Rome, Florence & Venice Carnival12 days / Special Event Tours
About This Experience
Just before Lent, the city nicknamed La Serenissima (most serene) opens up into a wild world of luxury, indulgence and merriment. Discover Venice at its most vibrant during the city’s annual Carnival. There, you’ll don a traditional masquerade mask and take to the streets with thousands of revelers from near and far. But, before the festivities begin, your Italian adventure starts in Eternal Rome and makes its way to Renaissance Florence.
Your Tour Includes
Round-trip airfare & transfers
10 nights in handpicked hotels
Breakfast daily, 3 three-course dinners with beer or wine
Multilingual Tour Director
Private deluxe motor coach
Select entrance fees
Why You'll Love It
Carnival is one of Italy’s liveliest traditions
You’ll party like a Venetian, mask & all
Renaissance art at every turn in Florence
History feels tangible in ancient Rome
Locals give you the low-down in each city
You’ll find out what it truly means to eat
Overnight Flight1 night
Rome4 nights - hotel info
Benvenuto to Rome, your new home away from home
Breakfast (in flight), Dinner
Welcome to Rome, the Eternal City. A Go Ahead representative greets you at the airport after you clear customs and escorts you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to begin your explorations of Rome. If you’ve taken our pre-tour extension to Rome, join the rest of your tour today. At tonight’s welcome dinner, meet your fellow travelers
Discover how one city’s ruins became the world’s treasures
Follow in the footsteps of Julius Caesar during your guided sightseeing tour of Rome. Highlights include the Colosseum and the ruins of the Forum, from which the caesars ruled their vast empire. This afternoon is free to further your explorations of the ancient city.
Explore the Eternal City or venture to a city eternally frozen in time
Optional Excursion - A Day in Pompeii
Enjoy another free day in Rome or join our optional excursion to excavated Pompeii, an ancient Roman city buried in volcanic ash in A.D. 79.
A Day in Pompeii $169* pp
Travel to Pompeii for a guided tour of the famous ruins. Discover how Roman citizens lived 2,000 years ago, before Mount Vesuvius erupted in and smothered the town of Pompeii in a flood of volcanic ash. Visit the excavated ruins of theaters, villas, temples and baths. Lunch is included. Please note: Travel time to Pompeii is approximately 2.5 hours each way.
Do Rome your way (and toss a coin into the Trevi to do it over again)
Optional Excursion - Iconic Sights: Vatican City
Optional Excursion - Dinner with Tenors
Spend a free day in Rome however you choose. Take in all the art and architecture that greet the eye at every turn—from relics of the ancient empire to treasures of Renaissance and Baroque art. Stroll across the Spanish Steps. See Bernini’s captivating Fountain of the Four Rivers and stop at the legendary Trevi Fountain, into which centuries of visitors have tossed coins to ensure their eventual return to Rome. You might also wish to join an optional excursion to Vatican City, featuring visits to St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. Opt to end the day at a Dinner with Tenors, an evening of food and live music.
Must be booked 70 days before departure
Iconic Sights: Vatican City $89* pp
This guided tour takes you inside the world’s smallest state, Vatican City. Upon arrival, you'll first visit the Vatican Museums, which recently celebrated a 500-year anniversary and hold many of the world's most important Classical and Renaissance-era sculptures. Next, you'll visit the Sistine Chapel, where you'll gaze on what is perhaps Michelangelo's greatest masterpiece. Finally, you'll visit the enormous St. Peter’s Basilica, the epicenter of the Roman Catholic faith. The artists whose efforts have contributed to its glory are some of the best Italy has ever known, including Bramante, Peruzzi, Raphael and Michelangelo. Masterpieces await at every turn, from Bernini’s magnificent bronze canopy to Michelangelo’s Pietà. Please note: This excursion is not available on Sunday.
Dinner with Tenors $79* pp
End your day with an elegant four-course dinner at one of our favorite Roman restaurants. While you dine, you’ll be treated to some of opera's best-loved arias…and you might even join the singers on stage. Don’t miss this lighthearted evening of food and fun!
Florence3 nights - hotel info
Perched on a pedestal of volcanic rock, sits a colossal cathedral
On your way to Florence, stop at the ancient Etruscan stronghold of Orvieto. Situated on a pedestal of volcanic rock, the lovely town of Orvieto boasts one of the finest Italian Gothic cathedrals in the country. Travel to this impressive medieval city by funicular and take in views of the surrounding Volscian Mountains. Then, continue on to the timeless city of Florence, birthplace of the Italian language, the Renaissance and opera. Dinner is included tonight.
Birthplace of the Renaissance, Italian language and your next epiphany
Optional Excursion - The Leaning Tower of Pisa
Optional Excursion - Dinner in Fiesole
Basilica of Santa Croce
This morning’s guided sightseeing tour introduces you to the city’s splendor, including Brunelleschi’s masterpiece, the massive pink, white and green Duomo, complemented by Giotto’s Campanile. Then, discover the church of Santa Croce, where the tombs of Galileo and Michelangelo are displayed as well as the Dante Memorial. You’ll also see the Palazzo Signoria, which serves as an open-air gallery of ancient and Renaissance statues. This Romanesque, crenellated fortress-palace is among the most impressive town halls of Tuscany. This afternoon, enjoy free time in Florence. You may choose to admire the world’s finest collection of Renaissance art at the Uffizi Gallery, including works from Raphael, da Vinci, Caravaggio, Michelangelo and Titian. Stroll along the romantic Arno River or visit the Accademia Galleria to view Michelangelo’s early masterpiece, the statue of David, sculpted when the artist was 26 years old. (Please see the “Museums in Florence” section of the “Pre-Departure Information” page for information about how to make reservations for museum visits.) Or, join our optional excursion to Pisa, where you’ll see the 12th-century Leaning Tower and visit both the adjacent cathedral and the Baptistery. Tonight, opt to travel to the hilltop village of Fiesole for dinner at a local restaurant and sweeping views of Florence.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa $69* pp
Travel through the Tuscan countryside for a visit to Pisa’s Piazza dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles). You'll see the famed Leaning Tower and enjoy a tour of the adjacent cathedral and the Baptistery of St. John.
Dinner in Fiesole $65* pp
Take a scenic ride to the town of Fiesole, where you'll be treated to some of the region's best cuisine over a relaxing three-course dinner. Unmatched views of nearby Florence serve as the perfect complement to your indulgent meal. Fiesole sits on a hill overlooking Florence, and its views of the city have been prized since pre-Roman times.
Go with the flow in Florence or escape to the Tuscan hills
Optional Excursion - Siena & San Gimignano: Tuscan Hilltowns
Enjoy another free day in Florence. Alternatively, you could join our optional excursion to the towns of Siena and San Gimignano in the Tuscan countryside with an included winetasting en route back to Florence.
Siena & San Gimignano: Tuscan Hilltowns $105* pp
Discover the essence of Tuscany on a full-day excursion. In Siena, a local guide introduces you to the town and its black-and-white marble duomo, where you'll find brilliantly colored 16th-century frescoes in the Piccolomini Library. You'll have some free time to explore the Campo, the square that serves as the center of civic life in Siena. Then, journey through the countryside to the town of San Gimignano, where you'll have some free time to explore the city's medieval towers or simply admire the Tuscan hills. As the sun begins to set, you'll head to a nearby vineyard, where an included wine tasting awaits. Please note: This excursion involves moderate walking.
Venice3 nights - hotel info
A weeklong celebration of indulgence—sounds too good, but it’s true
Today, cross the sprawling plains of the Po Valley to the city of Venice. Since the Middle Ages, Ventians have celebrated the coming holy season of Lent with fantastical masks, lavish galas and a city-wide sense of merriment. This is Carnival, an annual jubilee during which both locals and visitors take to the streets in Renaissance costumes to dance, laugh, eat and drink. Your introduction to the festivities begins with some insight into the history of the famous Carnival masks, followed by the opportunity to make your own. Then, take to the streets and join the revelry.
La Serenissima springs to life along its winding canals and piazzas
Optional Excursion - Gondola Ride: Canal Cruise with Music
Optional Excursion - Gondola Ride: Canal Cruise for Two
Experience the romance of La Serenissima during a guided sightseeing tour with stops at the Bridge of Sighs and legendary St. Mark’s Square. Wind through the maze-like streets and view several important churches. Afterwards, consider joining the optional Gondola Ride with Music.
Gondola Ride: Canal Cruise with Music $65* pp
Glide down Venice's famous canals in one of the city's iconic black gondolas. Formerly the main mode of transportation around the Venetian Lagoon, all gondolas were once brightly colored. Following the Doge's decree that only nobility could travel in colored gondolas, ordinary Venetians developed the elegant black silhouettes we know today. A musician serenades you as your gondola cruises through the city. Please note: This excursion runs as weather permits. Each gondola holds between four and six passengers.
Gondola Ride: Canal Cruise for Two $165* pp
More than 100 waterways crisscross Venice, and boarding a sleek black gondola to explore them has become a time-honored tradition. On this memorable excursion, you'll enjoy a private, serenaded gondola cruise through the canals of Venice. Please note: This excursion runs as weather permits.
Don your mask, join the party and get a taste of the sweet life
Optional Excursion - Islands of the Venetian Lagoon: Burano & Torcello
You’ll have free time today to explore the city on your own. Find a hidden trattoria and enjoy a delicious Venetian lunch. Stroll across the Rialto Bridge or follow alleyways lined with boutiques of handblown glass treasures. Or, simply don a mask and join in with the throngs of partygoers all around you. Alternatively, enjoy the optional tour of the beautiful islands of Burano and Torcello. Tonight, join your fellow travelers for a farewell dinner followed by a tasting of Carnival sweets, including fritelle, chiacchere and castagnole.
Islands of the Venetian Lagoon: Burano & Torcello $65* pp
Visit the islands of the Venetian lagoon, a favorite day trip for locals and travelers alike. First travel by water taxi to Torcello, where the story of Venice began. It was here that mainlanders sought a safe haven from invading barbarians. Step inside the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, whose famous mosaics depict The Last Judgement. The next stop is the tiny fishing village of Burano, where brightly colored homes greet visitors. Wander as you please throughout Burano, and be sure to stop in at the island's bakeries.
Extend Your Stay
Add Rome $299*
Only in Rome could you sip cappuccino at a café in front of the Pantheon, buy grapes at a centuries-old market and see the Pope at his window—all in one morning. For a mix of spectacular art, grand history and exuberant street life, no other city comes close.
Rome2 nights - hotel info
Rise and shine (we hear gelato makes for an amazing breakfast)
Optional Excursion - Ancient Rome: St. Paul's Basilica & the Catacombs
Breakfast (in flight)
Arrive this morning in Rome. A Go Ahead representative greets you at the airport and escorts you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to explore Rome’s plethora of piazzas and cafes. Alternatively, join our optional excursion to the catacombs and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Ancient Rome: St. Paul's Basilica & the Catacombs $65* pp
Descend into Rome’s ancient catacombs, where early Christians buried saints and popes alongside commoners. A local guide will lead you through burial chambers before your visit to the Basilica of St. Paul, one of the four most important basilicas of Rome, originally founded by Constantine the Great. The Basilica also houses the tomb of St. Paul. Please note: Shorts and sleeveless shirts are not permitted within the basilica. Also, this excursion involves extensive walking and may be inadvisable for claustrophobic travelers.
Eat, explore, indulge in a little more of la dolce vita
Optional Excursion - Borghese Gallery & Museum
Enjoy another free day in Rome. You might choose to get to know some of the city’s districts, such as Trastevere, a charming neighborhood known for its winding cobblestone streets and collection of quaint shops and restaurants. Or, spend the morning at the Villa Borghese on our optional excursion.
Must be booked 30 days before departure
Borghese Gallery & Museum $69* pp
Today, take a guided tour of the Borghese Gallery, home to one of Italy's finest art collections. Situated in the former Villa Borghese Pinciana, the gallery consists of 20 rooms spanning two floors and features major works by Bernini, Raphael, Canova, Titian and Caravaggio.
Passport & Visa Requirements
In order to enter Italy, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. The expiration date must extend at least six months beyond the date of your return home. No visa is required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. If you’re not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact the Italian consulate for your specific entry requirements.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage; be advised that you are responsible for any such costs. Contact your airline for detailed information regarding luggage size and weight restrictions for your flight, but please note that Go Ahead travelers are restricted to one checked bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches and other internal transfers, which may include train connections or flights. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 total inches (length + width + height). Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on bag.
Clothing & Packing Tips
To ensure you’re comfortable while out exploring, we recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered. For sightseeing, we suggest bringing a sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers, as well as a lightweight sports jacket or rainwear. If you’re planning a visit to a high-end restaurant or performance, you may also want to bring dressier attire. Also, please remember that it’s preferable to avoid showing bare legs or shoulders during visits to churches or other religious sites (entrance may be denied on this basis).
There are no major health risks associated with traveling to Italy. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider for the latest updates and travel requirements.
While most of the staples of the Italian diet have already become favorites in America, be sure to try those less familiar pasta sauces and the vast range of cured hams, cheeses, rustic breads and desserts while on tour. In Italy, the cuisine is often slightly varied by region, and many cities and towns have their own specialties. Venice and Northern Italy are known for their meats and pastries, Tuscany for its wine, oil and sauces, Rome and Southern Italy for its pizzas. For more authentic meals, try local trattorias, small, family-owned restaurants that tend to be set away from the main piazzas and squares. Italians tend to indulge in long meals featuring wines and the occasional beer, followed by the requisite after-dinner drinks grappa or limoncello. American or English-style bars and pubs are not as common, although they can be found in the major cities and currently gaining in popularity, especially in Northern Italy and in Rome.
Arrival & Transportation Information
Round-trip flights arrive in Rome and depart from Venice. When you first arrive in Rome, a Go Ahead representative will meet you after clearing customs. Please remain in the arrival lounge, as the representative might be escorting one of your fellow travelers to the bus at the time of your arrival. Included transportation is by private motor coach. In your free time, you may wish to explore the three cities on foot or by public transportation. In Venice, each section of the city is connected by water bus (least expensive), water taxi or gondola. You can purchase discounted bulk passes from vendors or purchase single tickets at each dock. Florence is walkable, although frequent local buses are also available. Purchase tickets at tobacconists or at vending machines. Rome offers both underground transportation and bus service to the city’s major attractions. Subway and bus tickets may be purchased separately or in bulk.
Museums in Florence
If you are interested in visiting any of Florence's many museums during your free time, we recommend that you make reservations in advance. Additional information is available on the Polo Museale website. Please note that the museums are closed on Mondays.
Italy operates on the European standard of 220 volts.
Italy is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST).
The euro is the currency you’ll use on tour. Better rates of exchange are usually available in your destination countries, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We advise that you take a combination of bank/ATM cards and credit cards, as needed. We suggest that you inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.
Visiting Venice (Venezia) Italy for Carnevale 2012
Words simply cannot describe the experience of being a part of the world famous Carnevale 2012 in Venice, Italy as part of Go Ahead Tours "Rome, Florence and Venice with Carnevale" Tour. From the excellent hotels which were perfectly located in each city (within walking distance of all ot the sights and festivities), free WI-FI in each of the hotels, delicious meals and the rewarding optional excursions...this tour was truly outstanding from beginning to end. GoAhead you are truly to be commended for doing such a great job in putting this tour together!!! I am encouraging all of my friends to consider this tour for or another Go Ahead Tour for 2013. Thanks!!!!