Itinerary: Best of France and Italy
No. of Days: 12nights/13days
Places Covered: Paris (3nights) – Nice (2nights) – Milan (1night) – Venice (1night) – Florence (3nights) – Pisa – Rome (2nights)
Days 1: Arrive in Paris: Arrive in Paris by a flight which reaches early morning. Transfer to your hotel and some relaxation and a nice breakfast embark on a sightseeing tour of Paris, capital city of France where maximum number of foreign tourists flock to every year.
First place to visit is Musée du Louvre or the Louvre Museum. Located on the right bank of River Siene, the Louvre is one of the largest museums in the world. Take your time viewing the world class masterpieces. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is one of those. Afterwards, walk south toward the Quays of the Seine, or the banks of River Siene. The banks of River Siene have been listed by Unesco as a World Heritage Site since 1991. Go for a boat tour in the river enjoying the looks of the wonderful monuments. You can see the iconic the Eiffel Tower, the Conciergerie, the City-Hall, the Bibliothèque François Mitterand and the Louvre.
Gaet down on the river island of Ile de la Cité, and explore the iconic Cathedral Notre-Dame and Sainte Chapelle, famous for its dramatic stained-glass windows. In the evening, go for a closer look at the Eiffel Tower and enjoy the greatest view of the city you can find anywhere else in Europe.
Retire to your hotel room after having a nice dinner at one of the several restaurants in Paris.
Day 2: Paris: Start the second day with a visit to Place de la Concorde, one of the major public squares in Paris. It is located in the city’s eighth arrondissement, at the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées, a well visited boulevard. You can walk on it and reach Arc de Triomphe, a famous monument of Paris.
You can visit St. Louis, another island in River Sienna. Have lunch at one of the restaurant and go and visit Musée d’Orsay, a museum on the left bank of River Seine. Housed in the former railway station of Beaux-Arts, the museum has the world’s greatest collection of Impressionist paintings.
Later in the afternoon, go and visit Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, a Roman Catholic Church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. You can have a nice view of Paris in the setting sun.
Have a dinner at a café and retire to your room. Overnight in Paris.
Day 3: Paris: Paris has a lot of more things to offer. Start the third day with a visit to Place des Vosges, which is the oldest square in Paris, dating back to the 17th century. Set in the heart of the Marais, the square was built by Henri IV. Its orange buildings are quite idyllic and popular.
After this you can visit Centre Pompidou, locally known as Beaubourg. This is the largest modern art museum in Europe, located right in the middle of the city, and has famous works by Matisse, Picasso, Warhol, and others.
Make it a point to spend time in the Tuileries Garden, which is located right next to the Louvre. You may be tempted to visit Louvre once more. It is not a bad idea as Louvre needs a lot of time to be explored. However, in case you have time constrains, you can stick to the outside of the museum and feel happy observing the pyramid of Pei, several expositions in the Tuileries, lovely sculptures and the Orangerie.
Explore some of the multi cuisine restaurants of the city. There are restaurants which serve Latino food, Chinese cuisines, Basque cuisines and even Indian restaurants.
Retire to your room after a thoroughly exhaustive day. Overnight in Paris.
Day 4: Paris – Nice: Check out after an early breakfast and take a train to Nice, the largest city on the Côte d’Azur, or French Riviera. Nice is a perfect base to explore French Riviera for a few days. It will take a little more than 6 hours to reach Nice. Check into your hotel on arrival.
After settling into the hotel, go for a stroll through Vieille Ville, the old town. This is situated at the base of Castle Hill. It’s a quaint neighborhood with a strong Italian influence, leftover from when Nice was part of the Kingdom of Savoy. Enjoy a snack of socca, a round crepe made with chickpea flour that’s sold steaming hot by the street vendors.
Later, go for a walk on Promenade des Anglais, the wide boulevard along the waterfront. Enjoy a cup of coffee or a drink by the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. Enjoy a lovely dinner and retire to your hotel room. Overnight in Nice.
Day 5: Nice: Nice has a famous beach made more pebbles rather than sand. You can enjoy the beach of Nice. You can visit some museums and enjoy food at restaurants in Nice.
Cannes is hardly half an hour by train from Nice. Go and explore a bit of Cannes. If time permits, see if you can go and spend some time in Monaco too. Return to Nice. Overnight in Nice.
Day 6: Nice – Milan: Start from Nice for Milan, a train ride of five hours. Milan, a famous business city of Italy, is also home to historic buildings with some of the most magnificent gothic domes. These buildings are around, the hub of tourists in Milan. Famous historic buildings Piazza del Duomoinclude Milan Cathedral, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and others are in this area. Milan is also the home to Da Vinci’s L’Ultima Cena or Last Supper. A visit to see this is highly recommended though it is also true there is always a big queue to see it. Overnight in Milan.
Day 7: Milan – Venice: Start from Milan for Venice, a city in northeastern Italy. This is a train ride of 2.5 hours. Check into a hotel on arrival in Venice.
Venice is a group of 117 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. A part of the city is listed as a World Heritage Site, along with its lagoon. Venice is also the birthplace of the famous musician Antonio Vivaldi. One of the most beautiful and unusual cities on the planet, Venice is a place one must see.
Start with a visit to St. Mark’s Basilica, often seen as the living testimony of Venice’s links with Byzantium. See its treasures, of square feet of glittering mosaics swathing its interior, at Marciana Museum upstairs. Also visit the Pala d’Oro altarpiece. Quickly reach on to Doge’s Palace after this. This was Venice’s political and judicial hub. You can get a glimpse of the hidden offices, courtrooms, archives, and prisons from which the true Venetian Republic ruled for 900 years. See for yourself palazzo’s public rooms, smothered in paintings by Titian, Tintoretto, and other giants of the Venetian Renaissance.
Go on to visit Ca’ d’Oro, also referred to as Golden House. This is a gorgeous 15th century palatial home housing the Galleria Giorgio Franchetti museum. The core collection, expanded over the years, now includes sculptures, furniture, 16th-century Flemish tapestries, an impressive collection of bronzes (12th–16th century), and a painting gallery. Also see Torre dell’Orologio, a clock tower built between 1496 and 1506, a major attraction of Venice.
Cross over the Grand Canal on the Rialto Bridge, a Renaissance stone span lined by shops, and reach Rialto market. You can see countless cafes and neighborhood bars called bacari. You can order a selection of cicchetti—or, if you prefer, a panino (sandwich on a roll) or a toast (grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich).
Retire to your room after a nice evening dinner at one of the eateries. Overnight in Venice.
Day 8: Venice – Florence: No trip to Venice can be complete without going around one of the city’s picturesque waterways in an iconic gondola. Check out from your hotel after this and head to Florence, a train ride of nearly two hours.
Check into a hotel on arrival in Florence, Florence, Tuscany’s most famous city, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy. Florence is a cultural capital filled with several museums and cathedrals.
Start the tour of Florence with a visit to Piazza del Duomo in the heart of Florence. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore has a huge cupola made by Filippo Brunelleschi. From the top you can have a unique view of the whole city.
Visit Uffizi Gallery, one of Italy’s top art museums with its large collection of Renaissance works. There are paintings by famous artists such as Michelangelo and da Vinci. Connected to the Uffizi Gallery is Florence’s most celebrated landmark, the Ponte Vecchio or literally, the old bridge.
Next visit Piazza della Signoria, which was once the center of Florence’s political power for centuries. This beautiful open piazza is just in front of the Palazzo Vecchio and is surrounded by Loggia dei Lanzi (an amazing outdoor sculpture gallery). This has different statues like Perseus with the head of Medusa by Benvenuto Cellini and the Rape of the Sabine women. In the piazza itself admire Neptune’s Fountain by Ammannati and the equestrian statue of Cosimo I by Giambologna.
Finally, towards the evening head to Piazza Santo Spirito with its Church of Santo Spirito. The Church, built by Brunelleschi, stands tall over the square. It has many artistic treasures hidden inside it. There are several restaurants and cafes around the square. Feast on Tuscan dishes and enjoy wines and head to your hotel room afterwards. Overnight in Florence.
Day 9: Florence: Embark on a full day sightseeing tour of Florence. Start with a visit to Piazza Santa Maria Novella where you can admire the recently renovated square with its beautiful Santa Maria Novella Church. Later move to Piazza San Lorenzo and take a quick visit to the San Lorenzo Church. The Church, which has an unfinished facade, is where Medici family once worshipped. You should also visit Medici Chapels, final resting place for the Medici dynasty. You can see beautiful marble statues by Michelangelo in the New Sacristy.
Move on to Piazza Santa Croce where you should visit the impressive Santa Croce Church where many great Florentines and Tuscans have their final resting places, including Michelangelo and Galileo.
Visit Accademia Gallery which houses Michelangelo’s original marble statue called David. A copy of it is made in front of Palazzo Vecchio. Go on to visit Piazzale Michelangelo, a famous square in Florence offering a magnificent panoramic view of the city.
You can indulge in some shopping in Oltrarno district. Have dinner at a nice restaurant. Overnight in Florence.
Day 10: Florence -Pisa – Florence: Go for a day trip to Pisa. This is just an hour train ride from Florence. Start with the tour to Torre di Pisa, or Pisa Tower, the most famous monument of the city. The tower has beautiful colours and does lean quite noticeably. Pay to go in but can look, admire and walk right by it for free.
After enjoying the beauty of Pisa Tower, enjoy the architectural wonders of Piazza dei Miracoli, or the Cathedral Square. Visit the Cathedral, the Baptistery and the graveyard that offer an example of the artistic richness of the city.
Return to Florence. Overnight in Florence.
Day 11: Florence – Rome: Check out from Florence and take a train rides of around 90 minutes to reach Rome, capital of Italy. Transfer to hotel on arrival in Rome.
Embark on a city tour of Rome. Start with a visit to Basilica di San Pietro (St. Peter’s Basilica) and look at the size and the magnificence of the building. The cupola was designed by Michelangelo, and the artist also created the most famous Pietà in the world.
Go and visit Musei Vaticani (the Vatican Museums) and Michelangelo’s Cappella Sistina (Sistine Chapel), some of the richest museums in the world. Also Visit Castle Sant’Angelo, built initially in 135 as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian and his family. Visit Piazza del Popolo towards evening for a drink and some refreshment on a possible dinner. The square has an Egyptian obelisk from the 13th century BC and has a lovely Santa Maria del Popolo church too. Here you can observe tourists from all over the world.
Retire to your hotel room. Overnight in Rome.
Day 12: Rome: Start the day with a visit to Colosseum, built by emperors of the Flavian dynasty between 72 and 80 AD on the site already occupied by an artificial lake which was part of the huge Domus Aurea under Nero. A highly popular place among tourists, Colosseum name has been derived from the high colossal bronze statue of the Emperor Nero standing nearby.
Next visit Roman Forum, a rectangular forum surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome.
Afterwards, visit Capitoline Hill, one of the Seven Hills of Rome. This had been the citadel of the earliest Romans. The highlight of the Capitoline Hill as of now is the beautiful Piazza del Campidoglio. This was masterfully designed by Michelangelo. The square is bordered by three palazzos, all with facades designed by Michelangelo. These are Palazzo Senatorio, Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo.
Palazzo Senatorio, which serves as the seat of the Mayor of Rome, stands in the centre. The other two – Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Nuovo are home to the Capitoline Museum.
From the Piazza del Campidoglio you can walk straight to the Victor Emmanuel II Monument, a massive monument also known as Il Vittoriano. This was built in the early 20th century to honor Italy’s first king.
Near the Piazza del Campidoglio, at the site of the ancient Temple of Juno is the Santa Maria in Aracoeli. This is a church with a history that goes back to the 6th century.
Day 13: Rome – Onward destination: Check out from the hotel to catch flight for your onward destination. If time permits, you can go for last minute shopping or walk around the famous squares of Rome.