Travelers on a Classic Italy Tour get a first-hand look at the rich culture and stunning beauty of this Old World country. The 11-day journey starts in Rome and takes visitors through several romantic locales, including Florence, Bologna and Venice, ending in the breathtaking city of Milan. Along the way, seniors will come across some of the world's most famous attractions, such as the Sistine Chapel, Leaning Tower of Pisa and the setting of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" - fair Verona. Seniors may benefit from acquainting themselves with these top sites to prepare for the cultural exploration:
After arriving in Rome, one of the first stops senior group travel members make is Vatican City - the home of the Pope, St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums. It's also where guests will find the magnificent Sistine Chapel, the world's main hub of papal activity. It was named after Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere, who commissioned the restoration of the church in the late 15th century. It's most famed for the detailed frescoes painted in the interior. Specifically, the ceiling displays several High Renaissance works and the altar features one of the most acclaimed creations on earth - Michelangelo's "The Last Judgment."
Another Roman hotspot that senior travel clubs visit is the Colosseum. Built in 72 A.D. under the orders of Emperor Vespasian, the structure was originally named the Flavian Amphitheater and is the largest stadium built in the Roman Empire. Seniors can walk around the impressive building - an ellipse larger than 510 feet wide by 615 feet long - to see the 80 arched entryways. Take a moment to appreciate the Arch of Constantine, which stands 82 feet high and was built to commemorate Constantine's victory over Maxentius during the Clash of the Titans.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
This Europe tour of Italy includes a visit to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Referred to by locals as the "bell tower," this structure is one of the most remarkable displays of Medieval architecture in the world. It was originally designed in the late 12th century to stand perfectly vertical; however, it began tilting during construction. Today, it stands at nearly 200 feet tall and leans at an angle of about 10 degrees. Viewers may notice that it's slightly curved - the effect of architects' attempts to straighten it out over the years.
The tower is actually one of four buildings that make up Pisa's cathedral complex, the Piazza dei Miracoli (or "Field of Miracles"). After discovering the beauty of the Leaning Tower, visitors can take a moment to look around at the other structures, including the Pisa Baptistry, Monumental Cemetery and Pisa Cathedral.
St. Mark's Square
With these affordable travel packages, passengers may get to see the delightful natural and manmade features along the Grand Canal during a relaxing cruise as they make their way to Venice's St. Mark's Square. This locale has served as the city center for hundreds of years, welcoming locals and visitors alike to gather and socialize. Today, it's considered the biggest attraction in the city and is the site of prominent civil and religious ceremonies. Here, guests will find the Doge's Palace, the former home of the Duke of Venice, as well as the Basilica of San Marco - a dazzling display of wealth featuring grand mosaics that depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments.
While here, visitors can also see the remarkable clock tower - it dates back to the 15th century and is so beautiful that, according to legend, the clockmaker was blinded to prevent him from creating another. Be sure to look out across the water to see the superb Rialto Bridge, the oldest overpass in the city.
Piazza delle Erbe
Day nine of the trip brings seniors to the famed city of Venice, which is home to the Piazza delle Erbe. This market square has long served as the city's center for social, political and economic affairs. Those who stand within it find themselves surrounded by grand monuments and buildings. The Lamberti Tower is among the most well-know. Erected in 1172, it has remained the tallest tower in the city for more than eight centuries. Another notable feature here is the Madonna Verona Fountain, a Roman piece that was created in 1368, though the statue it displays dates back to at least the year 380 A.D. and is the square's oldest monument.
In addition to these highlights, visitors will be exposed to a huge selection of other attractions, such as the Roman Forum, Giotto's Campanile and the Royal Palace of Milan. It can be a lot to take in during one trip, but a knowledgeable guide will be there on the escorted vacation to help seniors learn about and fully appreciate the sites of Italy.