Italy is a top (OK, the top!) destination for ancient cities, seaside villages and rolling vineyards. It's home to the Roman Empire and birthplace of the Renaissance. You can stand in the presence of Michelangelo's masterpiece sculpture "David" and Leo da Vinci's "Last Supper." Did you know that Italy has more UNESCO World Heritage cultural sites than any other country?
Yeah, this is a place that deserves plenty of attention. I just learned of a cool way to explore it by rail. I have visited Italy on cruise ships and have thoroughly enjoyed it. But I always left wanting more. A rail journey could be the ideal way to venture more deeply into Italy and its deep well of history.
Tour company Monograms curates travel packages from start to finish and provides local hosts to guide your journeys. Here is what I learned about the company's first-class train travel program in Italy.
Monograms delivers you to cities and villages on first-class, high-speed rail and offers them a welcome in each destination with hand-picked centrally located hotels. It's also the only operator that promises travelers the on-site services of an expert "Local Host" who also arranges sightseeing and more in each destination.
For example, if you want to experience the "Big 3" cities, Monograms offers a 10-day Rome, Florence and Venice trip (prices start at $1,959). You would arrive in Rome, where Monograms provides transfer from the airport to hotel to meet up with a Local Host who offers insights and tips. You can enjoy a half-day included sightseeing excursion that includes Michelangelo's The Last Judgment at Sistine Chapel, VIP entrance to the historic Colosseum, the Roman Forum and St. Peter's Square and Basilica -- all accompanied by unique stories and insight from your guide.
After three days in Rome, it's off to Florence via first-class, high-speed train. There, you head to the Academy of Fine Arts. With VIP access, skip the lines to see Michelangelo's David. Other activities include walking through Cathedral Square, Piazza della Signoria and Santa Croce Square.
After riding the train to Venice, you get another Local Host greeting before a glassblowers presentation and VIP sightseeing in St. Mark's Square and Basilica, along with a visit to Doges' Palace and the Bridge of Sighs.
Other popular Monograms Italy rail journeys include:
13-day Sorrento, Rome, Florence and Venice
13-day Rome, Florence, Venice and Lake Maggiore
7-day Rome and Venice
7-day Rome and Florence
"There are good ways to see and experience Italy and ways that are decidedly not so good," said Steve Born, vice president of marketing for the Globus family of brands, which owns Monograms. "With Monograms, the difference is clear from the start because we're behind travelers every step of the way.
"They'll spend every moment exploring and savoring rather than stressing thanks to hand-picked, centrally located accommodations and the on-site services of their Monograms Local Host. In each place, travelers can enjoy as much or as little free time as they'd like. Local Hosts can arrange such excursions as a day in the Chianti countryside; cooking with an Italian chef; an excursion to Pisa and more. Travelers also have the opportunity to enjoy the journey and the scenery of the country between each place in the comfort of first-class train travel that's included in the vacation."
Monograms runs trips all over the world, from safaris in Africa to cruises in the Galapagos.
Check it out. This might be what you want if you like a little pampering and to have all of the planning taken care of for you.
Thanks for reading.