Classical Italy - An Italian Culture Tour

Discover ItalyJune 5 – June 15, 2014

Experience Classical Italy - Its Culture, People, Food, and, of Course, its Magnificent Art and Architecture

Tour Itinerary

June 5th – Departure from JFK Airport – Overnight Flight to Italy

June 6th – Venice – Overnight Venice
Welcome to Venice! One of the world’s most remarkable cities. Your tour director, Claudia Zeni, will welcome you at the airport for a private bus transfer to your hotel on the Venice mainland. In the afternoon, an orientation tour of Venice with a walk along the Grand Canal. Back to the hotel for dinner and overnight.

June 7th – Venice – Overnight Venice
Your day starts with a private boat ride along the Giudecca Canal to the magnificent St. Mark’s Square, followed by a half day private guided tour of must-see city sights, like St. Mark’s Basilica flanked by angels and blending architectural and decorative styles from the East to the West, as well as the sumptuous Doge’s Palace, once the official residence of the elected officials of the Venetian Republic. An optional gondola ride is recommended in order to enjoy the Venetian romantic atmosphere at its fullest! Return to your hotel for dinner and overnight.

June 8th – Verona – Lake Garda – Overnight – Garda
Morning departure to Verona, which is second only to Rome for its vast number of Roman Ruins, and a private half day guided tour will make you enjoy the old city, with the Roman coliseum, Romeo and Juliet balcony, Piazza Erbe and the old castle. You will have free time for shopping along Via Mazzini, the shopping street in Verona or to enjoy a gelato or a light lunch with a drink sitting down at a cafe’ in Piazza Bra facing the coliseum. Continuation to the Northern Side of Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy, where you will walk along the picturesque shores of the lake and through the town of Riva and its surroundings among medieval castles and Mediterranean vegetation. After checking-in at your hotel, your tour director and driver will take you up to the top of a mountain overlooking the lake where the charming and unspoiled villages of Canale and Tenno are located, from where you can enjoy a spectacular view over Lake Garda, and have dinner at a local “trattoria” near a beautiful castle, to taste the typical food of this region. Overnight at your hotel in Garda.

June 9th – Lake Garda Boat Ride – Wine Tour & Tasting - Claudia’s House
You will start the day with a mini boat cruise which will take you to the villages of Torbole and Limone, with a stop in Limone to enjoy a walk through this pretty little town on the lake shores, famous for its Mediterranean vegetation with palm trees, lemon and orange trees, cypress trees, olive trees and numerous varieties of flowers. Return to Riva and departure for the so called “Valley of the Lakes” to have a wine tour and tasting with a light lunch where you will enjoy locally produced products such as cheese and salami. In the afternoon Claudia will then take you to her home for a drink and a “merenda” with local Northern Italy specialties, including a good apple strudel! Return to your hotel for dinner and an evening of local folk music. Overnight at your hotel in Garda.

June 10th - Florence - Overnight Montecatini
Breakfast at hotel and morning departure to Florence, renowned as “the birthplace of Renaissance” for its art and architecture, which flourished from the 13th to the 16th century. You will have a private guided walking tour of its wonderful center including the: Duomo, Baptistry, Giotto’s bell tower, Old Bridge, Signoria Square, and Santa Croce. In the afternoon you will have free time to visit a museum or to enjoy the city on your own. Your tour director will then take you to the picturesque open market, where you can visit jewelry and leather stores. You will then continue to nearby Montecatini. Check in at hotel. Dinner and overnight at hotel.

June 11th – Cinque Terre – Overnight Montecatini
After breakfast, morning departure to picturesque Cinque Terre, typical small villages built on a rock spur over the Mediterranean Sea. Here you will enjoy a tour by boat to admire the beautiful five fishing villages, including Monterosso and Vernazza, considered the pearls of Cinque Terre. You will also have time to hike together along a path from where you’ll have a breath-taking view over the Mediterranean blue waters and rugged coastal mountains below. Dinner and overnight at hotel.

June 12th – Pisa – Mediterranean Luncheon – Overnight Rome
A morning departure to Pisa with a stop for a visit to the famous Leaning Tower and nearby Cathedral. Continuation to the Mediterranean Sea, and lunch at a local restaurant with local specialties and time for a walk along the beautiful sandy beach. Continuation to Rome along the Aurelia Road, dinner and overnight at your hotel.

June 13th – Rome – Overnight Rome
Your day in the magnificent Italian capital will start with a full day private guided tour of the Roman excavations and the Coliseum. You will then continue your tour to the Vatican State, to visit the Vatican Museums, including the Candelabra Gallery, the Map Gallery, and the Tapestries, as well as the Sistine Chapel, and amazing St. Peter’s Basilica. Dinner and overnight at your hotel in central Rome.

June 14th – Rome – Overnight Rome
This morning you will enjoy a half-day private guided tour of the beautiful squares and fountains such as the magnificent Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, home to Bernini’s famous fountain. The afternoon will be free for shopping or sightseeing. A farewell celebration dinner at a family-owned Roman restaurant and overnight at your hotel.

June 15th – Departure from Rome
A morning departure to Rome’s Fiumicino airport for your flight home. Arrivederci!

Tour Price*:
• $2,199 per person double occupancy - Airfare not included and meet the group at the Venice airport
• $3,899 per person double occupancy from New York
• Prices from other departure cities upon request.
• For single room occupancy, add $600

The Price Includes:

  • Deluxe motor coach throughout, tolls, accommodation and meals for the driver
  • Tour director throughout (Claudia Zeni), accommodation and meals for the tour director
  • 9 nights of accommodation in double rooms with private bathrooms at very good 4 star hotels
  • Half board treatment, buffet breakfast and three-course dinner daily, as indicated in the itinerary (Seven dinners at the hotel, one dinner at a typical restaurant in Lake Garda area and one farewell dinner at restaurant in Rome) As to the hotels in Rome, many of them provide dinner service and nearby restaurants.
  • Full assistance from Riva Mondo Viaggi offices.
  • Half-day guided tour of Venice, Verona, Florence, and Rome with a professional English-speaking  guide
  • Full day guided tour of Rome with a professional English speaking local guide
  • Return boat transfer to St. Mark’s Square in Venice
  • Full day excursion by bus and by boat to Cinque Terre (should we have bad weather, the excursion will be arranged partially by bus and partially by local train)
  • Visit of a wine cellar near Lake Garda and wine tasting with a snack
  • Evening party with music on Lake Garda
  • Visit to Claudia Zeni’s home with a drink and a snack
  • Boat ride on Lake Garda
  • One lunch along the Mediterranean coast near Pisa
  • Local city tax at hotels in Montecatini (euro 1.40 per person per night) and in Rome (euro 3.00 per person per night). At the moment there are no local city taxes requested in other cities that we will visit.
  • Headphones for the guided tours in Rome
  • Travel information
  • Taxes and transportation charges (valid at the moment, subject to change for 2014)
  • Entrance fees to Vatican Museum
  • Round trip flight from and to JFK Airport

The price doesn’t include:

  • Airfare to and from JFK airport
  • Dinner beverages
  • Lunches, except for the one along the Mediterranean coast
  • Entrance fees (except for the Vatican Museums)
  • Personal extras
  • Gratuities
  • Airline baggage fees
  • Insurance - Health, Baggage, Accident, Trip Cancellation, etc.
  • Items of a personal nature such as gifts and souvenirs
  • Any other feature nor mentioned under the “price includes”

*Price is based on an exchange rate of .77 Euro = $1.00, on current local taxes and a 21% Vat in effect at the moment. The final price of the tour may change if any of these rates change.

Tour Leaders

Dr. Joe Manjone, past president of Waldorf and former Columbia Southern University provost, will be one of the leaders for this cultural tour of romantic Italy. He has an outstanding knowledge of the people and customs of Italy. He has conducted numerous tours to Italy and other parts of Europe while serving as a director of Educational Travel at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He also has worked and lived in Italy.

Claudia Zeni, an Italian travel and tour director, has led many tours. She is fluent in Italian, English and Spanish and is known for providing personalized service and tours. She has personally arranged and designed this Classical Italian Tour for Columbia Southern University and Waldorf.


A $800 deposit must submitted upon successful completion of this registration form by January 15, 2014. All remaining fees and charges must be paid by April 1, 2014. Please make checks payable to Columbia Southern University. Please mail to Dr. Joe Manjone, Columbia Southern University, 21982 University Lane, Orange Beach, Al 36561. CSU or Waldorf alumni status is not required.

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Cancellation Policy

The $800 deposit and any other payments are not refundable after January 15, 2014.


All participants are recommended to purchase health and accident insurance. Baggage and trip cancellation insurance are also recommended. You may already be covered through a personal health and accident and/or homeowners policy. Please check with your insurer to determine if coverage is in effect during foreign travel. Travel, health, accident, and trip cancellation insurance are available at an additional charge.

For Additional Information

Please contact Dr. Joe Manjone, Columbia Southern University, 21982 University Lane, Orange Beach, AL 36561, by phone at 251-213-0908, or by email at