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  • The small group
    travel experience

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What People Are Saying About Us

I have come to expect excellence from Odysseys Unlimited and have never been disappointed.

Michael E. Leahy
Oak Lawn, IL

We have been to many, many places all over the world, with many different tour companies.  None of them compare to the Odysseys Unlimited small group experience.

Nancy & William Sondervan
Sherrills Ford, NC

The small group is wonderful and the quality of tour directors is exceptional.

Bill Jones
Vancouver, WA

All that was advertised was delivered. Consider this tour to be a real value as to sites visited, itinerary, hotels, and travel between sites.

Susan & Paul Krupp
Georgetown, TX

Odysseys does everything with style, but without pretension. Beautiful meals and hotels. Excellent guides.

Barbara Schoetzau
New York, NY

Very early in the tour we saw we got much more for our dollar than anything we could have put together ourselves. The value exceeded our expectations.

Tara Malmberg
Quitman, TX

Good value for $ — accommodations, food, guide, itinerary, and [small] size of group. Have traveled with other tour groups ... and like you best.

Jean Hall
Prairie Village, KS

We like the model – small groups, excellent tour directors, solid hotels, good mix of group/independent activities.

Roger Soder
Seattle, WA

The combination of excellent hotels with a small group is the way I like to travel. I would highly recommend Odysseys to everyone I know.

Patricia Joyce
Peoria, AZ

We love the small group experience.

Dave & Alice Wilson
Williamstown, MA

Odysseys is the best company we have traveled with. You have first-rate tours at affordable prices, with great itineraries, excellent guides, and outstanding accommodations.

Jane & Ronald Decker
Chicago, IL

Odysseys tours are just right for us: great value, nice group size, complete trips, sufficient free time.

Laurin & Phyllis LeTart
Shepherdstown, WV

This trip far exceeded our expectations: the small group size, the quality of the tour director (the best we’ve ever had), the ability to have dinners on our own, the lower cost without a significant reduction in the quality of the accommodations.

Barry & Bobbi Rosner
Somerset, NJ

I thought I would not like traveling in a group but I was wrong! [Our tour director] was so good at making the group seem as one that it turned out to be the best part of the trip.

Donna Stevenson
Dublin, OH

It was the best value in travel we’ve ever had. It was a wonderful experience.

Trish Merrill & Mac White
Austin, TX

This was my 7th trip with Odysseys and they keep getting better and better.

Merle Frank
Miami, FL

Love the small group format and the ease of traveling with arrangements made for us.

Ken & Carolyn Helm
Newburgh, IN

Tour exceeded my expectations having never taken a group tour. An excellent experience – can’t wait for my next one!

Ronni Goldberg
New York, NY

Absolutely the best bang for the buck – organization, quality, consistency.

Harvey Wine
Dallas, TX

I like the small size of Odysseys tours. [You] have excellent Tour Directors, great itineraries and spend more time in areas than some of the other tour companies.

Lynn Bafaloukos
Glendale, AZ

Because of the group size and outstanding guides, you make travel easy for us!

Sharon Irwin & John Akamatsu
Kent, OH
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Six-time honoree Travel + Leisure's World's Best Tour Operators awards

Explore the Region

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Small Group Tour Highlights
  • Relaxing three-night stay on Lake Maggiore
  • Lake region touring, including medieval Orta San Giulio and Stresa
  • Cruise to Isola Bella, with palace and gardens tour
  • Full-day Cinque Terre excursion featuring Vernazza
  • Visit to medieval Lucca
  • Beautiful Florence
  • Winery visit and tasting
  • Majestic Dolomites
  • Venice sightseeing
  • Outstanding small group accommodations
Day-by-Day Trip Itinerary

Day 1: Depart U.S. for Milan, Italy

Day 2: Arrive Milan/Stresa After arriving in Milan, we drive to the international resort of Stresa on lovely Lake Maggiore, straddling the border be­­­tween Italy and Switzerland. This afternoon is at leisure before tonight’s welcome dinner. D

Day 3: Stresa We embark this morning on a cruise to Isola Bella, the beautiful Borromean island in the middle of Lake Maggiore. Fully occupied by 17th-century Palazzo Borromeo and its extravagantly landscaped gardens, the island offers lovely views of the lake and surrounding mountains. We take a guided tour of the palazzo, with its priceless works of fine art, and stroll through the flower-decked gardens then enjoy lunch together on the nearby Isola dei Pescatori. B,L

Day 4: Stresa/Orta San Giulio This morning we visit the lovely lakeside town of Orta San Giulio – dubbed “God’s watercolor” by Italian writer Piero Chiara – with its cobblestoned streets, 16th-century town hall, and medieval houses flanking the inviting town square. After lunch on our own here, we return to our hotel for an afternoon at leisure. B

Day 5: Stresa/Barolo/Santa Margherita We leave the Piedmont region today, bound for Santa Margherita and the Cinque Terre. En route, we stop in the village of Barolo for lunch and to sample Barolo, the “king of wines,” at Marchesi di Barolo, Italy’s premier vintner of its greatest wine. We continue on to the Italian Riviera resort town of Santa Margherita, with its palm-lined esplanade overlooking the harbor. Tonight we enjoy dinner together at our hotel. B,L,D

Day 6: Santa Margherita/Portofino This morning we travel by boat to the renowned – and beautiful – resort town of Portofino, a former fishing village where palatial yachts now crowd the port and the good life is celebrated. We have free time to wander the colorful streets and visit the chic boutiques and galleries here before we return to our hotel mid-day. B

Day 7: Santa Margherita/Cinque Terre/Portovenere We depart this morning by train for the hour-long trip to the Cinque Terre (literally, “Five Lands”), the five cliff-clinging villages seemingly carved from the mountains. Originally medieval fishing villages, the Cinque Terre were inaccessible by land for centuries; even today, no road connects all five. We stop in scenic Vernazza then board a boat for a comfortable cruise along the rugged coastline to visit another village of the Cinque Terre. From here we cruise to the port town of Portovenere, with its cluster of colorful column-shaped houses. After a brief walking tour of the Old Town, we have time to explore and enjoy lunch on our own. We dine together tonight at our hotel. B,D   

Day 8: Santa Margherita/Lucca/Florence Moving on today, we travel south to beloved Tuscany, stopping first in the atmospheric medieval town of Lucca. We take a walking tour of this incredibly well-preserved gem, whose city walls and ramparts remain intact and a popular attraction. After time for lunch on our own, we continue on to our lodgings in the heart of Florence. B,D

Day 9: Florence We spend today touring and exploring wondrous Florence, a living monu­ment to the Renaissance and crown jewel of Tuscany. Our day includes a guided morning walking tour followed by free time. Together we visit the Galleria dell’Accademia to view Michelangelo’s sublime David and his pieces for the papal tombs; and the Duomo, with its stupendous dome by Brunelleschi. Then we’re free to stroll the 14th-century Ponte Vecchio, with its many jewelry shops; visit renowned museums and churches; shop for leather goods and artful Florentine paper; and to enjoy lunch and dinner on our own at a typical Florentine restaurant. B

Day 10: Florence/Siena Today we visit the walled city of Siena, whose historic center is a UNESCO site and whose ochre-colored buildings and ancient ramparts vividly evoke its medieval past. Fan-shaped Piazza del Campo is one of Europe’s greatest public squares; its Duomo, with pillars of black and white marble, is one of Italy’s finest, with masterpieces by Donatello and Michelangelo. Following a guided walking tour that includes an inside visit to the Duomo, we have free time to explore on our own. We return to Florence mid-afternoon, with the remainder of the day at leisure. B

Day 11: Florence/Verona/Bolzano As we travel north today, we stop in storied Verona, renowned as the setting of several Shakespeare plays, including, of course, Romeo and Juliet. A UNESCO site, Verona boasts well-preserved monuments from antiquity, including a 1st-century Roman amphitheater still in use today, as we see on our guided walking tour. After time for lunch and to explore on our own here, we continue our journey to the South Tyrol, Italy’s German-accented northern reaches bordering Austria and Switzerland. We’re bound for the regional capital of Bolzano, gateway to the Dolomites in the Italian Alps. Late afternoon we reach our hotel, where we dine together tonight. B,D

Day 12: Bolzano Set in a basin surrounded by rounded forest-green hills, Bolzano boasts an enviable quality of life – and truly spectacular scenery. We take a cable car to a spot for views of the 18-peak Dolomites, their vertical walls and sheer cliffs presenting a magnificent backdrop to the surrounding woodlands, valleys, and pastures. Then we walk through Bolzano’s colorful historic center and visit the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, well known for housing the mummified corpse of Ötzi the Iceman, dating to 3300 BCE. This afternoon is at leisure to enjoy this surprisingly cosmopolitan city as we wish; tonight we dine at a local restaurant. B,D

Day 13: Bolzano/Venice En route to Venice today, we travel through the Dolomites themselves, enjoying jaw-dropping scenery at every turn. When we reach Venice this afternoon, we are free to begin savoring this wondrous city as we wish and enjoy dinner on our own. B,L

Day 14: Venice This morning we take a guided walk through vast St. Mark’s Square. The afternoon is free for independent exploration; tonight we bid “arrivederci” to Italy and to our ­fellow travelers at a farewell dinner. B,D

Day 15: Depart for U.S. We depart early this morning for our connecting flights to the U.S. B

Please note: This trip involves considerable walking up hills or stairs, and on uneven or cobblestone streets. In addition, Italy does not allow buses to enter many historic city centers, meaning that we will be walking to and from our tour bus, which must park in designated areas. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy this trip to the fullest. 

B = Breakfast included L = Lunch included D = Dinner included

Tour Price Includes
  • Round-trip air transportation from listed cities
  • 13 nights’ accommodations in Superior First Class and First Class hotels
  • 23 meals: 13 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 7 dinners
  • Extensive sightseeing as described, including all ­entrance fees
  • Services of an Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director
  • Private motorcoach transportation throughout your trip
  • Luggage handling for one bag per person
  • Gratuities for local guides, dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers
  • $100 frequent traveler credit towards your next ­Odysseys Unlimited tour ($200 after 3 tours; $300 after 10 tours)
Tour Dates & Prices

2020 Tour Dates & Prices
including international airfare and all taxes, surcharges, and fees

Oct 10
Oct 14*+
Apr 15+
Apr 18
Apr 25
May 6+
May 9
Sep 30+
May 20
May 27+
Jun 3
Aug 29
Sep 2+, 9+
Sep 16+
Sep 19
New York$4,874$4,974$5,174$5,274
Boston, Phil$5,074$5,174$5,374$5,474
Atlanta, Charlotte,
Chi, Cinc, Cleve,
Detroit, Mia, Orl,
Tampa, Wash, DC
$5,174$5,274$5,474$5,574
Dallas, Den, Hou,
Los Ang, Minn,
Phoe, Port (OR),
San Fran, Seattle
$5,274$5,374$5,574$5,674

Please call if your city is not listed or for land only prices.

Prices are per person based on double occu­pancy and include airline taxes, surcharges, and fees of $479, which are subject to change until final payment is made.

Single travelers please add $1,395. Your $375 deposit is fully refundable up to 95 days prior to departure. All 2020 tour prices above (excluding airline taxes, surcharges, and fees) are guaranteed.

Accommodations: Days 5-7: *Excelsior Palace (Rapallo); Days 8-10: +Grand Adriatico (Florence)

Airline upgrades (subject to availability) on round-trip Trans-Atlantic flight: Business Class – $3,995 per person; Premium Economy – $1,395 per person

A visa is not required for this tour.

Accommodations
    La Palma Hotel, Stresa / Days 2-4 / First Class

    Situated on the shores of Lake Maggiore, the 240-guest La Palma Hotel is surrounded by lovely Italian gardens. It features a garden-view restaurant, bar, lounges, Internet access, laundry and dry cleaning services, fitness room with panoramic views, solarium, Jacuzzi, sauna, and heated lakeside swimming pool with a view of the Borromean islands. Air-conditioned guest rooms are fully equipped with private bath with hair dryer, mini-bar, in-room safe, balcony, TV, and phone.

    Hotel Metropole, Santa Margherita / Days 5-7 / First Class

    An intimate family-owned and operated 58-room hotel located just a short walk from the bay and a private beach, the Metropole features a restaurant, bar, Internet access, laundry and dry cleaning services, fitness center with massage services and Turkish bath, and outdoor pool. Each air-conditioned room has a private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, TV, and phone. Please note that guest accommodations are provided in two separate buildings on the property, both of which are in close proximity to each other.

    Hotel Rivoli Boutique, Florence / Days 8-10 / First Class

    Located in the heart of Florence, the Hotel Rivoli Boutique is set inside a restored 14th-century Franciscan convent, and features original architectural details dating back over 500 years.  Amenities of this boutique hotel include a restaurant and bar, complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, and an internal garden patio featuring a hot tub.  Every air-conditioned guest room has been skillfully restored and each offers unique touches, while all include private bath with hair dryer, classic Tuscan-style furniture, in-room safe, mini-bar, TV, and phone.  Please note that due to the unique nature of this hotel, room size and décor will vary.

    Hotel Scala Stiegl, Bolzano / Days 11-12 / First Class

    This Liberty-style hotel in an updated 1898 coach station sits a short walk from the Bolzano train station and the South Tirol Museum of Archaeology.  This hotel boasts a restaurant and bar, sun terrace, garden, fitness center, and sauna, and offers complimentary Wi-Fi internet access and laundry service.  All 65 air conditioned guest rooms feature a private bath with hair dryer, TV, in-room safe, and phone.

    Palazzo Veneziano, Venice / Days 13-14, Extension / Superior First Class

    Recently opened in Spring 2017, the Palazzo Veneziano sits in the trendy Venice neighborhood of Zattere.  It overlooks the Giudecca Canal, the widest promenade in Venice with numerous bars and restaurants.   Hotel amenities include a bar, library, internal courtyards, and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access.  Each of the 84 guest rooms have Venetian furnishings, private bath with hair dryer, mini-bar, in-room safe, TV, and phone.

Ratings are based on the Hotel & Travel Index, the travel industry standard reference.
Post-Tour Extension

Venice – On Your Own

3 days/2 nights for $435 total price
Single Supplement: $325

End your journey with a longer stay in this most beautiful of cities.

 

Your Tour Price Includes
  • 2 nights’ accommodations at Palazzo Veneziano (Superior First Class)
  • 2 meals: 2 breakfasts
  • Transfer to airport

Extension not available on May 6 & 9 departures

Please see the Accommodations tab for hotel information.

Tour Directors
Enrica Angeli

“She went beyond all of our expectations as to what a tour director is expected to do. She was kind, caring, friendly, upbeat, flexible, extremely knowledgeable … You have an absolute jewel in Enrica!”
Hollis Hill
Awendaw, SC

Mariangela Carozzi

“Mari was perhaps the best tour director we have had.  She was very caring, thoughtful, efficient and fun to be with.  She truly enhanced our tour experience.”
Joseph and Elaine Schwartz
Lake Worth, FL

Pier Luigi Castagnetti

“Luigi was great. He was very informative, friendly. He has the ability to make everyone feel special. Very accommodating. A real jewel.”
Michael & Nancy Catullo
Wilmington, NC

Osciri Chageg

Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director

Elizabeth Cirio

“Elizabeth was beyond exceptional in all areas. Her attention to detail and individual needs was superb; her knowledge of the history, etc. of the areas outstanding; and her management of the group truly admirable. I can’t find enough words to describe her stellar work!”
Gale Wood & David Dewsnap
Havertown, PA

Valentina Dell’Orto

“Valentina is smart, personable, fun, funny, and very informative…She’s the best.”
Carole Cholasta
Doral, FL

Anna Gandolfi

“Anna goes above and beyond to make sure the tour runs smoothly. Her knowledge and personality shine …”
Joe & Lynn Geiger
Saratoga Springs, NY

Katia Girotto

“Katia was – hands down – the best tour director we have ever had! Her enthusiasm was infectious. She was sweet, funny, intelligent, efficient, knowledgeable, and really went way beyond what she had to do with handouts, talks, and arrangements for the group. It was very obvious that she loved her job – and we loved her!”
Jim & Sue Sanders
Plainwell, MI

Lella Guarneri

“Lella was the best tour director we ever had.  She went above and beyond to make our trip enjoyable.  She is smart, funny, caring and really loves her job.”
Josephine & Antonio Ruggieri
Staten Island, NY

Eva Matosevic

“I cannot say enough about Eva. She is a gem! So wonderful! She went out of her way to help us and let us get a full experience! The best!”
Grace Ratliff
Garner, NC

Lara Mocellin

“Lara was so kind, considerate, and helpful in every way. She was truly wonderful in every setting.”
Judy McNeer
Richmond, VA

Igor Ribic

“Igor did an outstanding job. We couldn’t have asked for a better tour director. He spoke perfect English and shared with us so much information. We were totally dumbfounded by his knowledge of the history, culture, etc., of Italy.”
Dolores & Michael Gentry
Bowie, MD

Giulia Tamarri

“Giulia provided us with the greatest tour of Italy, exceeding any of our expectations. Her knowledge, professionalism, sense of humor, and love for her country, helped make our trip probably the best vacation we have ever had.”
Michael Gyarmathy
Southport, NC

Mauro Tonelli

“Mauro was outstanding! He related well to this group of Americans. Great knowledge and sense of humor. One of the best we have had.”
John & Sondra Plachy
Denver, CO

Destination Insight

Suggested Reading for Your Vacation

Beppe Severgnini
La Bella Figura, A Field Guide to the Italian Mind
Italians themselves love this guide to the Italian character, which addresses their never-ending passion for beauty, disorder and high emotion. Severgnini opens the book with a snapshot of the hubbub at Malpensa Airport, then moves on to Tuscany, Rome, Naples and Sardinia.

R.W.B. Lewis
The City of Florence, Historical Vistas and Personal Sightings
A vivid tour of the city and its riches by the fine biographer of Edith Wharton and Henry James. Lewis has written what he calls “a partial biography of Florence,” beautifully interweaving the personal and the historical.

Alice Powers
Italy in Mind
A terrific collection of some of the best literary writing on Italy, including pieces by Melville, Lawrence, Henry James, Mary McCarthy and many others.

Eyewitness Guides
Eyewitness Guide Italy
Another gem in the Eyewitness series, this superb guide is handsome, convenient and up-to-date. Featuring color photography, dozens of excellent local maps and a region-by-region synopsis of the country’s attractions.

National Geographic Maps
Italy Adventure Map
A shaded, color map of Italy, at a scale of 1:1,000,000.

Berndtson & Berndtson
Florence Map
A detailed, plastic-covered city map of Florence at a scale of 1:7,000.

Berndtson & Berndtson
Venice Map
A colorful, detailed city map of Venice, perfect for finding your way around the famously labyrinthine streets and canals.

Waverly Root
The Food of Italy
Evocative of Italy and its diverse cuisine, this classic book, organized geographically, offers a cook’s tour of the country. It’s a well-informed and wonderful culinary guide.

David Gilmour
The Pursuit of Italy
From Cicero to Dante, Giuseppe Verdi and 20th-century Italian politicians, Gilmour traces the history of Italian life and culture.

Roger Crowley
City of Fortune, How Venice Ruled the Seas
Roger Crowley spins tales of three centuries of plunder and plague, imperial conquest and piracy in this riveting new history, chronicling the transformation of a tiny city of lagoon dwellers into the richest place on earth.

Joseph Luzzi
My Two Italies
Award-winning author and scholar Luzzi presents Italy in all its glory and squalor – its artistic magnificence, north-south disunity and its dirty politics and corruption – in this highly personal portrait.

Titus Burckhardt
Siena, City of the Virgin
Burckhardt’s classic portrait includes dozens of illustrations, maps and photographs of architecture and early Renaissance art of Siena.

John Hooper
The Italians
Italy correspondent for The Economist Hooper explores Italy – its baffling contradictions, unique character and contemporary culture – in this illuminating portrait.

Thomas F. Madden
Venice, A New History
With authority, Madden tackles the history of the celebrated city from Roman times onward.

Christopher Hibbert
The House of Medici, Its Rise and Fall
A well-written, entertaining history of the Medicis in Renaissance Florence. Great to read before going to Florence, where the influence of the Medicis and the artists they supported is still very much in evidence.

A. Richard Turner
Renaissance Florence, The Invention of a New Art
A cultural and social history of the city focusing on the great art and famous monuments, featuring vivid color pictures and illustrations.

Dial Parrott
The Genius of Venice, Piazza San Marco and the Making of the Republic
With 112 color illustrations and four maps, the Genius of Venice presents the magnificent buildings of the celebrated piazza as, in the words of John Ruskin, the “living books of history” in this handsome cultural history.

D.H. Lawrence
D.H. Lawrence and Italy
This omnibus Penguin Classics edition includes Lawrence’s three travel tales, each very different in tone and all wonderful: Sea and Sardinia is a nostalgic look at traditional ways of life; Twilight in Italy, an evocation of Lawrence’s memorable stay on Lake Garda; and Etruscan Places, his musings on ancient sites, including the painted tombs of Tarquinia.

Frances Mayes
Every Day in Tuscany, Seasons of an Italian Life
Twenty years later, Mayes is still besotted by Italy – her house, the tumbling geraniums, the people and the food – all lovingly documented in her best memoir yet. With interludes in Portofino, Assisi and Rome and a focus on Renaissance master artist Luca Signorelli.

Jan Morris
The World of Venice
Morris displays her talent for research, telling anecdote and well-wrought prose in this spirited portrait of a beloved city, its history and inhabitants. If you are going to read one book on Venice, we recommend this favorite.

Frank Schaeffer
Portofino, A Novel
Set in the 1960s, this coming-of-age tale follows a young boy’s encounters with the sights and people of the seaside town of Portofino, while he avoids his missionary parents’ constant bickering and their attempts to convert the locals.

Donna Leon
Death at La Fenice
The first of the tremendously good Guido Brunetti mysteries, all set in the author’s beloved Venice, in which a famous conductor is found dead at the celebrated La Fenice theater.

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