Venice is a truly captivating city of romance; its unrivalled beauty takes away the breath of first time visitors and regulars alike. Included in our time in Venice is two nights at the iconic five-star Hotel Danieli. The hotel enjoys a spectacular location and is only a short stroll from St Mark’s Square, the Doge's Palace and the Bridge of Sighs.
On our first evening we will enjoy a welcome reception dinner, giving you the opportunity to meet fellow travelers and learn more about our journey through this fascinating part of Europe.
Guests will have the opportunity to take a walking tour around the highlights of this romantic city.
Alternatively, you can spend the day exploring this magnificent city at your leisure, maybe taking an iconic gondola ride in the basin of St. Mark’s or see St Mark’s Basilica or stroll through the Rialto Market.
This morning we transfer by a grand motorboat from the hotel directly to Santa Lucia station on the Grand Canal where our train, the Golden Eagle Danube Express, will be ready to receive us. We will begin the journey threading our way out onto the 3-mile causeway over the Venice Lagoon and along the Po River to Cremona.
This charmingly quaint and understated city carries itself with impressive architecture and is almost completely off the tourist radar. After browsing the impressive 13th century piazza we’ll take a private tour of the fabled Stradivari Museum to allow us to explore the city’s intertwined relationship with violins and other stringed instruments.
A late lunch will then be served on board the train as we continue to Verona, famous for being the setting of Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’. We shall enjoy a concise yet informative walking tour of the city’s famous sites.
We will then transfer from Verona to Sirmione for a short walking tour and private panoramic boat tour of Lake Garda. After our dinner in town of Lazise on the eastern Garda shoreline we’ll transfer back to Verona where we will stay for 1 night at the five-star Villa Amistà Hotel.
NB: Guests can leave their main luggage on board the train and take an overnight bag for the stay at the Villa Amistà Hotel.
This morning we re-join the Danube Express. After a delicious breakfast in the Restaurant Car, we will arrive in the food capital of Italy: Bologna. Beautiful from nearly all angles, a morning tour highlighting the character and history of this renowned culinary destination will allow us to take in the city’s many famous arches and its historic university. A toast on the third floor of the 12th Century Torre di Prendiparte will set up the afternoon as we re-join the train and travel onwards to Rimini.
This afternoon, we will explore the enclaved microstate of San Marino where we can tour the designated UNESCO World Heritage centre along with Mount Titano. Dinner will be served in Restaurant Le Terrazze in San Marino.
With Freedom of Choice touring options available this afternoon you could visit the Ferrari factory* in nearby Maranello to take a drive around the test-track in a classic race car
Today we spend the day touring the charming Apulia region, including visits to the unique architectural sites of Matera and Alberobello, both declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites, followed by a guided tour of the Florentine style old-town of Bari and its domineering fortress and castle that has stood guarding the port since the 12th Century.
This evening as we sit down for dinner we’ll travel west across central Italy through the Matese Hills.
This morning we enjoy a panoramic tour of Naples, including a visit to the fascinating Galleria Borbonica, an ancient underground passage, constructed for military purposes to connect the Royal Palace to military barracks in the city.
From here we visit the crumbling ruins of Pompeii. This famous town, which was destroyed by lava flow in the momentous eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD, has been painstakingly conserved over centuries to keep visitors coming to the region. We will be welcomed at the President Restaurant for lunch where we enjoy a tasting of Pompeian bread.
One of the team from President will join the group, after lunch, for an extended visit of the Pompeii excavation, and explain the method of bread production of Pompeian era.
Overnight the Golden Eagle Danube Express travels from the Italian mainland across the Straits of Messina on one of the very few ‘train ferries’ in the world to the island of Sicily.
Our first stop this morning is the flamboyant and feisty capital of Sicily, Palermo. Here we’ll take in a gentle walking tour of the city’s bustling old-town and enjoy the city’s melting pot of architectural styles. We will finish the tour with an aperitif and small concert at the stunning Teatro Massimo, the biggest theatre in Italy and the third largest in Europe.
This afternoon you have the choice to continue browsing the capital or take a transfer to Corleone to learn about the notorious Mafia families made famous by Francis Ford Coppola's motion picture, The Godfather.
Wake up this morning in Agrigento, home to Italy’s most impressive Greek ruins. While the city itself lacks character, we will focus on the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Valle Dei Templi, one of the most outstanding examples of Greek art and architecture with a privately-led tour around the remains of the ancient city.
During lunch on board we will continue our journey by train from Agrigento ontoRagusa. This small quaint town has plenty of character with its many grey stone houses and churches decorating the hillside, making for wonderful picture postcard scenery. A cooking demonstration at a nearby hotel will allow us to get hands-on with local delicacies before a brief walking tour of the historical Old Town.
This evening we will have dinner in the basement of the 20C Palazzo Di Quattro in the heart of the old town. The I Banchi restaurant is not only a restaurant but also a bakery and pastry shop that sells high-quality regional produce alongside its bread and cakes.
Overnight, the train will continue its journey through Sicily onto Syracuse.
The former Byzantine empire was both founded and raised at our first destination of the day in Syracuse. We’ll take a walking tour before escaping the hustle and bustle of the city itself and enjoying the view from the water with a tour around the Island of Ortigia. We will then head back to the train for lunch.
This afternoon, we arrive into Taormina for a three-night hotel stay at the five-star Grand Hotel Atlantis Bay, with spectacular views of the coastline.
This morning we head to the attractive hilltop town of Caltagirone. Known as ‘the city of Sicilian ceramics’, the town is renowned for producing beautiful pottery since the 10th Century, used to decorate houses, public parks, squares and buildings. We will visit a local ceramic workshop to see samples of this ancient craft.
This afternoon, we will enjoy a walking tour of Catania and indulge our love for food. At the Piscaria,the oldest open market of Catania, we discover a selection of the island’s great cured meats and cheeses. We will also taste a selection of traditional snacks and along our way we will try the famous Sicilian cannolo and other pastries in one of the finest pastry shops in town. Our tour will finish in a local restaurant, where our guests will enjoy a selection of Sicilian appetisers.
We return to Taormina by train in time for evening dinner.
With views overlooking the gulf of Naxos and Mount Etna, the city of Taormina makes for a truly memorable setting for the end of our voyage. A privately guided tour of the Mount Etna museum with a local volcanologist will start our day before taking time on the mountain slopes at a Sicilian Palmento.
This afternoon we’ll have time to relax amongst the gorgeous medieval churches and the stunning Greek theatre before we toast the success of the tour on our final evening at our farewell dinner, complete of course with champagne.
After breakfast, you will be transferred onto the airport for onward departures.