18 days
PDF of Tour
Map of Italian Art and History tour

Travellers should familiarise themselves with our Peace of mind travel policy for Covid-19 as well as the terms and conditions applicable at the time of booking.

Art and History of Italy | Small Group Tour

Odyssey offers easy, convenient, and relaxed escorted small group tours across Western Europe and beyond including Italy. We explore Italy’s fairy-tale natural beauty, its ancient Roman, and Imperial heritage, its World Heritage Sites, and world famous cities, all with some truly spectacular scenery along the way. This and more is all waiting to be explored on one of Odyssey’s small group tours of Italy, designed for the senior traveller, and led by experienced, and enthusiastic like minded people.

Art and History of Italy Small Group Tour for seniors. Join this fully escorted small group tour and immerse yourself in the splendour that is the Art and History of Italy. Taken as a whole, Italian civilisation (which includes, of course, the splendid inheritance of Ancient Rome) is absolutely foundational to Western culture. Much of the music, painting, sculpture, architecture, literature, philosophy, law, and politics which we in the West enjoy today derives from Italy.

During this small group tour you experience some of the most important sights and sounds of Italy for lovers of art, opera, history and literature. We do not, however, ignore the pleasures of the Italian table. For some Italian food is as much an art form as any other.

Small group tours Italian art and music itinerary:

This compact tour of 16 nights visits several UNESCO World Heritage sites and is based on 6 centres - Rome, Florence, Padua, Venice, Verona and Milan. This gives us time to unpack and settle in for a few nights in each centre.

The tour begins in Rome before heading north to Florence. In Rome we take a walking tour of the Renaissance city and explore the remnants of the ancient empire. You will have time to explore and to enjoy the "Eternal City" with its magnificent art and architecture. From Florence we travel north again to the ancient university city of Padua and then east to Venice where we see the Doge's Palace and St. Mark's Basilica. A stop in the medieval city of Verona allows us to also visit nearby Lake Garda, one of the most beautiful Italian lakes. The tour concludes in Milan.

A group dinner on the first night at each of our bases is included. Other evenings are free to allow participants to make their own dining arrangements or to attend concerts and other events of interest.

Highlights of our guided tour:

  • A musical highlight will be our attendance at a opera at La Fenice opera house in Venice.
  • In Padua visit the famous Scrovengi Chapel with its fabulous frescoes by Giotto, thought by many to be the father of Renaissance art.
  • In Tuscany we make a trip to Siena with its black and white striped cathedral and fresco covered Piccolomini Library.
  • Enjoy lunch and a wine tasting in a vineyard outside the tower topped town of San Gimignano.
  • Take in fabulous art in the galleries of Florence, Rome and Venice.
  • Wonder at the Byzantine mosaics of Ravenna.

If you're more interested in Monterosso al Mare on the Italian Riviera, the natural beauty of the Amalfi Coast, or the ancient ruins of Pompeii under the shadow of Mt Vesuvius, don't look away! This trip is just one of a number of tour packages to Italy offered by Odyssey. Check our web site for further details.

Art and music lovers may also enjoy some of our other tours: Classical Music Winter Tour, Western Europe Art Tour, and our Tour of Renaissance Italy.

For more details, click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above! If you’re keen to experience this tour, please call or send an email. Or, to book, simply fill in the form on the right hand side of this page.


Frequently Asked Questions about our Italy Art and Music tour:

While Italy has relatively mild weather year round, winter can get chilly, and the peak of summer can be unpleasantly hot and crowded. Reflecting this, this tour generally leaves in early September, so that you can enjoy warm weather yet avoid the craziness of peak season.

Our tours really are ‘small group tours’ – we generally take between 6-12 people, and never more than 18. There are many advantages to small group travel, including a close-knit group, a personal relationship with your guide, and more flexibility so that you can have an authentic experience of your destination. Read our information page for more information about what we offer, and take a look at our definitive guide to small group tours.

Travel is by coach. This allows us to stop at historical and interesting cultural and natural attractions between major cities and to take in the beautiful Italian scenery.


Santorini greece white houses

History of Santorini

7 mins readEuropeItaly

History of Santorini: From the Minoans to the Greek Republic The history of the Greek islands of Santorini (or Thera) stretches back to the Neolithic Era more than 3,000 years ago. A place of great importance…

Statue of Cosimo I of Medici, in front of Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

Italian Renaissance Families: The Medicis

12 mins readItaly

This blog is part of a series on five influential Italian Renaissance families that shaped Italy, especially during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It is based on both our Italian Renaissance Summer School course, and…

Southern Italy

Matera, Italy

5 mins readEuropeItaly

Matera, Italy The ancient town of Matera, Basilicata. The ancient city of Matera, in southern Italy, is among the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, a place of primordial beauty, where cave houses are carved directly…

Duomo di Messina

Messina, Italy

4 mins readEuropeItaly

Messina, Italy Messina cityscape. Only a few kilometres from the Italian mainland, the city of Messina has long been the gateway to Sicily, a fascinating historical centre with a Belle Epoque twist. The city of…

Sicilian people

The Sicilians and their Kings

9 mins readEuropeItaly

The Sicilians and their Kings While popular images of Sicily might focus on the active volcano, Mount Etna, or the poverty that led to the mass migration of Sicilians to America, forming today’s communities of…

Venice - Ptolemy's map

Venice and the History of Maps

9 mins readEuropeItaly

Venetian Maps and How they Ruled the World ‘Venice was always a frontier,’ Peter Ackroyd (2009) declares in Venice: Pure City. ‘When the empire was divided in the time of Charlemagne, the lagoons of Venice…

PDF of Tour PDF of Reading List

Overview: We arrive in Rome at any time and make our own way to our hotel. We have a group meeting in the late afternoon, followed by a dinner together at a local restaurant.


Accommodation: 4 nights at Hotel Cicerone or similar.

Overview: After breakfast in our hotel we take a half-day coach and walking tour of part of the historic centre of Rome, visiting the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Palatine Hill, home of the emperors and namesake of all the palaces in all the world. After lunch (for which we make our own arrangements) we visit an important private art gallery in the Palazzo of the Doria-Pamphilj family. The evening is free.


Accommodation: Hotel Cicerone or similar.

Overview: In the morning we make an early departure to beat the rush and visit the Vatican Galleries and the Sistine Chapel. After lunch we have a coach tour to the Emperor Hadrian’s enormous palace near Tivoli, then to the renaissance Villa D’Este in the town of Tivoli to explore both the house and its fabulous gardens and fountains.


Accommodation: Hotel Cicerone or similar.

Overview: Our tour of Rome continues with visits to the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon, an ancient temple first constructed during the time of the Emperor Augustus, rebuilt under Hadrian, and subsequently dedicated as a Christian Church. We shall also visit the church of Santa Sabina, one of the best preserved of the ancient Christian basilicas with its intact wooden screen featuring one of the earliest depictions of the Crucifixion. Finally we go to the Protestant Cemetery to pay homage at the graves of Keats and Shelley.


Accommodation: Hotel Cicerone or similar.

Overview: Today after breakfast we travel by coach to Florence, stopping at the hilltop city of Orvieto to visit the Duomo (cathedral) and see the frescoes of the Last Judgement by the Sienese painter Luca Signorelli. On arrival in Florence we check into our hotel and later have dinner together as a group.


Accommodation: 4 nights at Hotel Londra or similar.

Overview: After breakfast we take a half-day guided walking tour, of which the highlight will be the Convent of St. Mark, where we shall see the frescoes of Fra Angelico (painted 1438-45) and the Last Supper of Domenico Ghirlandaio (1480). In the afternoon we offer a choice of the Uffizi Galleries (one of the major collections of the world, though its crowds and the intense security arrangements are too daunting for many!) or the Bargello museum, a rich but more accessible assembly of important works including sculptures by Donatello. The evening is free.


Accommodation: Hotel Londra or similar.

Overview: We travel by coach to the glorious walled city of Siena where we have a guided walking tour of the main sights, including the Duomo and the Piccolomini Library. After leaving Siena we visit a vineyard outside San Gimignano for a wine tasting and a lunch of local cheeses and preserved meats (included). The evening back at Florence is free.


Accommodation: Hotel Londra or similar.

Overview: Today we have a full-day visit to Pisa and Lucca. Despite its popular fame, the so-called Leaning Tower is the least of the sites we shall visit in the “Field of Miracles” (the Campo dei Miracoli). The magnificent duomo and its adjacent baptistery are among the greatest glories of medieval Italy. After Pisa we stop at Lucca where we can visit the birthplace of Puccini. Here we will have an opportunity to walk around the fully intact city walls (it takes 50-60 minutes), or we can hire a bicycle. The evening in Florence is free.


Accommodation: Hotel Londra or similar.

Overview: This morning after breakfast we drive 220 kilometres to Padua. The rest of the day is free to begin our exploration of this charming city, but we gather in the evening for a group dinner (included).


Accommodation: 4 nights at Hotel Mantegna or similar.

Overview: The day begins with a visit to the Giotto frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel. In the afternoon we have a guided walking tour of the city centre including Prato della Valle and the basilica of St. Anthony. The evening is free.


Accommodation: Hotel Mantegna or similar.

Overview: Today we have a full-day coach tour to the small city of Vicenza, where we shall see the Olympic Theatre (Teatro Olimpico), the Renaissance Basilica, and the Palladian Mansion known as La Rotonda (entries included). The architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580) is the focus of this day’s travelling: he is probably the most influential individual in the whole history of architecture. The evening back in Padua is free.


Accommodation: Hotel Mantegna or similar.

Overview: In the morning we visit, on foot, the Palazzo Bo, which is the principal building of the University of Padua. Our tour will include the Anatomical Theatre, a purpose-built lecture room where dissections took place. In the afternoon we shall visit the Brenta Canal and see some of the villas of wealthy Venetians who maintained their country estates outside Venice on “terra firma.” The most spectacular of these is the Villa Pisani. In its time it hosted such tyrants as Napoleon, Hitler, and Mussolini, but its charm and the beauty of its gardens survive them.


Accommodation: Hotel Mantegna or similar.

Overview: Today we take an early train from Padua to Santa Lucia Station in Venice where a private boat will take us to our hotel. After settling in we shall have a guided walking tour to orientate ourselves, concentrating on the area between St. Mark’s Square (Piazza de San Marco) and the Rialto. There will be an early group dinner followed by our attendance at a production of Verdi’s La Traviata at La Fenice opera house.


Accommodation: 2 nights at Carlton Grand Canal Hotel or similar.

Overview: Our exploration of Venice continues this morning with a walking tour to the Accademia Gallery and the church of the Frari. We will have an opportunity to become familiar with some of the principal painters who lived and worked in Venice, such as the Bellinis and Titian. In the afternoon we shall go by boat to the island of Torcello where we shall have free time to explore the lovely Romanesque cathedral and to absorb the authentic atmosphere of Laguna on which Venice was established.


Accommodation: Carlton Grand Canal Hotel or similar.

Overview: We say farewell to La Serenissima today and drive to Ravenna, once for a time the capital of the Western Empire after Rome had fallen, to see the spectacular mosaics in 2 important churches, San Vitale and Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo (6th century), and in the mausoleum of Galla Placidia (5th century). We then continue to the handsome city of Verona. The group dines together tonight (included).


Accommodation: 2 nights at Best Western Hotel or similar.

Overview: Today we have a walking tour of the city of Verona, including the Arena (the third-largest surviving Roman amphitheatre), the Piazza Erbe, and the 12th century church of San Zeno Maggiore, the patron saint of the city. You can also visit, if you wish, some of the sites allegedly associated with Romeo and Juliet. Be prepared for touristy schmaltz but do not let that interfere with your appreciation of a truly beautiful city!


Accommodation: Best Western Hotel or similar.

Overview: Today we go to Lake Garda, the largest of the Italian lakes, and visit the peninsula of Sirmione where medieval ruins were long thought to conceal the site of the poet Catullus’s family home. Perhaps they do: Catullus wrote lovingly of Sirmione, his “all-but-island” (in Tennyson’s words), and certainly lived there. After Garda we press on to Milan, where we check in our hotel for our final night. We have our celebratory farewell dinner tonight (included).


Accommodation: 1 night at Antares Concord or similar.

Overview: Out tour concludes today after breakfast.


See the glorious mosaics in Ravenna.
Visit leading museums and galleries, including the Vatican and the Bargello in Florence.
Enjoy lunch and a wine tasting at a vineyard outside San Gimignano.
Visit the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua to see the Giotto frescoes.
Stay in central Venice and go to the opera at La Fenice.

What’s included in our Tour

  • 17 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 6 dinners.
  • 17 nights of accommodation.
  • Detailed preparatory information.
  • Applicable entry fees and services of local guides.
  • Transport and field trips as indicated.
  • Touring by comfortable and modern coach.
  • Services of Tour Leader for the duration of tour.
  • Service charges and gratuities.

What’s not included in our Tour

  • International airfare and taxes.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance.
  • Items of a personal nature, such as telephone calls and laundry.
Venice, Italy
Milan, Galleria Umberto Italy
Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy
Grape Harvest Italy Western Mediterranean
San Appollinare nuovo church in Ravenna-Italy
View from Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome, Italy
Winter in Rome, cobblestone street, Italy
Winter in Rome, Roman Ruins
Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Italy
Duomo Santa Maria Del Fiore and Medici , Florence, Italy
Tour of Italy, Renaissance Sculpture Medici Lion by Vacca in Florence
Florence, Italy
Duomo Of Milan Cathedral, Italy