From: $453.00 per day

Italian Alternativo Tour

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Mira to Rome 14 Nights / 15 Days

Explore the ‘alternative’ Italy, the eastern side of the Apennines Mountains, with its glorious towns and unspoiled villages. See the extraordinary mosaics of Ravenna and take a cable car up to the Republic of San Marino. Wake up in a 16th century palace in the unspoiled Le Marche region, cross the incredible Gran Sasso plateau and relax in the sumptuous gardens of Villa d’Este in Tivoli!

From: $6,789.00 per per person based on Twin Share. Single supplement available


  • Stay 2 nights in the delightful Venetian Villa Margherita, dine in your Villa restaurant
  • Be guided through Palladio’s historical Vicenza – and see the incredible Basilica Palladiana
  • Spend 3 nights in the heart of Italy’s culinary capital – Bologna
  • Enjoy a walking tour of Padua, see Giotto’s masterpiece frescoes in Capella degli Scrovegni
  • Near Modena, visit the fantastic Ferrari museum and a private collection of Maseratis
  • Stay 3 nights in the hilltop castle complex of Hotel Palazzo Viviani
  • Ride a cable car up to the tiny country of San Marino and enjoy a special Pecorino cheese tasting and see mosaic art created in Mondaino
  • Visit the incredible Ducal Palace in  Urbino and relax in Mussolini’s favourite bar by the Passo del Furlo
  • Stay 3 nights in a charming 16th century Palace in Ascoli Piceno, enjoy a full day exploring this remarkable, travertine marble, Roman and Renaissance city
  • Spend 2 nights relaxing in the heart of delightful Spoleto and enjoy a guided tour of  Assisi
  • Enjoy lunch in the crumbling ruins of a deserted village in Abruzzo


Day 1 – Mira

Your tour commences this evening in your delightful Venetian Villa hotel, in the little river side town of Mira, near Venice. Join us tonight for a welcome drink before dinner in this historic Villa. This is an ideal chance to meet, and get to know your Tour Manager and fellow travellers.

Hotel: Villa Margherita in Mira (or similar) D

Day 2 – Beautiful Vicenza and the Palladian Villas
After a leisurely start, we drive west to spend time in the beautiful city of Vicenza. Made famous as the home of the influential 16th century architect Andrea Palladio, ‘Vicenza and the Palladian Villas’ is UNESCO heritage listed. Our local guide will bring to life this beautiful city, and the highlight will be visiting Piazza dei Signori, with its ‘Torre di Piazza’ clock tower, flanked by Palladio’s striking Basilica Palladiana and medieval law courts. Later you have free time to explore the heart of the town at leisure. The shopping down Corso Andrea Palladio is excellent. Mid-afternoon we return to our Venetian Villa. Tonight, we dine in a local trattoria!
Hotel: Villa Margherita in Mira (or similar) B, D
Day 3 – Padua and Renaissance Ferrara
We will spend this morning in the ancient university town of Padua. With our local guide, we will explore this historical city. We have included entrance to the Cappella degli Scrovegni (Scrovengi Chapel) with its magnificent Giotto frescoes. Lunchtime is at leisure in the old town. You may like to take a stroll through the nearby UNESCO Heritage listed Orto Botanico – the centuries old Botanical Gardens. In the afternoon, we will enjoy a stop to explore in the UNESCO Heritage listed ‘renaissance city’ of Ferrara – a true gem of a city that once attracted the greatest artists and intellects of the 15th and 16th centuries. We are now in the Emilia-Romagna region, and our home for the next three nights is in the heart of Italy’s gourmet capital – Bologna.
Hotel Internazionale, Bologna (or similar) B, D
Day 4 – Bologna Guided Tour and “My time”
This morning we are joined by a local guide for a walking tour of this great city. The highlight of your day will be visiting the Basilica di Santo Stefano, also known as Sette Chiese (Seven Churches). The rest of the day is at leisure. In the evening discover your own café or trattoria around Piazza Maggiore and Piazza Nettuno. After all, this is Italy’s gourmet capital!
Hotel Internazionale, Bologna (or similar) B
Day 5 – Ferrari, Maserati and Parmesan Cheese
Driving west we visit the fantastic Ferrari Museum at Maranello, near Modena. A local guide will join us and show us around this fantastic exhibition of bright red, old, new andfuture Ferraris and Formula One racing cars. Later, we continueto the Panini Hombre cheese farm to learn how ‘Parmigiano-Reggiano’ (Parmesan) cheese is made, before enjoying a cheese tasting and light lunch. Here you will also visit the Panini family’s collection of historic Maseratis – the largest private collection in the world! Your evening is at leisure in Bologna.
Hotel Internazionale, Bologna (or similar) B, L
Day 6 – Ravenna and Castello di Montegridolfo
We enjoy the day exploring the elegant city of Ravenna. Joined by a local guide we visit the UNESCO Heritage listed, early Christian monuments. Dating back around 1450 years, the striking Basilica of San Vitale is built simply with red bricks. The interior is lavishly decorated with striking marble and Byzantine mosaics. We have also included visits to the Neonian Baptistery, Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo and the 1700 year old Mausoleum of Galla Placidia. Later you have free time to explore and find a relaxing lunch spot – perhaps in the attractive Piazza del Popolo which is lined with historical buildings. Mid-afternoon we continue up into the rugged Apennines, and to Montegridolfo where we stay three nights.
Hotel: Hotel Palazzo Viviani, Montegridolfo (or similar) B, D
Day 7 – San Marino and Mondaino Pecorino
This morning we visit a new country – the Republic of San Marino! On approach the view is spectacular, with its walled castles and towers standing on the rim, beside huge precipices. Joined by our local guide, we catch the cable car up the mountain to San Marino. Dating back to 301 AD, San Marino is one of the smallest countries in the world, covering barely 61 square kilometres. It is also the world’s oldest Republic and has earned UNESCO World Heritage status. From the terrace of Mount Titano there are stunning, sweeping 360 degree views down over the Alta Valmarecchia and Montefeltro hills, right down to the flat plains beside the Adriatic Coast. After free time to explore, shop and enjoy lunch, we then drive to the hill top town of Mondaino where we are met by a medieval character and ‘regally’ led into the Pecorino Fossa cheese cellars, with its 3 original, large pecorino ‘wells’. After a short introduction, you will compare 4 different cheeses and locally cured salamis and meats. Forming a ‘parade’ through town we also stop at a small mosaic craft shop and learn about this traditional, ancient Roman art form. Dinner tonight is in a local village trattoria.
Hotel: Hotel Palazzo Viviani, Montegridolfo (or similar) B, D
Day 8 – Raphael’s Urbino and Mussolini’s Bar Farlo
First stop of the day will be in lovely UNESCO Heritage listed city of Urbino. The artist Raffaello (Raphael) was born here and we are joined by a local guide for a walking tour of the old town and through the impressive Ducal Palace. The Duke was incredibly rich and powerful, and the inlaid wood artistry in his small private study is simply unbelievable. After a relaxing lunchtime, we visit Mussolini’s favourite café, Bar Furlo. This was Mussolini’s favourite tea room and you will discover historic memorabilia and photos of visits. Time to relax as we have included an enjoyable afternoon coffee or aperitif. For the more active, take an easy stroll through the dramatic Passo del Furlo, now closed to cars by landslides, but kept open as a scenic walking path. Later, back in Montegridolfo, we will enjoy a dusk stroll around the castle hamlet, followed by dinner in the Osteria dell’Accademia.
Hotel: Hotel Palazzo Viviani, Montegridolfo (or similar) B, D
Day 9 – Le Marche, Jesi & Macerata
Tourists have not yet discovered the glorious Le Marche region. We have! Taking the inland route, we drive through the rolling hills and vineyards of Le Marche, to stop and explore the 14th century fortified town of Jesi. Following the spine of the Apennines, our afternoon will be spent exploring the charming medieval town of Macerata with its impressive Loggia dei Mercanti – a 16th century arcaded merchants hall. We spend the next three nights in a ‘Palazzo’ hotel, in the wonderful historic city of Ascoli Piceno.
Hotel: Palazzo Guiderocchi (or similar) B, D

Day 10 – Ascoli Piceno sightseeing and “My time”

This morning we are joined by local guide for a walking tour. Dating back well over two centuries, the massive Piazza del Popolo central square, resplendent with travertine marble, is generally recognised as one of the most beautiful squares in Italy, if not all of Europe. This compact city is bursting with colonnaded walkways, Roman antiquities, churches, palaces and remarkably 50 stone towers still exist. The highlight of your tour will be visiting the glorious Duomo. The mosaics and shimmering blue roof are stunning, as is the 900 year old crypt beneath. The rest of your day is entirely free in this gorgeous town. There is so much to see and enjoy.

Hotel: Palazzo Guiderocchi (or similar) B

Day 11 – Lovely Offida and the Adriatic Coast

Today we visit one of the little gems of Le Marche – the lovely little ‘lace town’ of Offida. One of the ‘Borghi più belli d’Italia’ – most beautiful villages in Italy, this was one of the most important lace making towns in Italy, and on a warm day you will still see ladies sitting in their doorways using bobbins to make intricate lace garments. The medieval church of Santa Maria della Rocca (church on the rock) impressively sits perched on a craggy rock outcrop. We have included entrance to the catacombs with their 13th century, time worn frescoes. There is also a lace museum and a highlight will be the visit to the quaint 19th century opera theatre. An absolute delight! Lunchtime will be enjoyed at leisure in the seaside resort town of Grottammare, on the Adriatic, before we return to Ascoli. This evening we have included a real treat as we dine at Caffè Meletti, looking down directly on the beautiful polished marble main square. This period-piece restaurant still retains the traditional, fashionable décor of over a century ago, and even brews its own aniseed liquor!

Hotel: Palazzo Guiderocchi (or similar) B, D

Day 12 – Santo Stefano and Spoleto

We now step back in time and drive into the wild Apennines of the Abruzzo region. Crossing the Gran Sasso plateau we reach the hill top town of Santo Stefano di Sessanio, in the province of L’Aquila, where we have time to explore before enjoying a light lunch in one of the centuries old, crumbling buildings. What an experience! Next we venture into the hills of Umbria and the wonderful walled town of Spoleto where we stay the next two nights. Medieval Spoleto is easily explored on foot. There are numerous romanesque churches and cobbled stone alleyways lined with shops, bars and trattorias.

Hotel: Hotel Dei Duchi (or similar) B, L, D

Day 13 – Explore Assisi and “My time” in Spoleto

We spend this morning in the nearby Umbrian city of Assisi. Badly damaged by earthquakes in 1997 the city, dominated by two medieval castles, undertook a remarkable programme of restoration which soon brought it back to all its glory. On arrival in Assisi we are joined by a local guide for a tour of the Basilica of St Francis with its magnificent frescoes. Afterwards there is time for you to explore Assisi at your own pace. Returning to Spoleto, the rest of the afternoon is at leisure. Perhaps take a leisurely walk along the path around the castle and across the medieval viaduct in to the Umbrian countryside.

Hotel: Hotel Dei Duchi (or similar) B

Day 14 – Tivoli, Frascati and Musica

We enjoy a morning stop in the historic town of Tivoli. Here we are joined by a local guide to enjoy a visit of the wonderful UNESCO heritage listed gardens of Villa D’Este. Circling Rome, we reach the area known as Castelli Romani, to enjoy an afternoon visit to the town of Frascati, famous for its light white wines. This evening we visit a nearby, historic wine estate called Cantine Santa Benedetta – the perfect venue to enjoy a truly grand Frascati farewell dinner, with ‘musica’. First, we relax with a Frascati tasting accompanied by a variety of antipasti on the terrace overlooking the vineyards, with the Rome skyline in the distance. Then, we enjoy dinner accompanied by music from a pianist and opera singer. An extraordinary farewell evening in the hills of Frascati!

Hotel: Grand Hotel Villa Tuscolana ( or similar) B, D

Day 15 – To Rome
This morning we will transfer you into the centre of Rome and to Fiumicino airport. We recommend you book flights that depart after 12 midday. B
  • ALL excursions, scenic drives, sightseeing and entrances as described
  • Fully escorted by our experienced Tour Manager
  • Travel in a first class air-conditioned touring coach
  • 14 nights specially selected hotel accommodation
  • Hotel porterage (1 bag per person)
  • 26 Meals – including breakfast daily (B), 2 lunches (L) and 10 dinners (D)
  • Tea, coffee and a complimentary beverage with all included dinners
  • Hand Selected Albatross Experiences – Dine in unique locations, scenic drives through stunning landscapes
  • Local guides as described in the itinerary
  • ALL tips to your Tour Manager, Driver and Local Guides
  • Personal audio system whilst on tour
  • Free WiFi on most coaches and at hotels
Dates: 2018
16th May to 30th May
6th June to 20th June
4th July to 18th July
15th August to 29th August
5th September to 19th September
Departures are subject to availability and price change without notice. Terms and conditions apply.

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