In Bologna, rose-red palaces glow, lavish churches shine and teetering towers strive for the skies – all looped together by miles of classical colonnades. Hidden amongst the shadows of its porticoes is a veritable treasure trove; from elaborately frescoed churches and Byzantine masterpieces to medieval and Renaissance palazzi. It’s not all about the past, though: Bologna is a vibrant town with a fine gastronomic tradition, thanks to the fertile lands of the surrounding Emilia-Romagna. Beautiful though Bologna is, there is more to this region than just the city: dotted amongst the gloriously verdant countryside are proud towns rich with Etruscan history and dynastic legacies, and the region yields wonderful produce (Parma’s cured ham, Modena’s rich vinegar and the vast truckles of aged parmesan cheese are its most famous exports). Diverse and understated, Bologna and Emilia-Romagna offer all the delights of Italy with far fewer tourists than its neighbouring provinces.
based on two sharing in a twin/double room, with a minimum of 35 passengers travelling in a specific month
April, May, June, September, October
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The old centre of Bologna has a Roman core, is encircled by the remains of ancient walls, and exudes charm. The wonderful tapestry of architecture speaks of the formidable and prestigious past of the once-powerful Bolognesi citizens. Discover this city’s famous Fountain of Neptune, its two tilting towers, the grand Piazza Maggiore, and its array of beautiful basilicas and palazzos, before exploring the incredible collections of art that reside here. The National Picture Gallery of Bologna and its Zambeccari Collection display significant pieces from the 14th to 19th centuries, tracing the esteemed history of the region.
An early capital of the Western Roman Empire, this lovely but unassuming town is lifted from the everyday by its stunning collections of religious mosaics – indeed, Ravenna’s masterpieces are considered the world’s finest examples of Byzantine art. Explore these vivid artworks in the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo; the Cathedral of San Vitale; the Neonian Baptistery, and the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe, all of which form part of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Today pretty and provincial, but once dynastic and imperial, Ferrara was a stronghold of the powerful Este family for 300 years. The town’s Renaissance, UNESCO-listed centre is strewn with palaces linked by arcades, a Gothic cathedral with Romanesque features, and dominated by the 14th century Castello Estense – former seat of the Este dynasty. Ferrara was a major centre for art in its glory days, and today the work of the highly regarded Ferrara School can be enjoyed at the Pinacoteca Nazionale which is found inside the grand, 15th century Palazzo dei Diamanti.
Hand picked destinations
The Eternal City of Rome is overflowing with historical and archaeological marvels to explore. This thriving city has a dazzling array of museums, statues, galleries and mosaics amongst its iconic monuments.
There is something utterly enchanting about a city with elegant gondolas gliding down the waterways in place of roads. Venice captures the hearts of travellers with its fascinating history, exceptional architecture and world-class museums.
Take in the sweeping panoramic vistas of Umbria, and you’ll immediately see why it’s known as the green heart of Italy. The densely wooded hills of this rustic, landlocked region are studded with medieval hill towns which guard historic and artistic treasures.