Italy for First-Timers

When you hear the word Italy, many things may come to your mind – art, food, wine, ancient ruins, museums, picturesque countrysides, gondolas, just to name a few.  It is a trip everyone should experience, and there is so much to do and see, you can go back again and again for a new and equally amazing experience. Here is a recommended 7-day trip for first-timers. You will start in Venice, travel to Florence, and end your trip in Rome. It is perfect blend of architecture, culture, art and history.


 

Venice

Spend two nights in the capital of the Veneto region, a sanctuary on a lagoon full of fascinating character and romantic charm.

VeniceVenice Lomdra ViewWhere to Stay

Hotel Londra Palace – For a 5 star experience, I recommend the Hotel Laundra Palace, a luxurious and historic retreat. With its 100 windows overlooking St. Mark’s Basin, the Londra Palace for over 140 years has been a favorite gathering place for artists, people of culture, travelers and tourists  who appreciate authentic places that are not bound by the spirit of time.  http://www.londrapalace.com/en/

Venice Lomdra RoomLuna Hotel Baglioni – Ideally positioned a stone’s throw from Piazza San Marco, right in the heart of Venice facing the San Marco Basin and the island of San Giorgio, the Luna Hotel Baglioni, hotel in Venice, is situated a short distance from the most famous historical and artistic attractions of the city. This historic Venetian hotel, member of the Leading Hotels of the World and Fine Hotels & Resorts, is housed in a magnificent, aristocratic Venetian palace and offers its guests an intimate, welcoming atmosphere combined with impeccable service. http://www.baglionihotels.com/category/luna-hotel-baglioni-venice/

Venice Luna Hotel

Palace Bonvecchiati – With contemporary interior design, a wellness center, and the most modern services, Hotel Palace Bonvecchiati proposes a new hospitality concept in the historic heart of Venice: at 200 meters from Saint Mark’s Square and from the Rialto, with an international flair and authentic modern art plus very luxurious amenities, the hotel welcomes elite travelers for an exclusive stay. http://www.palacebonvecchiati.it/

Venice Palace Bonvecciati

What to Do

While in Venice, you will obviously want to spend some time in San Marco square, take a gondola ride down one of the picturesque waterways, and a tour of the grand canal.  But, experiencing ‘hidden Venice’ is what is going to really make your trip complete.  Get away from the tourists and visit the tiny boatyard known as the Squero di San Trovaso.  It is home to the workshops of many generations of gondola builders, skilled in the specifics of crafting Venice’s famed boats, which carry scores of visitors through the canals of this fine city.

Venice Gondola FactoryThe art of mosaic is at home in Venice and the Orsoni factory in the Cannaregio district has been producing mosaics – smalti and gold or silver leaf – since 1888. Take a tour of the factory or sign up for a class to make your own mosaic.

Venice MosaicFinally, if you are intrigued by the authentic Venetian masks featured at the Venetian carnivals, you want to visit Ca’macana, one of the oldest mask-making workshops in Venice.  Visit the workshop and learn the intricacies of mask production and decoration, or sign up for a workshop and create your own paper-mache mask.

Venice Masks


 

Florence

Move from Venice to Florence, the Capital of Tuscany, and the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and spend two nights in this magnificent art mecca.

Florence 1 tuscany 2

Where to Stay

The Belmond Villa San MIchele – Belmond Villa San Michele is nestled on a hilltop amid lush trees and terraced gardens, enjoying unparalleled vistas of Florence, stretched out before it in all its classic splendour. Dating from the 15th century, the Villa’s facade is attributed to Michelangelo. Step inside and you experience the ethereal beauty and solitude of a Renaissance monastery that is as much a part of Italy’s culture as the country’s greatest cathedrals and galleries. Stroll in the Italian gardens, bursting with lemon trees and fragrant roses, and savour superb Tuscan cuisine on the alfresco loggia as if in a private home. http://www.villasanmichele.com/web/ovil/villa_san_michele.jsp

Belmond-Villa-San-Michele-photos-Room

Four Seasons Hotel Firenze – Experience the beauty of Florence from a quiet garden sanctuary, flanked by historic buildings and lush with modern amenities at the luxury Four Seasons Hotel Firenze. Be near the best Florence has to offer while enjoying the rest and relaxation of a modern urban resort. Enjoy opulent and inviting luxury hotel rooms – along with signature Four Seasons service – as you relax, dine and celebrate in beautiful and historic spaces.http://www.fourseasons.com/florence/

Four Seasons FLorence

Gallery Hotel Art – The contemporary Gallery Hotel Art is a 4 stars design hotel in Florence dreamed up by Michele Bönan, a refined Florentine architect, and offers a favorite local meeting place in the heart of Florence amongst fashion, art, and stylish people. Set in a quiet courtyard near the Arno and Ponte Vecchio and close to Palazzo Strozzi, you may experience art and photography vernissages, enjoy a few quite moments in the inviting lounge-library, or indulge in culinary Eastern delights at the Fusion Bar & Restaurant. The sumptuous rooms and suites have been lovingly appointed with selected materials, such as fine linen, cashmere, Asian woods, and Tuscan stones. Experience the flow of the art of life and the history of Florence from the stunning terraces of our suites.  http://www.lungarnocollection.com/en/the-collection/florence/gallery-hotel-art/design-hotel-in-florence/

Gallery Art HotelWhat to do

You cannot visit Florence without taking time to experience the museums.  The Uffizi Gallery holds the world’s most important collection of Renaissance Art, and the Academia Gallery is home to Michelangelo’s David, probably the most famous sculpture in the world.  These two museums are key tourist attractions, so it is important to get tickets in advance.

Uffizi Gallery

David

A must-see for first-timers in the Centro Storico, the center of the city. Palazzo Vecchio is a landmark that shows off the nobility and the history of Florence. Once home to the Medici family, now the offices of the mayor and city hall, you can still visit the inside of the palazzo. The Duomo is the centerpiece of the city. Designed by Brunelleschi, the huge dome sticks out among the terracotta roofs of the city. Besides the Duomo, there are many churches you can visit in the historical center such as, Santa Croce, Santa Trinita, Santi Apostoli. They are all designed differently, from centuries ago and some were even renovated recently to give a fresh look to each facade.

Il_Duomo_Florence_ItalyThe picturesque countryside of Tuscany is a sight you do not want to miss.  If you enjoy wine tastings and want to experience the Tuscan countryside, but without going too far from Florence, then the region of Chianti, just a 30 minutes’ drive south of Florence, is your best bet.

Chianti

 


 

Rome

Finally, end your trip with three nights in Rome, the Eternal City, and experience history and wonders from the ancient world.

Rome Vatican

Where to Stay

Hotel De Russie – The most unique luxury hotel in Rome, Hotel de Russie provides a stunning feature – extensive, terraced gardens, the “Secret Garden”, so called because hidden behind the building which overlooks Via del Babuino which provide a tranquil oasis amidst the bustle of central Rome where you can dine alfresco at “Le Jardin de Russie” Restaurant or enjoy a peaceful stroll. Soft lights have been put to complete the beauty of the garden, which will host during the spring and summer the open Stravinskij Bar. The hotel also has one of Rome’s best health clubs and spa offering a hydropool, jacuzzi, sauna, Turkish steam bath, beauty treatments and gym. http://de-russie-rome.hoteque.com/?gclid=COLNhf3InL4CFe07OgodPhoAnw

De Russi SuiteBoscolo Palace Roma – The Boscolo Palace Roma a 5-star luxury hotel is situated in Via Veneto, Rome’s most elegant and fashionable street and the centerpiece of the Dolce Vita. Visitors are welcomed at the entrance through an elegant wrought iron gate, whose perimeter houses an original out-of-doors area which is reminiscent of the Bohemian street cafés. An amazing period stucco work and the play of light resulting from the alternation of enameled surfaces, marble and refined finishing, lead to 87 luxury hotel rooms on 8 floors, including Executive and Presidential Suites with panoramic view, where luxury, comfort and excellent services are united in refined designer furnishings: A vibrant atmosphere in which one can relive the fascination of the Belle Époque in the most sophisticated of contemporary luxury. http://palace-roma.boscolohotels.com/hotel/

Boscolo PalaceRose Garden Palace – The Rose Garden Palace is where style, hospitality and comfort come together in Rome. Enjoy unparalleled service in elegant and peaceful surroundings, in the heart of one of the Eternal City’s most beautiful areas. Located in a beautifully restored historical building, just off Via Veneto, the rooms are spacious, elegant and beautiful, with gracious amenities and all the comforts of home. Step outside, and you’ll find the best shopping, dining and sightseeing in Rome all within easy walking distance.

Rose Garden Palace Room What to see

No trip to Rome is complete without a tour of the Vatican.  Taking a private tour ensures you will be totally immersed into the history of this religious city-state.  There are even options for after-hours tours, where you are able to experience the Sistine Chapel or a museum without the crowds of people.  Talk to your agent about options.

Pope Celebrates Baptisms In The Sistine ChapelMost ancient sites in Rome are in Rome’s historic center so you can visit several places in one day. Even if you don’t have time to take an in-depth look, just walking by some of these places is incredible and gives you an overview of ancient Rome’s history.  Some of the key attractions in ancient Rome you need to see are the Colosseum, The Pantheon, The Roman Forum, The Palantine Hill, Piazza Navona, and the Baths of Diocletian.

Pantheon_rome

You also don’t want to miss the Spanish Steps. With its characteristic butterfly plan, the Piazza di Spagna, or Spanish Steps is one of the most famous images in the world, as well as being one of the most majestic urban monuments of Roman Baroque style. In the Renaissance period, the square was the most popular tourist attraction in the city: it attracted artists and writers alike and was full of elegant hotels, inns and residences.

Piazza_di_Spagna_(Rome)_0004

Finally, the Villa Borghese is literally a breath of fresh air for those who visit it. There are museums, a theatre, a bio park, a lake, a winter ice skating piste, roller-blade and skateboarders space as well as numerous fountains dotted throughout.

rowboats-on-the-pond-at-villa-borghese-gardensEveryone has their own vision of the perfect trip to Italy, whether you are a first-timer or an Italy enthusiast, a stunning trip awaits you.  Lynn Ciccarelli, an Italy travel specialist can help you create the trip of your dreams.  Contact her at lynn@bellavacations.com / bellavacations.com.

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