Arrive at any time. 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 Rome whizzing past on Vespas 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's not too much of a hike to Piazza Navona. Known for the Baroque buildings surrounding the square, and its beautiful central fountain, it's 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’ve had enough of secular Rome, head to the smallest country in the world, the Vatican City. Located within the city of 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 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 seeing all of them is definitely not possible in one day, so do a little research before visiting and decide what you really want to see. There are countless pieces of art, including statues, busts, 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 300 figures from the Book of Genesis, the most well-known being “The Creation of Adam,” showing God touching the finger of Adam. “The Last Judgment” on the west wall depicts a scene from the Book of Revelations. If you are arriving early and wish to see the Vatican Museums, t’s a good idea to book a ticket to the Vatican online from home as waiting until you arrive may be too late!
Enjoy an orientation walk around Rome with your CEO, then transfer by train and bus to San Gimignano. Walk to your home for the week, which is located just outside the beautiful medieval hill town of San Gimignano. The property owner Ugo is a San Gimignano native and is a fountain of information about the area and lives in one of the apartments of his remodeled medieval house. Enjoy an orientation walk around the town's medieval walls with your CEO, then relax on one of the house's patios or start exploring the walled city on your own.
Explore fascinating San Gimignano with its many museums, narrow medieval streets and looming towers, or shop 'til you drop in stores featuring handmade Italian leather goods and regional gastronomical delights such as olive oil and wine. Explore the Tuscan countryside by foot, scooter, rental car or tour. There's loads to see, taste and explore from castles to Chianti and Brunello vineyards to larger towns and cities like Siena and Florence. And the best part of Local Living? You don't have to pack your things and move every day! The Via Francigena, a historical path in use approximately 1000 years ago for those making pilgrimage between Cantebury, England and Rome, runs very close to the Local Living house and is great for those who wish to explore the Tuscan countryside by foot. Pack a picnic and set off by foot. San Gimignano's weekly market is on Thursday mornings, but other nearby towns have markets between Tuesday and Saturday. Stop by, buy fresh produce directly from local farmers, and cook up a Tuscan feast. On Day 3, enjoy a day trip to Siena including an orientation walk by your CEO to point out some interesting areas of town. Sleep in or discover the region on your own on the morning of Day 4 before an included half-day cooking class in the afternoon. Savour your self-made regional delights over dinner. On Day 5, visit the San Gimignano market and buy some picnic ingredients to help power you through a walk through the Tuscan countryside to Colle Val d'Elsa, an ancient Tuscan town. While the town is interesting to check out, it's all about the journey consisting of a relatively easy 4-hour ridge walk. Picnic along the way on your market delights. In the evening, enjoy a wine tasting of some local wines before sitting down to a home-cooked dinner with Ugo. Day 6, enjoy a day trip to Florence with plenty of free time to check out local museums and plazas. While the group will travel together to Florence, the return time is flexible and can vary by each person's touristing stamina. The return ticket is provided, but you decide when to leave. Opt to go out for a final group dinner back in San Gimignano or cook together at the apartments.
Morning transfer by bus and train to Rome. Depart any time after 2pm from the Rome train station (Termini).