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Italian Coastal Walk Holiday Package
Isolated from the rest of Italy by the impressive landscape, you are here to hike. The rugged villages of Cinque Terre still remain a world away from the bustle of Rome. Follow coastal trails and discover villages clustered on windswept cliffs, perched above beautiful coastlines. Hike and swim by day and sample the fresh seafood and local delicacies by night. For the active traveller who wants to experience a real slice of Italian life, this compact adventure tops the menu on the Italian Coastal Walk Holiday Package!
Move on to Rome, which is full of fabulous sites. Possibly the most recognized symbol of the city is the Colosseum, the scene of the bloody gladiator bouts for the entertainment of ancient Rome's aristocracy. Take a tour around the old venue and then head over to the Palatine hill and the Roman Forum to see where it all began. Even with the bustle of modern day, this city is whizzing past on vespas and you can still lose yourself in the fragmented columns and ancient ruins, conjuring images of the rich Romans sauntering by in togas. From the Colosseum, it is not too much of a hike to Piazza Navona. Known for the baroque buildings surrounding the square, and its beautiful central fountain, this is truly a great place to walk, mingle with the Romans, and sip a cappuccino at one of the sidewalk cafés. Next stop can be the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. Sit among the young Italians cuddling on the steps or watch the rich and powerful shopping in the elegant boutiques nearby. Take a short walk over to the Fontana di Trevi to throw a coin over your shoulder backwards to ensure your return to this magical city. When you have had enough of secular Rome, head to the smallest country in the world, the Vatican City. Located within Rome, the Vatican City is a separate country ruled by the Pope and the perfect place to see art and religion intertwined. Within the Vatican, you will find the famous St. Peter’s Basilica, the world’s largest church and the headquarters of Roman Catholicism. It is difficult to decide whether to look up, down, or to the side as there are treasures everywhere in the Church, Bernini’s canopy, the dome, the treasury, the statue of St. Peter, the Pieta, and the grotto which should all be seen, and it can be possible to attend services in the church.
The Vatican Museums are near the basilica and contain priceless works of art from ancient to modern times. There are many different galleries but do a little research before visiting and then decide on what you really want to see. There are countless pieces of art, including statues, Renaissance paintings, tapestries, early icons and Egyptian artifacts, just to name a few. Two of the most well-known exhibits in the Vatican Museums are the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael rooms. Although the Sistine Chapel is always very crowded, it is a must-see for any visitor to the Vatican. The magnificent frescoed ceiling of the chapel painted by Michelangelo depicts over three hundred figures from the Book of Genesis, the most well-known being “The Creation of Adam,” showing God touching the finger of Adam. “The Last Judgement” on the west wall depicts a scene from the Book of Revelations.
Arrive in Riomaggiore at any time The Cinque Terre consists of five coastal villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, part of a national park of the same name, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over the course of eighteen kilometres of sheer rocky coastline, terraced hills and vineyards slope steeply down to the sea. Five little villages are built into the rocks between the beach and the hills, connected by centuries-old footpaths and mule tracks that hug the coastline above the sea. The extensive network of footpaths lead through olive groves and vineyards, orchards and chestnut woods, and each village has its own unique character that it almost seems unfair as to how much intense beauty, mouthwatering cuisine and fabulous aromas are packed into one small area of the country. La Spezia is the nearest town of any size to the Cinque Terre and has very easy access to the area by train. It also has good onward connections to the rest of Italy.
Hike the Cinque Terre Coastal Trail
Today you will head out into the Cinque Terre National Park to walk the original coastal trail from Riomaggiore to Monterosso enjoying spectacular views, passing through all five of the beautiful Cinque Terre villages. The walking trails connecting each village to its neighbours are well-marked and provide spectacular views of the National Park and the Ligurian Sea. The picturesque coastal trail winds along the shore, varying in nature and difficulty from an easy stroll to a rough one and on occasion a physically challenging hike. You may begin with the easy, concreted path from Riomaggiore to Manarola, known as the Via Dell'Amore or "Lovers Walk". Please note this section is currently under repair so you would have to use alternative routes by bus or train to go around this section and continue the walk starting from Manarola. The stretch from Manarola to Corniglia is an easy hike for the most part and to reach this village, which sits spectacularly on a cliff-top overlooking the azure Mediterranean, there is a stairway of many steps. Do not worry though, because if you prefer, you can catch the small green shuttle-bus up the hill instead! From Corniglia to Vernazza, the trail becomes more challenging, with more ascent and descent and some tricky narrow trails. The trail from Vernazza to Monterosso is the steepest, as it winds through olive orchards and vineyards and is rocky in places, but offers superb views of the bay. The trail is steep at certain points, similar to the previous section. You can take your time to stop-off en route and explore each village, taste some fresh seafood and local specialities at lunchtime, and perhaps round off the afternoon with a glass of local limoncino, or wine straight from the vineyards you have walked through along the route.
Hike the higher trails
You can then venture onto one of the inland and rather higher trails, which winds for much of the route through cool and shady woodlands. The views are not constant, owing to the trees, but where you come across a vantage point the panorama is truly breathtaking. Fewer tourists straddle up here so the villages are unspoiled and there is an awesome sense of tranquility. You hike and stop for a picnic lunch en route.
Riomaggiore - Free Day
Today is a free day for you to enjoy the Cinque Terre National Park further, There are countless optional activities on offer to suit all interests - hiking, biking, boat trips, diving, relaxing on the beach or perhaps a cooking class in typical Ligurian cuisine. There are also opportunities to hop on a boat to Palmaria Island in the Gulf of La Spezia or "Gulf of Poets", as it is known; and Portovenere, the pretty town at the end of the Cinque Terre Peninsula. There are lovely hiking trails on the island and plenty to see in attractive Portovenere. Palmaria Island is located at the westernmost end of the Gulf of La Spezia and is the largest island of an archipelago of three closely spaced islands jutting out south from the mainland at Portovenere. Almost two decades ago, the archipelago, together with Portovenere and the Cinque Terre, was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The ancient Portus Veneris, today Portovenere, is believed to date back to at least the middle of the 1st Century B.C. It has been said that the name refers to a temple to the goddess Venus which was situated on the promontory where the church of Peter the Apostle now stands. The National Park has much to offer. Take an optional guided excursion within the park: try diving in the Puntamesco Marine Reserve, cruise by traditional boat, or perhaps a trip to Portofino for a walk to the beautiful nearby San Fruttuoso Sanctuary. Why not take a day trip by train to one of Central Italy's renowned cultural centres: Florence, Lucca or Genoa. Or, there’s always the beach.
Venice is one of Italy's most beautiful and romantic cities as well as one of the most popular for visitors located towards the northeast and historically were a bridge between the East and West. The heart of Venice is Piazza San Marco with its magnificent church. There are many museums, palaces, and churches to visit and wander along Venice's canals is interesting.
Florence is one of the most important Renaissance architectural and art centers, located in Tuscany. Its Duomo and Baptistery are grand but crowded with tourists as is their large piazza. The city has several interesting museums with many famous paintings and sculptures. There are also Medici palaces and gardens, leaving the visitors in a state of ecstasy! The Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, which has the biggest brick dome in the world and is considered a masterpiece of Italian architecture!
A view of the Piazza del Duomo, the city's main and most central square, surrounded by several palaces and important buildings, such as the Milan Cathedral, the Vittorio Emanuele II Galleria,and the Royal Palace of Milan, would definitely leave the tourists spellbound! The city boasts of a wide variety of parks and gardens situated in a "green park district", found in the areas of Piazzale Oberdan (Porta Venezia), Corso Venezia, Via Palestro and Via Manini, which were landscaped in a neoclassical style, representing traditional English gardens, often full of botanic richness.
The city contains several cultural institutions, museums and galleries, some of which are highly important at an international level, such as the city's Duomo and Piazza, with its beautiful marble façade, the Convent of Sta Maria delle Gazie along with Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, the San Siro Stadium, the Castella Sforzesco, the Pinacosteca de Brera and the Via Monte Napoleone. Most tourists visit sights such as the Castello Sforzesco and the Teatro all Scalla, including other main sights such as the Basilica of Sant Ambrogio, the Navigli and the Brera Academy. Milan, one of Europe's richest cities, is known for stylish shops, galleries, and restaurants and has a faster pace of life than most Italian cities. It also has a rich artistic and cultural heritage. La Scala, within the city, is one of the world's most famous opera houses.
Italian fashion has a long tradition and is regarded as one of the most important in the world, and so Milan, Florence and Rome are Italy's main fashion capitals. Shopping in Rome is fantastic, no matter if you are searching for haute couture, antiques, or a bargain. Some of the biggest names in Italian fashion, Fendi, Valentino, Bulgari hail from Rome along with their flagship stores set therein, as well as boutiques by Prada, Armani, Versace, Ferragamo, Cavalli, Gucci, and many others, resting along the grid of streets near the Spanish Steps. Via Condotti is Rome's main drag for haute couture and "aspirational" window shopping, though you would also find high fashion beckoning from the boutiques on Via Borgognona, Via Frattina, Via Sistina, and Via Bocca de Leone. Most of Via del Babuino, close by, has many shops selling antique paintings and furniture. Via Guilia, a beautiful street to travel along abounds with some antique sellers. One of Europe’s largest flea markets is the Porta Portese in Rome, near Trastevere, which is flooded with antiques, jewellery, clothing and original paintings, besides other goods. Via Sannio, a little away from the Basilica of San Giovanni, also has a flea market selling designer ware, clothing and accessories. Piazza Venezia to Piazza Del Popolo is a large market with all kinds of wares and department stores to shoe stores. There are innumerable shopping haunts all over Italy for the visitors to indulge in their fancy or just window-shop! Milan and Venice are famous for their stylish shops. Florence has antiques, perfumes, marbled stationery and gold. Inside the market, you will find fantastic food stalls, selling meats, cheeses, olives, breads, and countless goodies to fill up a picnic basket. Vendors of clothing, leather goods, ceramics, reside in the stalls outside of the market. The Mercato Nuovo, near the Ponte Vecchio, is another place to look for discount finds and tourist trinkets. Across the Arno, Piazza Santo Spirito is the place to go for produce and other provisions as well as vintage clothing and accessories, antiques, jewellery and pottery. Venice is known for its fine silk and glorious velvets and many shops selling an enormous range of beautiful fabrics. The nearby island of Murano is the best place to go for Venetian glassware, with simple, traditional designs and more contemporary glassware; these factories have large showrooms, to display the glass at its best. There are also some attractive pieces for sale in the city centre and there are several shops in the San Marco region selling both original and reproduction antique glassware. Venice is well-known for its amazing masks and costumes throughout the city. However, genuine masks make great souvenirs and the Laboratorio Artigiano Maschere in Castello specialises in traditional mask making, with some truly splendid and eye-catching designs.
There are possibilities for every pocket and for every mood and hip spots that attract fashionable crowds, haute cuisine restaurants, countless pizzerias, those popular eateries called ”trattorie”, where it is not hard to find an old mama, making fresh hand-made pasta or even wine bars where you can nibble while enjoying a glass of wine.
The culinary delights vary in each region, though pizza, pasta, lasagna, gelato, focaccia, cheese, espresso coffee, cappuccino and white wine are part and parcel of the Italian cuisine, which are served in restaurants, cafes and hotels all over the country. There are innumerable pizzeries, dishing up endless varieties of pizzas with toppings to suit individual tastes, and several restaurants serving seafood and Italian as well as Roman cuisine, haute food spread and wine bars. Rome has a few vegetarian restaurants, besides Sciam in Campo de’ Fiori dishing out Arabian cuisine, Duke in Paroili serving American cuisine, Franz in the Vatican area serving Austrian and Bavarian food, Akropolis in Trastevere serving Greek food , and Maharajah in Monti serving a variety of authentic Indian food.