Tour Italy and Don’t Just See Art – Live It

In Italy, you don't just see art... you're surrounded by it. Find out the best places to discover Italy's enchantment for yourself!

There’s a reason, dear traveller, why Virgin Vacations calls one of its most popular escorted tour packages ‘Enchanting Italy’. Actually, make that bundles of reasons. Italy is pure magic. When you tour Italy, you are stepping right into the vast collections of the world’s largest art museum, and then journeying through one masterpiece after another.

Just picture it… you’re wandering alongside the Grand Canal, ambling to the toll of old Venetian church bells and enjoying the complete absence of car engines, and you find it’s possible to believe the tantalising proposition that Shakespeare himself made this self-same pilgrimage before penning Othello and The Merchant of Venice.

Grand Canal in Venice Italy

Art imitates Italy.

Turn a corner in Rome and there before you, at one end of a lively piazza, is a sight to cast a spell upon even seasoned tourists – the Pantheon, one of the most famous buildings of the ancient world. As you tour Italy, you have to get used to feeling astonished a hundred times a day, because there are so many wonders concentrated into just one country… or region… or city.

The Pantheon looms large even in monument-heavy Rome.

The Pantheon looms large even in monument-heavy Rome.

In Florence enter another exquisite square in front of the city’s Old Palace and all of a sudden, as if by magic, you’re in the middle of an open-air art museum. The entire old city of Florence could be one sprawling museum. Nowhere is that more evident than its showpiece, the Duomo. Beneath Brunelleschi’s iconic red dome, the extraordinary styling of the cathedral’s exterior opens onto a virtual gallery within, with stunning mosaics on the floors and massive frescoes of The Last Judgement, painted in 1579. In fact, many of Florence’s most stunning works of art are housed in architecture that surely deserves the same designation.

Art housing art in Florence, Italy. Photo: Jonathan Korner on Unsplash

Art housing art in Florence, Italy. Photo: Jonathan Korner on Unsplash

Then there are the lesser-sung artworks, still masterpieces in their own right. Just across the lagoon from Venice, cruise down canals beneath jewel-toned buildings. Murano is known as the home of delicate glassware, not massive murals and grand palaces, but it’s no less a living museum of sensational beauty. Italy: let’s just say it’s a mixed-media art project.

The jewel-toned low-rises of Murano

The jewel-toned low-rises of Murano provide a colorful counterpoint to Venetian grandeur.

And of course there’s Tuscany, which is art by both Earth and humanity. Dotting the rolling hills of Tuscany, vineyards and medieval villages doze in the sun. The historic cities and towns of Tuscany include big names like Pisa and Siena, along with lesser-known beauties like Lucca and San Gimignano. The red-tiled roofs and warm golden towers are works of art in their own right. Their setting amidst the foothills of the Apennine Mountains, bursting with olive groves and vineyards, turns this entire region into a breathtaking mural of color and light.

Towns like San Gimignano doze under the golden sun of Tuscany.

Towns like San Gimignano doze under the golden sun of Tuscany.

Feeling a tiny bit beguiled yet? Venice, Rome and Florence are the cornerstones of our Enchanting Italy itineraries, which let you tour Italy and discover the nation’s most treasured gems according to your interests, budget and preferred length of stay. Starting at 8 days, with these iconic cities plus visits to Murano, Assisi and Pisa, Enchanting Italy’s itinerary focuses on the rich beauty Italy’s artists have bequeathed to the world. Adding to the sense of place in each destination are thematic, first-class hotels, like the Hotel Villa Mabapa in Venice Lido, or the palatial Grand Hotel Lido in Venice.

Longer versions of Enchanting Italy include the 12 day itinerary with Sorrento, Naples, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast. This rugged stretch of coastline is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful drives in the world — talk about a living masterpiece!

Savor a drive up the Amalfi Coast, with beautiful Positano.

Savor a drive up the Amalfi Coast, with beautiful Positano.

All of the Enchanting Italy packages come with the service of an English-speaking tour manager, plus local guides, and all have free time built-in so you also explore on your own terms.  What’s more, you can book optional tours before you travel – a gondola ride in Venice, for instance, or visits to Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, or even an unforgettable day-trip to the island of Capri.

Prefer to make your own way? Tour Italy with vacation packages including hotels and pre-booked rail between cities, or rent a car to drive through Tuscany with our Fly & Drive vacation packages.