Francie Rich and John Hodge - Italy 2016

Venice, Florence and Rome via Chianti

March 29-April 7, 2016

$4997 Round-Trip from New Orleans

Why Italy? It’s our most asked for destination and we consider Italy the most user friendly country in Europe!   Not only is the landscape stunningly beautiful but the architecture is remarkable and the art inside is spectacular. The food is delicious, the waiters are delicious, and the gelato is worth the price of the tour. Shopping (leather is delicious), cappuccinos, pizza, pasta, and people-watching have become an art form in Italy. Francie has been to Italy more often than she has been to the grocery store. The three cities we will be visiting are very different from one another. Venice has a strong Byzantine flavor where we take pictures of peeling paint, because the colors are so vivid. Florence is more restrained with its medieval and Renaissance overtones. Rome is layer upon layer of history spanning over 2000 years of history.

We will fly into Venice and take a private water taxi from the airport to the snazzy LIDO island of VENICE and our hotel and wellness spa: Grande Albergo Ausonia & Hungaria. The hotel occupies a historic Art Nouveau style mansion. We thought it a genius way to get over jet lag! Our hotel is on the main street of the Lido, the Grand viale Santa Maria Elisabetta; and this is the street that will take us to the vaporetto (water bus) stop to cross the lagoon into Venice Proper. There are over fifty islands in the lagoon (Adriatic Sea). The Lido is home to the famous Venice film festival, the casino, beaches and where Thomas Mann wrote A Death in Venice. We can relax into Venice which we think is one of the most, no the most incredibly exotic and visually stunning city in Italy and maybe all of Europe. Venice is built on 117 small islands with 150 canals and 409 bridges of which only three cross the Grand Canal. It’s impossible not to get lost in Venice and that is half the fun. Included in the tour price are vaparetti passes, a guided tour with entrance fees to the Doges Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica. There are palaces, Gothic churches with Tiepolo painted ceilings, Renaissance and Baroque churches,a healthy serving of Byzantine, Icons, and modern art in the Peggy Guggenheim museum. We’ve never been when there wasn’t a string quartet practicing somewhere for a Vivaldi concert.

We will travel by private coach to FLORENCE, where our hotel is situated off of the Piazza Signoria, the main square of Florence. Originally David stood at the entrance to the medieval Palazzo Vecchio, (town hall) a replica is there now, looking at the Uffizi Gallery. We love the hotel; Relais Uffizi, because of the location, large rooms, and great staff. The city itself is a Renaissance and medieval masterpiece. It’s like the French Quarter, flat and walkable! Works by Donatello, Brunelleschi and Ghiberti decorate this amazing city. Shopping ranges from the “not your typical” flea markets to Gucci and Prada, leather, 18k gold, and everything in between. Our walking guided tour will include a visit to see the real David. We will also visit the Church of Santa Croce with the tombs of Galileo, Rossini, Michelangelo and more, plus Giotto frescoes. Because we will be taking people who have been before we will not include a visit to the Uffizi but will help you arrange for a reservation and tickets before your visit, so you won’t waste time in line. It is one of the most famous museums in the world with Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Titian’s Venus of Urbino and works by Giotto, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Durer, Rembrandt and many more. Some of our most favorite restaurants are in Florence.

On our way to Rome we will stop for lunch near the tiny town of Greve in the heart of Chianti in Tuscany to have lunch at Ristoro di Lamole, with spectacular food, wine and views. We love ROME, the eternal city, more every time we visit, with its over 2000 years of continuous history. We will see ancient Roman ruins juxtaposed with Byzantine, Renaissance and Baroque architecture, and high end designer stores. There are now bobble headed Pope souvenirs and calendars featuring handsome priests. Our hotel Genio is just a few steps from Piazza Navona. Every church is a museum and many feature paintings by Caravaggio and other high ranking artists still in the churches they were commissioned for. We will see the Pantheon, now a Catholic Church; churches built on top of Roman houses and bakeries, and modern bakeries that are photo worthy! Rome has it all from the Colosseum, VATICAN CITY (the smallest country in the world) to the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and more gelato and fabulous food and people watching than imaginable.


Round-trip airfare from New Orleans (into Venice out of Rome), including all airline taxes and surcharges

All transportation within Italy; hotel transfers, etc.

A 48 hour travel card (vaporetti) in Venice per person

All tips for drivers and guides (porters at airports, etc. not included)

Hotels based on double occupancy, with full breakfasts: Grande Albergo Ausonia & Hungaria Wellness & Spa, Lido, Relais Uffizi in Florence, and Hotel Genio in Rome.

Venice: Tour of Doges Palace and St. Mark’s Cathedral, entrance, reservation and guide included

Florence: Academia entrance and reservation and city tour including entrance to Santa Croce

Rome: Guided city tour by private bus and Vatican reservations, entrance and guided tour

Jet Setter newsletter that we write to help you prepare for tour

Travel booklet (in color) of sites, hotels, restaurants, etc., that we also write

The price listed is a discounted price if not paying with a credit card.  Add $100 if you plan to pay by credit card.

Tour deposit of $100 may be paid by credit card, call 1800.989.3876 and ask for Claudia.

For more information: Francie Rich or John Hodge: 985 892-5108 or 985. 630.0070 or