Campania, Florence, and Rome

Living a Classical Education

Visit the sacred sites of early Christianity and monasticism, walk through temples of the gods, marvel at Renaissance masterpieces, swim in the waters of ancient heroes, and let wonder be your guide as Italy becomes your classroom.

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Tour Summary

This nine-day journey will take you to some of the most important classical and Christian pilgrimage sites in Western civilization. Explore the origins of the Roman Republic and Empire, including the Colosseum, Forum, and Pantheon.  

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Day 1

Welcome to Italy

Your Alithea guide will meet you at the airport and bring you to the starting point of our journey, Florence. We’ll use our drive as an orientation to Alithea’s style of travel and a consideration of Pilgrimage. After checking into our hotel in Florence, a Renaissance Palazzo, we’ll head out for a pre-dinner stroll to discover the city of Dante, Brunesceschi, Michelangelo, and the artists whose vision of humanity helped shape our lives today. 

For dinner this evening, we’ll dine alla Fiorentina. We’ll celebrate our first night in Italy with a traditional Florentine meal in a family restaurant famous for it’s Florentine steak, gnocchi, and wine.

Travel time: ~3.5 hrs.

Day 2

Dante, Fra Angelico, and Medieval Florence

After a time of prayer and reflection our morning will continue as we walk through the square of Santa Annunciata and familiarize ourselves with the life of the citizens of the city in medieval times. Our walk with our local guide will walk us through the history of the city and the foundations of Renaissance. Our morning will include visits to the Baptistry with its marvelous mosaic ceiling and the Duomo Museum with its many treasures including the original 'Gates of Paradise' by Ghiberti. The zenith of our morning's activities will be to ascend to the top of Brunelleschi's dome where we will quite literally stand on top of one of the city's greatest achievements.

Our afternoon will continue with a visit to Dante’s house whose work, the Divine Comedy, leads us towards a beatific vision of God. Walking through some of the city's most important streets we'll slowly stroll towards San Miniato where we'll arrive just in time for vespers, the last service of the evening still chanted by the monks in their thousand-year-old church. This evening we’ll dine in the Ultra Arno, the quaint neighborhood of Florence that still feels like a small Italian town.

After breakfast in our hotel, a former Renaissance palazzo, we’ll take a stroll with our local guide to the monastery of Saint Mark's. Here we'll glimpse the prayerful life of a medieval monk as we contemplate the incredible frescoed scenes from the life of Christ as painted by the school of Fran Angelico in the cloistered cells of the former monastery.

Day 3

The Uffizi Gallery and Michelangelo's David

Our morning will begin with a visit to the spectacular Uffizi Gallery, which contains the greatest collection of Renaissance art held anywhere in the world. As our guide leads us through the museum, we’ll witness a transformation from the medieval and Byzantine style iconic paintings that once adorned churches to the humanist and Renaissance paintings of Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci.

After our morning museum visit, we'll break into small groups to continue to explore the city.

We'll regroup in the later part of the afternoon for one final stroll through the city as we strive to understand the conditions and vision of beauty that led to the Renaissance. Together, we’ll experience how the Christian religious life of the city inspired a fresh vision of the beautiful, the good, and the true. Our walk will conclude at the Accademia Gallery where we’ll see Michelangelo’s David and his spectacular ‘unfinished’ statues.

Day 4

High Speed Trains, Pompeii, and Southern Italian Hospitality

After breakfast this morning we’ll leave our Renaissance palazzo behind to take the high-speed train down to Naples. Our bus will meet us at the station where we’ll load up our luggage before enjoying a pizza lunch, alla Napolitano, Italy’s region most famous for the Italian dish that we’ve all come to love.

After lunch we’ll travel by bus for a visit to nearby Pompeii. This ancient Roman town was destroyed and subsequently saved by the eruption of the volcano Vesuvius in the first century A.D. Our local guide will walk us through this astonishingly preserved town, where we’ll feel like time-travelers as we explore the stone streets, wander through beautifully frescoed homes, walk through temples and theatres, and learn about the daily life of the citizens.

In the late afternoon we’ll arrive at our beautiful Agriturismo, a seventeenth-century villa, farm, and vineyard, where we’ll have just enough time for a quick swim in the pool before a family-style meal with food produced by our wonderful Italian hosts.

Travel time: ~4 hrs.

Day 5

Ancient Greek Temples, Mozzarella Making, and Italian Cooking Classes

After breakfast in our Agriturismo we’ll continue our classical pilgrimage with a guided visit of the ancient Greek city at Paestum. As we enter the high stone walls, we’ll see some of the best preserved Greek temples anywhere in the world. The temples to Poseidon, Hera, and Athena offer an insight into modes of worship that bestowed the highest honor on the divine in nature and humanity. Walking these ancient stone streets and meandering through the foundations of homes, theaters, and marketplaces, we can almost hear the voices of those who once filled this city named for the god Poseidon and the rustle of the waves in the nearby sea.

The second part of our morning will be dedicated to observing the Italian tradition of making buffalo mozzarella by hand. For today’s lunch we’ll taste some of that same mozzarella as we enjoy another slow-food farm to table experience.

This afternoon we’ll head for a relaxing swim in the nearby sea before regrouping for a cooking class alla Italiana. This evening we’ll eat what we cook and celebrate with local musicians as we enjoy our family style meal.

Travel time: ~45 mins.

Day 6

Saint Benedict and the Origins of Monasticism and the Vatican Museum

This morning we’ll depart early to drive to the mountains of Subiaco where Saint Benedict first dedicated himself to a life of prayer focused on the goodness of God. It was here, on the side of the cliff overlooking the beauty of the surrounding mountains, that the saint founded his first monastic community and developed the monastic rule that would not only guide Christians towards a life of work and prayer but also help to shape all of Western civilization.

Our morning of pilgrimage will follow in the steps of countless others, including Saint Francis who visited this pilgrimage site in the thirteenth century. We will begin our morning at the lower, more recent monastery of Saint Benedict, then we’ll walk up the stone path to the monastery of the Holy Cave, Sacro Speco, where Saint Benedict first lived and which houses a stunning cycle of frescoes dating back to the eighth century. Here we’ll take time for quiet reflection, to encounter the monks, and to consider Benedict’s fuga mundi, flight from the world, and his dedication to a life of prayer and work.

After lunch with the monks we’ll continue our journey to the Eternal City, Roma Eterna. We’ll check into our hotel, an elegant convent dating back to the 17th century, then head out for an evening stroll through the city before dinner and an evening visit to the Vatican Museum. 

Travel time: ~4.5 hrs.

Day 7

Early Christianity, Rome’s oldest Churches, and uncovering the secret treasures of Rome

After breakfast this morning, we’ll head over to Saint Peter’s to pray and reflect in the church built over the place Saint Peter was crucified. This cornerstone of the Catholic faith will lead us upward and inward we see Michelangelo’s pieta and the magnificent dome over the papal altar. This morning we will divide into two groups and as one is guided through the Basilica of Saint Peter with our local guide the other will descend through the excavated layers to the tomb of saint Peter, providing a continuous thread between our own life of prayer and the worship of early Christians and martyrs persecuted for their faith. After our visit to Saint Peter's and the Scavi we will break for lunch. Our afternoon will bring us with our local guide to some of the greatest surviving monuments in the city. Together we'll see the Pantheon and explore the underground history of the waters that have been flowing into the city for the last two millennia.

This evening we’ll raise our glasses in toasts, reflections, and the fellowship of our friends as we enjoy a final feast together.

Day 8

The Eternal City

The eternal city is a place of enchantment and wonder, where every corner reveals another layer, every ancient stone points to a fragment of time, and the overwhelming history and beauty of the city is an experience of civilization, humanity, and religion that for millennia have served as the foundation of our own.

This morning, after breakfast, we will begin our visit to this magical city with a visit to San Clemente. This spectacular basilica from the eleventh century is an image of Christian pilgrimage and the many layers of Rome. It was built above an early fourth century church, which was built above a Roman villa, temple, and ancient city streets. This morning, beginning at street level, we’ll descend through each of those now excavated underground layers and seemingly travel back in time more than two-thousand years.

After our visit to San Clemente, our local guide will bring us through the Roman Colosseum, Forum, and Capitoline hill for an introduction to the temples, games, and civic life of ancient Rome. We’ll be free throughout the later part of the afternoon to explore the city in small groups before we regroup to share our adventures over a quintessential dinner alla Romana at a family-run restaurant and then conclude our day with an evening stroll where we will see the Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, and Hadrian’s Temple. La Dolce Vita.

Day 9

Say not fare well but fare forward

Those interested will wake up early this morning for a photographic stroll through the city as we watch the sun rise over the forum, Colosseum, and Pantheon. After an early breakfast in our hotel we’ll say farewell to the Eternal City and head to the airport for a final goodbye and to catch our flight home.

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Day 15

What's Included

All breakfasts, all lunches, and all dinners.
Bus and high-speed train transportation between activities, sites, and cities
9 nights in family-run boutique style hotels.
Entrances and local guides to more than 15 different sites
Your friendly Alithea tour manager for the duration of the tour.
A pre-tour consultation with an Alithea expert.

Tour Tips

Pack Light

Alithea hotels are boutique, family-run and centrally located in the historic centers where the ancient roads are too small for buses. That often means needing to walk between our bus and hotels and on occasion between our hotel and train station. Between destinations we will be required to carry our own luggage which may include significant stairs and no elevator. We encourage our travelers to take a simple carry-on size bag with a small backpack for outings.

Come Prepared

Alithea tours are outrageously fun. Come prepared to live in the moment. We will walk, talk, celebrate, dine, and make beautiful discoveries together. This is a physically strenuous high energy trip designed for the immense energy and interest of students. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns before booking.

Bus and Travel Time

On our Italian pilgrimage, we will take the bus and high-speed train in order to arrive at the spectacular destinations we’ll be visiting. We’ll not only use this time to relax and enjoy the view but also to prepare with our Alithea guide for the sites we’ll visit next.
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For further questions don't hesitate to reach out to us directly.
Are flights included in the tour price?

Roundtrip flights (USA -Istanbul) are not included in the tour price. Flights during the tour (Istanbul-Cappadocia, Cappadocia-Izmir, Izmir-Istanbul) are included, however, and will be booked by Alithea Travel.

When should I buy my tickets and for what dates?

This tour is confirmed and travelers should purchase flight tickets upon making their deposit..

We recommend leaving the USA on Thursday, June 15th in order to arrive in Turkey on June 16th, but you may wish to arrive earlier in order to adjust to the time change. Since the tour will end on Friday, June 23rd, you should book your departure flight for this day unless you wish to extend your stay in Istanbul.

Is a visa required to enter Turkey?

The Republic of Turkey requires foreigners to apply for an e-visa before entering the country. The application is very simple and takes about 5 minutes to complete. The cost for US citizens is $50, and after submitting your details the visa will be sent electronically within 24 hours. It is recommended to apply for the visa 2-4 weeks before your departure. We like to stay on top of these details, so we'll send you a reminder with a link to the Turkish e-visa website a month before the tour start date.

Will my deposit be refunded if the tour doesn't fill up?

All deposits are fully refundable within 30 days or in the event that the tour is postponed. Travelers will also be given first-choice priority to transfer unused credit to future adventures with @withsunshinesol.

Will Sunshine be guiding the tour or just traveling with the group?

Sunshine will be an active participant throughout the tour, but will allow the local experts to handle the guiding. She will, of course, document and film most activities, hikes, and hotels.

I'm traveling alone, can I choose to share a room with another traveler to avoid the single supplement?

Sharing a room with a travel partner can help lower the accommodation costs. If you wish to share a room with a fellow (same-sex) traveler, we can place you on a list with like-minded solo travelers. We cannot guarantee matching each person with a roommate, but we will do our best. Single occupancy rooms will always incur the single supplement fee.

I'm traveling with one friend, but we will pay our deposits separately. Can we still travel together and avoid the single supplement fee?

Sure thing. Sign up and send us a note. We'll make sure you room together.

Will there be a lot of free time for independent exploration?

This is an action-packed itinerary that visits many of the highlights of Turkey in just one week. Whenever possible your guide will provide time to relax and enjoy a glass or wine or go for a walk with your traveling friends.

What additional expenses should I budget for this trip?

All activities are included in the cost of the trip except for the Turkish bath and the hot-air balloon. You can expect the Turkish bath to run about $50 and the hot air balloon approximately $325. All breakfasts and six lunches or dinners are also included. We recommend bringing spending money for souvenirs. The e-visa (see above) also has a cost of $50.

Will Sancho be there?

It pains us to say that Sancho the doggo has to stay in the USA for this trip. Sunshine decided that it would be logistically impossible to take him on this particular journey––not to mention all of the stress he would face while traveling on a plane.

Reserve Your Place

Campania, Florence, and Rome

Living a Classical Education

A $500 deposit is required to reserve your spot. All deposits and discounts (if applicable) will be applied to the total tour price. Deposits are refundable within 30 days of payment.

*Read our refund policy here