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Explore a part of Italy little-known by non-Italians. Located at the bottom of the Italian peninsula on the Mediterranean coast, this region was once a part of Magna Graecia, or Greater Greece, and over the centuries has been fought over by the Goths, Byzantines, Spanish and many others. Today, centuries-old vineyards, olive groves, and fields of sage and rosemary cover the hills as flocks of sheep and goats scatter across the landscape. But the signs of these earlier diverse cultures remain in a wealth of archeological treasures.
Embark on a small-group excursion (no more than 12 guests per departure), led by an English-speaking tour guide who will give you the inside scoop on the region’s best-kept secrets. Visit the 800-year-old castle of Roccadaspide and the abandoned 19th century village of Roscigno Vecchia, now an open-air museum; view the magnificent 18th century Royal Palace of the King of Naples in Caserta; and in Paestum, tour one of the best-preserved collections of Greek temples anywhere. Take a guided tour of the ancient city of Pompeii and a full-day excursion to the Cilento Coast, gateway to Italy’s second largest national park and another UNESCO World Heritage site.
You’ll also have ample opportunity to experience the region’s cuisine. Sample cheese at a Buffalo mozzarella factory, taste local specialties in the mountain village of Castelcivita, feast on a six-course Italian meal and more. Savor the slow pace of life as you browse quaint shops or sip wine against a backdrop of bucolic hillsides and the deep blue sea. Truly a leisurely and enjoyable celebration of all things Italian!
• 7 nights accommodations: 6 nights at the Villa La Ginestra in Castel San Lorenzo and 1 night at a 3-star hotel in Ostia
• Daily breakfast, 4 lunches and 6 dinners; lunch and dinner include liquor, wine and soft drinks
• Tour transportation by private motor coach plus English-speaking escort and guide
• Excursions to 5 UNESCO World Heritage sites including the ancient city of Pompeii; the 18th century Royal Palace of the King in Naples in Caserta; the Carthusian abbey of Padula; the Greek ruins and archeological sites of Pasteum; and the scenic Cilento Coast
• Visits to the medieval castle of Roccadaspide and the open-air museum of Roscigno Vecchia
• Ample opportunities to experience the region’s cuisine with tastings and demonstrations
• All entrance fees per itinerary plus gratuities for baggage handling and bellmen
Day 1 - Arrive in Rome / Caserta / Castel San Lorenzo
Arrive at Rome’s Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport (FCO) and board your private motor coach for the journey south to the Villa La Ginestra in Castel San Lorenzo. Along the way, spend some time at the 18th century Royal Palace of the King of Naples in Caserta (a UNESCO World Heritage site). Here you’ll tour the largest palace and gardens erected in the eighteenth century, once owned by one of the most powerful families in Europe. Continue on to the villa where the remainder of the day is yours to relax or check out the local artisans and their goods before rejoining your party for a Welcome Dinner.
Accommodation: Villa La Ginestra - 6 nights
Day 2 - Roccadaspide
Step back in time and experience how Italians from an earlier era really lived. The day’s first stop is the medieval castle of Roccadaspide. Over 800 years old, the castle is one of the best preserved in the region and the castle’s owner will personally take you on a tour. As it is Sunday, you’ll enjoy a traditional six-course family dinner at midday. The afternoon offers an opportunity to walk off your lunch at Roscigno Vecchia, an abandoned 19th century village that is now an open-air museum. Afterward, return to the villa to rest and enjoy cocktails and snacks before dinner.
Day 3 - Pompeii
After breakfast, journey north to the ancient city of Pompeii. Frozen in time by the eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii is one of the few sites where an ancient city has been preserved in exact detail - everything from jars and tables to paintings and people were frozen in time over 1,900 years ago. Enjoy a guided tour of this UNESCO World Heritage site, including lunch in the city ruins before returning to the villa.
Day 4- Padula
Spend the day at the Monastery of Padula, a UNESCO World Heritage site that offers insights into both Italy’s religious and crusader past. Off the beaten path, this 16th century monastery is prized for its architectural splendor and rich collection of artistic treasures. After a tour and free time in the town of Padula, you’ll return to the villa for dinner.
Day 5 - Cilento Coast
After breakfast we’ll stop at an organic Buffalo mozzarella factory to see the Buffalo, the cheese-making process, and enjoy a cheese and yogurt tasting. Then, we’ll head west to the Cilento Coast where the sea towns hug the cliffs, offering spectacular views. Here, you’ll have free time to shop and get a bite to eat before heading north to Paestum where you’ll tour what is described as one of the best-preserved collections of Greek temples in the Mediterranean world. We’ll then return to the villa for dinner and an evening of live, local music.
Day 6 - Castelcivita
Enjoy a relaxing morning in the mountain village of Castelcivita. After lunch in a local restaurant, enjoy an afternoon of Italian flavors, stopping in to see and taste some of the local specialties, before ending the day at an Italian candy factory.
Day 7 - Castel San Lorenzo / Rome
Bid arrivederci to the Villa La Ginestra and journey north to Rome. Along the way, spend the day at Vetri Sul Mare, a small fishing town where we will have a ceramic-making demonstration in one of the most important factories on the Amalfi Coast. After lunch, continue north to our hotel in the seaside town of Ostia, the ancient port for the city of Rome.
Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Ostia - 1 night
Day 8 - Depart Rome
After breakfast at the hotel, make your way to the airport (FCO - about 20 minutes away) for your return flight home.
Limitations & Restrictions
*Prices are per person based on double occupancy, are subject to availability at time of booking, and may change without notice. Single supplement may apply. Except for packages including air transportation, unless stated otherwise, airfare, taxes and government fees are not included. Offers valid for new bookings only. Member Benefits are per person and apply to first and second traveler only. Member Benefits are available only with advertised fare and are subject to change without notice. Your travel arrangements may be modified or canceled subject to the travel providers’ policies. Blackout dates and other restrictions may apply. We make every effort for accuracy at time of printing but reserve the right to correct errors. AAA Travel strongly recommends the purchase of trip protection insurance. Except for packages including air transportation, fares may not reflect additional fuel supplement or port charges and vary by provider.
CST #1003968-80. Registration as seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California.