyards, olive groves, and floating cities. You can have it all on Collette’s 12-day Italy’s Treasures guided tour. In Tuscany, you’ll see iconic landmarks and the timeless beauty that define Florence. You’ll also do a few unexpected things like venturing to the marble quarries of Carrara aboard off-road vehicles, tracing Michelangelo’s footsteps, and exploring unexpected attractions like the Apuane Mountains, where quarrymen carved roads for precious stone extraction.

In the Tuscan countryside in Chianti, you’ll stay for four nights at a tranquil villa. You’ll learn Tuscan cooking at a family-owned villa and delight in a typical lunch paired with the region’s famous wine.

You’ll also have the chance to explore other regions of Italy, like the picturesque lakeside town of Stresa, known for its charming piazzas and cobblestone streets. Here, a guide will lead you through the exotic gardens of Borromeo Palace, followed by cocktails and antipasto snacks at a wine shop. The following day, a nearby mountain village awaits, offering artisanal cheeses and local wines served by a welcoming local family. There will also be plenty of time to get lost in the labyrinth of canals and bridges in Venice, where you can immerse yourself in the medieval atmosphere and lively squares.

Collette is known for offering plenty of free time for personal exploration. Founded in 1918, the company provides tours to places on every continent. With destination experts around the world, Collette’s tours are designed by travelers for travelers. They include must-see sights, cultural experiences, accommodations, dining, transportation, and expert guides.

Explore Sicily’s baroque architecture on a cycling tour

Scenic sight in Modica with the Cathedral of San Pietro and the Duomo of San Giorgio in the background. Sicily, southern Italy.

View of Sicily

Courtesy of iStock/VBT Bicycling Vacations

Embark on a genuine Sicilian adventure, blending art, culinary delights, and outdoor thrills on VBT Bicycling Vacations’ Italy: Sicily, the Noto Valley & Syracuse Guided Biking tour, circling the largest island in the Mediterranean. You’ll stay in historic accommodations, such as an 18th-century villa transformed into a hotel, still managed by the same family for generations.

With two local guides, you’ll pedal along seaside paths and explore the stunning baroque towns of the legendary Noto Valley. Scicli has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site for the extraordinary beauty and the importance of its late-baroque architecture, built after a devastating earthquake in 1693. In the evening, you’ll follow a local guide on a 40-minute walking tour, strolling the city and witnessing the magnificent architecture lit up at night.

You’ll fuel up for all the activity with incredible Sicilian food. Yes, there will be plenty of pasta alla Norma and gelato. You’ll also have lunch on an organic farm with a local family, learn about Sicilian cooking from your hotel chef, and taste wine and olive oil at an organic winery. Recover from all that cycling with some relaxation on the beach while staying in the restored fishing village of Marzamemi.

With more than 50 years of experience, VBT Bicycling Vacations works with the best local guides to provide active and immersive journeys around the world. Their exceptional trips consistently highlight local cuisine, authentic accommodations, and rich cultural encounters. They offer insider access that breathes life into destinations through carefully planned biking itineraries.

Experience the fusion of art and gastronomy in Tuscany and Cinque Terre

Italy, Tuscany, Firenze district, Florence, Sunset over the city with Palazzo Vecchio and the Cathedral (Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore), view from Michelangelo Square

Florence

Luigi Vaccarella/SIME / eStock Photo

The eight-day Tuscan Treasures with Cinque Terre experience with CIE Tours kicks off in Montecatini Terme, a historic spa town with rejuvenating baths dating back to Roman times, nestled in the hills of Tuscany. One evening, you’ll head to Fattoria il Poggio, an agriturismo farm that embodies the spirit of sustainability. Explore the vineyard and olive grove, savor wine and olive oil tastings, and enjoy traditional, home-cooked cuisine.

No visit to Tuscany is complete without seeing Florence. With the help of a local guide and “skip-the-line” VIP access, you’ll admire architectural landmarks like the Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio, where you’ll see Michelangelo’s David statue up close in the Accademia Gallery.

You’ll also explore medieval Siena on an orientation walk with your tour director and see iconic sites like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the scenic coastal villages of Cinque Terre. Your journey concludes with a stop in San Miniato for a truffle hunt with a local expert and their trusty dog, followed by a truffle-themed luncheon.

CIE Tours specializes in unforgettable experiences like these, drawing on upwards of 90 years of expertise. With renowned guides and distinctive all-inclusive itineraries, they make it possible for guests to fully immerse themselves in local culture, connect with fellow adventurers, visit dream destinations, and uncover gems known only to locals.

Enjoy exclusive art experiences in Tuscany and the Italian Riviera

Courtesy of Tauck

Basilica di Santa Croce

Courtesy of Tauck

Tauck’s eight-day journey to Tuscany, Cinque Terre & the Portofino Coast offers unparalleled opportunities for private tours, such as an early-opening, private visit to Florence’s Basilica di Santa Croce, the resting place of Michelangelo and Galileo, and a guided walking tour of Florence’s historic center. You’ll visit the Uffizi Galleries to marvel at Renaissance masterpieces like Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. Additionally, you’ll explore La Cervara, a 14th-century abbey with exquisite gardens, on a docent-led visit.

You’ll also unwind in a stylish Italian Riviera hotel and explore the paths that follow the shoreline of Cinque Terre National Park. Then, you’ll work up an appetite by cycling along the famous preserved walls of Lucca before a wine and olive oil tasting and learning the art of pasta-making from some local chefs.

Tauck, owned and operated by a family of avid travelers for nearly 100 years, delivers authentic travel experiences through exclusive access with some of the best guides in the world. With all-inclusive trips spanning seven continents, including river and small ship cruising, land journeys, and family adventures, Tauck continually raises the bar to find new ways to connect travelers more deeply with the places they explore.

Uncover the connection between Italian art and design in Rome and Florence

Courtesy of Globus

Rome

Courtesy of Globus

Globus’ seven-day guided That’s Amore!: Italy by Design tour through Italy promises a taste of la dolce vita while exploring Roman ruins, visiting famous museums, and admiring architectural masterpieces. Follow in the footsteps of Roman painter Pietro Cavallini and wander through the historic streets of Trastevere. Today, this former working-class enclave has a bohemian vibe with trendy shops, cafes, and bars. You’ll then explore the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica and Roman archaeological area, followed by a delightful gelato tasting.

In Florence, you’ll navigate legendary Renaissance landmarks on a relaxed bike tour. You’ll also stop at the Ferragamo Museum, showcasing more than 10,000 shoe designs. With an expert guide, uncover secrets like the ancient art of perfume making at Officina di Santa Maria Novella, Europe’s oldest pharmacy, and savor renowned regional wines amid views of the Chianti hills in San Gimignano.

Moments like these exemplify the Globus commitment to delivering once-in-a-lifetime journeys, one scene, sight, and story at a time. The company ensures its guests don’t just visit remarkable places around the world but truly experience them through immersive encounters.

For these tours and many others that mean expertly planned trips, access to VIP and off-the-beaten-path experiences, local and knowledgeable guides, around-the-clock service, and more, head to USTOA.

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