Essence of Italy Tour


My Essence of Italy tour visits my all-time favorite destinations in Italy in nine days. Beginning in Rome, you’ll visit the essential tourist sights and classic destinations. Then, travel to the delightful villages of the Cinque Terre to experience a seaside vacation where the mountains literally fall into the sea. Volterra, my favorite Tuscan hilltown, is sure to win you over to the “la dolce vita” lifestyle. Finally, you’ll have two days in Florence walking in the footsteps of Michelangelo and exploring the roots of the Renaissance.



DAY 1: BUON GIORNO A ROMA! – Let’s plan to meet in our hotel lobby at 2:00 p.m. for introductions and a welcome drink. Then, we will set off to explore the sites of ancient Rome. We’ll begin with a guided look through the Colosseum and Forum, giving an insider’s perspective on daily life dating back more than 2,000 years. Later, enjoy a grand “welcome to Italy” dinner at a favorite restaurant. Sleep 2 nights in Rome. Walking: moderate. Dinner.
DAY 2: THE VATICAN AND THE HEART OF ROME – Today, you will visit the Vatican Museum. Enjoy an in-depth tour of this vast treasure trove of the world’s finest works of art, capped off with an awe-inspiring look at Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Then, visit the massive St. Peter’s Basilica, the world’s largest Christian church. After lunch we’ll begin our walking tour of Rome’s historic central core, visiting the Pantheon and several other sights in the area. You’ll have the remainder of the afternoon and evening to do a little exploring on your own. Walking: strenuous.
DAY 3: BULLET TRAIN TO THE CINQUE TERRE – We’ll get an early start this morning on our way up to the Ligurian coast. Train travel in Italy is fun and mostly worry-free, so enjoy the ride. The Cinque Terre is a delightful collection of five little villages spilling from the mountains into the sea. After settling in, we’ll get you oriented to the region and set up with walking and transportation passes. Then, head out on your own to explore! We’ll meet tonight for a dinner featuring fresh food from the region. Sleep 2 nights in the Cinque Terre. Walking: light. Train: 4 hours. Dinner.
DAY 4: THE CINQUE TERRE You’ll have the entire day on your own to explore the Cinque Terre. Traveling to and from the “five villages” in the region is easy, whether by train, by boat, or on foot.  The National Park is loaded with scenic trails providing endless opportunities to get out and explore the outdoors. You may wish to stake your claim on one of the many beaches to catch some sun.  Each village has its own character, decor, and ambiance as well as plenty of shopping and dining options. Walking: your choice.
DAY 5: VOLTERRA – It will take about an hour by train to get away from the coast and into Tuscany. Then we’ll travel the backroads en route to my favorite little hilltown. Volterra has become “famous” in recent years as The Lair of the Vampires in the Twilight book series. However, it has long been known as a quaint and off-the-beaten-path destination for savvy travelers. After settling in, enjoy a guided walking tour of the historic town followed by a wine tasting at my favorite wine cave. By now, you’ll be well on your way to knowing the town so enjoy dinner on your own and an event-free evening.
Sleep 2 nights in Volterra. Train: 1 hour. Driving: 1.5 hours. Walking: moderate.
DAY 6: SIENA AND VOLTERRA – We will take a short ride to Siena to explore another facet of medieval history and grand scale art. After an informative walking tour of the historic town center you’ll be cut loose on the world famous Il Campo square to enjoy lunch and a free afternoon. Returning to Volterra, prepare your taste buds for my favorite dining experience in all of Italy as we savor the cuisine of the DelDuca family ristorante. Walking: moderate. Driving: 2.5 hours. Dinner.
DAY 7: FLORENCE – After a short drive and in less than two hours, you’ll be knee-deep in the Renaissance!  Join a walking tour linking Florence’s famous historical sights followed by a visit to the Galleria Accademia, home of Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the statue of David. Then, enjoy more of Florence on your own and with suggestions from your guide, consider your independent dining options. Sleep 2 nights in Florence. Walking: moderate. Driving: 1.5 hours.
DAY 8: FLORENCE – You’ll have the entire day to explore more of Florence on your own. Visit another of the city’s museums, checkout the Pitti Palace, get in some shopping, visit the market, or simply soak up the local ambience. Tonight, join your group for a farewell to Tuscany dinner at a favorite ristorante. Walking: strenuous. Dinner.
DAY 9: THE TOUR CONCLUDES AFTER BREAKFAST – It is easy to reach  airports and trains by taxi or bus. Your guide will be happy to assist with your post-tour travel needs. Ciao e buon viaggio!


Transportation provided by coach, minibus, and train from your Rome hotel to your Florence hotel.
8 nights accommodation in centrally located hotels, guesthouses, and B&B’s.  All rooms have private en-suite baths.
All tips and gratuities to guides, drivers, restaurant and hotel staff.
Guaranteed Small Group with no more than 18 travelers.
All breakfasts and four of your dinners or lunches.
Traditional and gourmet dining experiences at some of David’s personal favorite restaurants. Eating well is a priority and you’ll enjoy fine regional fare featuring the best each locale has to offer.
All tours and admissions at no extra cost: Guided walking tours in Rome, Volterra, Siena, and Florence - Entrance and guided tour of the Colosseum and Forum, Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome - Cinque Terre orientation and a train and trail pass - Guided wine tasting in Tuscany - Guided walking tour in Volterra and Siena - Entrance and artistic overview of the Galleria Accademia in Florence (Michelangelo’s David) - and much more (itinerary specifics are subject to change).
A fulltime Exploring Europe guide and local experts dedicated to bringing to life the art, history, and culture of the tour destinations.
David’s printed tour handouts detailing each day’s historical and cultural experiences.
Free luggage tags and David’s custom-designed drawstring backpacks.
Our Unconditional Tour Price Guarantee that once locked in will never change.
Comprehensive Travel Insurance providing full coverage for emergency medical, baggage loss, and trip delay from the moment you depart for your tour.
$50 Tour Alumni discount for each David McGuffin tour you’ve taken prior to 2016.
$100 discount if making all payments by check, cash or bank draft.The $400 initial deposit may be made by credit card and still qualify for this discount.
Single rooms for solo travelers are available for an additional cost of $550.
Water is included with all group meals. Sodas, wine, beer and other drinks are your responsibility.

David’s 60 Seconds destination videos

Join David as he shares impromptu moments from his travels in Italy.  Watching these short 60 second segments are a great way to experience David’s travel style and adventures. Watch David’s Explore Italy and Greece.

The Cinque Terre is a favorite destination on my Best of Italy tour. Watch my YouTube video to learn how I “do” the Cinque Terre unlike all the others. Your Adventure Starts Here! SPECIAL FEATURES Small Group: Only 6-18 passengers. Experience Rome, Cinque Terre, Tuscany, and Florence. Gourmet Dining at some of David’s favorite restaurants featuring fresh local-sourced products. Experience the Roman Colosseum, Forum and Vatican City. Hiking and relaxing in the Cinque Terre. La dolce vita in Tuscany. Renaissance art in Florence.


  • Small Group: Only 6-18 passengers.
  • Experience Rome, Cinque Terre, Tuscany, and Florence.
  • Gourmet Dining at some of David’s favorite restaurants featuring fresh local-sourced products.
  • Experience the Roman Colosseum, Forum and Vatican City.
  • Hiking and relaxing in the Cinque Terre.
  • La dolce vita in Tuscany.
  • Renaissance art in Florence.

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