Tour: HFF - 2013 (HFF) - 2013

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Venice is world-famous for its canals
Venice is world-famous for its canals
Venice Canal
Visit the Roman Forum, where Roman legions marched in triumph

Itinerary

DAY 1Arrive in Rome, Italy

Benvenuti a Roma! Welcome! Enjoy free time today to rest or to start exploring the “Eternal City.” At 5 pm, meet your Tour Director and fellow traveling companions for a festive WELCOME PARTY & DINNER. (Dinner)

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DAY 2Travel Back in Time to Ancient Rome

Your day begins with a visit to the imposing COLOSSEUM, followed by a FAMILY PICTURE WITH A GLADIATOR in CIRCO MASSIMO (if available). Then time to admire monumental ST. PETER’S SQUARE in the Pope’s Vatican City, the smallest country in the world. This afternoon, a guided walking tour shows off the Spanish Steps, famous Trevi Fountain, the PANTHEON, and Navona Square. Take a trip through the history of the Eternal City at the Globus Local FavoriteGlobus Local Favorite TIME ELEVATOR. (Breakfast)

The interior of the Pantheon painted by Giovanni Paolo Panini The Baroque inspired Spanish Steps connect the Trinita dei Monti church to the square below The Vatican City in Italy Vatican City in Italy 
Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain


"Rome is one of the most filmed cities on earth, with its signature set location being the Fontana di Trevi, or Trevi Fountain, a romantic, 85-foot-high baroque masterpiece depicting the god of the sea, Neptune, and his Tritons. Not surprisingly, the best time to visit Fontana di Trevi is late at night, when the crowds have gone, the din of Rome’s traffic has died and floodlights dance magically on the water. In fact, the whole centro storico takes on a calm, timeless aspect after dark, and it is well worth stretching your legs after dinner on your own Fellini-esque promenade."
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DAY 3Straighten the Leaning Tower of Pisa & Relax in Montecatini

Say arrivederci to Rome and make your way into Tuscany. Stop in Pisa and see if you can straighten its amazing Leaning Tower. This afternoon, relax by your hotel pool in the spa town of Montecatini, or maybe go exploring. A special HIGHLIGHT DINNER at a local agriturismo lets you taste the region’s famous specialties. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Enjoy the gorgeous views of Rome Enjoy the beautiful architecture in Rome Tuscany is known for its landscapes and its artistic legacy See the vineyard covered hillsides of Tuscany 
Leaning Tower of Pisa

Pisa


"It was the most perfect experiment in the history of science. Holding both a cannon ball and a small musket ball, the 30-something Pisa native Galileo Galilei scaled the steps of his city’s famous Leaning Tower, and held them dramatically over the edge. Eight stories below, the town’s most learned scholars and priests were gathered as observers. They watched as the two balls dropped to the ground at the same speed – disproving, with a single stroke, the ancient idea that objects fall at different rates depending on their weight and size. This archaic concept, which had been espoused by the ancient Greek author Aristotle, had been accepted without question for more than 2,000 years, Galileo’s great innovation was to put it to a practical test of observation. Unfortunately, this famous story is probably not true. Galileo never wrote about it himself – it was recounted in a late biography penned by his secretary, Vincenzo Viviani. Most historians now believe that it was Galileo’s imaginative disciples who invented the Leaning Tower tale in order to make the theory so clear that even a child could understand it. "
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DAY 4Renaissance Florence & Real Italian Pizza

This morning, explore Florence, the “Cradle of the Renaissance,” on a guided walking tour. Visit the fortress palace of PALAZZO VECCHIO, and see SIGNORIA SQUARE with its many famous statues, like the Fountain of Neptune, and a reproduction of Michelangelo’s David. On to magical Venice, where you’ll enter the city in style—by PRIVATE BOAT! Admire St. Mark’s Square, Doges’ Palace and the Bridge of Sighs. This evening, dig in to an authentic Italian PIZZA dinner at a local restaurant. (Breakfast, Dinner)

The Ponte Vecchio at night Visit stunning Florence and the Ponte Vecchio Venice is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world St. Marks Square 
The Bridge of Sighs in Venice

Bridge of Sighs


"The world’s most poetically-named bridge, Il Ponte dei Sospiri, the Bridge of Sighs, was built in 1614 so that prisoners of the Venetian state could be transferred in secret from the Doge’s Palace to the so-called Nuovi Prigioni, or New Prisons. The wistful name was actually conceived by the English poet Lord Byron in the early 1800s that imagined the horror of prisoners taking their last glimpse of Venice before going underground to captivity. "
La Piazza Della Signoria

La Piazza Della Signoria


"What’s the best vantage point to ponder the most illustrious town square in Florence, the Signoria? An outdoor table in the venerable Caffè Rivoire – preferably over a delicious, if not painfully expensive cioccolata con pane, a dark and mud-thick hot chocolate. Late at night, when the crowds have gone, you can search the long shadows and imagine that very little has changed here since the 1400s. The Signoria is the most elegant sculpture garden in Europe. Masterpieces include the splendid Neptune Fountain by Ammannati, Hercules and Cacus by Bandinelli and a precise copy of Michelangelo’s David, all strategically poised in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. This grand public space has been the centerpiece of Florence since the 15th Century, the golden age when the city was established as the most beautiful in Europe. Eminent merchants in their ostentatious finery met here to discuss business in the midst of Florence’s raucous daily life."
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DAY 5Decorate Your Own Carnival Mask & Take a Private Gondola Ride

Walk through the narrow streets of Venice to an original mask workshop, and decorate your very own Globus Local FavoriteGlobus Local Favorite VENETIAN CARNIVAL MASK. When you’re finished, you can use your included vaporetto ticket to return to the hotel or to find a cozy trattoria for lunch. An amazing GLASSBLOWER DEMONSTRATION and a Globus Local FavoriteGlobus Local Favorite RIDE ON A PRIVATE GONDOLA with your family rounds out your Venetian experience. (Breakfast)

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DAY 6Relax in Stresa on Lake Maggiore

Travel to the heart of the Italian Lake District, the beautiful resort town of Stresa on Lake Maggiore. Explore on your own this afternoon, or maybe relax at the hotel pool or join an optional excursion to the baroque palace and peacock gardens of enchanting Isola Bella. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Stunning view of the beautiful Lake Maggiore Isola Bella Isola Bella Lake Maggiore 
Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore

Isola Bella


"Isola Bella. Beautiful Island. Rising out of the waters of Lake Maggiore in Northern Italy, a gardener’s paradise awaits. When Count Carlo Borromeo decided to give his wife, Isabella, a gift back in 1632, he was thinking big. The expansive island villa and garden he planned for her are considered the epitome of Baroque-style architecture and garden design. With terraces built straight to the water’s edge, the island appears as if it is a floating flowering ship. Many of the rooms are of notable historical interest, like the Music Room, where Mussolini hosted the Stresa Conference in 1935 that should have ensured peace in Europe, and Napoleon’s Room, where he often stayed in the company of Giuseppina Beauharnais."
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DAY 7Take a Cogwheel Train to Zermatt, at the Foot of the Matterhorn

High in the Alps, drive over Simplon Pass to the Swiss village of Täsch, where you’ll board the COGWHEEL MOUNTAIN TRAIN that takes you to Zermatt. You may choose to explore this car-free mountain town on your own, or you can join an optional excursion to Gornergrat mountain, at 10,269 feet above sea level for fantastic views including the world-renowned Matterhorn. In the late afternoon, continue on to your hotel on Lake Geneva. (Breakfast, Dinner)

The Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland View Switzerlands most famous landmark, the majestic Matterhorn Visit the iconic Matterhorn in the heart of the Swiss Alps Zermatt, Switzerland 
Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva


Stretching along Switzerland’s southern border with France, Lake Geneva (also called Lac Leman by the Swiss) is the largest lake in Europe. It’s pristine shores support a strong fresh water fishing industry. Some would argue that it offers the most beautiful views of any waterway. They are jaw-droppingly amazing; especially the snow capped Jura Alps across the lake from Montreux and Vevey. The temperatures are moderate along the lake in winter; most of the weather takes place in the mountains. In summer numerous music festivals and artistic events are held in towns along the lake, especially Lausanne, the third most popular city for travelers in Switzerland, next to Zurich and Geneva. It is a sophisticated artist’s haven and the city where T.S. Eliot lived when he wrote “The Wasteland.”
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DAY 8Ride the TGV Train & See Paris from Atop the Eiffel Tower

In Lausanne, board the high-speed TGV TRAIN (first-class) and zoom north across France to Paris, the “City of Light.” Upon arrival, take the elevator to the TOP OF THE EIFFEL TOWER, the tallest structure in Paris, for an unforgettable experience overlooking the city. (Breakfast)

The Eiffel Tower in Paris 
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DAY 9Explore Paris

Meet your Local Guide and explore this haute couture city to see what makes Paris so captivating. Admire the most famous sights along the way: the Opéra, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysées, and visit NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL, setting for The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. Try counting the many gargoyles, or marvel at its beautiful stained-glass Rose Window. Later, Globus Local FavoriteGlobus Local Favorite sample one of France’s specialties—a freshly made CRÊPE. The afternoon is free to maybe join an optional excursion to the Louvre Museum, home to the legendary Mona Lisa. This evening, enjoy a SEND-OFF CELEBRATION DINNER at a local restaurant. (Breakfast, Dinner)

The Arc de Triomphe standing in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle 
Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral


Europe’s most famous cathedral, whose twin Gothic towers loom above France’s most beloved river, the Seine, actually owes a lot of its international success to the author Victor Hugo. Back in 1831, when Hugo wrote his classic novel about a hunchbacked bell-ringer at Notre Dame who falls in love with a beautiful gypsy, the medieval cathedral had fallen on hard times. During the Revolution in 1789, it had been seized, looted of its treasures and converted into an atheistic “Temple of Reason.” Even worse, after the monarchy was restored in 1815, Notre Dame was used as riverside warehouse – its once-splendid glass windows now dimmed and its facades decaying pathetically above the Île de la Cité. But Parisian’s indifference to their landmark ended suddenly in 1831, when Victor Hugo published his romantic novel the “Hunchback of Notre Dame,” (called “Notre-Dame de Paris” in French). The book was an international bestseller and lured armies of tourists to Paris in search of its Gothic cathedral setting. Hugo used this groundswell of public interest to lobby the French government for renovations of his beloved Notre Dame. From 1845 to 1864, repairs were indeed carried out – the clogged medieval streets nearby were cleared, revealing the marvelous edifice we see today.
Louvre

Louvre


Today, a thick pane of bullet-proof security glass keeps artlovers a safe distance from the most famous painting in the world, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, Wife of Francesco Giacondo,” known in French as “La Joconde” and English as the “Mona Lisa.” But back in 1911, it was simply hung on the walls of the Musée du Louvre like any other canvas. That was until a former museum employee named Vincenzo Perrugia strolled into the gallery before opening hours on August 21, noticed the room was empty, took down the Mona Lisa and walked out of the Louvre with it under a painting smock. When the loss was finally noticed, the police were mystified. For two years, the whereabouts of the masterpiece was unknown, while French detectives made various wild guesses. (It had been stolen by the Germans. By anarchists. By evil geniuses. By lunatics.) They actually arrested the country’s top art critic, Guillame Apollinaire, then let him free. Then, out of the blue in 1913, an Italian art dealer in Florence was contacted by a man calling himself “Leonardo” who claimed to have the Mona Lisa and wanted to see it hang in the Uffizi, Italy’s top art museum. Although he found it hard to believe that the thief could be so reckless, the dealer tipped off the police and agreed to meet the strange Leonardo in a Milan hotel room. There, the nondescript fellow opened his suitcase, emptied out his socks and underwear, opened up a false bottom in the case to reveal the Mona Lisa – and was immediately arrested.
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DAY 10Paris

Au revoir. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (Breakfast)

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