Rome - The Eternal City
Thursday - August 30th- "There is NO PLACE like Rome!" Having been the center of one of the world's greatest civilizations ever, Rome has exerted a huge influence over the world and still captivates visitors with her beauty. Bella Roma has been a dizzying mix of architecture and style for nearly 3,000 years; think of magnificent, historical architecture surrounded by Vespa-choked streets, and picturesque piazzas dominated by trickling fountains. Amore (for the city) is always in the air.
WELCOME TO ROME! Upon arrival, you will transfer as a group by private deluxe motor coach to your hotel near the Vatican City where you will have time for a quick shower before your walking tour that will start with a metro lesson and tour orientation lunch (included in package). For group transfer, you must arrive no later than 9 am at Rome's FCO airport.
After lunch, you will Roam around Rome as you visit Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps. You will then visit Giolitti for the best gelato in Rome. It is also where the before returning to the hotel. Later, you will have dinner with the girls and your first night of mixing and mingling in Rome.
Friday - August 31st - Today your morning will start with a visit to Citta del Vaticano (Vatican City) where you will meet your local guide for a tour of St. Peter's Basilica. Originally founded by Constantine in 324, St. Peter's Basilica stands on the traditional site where Peter - the apostle was crucified and buried. St. Peter's tomb is under the main altar and many popes are buried in the basilica as well. You will have a chance to walk through the Porta Sancta (Holy Door) that is only open during a Jubilee (Holy Year), which occurs every 25 years.
Before the St. Peter's tour, you can take an optional tour of the Vatican Museum where your expert guide will lead you through the many galleries which lead up to the Sistine Chapel. There you will have a chance to admire Michelangelo's recently restored frescoes which adorn the vault of the Chapel and his famous "Last Judgment."
After lunch near the Vatican, get ready for one of the biggest higlights of the tour.
Get ready for a magical after to remember! Rome is beautiful during the day but magical at night! Italian men on Vespas (motor scooter) will converge at the hotel to whisk you away on a private evening Vespa tour. Hold on tight to your handsome Italian driver as you zip and zoom around Rome with stops at such sites as the Colosseum, Pantheon, Castel Sant'Angelo, and Trevi Fountain. Originally, the Pantheon was a temple for pagan gods that was converted into a church in 609 AD. It contains the tombs of Raphael and several Italian Kings. At the top of the dome is a large opening, the oculus, which was the only source of light. No trip to Rome is complete without a stop at the Trevi Fountain. The water at the bottom of the fountain represents the sea. Legend has it you will return to Rome if you throw a coin into the water. You should toss it over your shoulder with your back to the fountain (Rome). Check out our vespa tour.
After the tour, you will have some free time to shop before heading back to the hotel to change for a night under the stars "Italian Style" :-)..
Saturday - September 1st - Under the Tuscan Sun! Today we are off by train to Florence, the capital of Tuscany, founded by the Romans in the 1st century. Florence is the home of the Italian Renaissance and capital of the Tuscany region. Botticelli, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci all left their mark on Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance and Tuscany's alfresco museum. With the graceful Duomo as a backdrop, follow the River Arno to the Uffizi Gallery so that you can soak in the Old Masters paintings. The day will start with shopping at a designer outlet mall before a walking tour and free time in the center of Florence at the famous open air market know for incredible leather goods. If you are a culture vulture, visit the Accademia to see Michelangelo's David. Foodies, grab a table to sample seasonal Tuscan cuisine in an authentic trattoria.
Afterwards, head back to Rome to get ready for a extra special "Ladies (bellas) in Red," evening. Fleace has worked with her friends to ensure this will your biggest night in Rome and a night to remember. The evening will start with a dinner (not included) followed by a night of partying at one of Rome's most exclusive night clubs. This is also the night we celebrate our birthday girls. What happens in Rome ....
Sunday - September 2nd - Your free day in Rome will start with biking in Villa Borghese. In 1903, the city of Rome obtained Villa Borghese from the Borghese family and the park was opened to the public. The 80 hectare/148 acre large park now features a wide lake, shady lanes, several temples, beautiful fountains, museums, and many statues. After the visit, you can have the bike for up to 2 hours to explore Rome on your own.
Another choice is an optional day trip to Venice. What better way to sleep off a night of partying than to sleep on the train to VENICE! No words can truly prepare you for the beauty and uniqueness of Venice. Venice is one of Italy's most beautiful and romantic cities, built on the water in a lagoon with small, motorized traffic-free streets along the winding canals. It actually consists of 117 bodies of land connected by more than 400 bridges over its 150 canals. Upon your arrival, you will meet your local guide and take a water bus to Piazza San Marco (St. Marks) to start your walking tour. After the tour, you will have time for lunch on your own. You may also chose to explore the water wonderland and/or enjoy a gondola ride through the scenic canals. At a designated time and place, meet the group for your return to Rome.
If you can hang, join us later for drinks at the Ice Bar.
Monday - September 3rd - For the first time, Bella Italia will stop in Gaeta. Gaeta is truly one of Italy's hidden treasures. The port town was a military stronghold druing the Roman empire. The the hilltop castle still serves as a military barracks. You will step back in time while exploring the medieval lanes and streets while browsing the many shops that sell regional handicrafts. Gaeta has attained world recognition for its olive production; while perusing the outdoor markets, you'll see deep burgundy-colored olives used fresh or in the production of oil. After sampling the oils, you will never want to buy olive oil in the States again.
Next Stop, Ponza! During the summer months, tourists head to Rome while Italians head to the mare (sea) to take in the sun and party till they drop... and so shall we. After hitting it hard in Rome, it is time to turn it down a notch for some island life. This morning you will check-out and depart by private coach to catch a boat to the Ponza, Fleace's favorite Mediterranean island. Ponza has it all: the island magic, the crystal Mediterranean waters, the authenticity of a destination off-the-beaten-path unknown by most tourism. While visiting, many people will ask how you found out about the island. That is the question asked to one foreigner! Can you imagine what it will be like when 50 Black American women arrive. Talk about taking an island by storm. You will have people talking and gawking. Get ready for celebrity status!!
On your arrival to the island, meet your local guide that will escort the group to our hill top hotel overlooking the sea. The view will be stunning!!! After check-in, toss your bags in the room and head to the port for a walking tour and island orientation and maybe a suprize OR TWO.
Tuesday - September 4th - Head to the beach or kick back and sip Italian Mojitos at one of the two swimming pools at the hotel. For those that want more, you can head out with Fleace and do are the Roman's do ... head to the sea by booking our optional boat tour with a hadsome skippers (what else would you expect from BGT). Grab your swimsuit, suntan lotion, wine, and eats as you board one of the private boat rentals. Each boat will hold 4 to 6 ladies. Enjoy swimming in gorgeous crystal clear blue water with breathtaking views between sailboats and yachts.
If you are like Fleace and not much of a swimer, just lay back under the sun as waves lull you into sweet relaxation. Ahhhh ... the good life! Depended on sea levels, you will also visit the Grotto of Circe, where the seducing sorceress of Homer's The Odyssey turned Odysseus' men into animals.
The boats will make a few stops, so you can swim among the anchored yachts. Why not channel your inner siren or mermaid and make some new friends. ;-)
Wednesday - September 5th - Enjoy a free day exploring the island. Fleace will provide some suggestion to keep you busy. BE READY! lol Later meet up with the other ladies for special dinner and evening of dancing under the stars. Don't forget your camera!
Pompeii, Naples, Capri
Thursday - September 6th
Today, we will board a boat back to the mainland and head to back to the mainland. First stop a guided excursion to near by Pompeii, the Roman city destroyed yet preserved by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Here your expert guide will lead you through Patrician homes, public baths and commercial centers of this once thriving Roman resort...a true glimpse into the past.
After the tour head to Naples, the queen of the south. Naples is known as Rome's gritty chaotic cousin. It is one of the most fascinating places in Italy and unlike anywhere else in the country. There is a reason Italians in the south are a bit on the larger side... the amazing food. Naples pizzeria Brandi where Raffaele Esposito is credited with creating the Margherita pizza in honour of a visit to Naples by King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy. The pizza follow the colours of the Italian flag, the tomatoes for the red, basil for the green and Mozzarella for the white the patriotic pizza enjoyed around the world. Longtime favorite Da Michele which, particularly since its incarnation in Eat, Pray, Love, has become a hot spot. Naple is also known for its amazing vintage stores. Dig deep to find vintage italian desinger brands.
After lunch head to the Island of Carpi. While Ponza is a island destination for Italians, Capri is know for as the Island get-away for international jet-setters that anchor their luxury yachts just a few mile off shore. Be prepared to brush shoulders with the rich and famous. Bring your good credit card because Carpri is NOT know for discount shopping unless you looking for souvenirs. You will have a walking tour which will include visiting Monte Solaro (as called the cloud catcher), the highest point on the island. The 360 degree view will feel like the closest thing to heaven. Many people have spiritual moments while looking out from the summit. You will have some free time to wander tiny streets. Don't for get your Capri watch or a pair of custom made jeweled sandals for a stunning keepsake that will have your friend turning green from envy. Many styles can only be purchased on the island. Later head back to Rome for the last night of fun.
In a short period of time Rome seems to have not only caught up, but overtaken many of the best bar scenes in the world. New bars are opening and what was hot yesterday could be shot tomorrow... have no fear, Fleace has her finger on the the pulse of the city. Like all major cities, it is not what you know, but who you know. Luckily, you KNOW someone! As always, Fleace will make sure your last night in Italy will be one to remember. You can also choose to Depart Rome on late evening flight.
Friday - September 7th -Today your Italian sojourn is brought to an end. Depart for your early morning airport transfer. The group transfer time from the hotel will be determine after the optional group flight has been arranged. Taxis to the airport is about 48 euro and can be divided by upto 5 people when shared. Buon Viaggio!
Barcelona - Add On
Friday - September 7th -- Sunday, September 9th
Not ready for the music to stop! Why not spend your weekend in Barcelona. Join Fleace as she jet off for her after tour vacay. Pricing for the optional Barcelona extension will be sent in Febuary with the optional flight details.