This tour is a tribute to the Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem. The program will feature visits to all the major sights of Malta, including the sister island of Gozo, with guides specialized in the history of the Order, followed by sightseeing in the Italian capital, where our favorite local guide, Fausta, will lead the way. The tour’s pace will be relaxed, with extended stays at only two hotels, one in Malta and one in Rome.
Depart Toronto Pearson airport on Alitalia at 22:25 with dinner and a light breakfast served on board.
Arrival in Rome at 13:00 with a connecting flight to Malta at 16:50 arriving in Valletta at 18:15. Meet and Greet your guide with private coach & transfer to the centrally-located 3-star hotel, check-in, and walk to a local restaurant for a welcome dinner.
After breakfast, walking tour of the fortified historical centre of Malta’s capital, Valletta, classified in its entirety as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/131); 11:00 AM we will enjoy “The Malta Experience” where you discover 7,000 years of history in a audio visual show, after which we cross the road & enjoy a fully guided tour of the La Sacra Infermia. Valletta will also be Europe’s “cultural capital” in 2018(www.gov.mt/en/about%20malta/valletta/pages/european-capital-of-culture-in-2018.aspx). The old town is inextricably linked to the history of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, originally an order of “fighting monks,” similar to the Knights Templar, established in the context of the Crusades. Built after the 1565 Great Siege of Malta, and named after Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette, Among the highlights of our visit will be St. John's Cathedral with its stunning baroque interior, decorated with paintings by artists such as Caravaggio and Flemish tapestries, and a crypt with tombs of Grand Masters, including La Valette; Republic Street, the main shopping street; the imposing walls and gates ramparts built by the Knights in the late 16th century, featured on UNESCO’s tentative list of world heritage sites (http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/982); the 17th-century Manoel Theatre, a miniature version of Milan’s La Scala: Following a break for lunch we then visit the National Library on Republic Square, where the archives of the Knights of St. John are kept; and the ‘Holy Infirmary,’ located beneath the Mediterranean Conference Centre with a capacity of over 600 beds a state-of-the-art hospital at the time of its establishment by the Order in 1574. Dinner tonight is on your own.
This morning we will have a full morning guided tour of the Grand Master’s Palace. This building built in 1571 has always hosted the government in Malta, first the knights, then under the British it served as the Governor’s Palace, and now it hosts the President’s office as well as the House of Representatives.
The Grandmaster’s Palace & the State Rooms are built around two courtyards. Inside is the famous Council Chamber and other rooms and passages which are all splendidly furnished. The Palace armoury is also located here and is well worth visiting. Following some free time for lunch you can carry on your visit of the Palace or Fort St. Elmo. Group dinner this evening in a local restaurant.
Following-breakfast we meet in the lobby of the hotel and make the short journey to the city gate to embark on a full day walking tour of the original Collacchio; the historical centre of Birgu an area of narrow streets containing “The Inquisitors Palace and St Joseph’s Oratory, Maritime Museum, Main Square & Fort Angelo. No group dinner this evening.
Morning excursion to Malta’s picturesque “Old City,” located high on a ridge in the island’s interior, known to the Romans as Melita and later divided into two parts, Mdina and Rabat; this was the island’s capital before the Order arrived and decided to settle on the coast. Mdina/Rabat boasts ancient city walls and gates, fine residences of aristocratic families, as well as churches and catacombs, associated with the arrival here in 60AD of St. Paul, who reportedly converted the Roman governor to Christianity. This afternoon you can visit Ta’Qali market and roadside stands before returning to Valletta via the coastal resorts of Sliema and St. Julian’s. Final dinner in Malta at a local restaurant.
Free morning in Valetta for some last minute shopping and sightseeing before transferring to the airport for your short flight to Rome where on arrival you will meet your private coach and transferred to your centrally located hotel. Brief orientation tour of the local area. Dinner on your own.
This morning we focus on Vatican City, with thorough visits to St. Peter’s Basilica with its huge central altar, papal crypt, treasury, massive dome and Michelangelo’s evocative Pietà, as well as the Vatican Museum, featuring frescoes by Raphael, paintings by Giotto, and antiquities such as the celebrated Hellenistic sculpture, Laocoön. But the absolute highlight will of course be the Sistine Chapel, venue of the papal elections, with Michelangelo’s superb paintings. In the afternoon, leisurely exploration (on foot) of the picturesque district around Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. No group dinner this evening, and there may be an opportunity to attend a classical music concert (optional).
Morning exploration of “Imperial Rome,” featuring the still very impressive ruins dating back to the time of the Roman Empire and rulers such as Caesar, Augustus, Nero, and Trajan. Highlights will include the Colosseum, the Imperial Forums and the Roman Forum (flanked by the over-the-top Monument to King Victor Emmanuel, known as the “Wedding Cake”!), the Circus Maximus, the triumphal arches of Constantine and Titus, and Trajan’s Column. In the afternoon, leisurely walking tour to the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps.
Following breakfast in the hotel the day is free for you to explore Rome.
Farewell group dinner this evening in a local restaurant.
Following a leisurely breakfast there will be a late morning private transfer to Fiumicino Airport for your return flight at 15:15 with arrival in Toronto at 19:05
- Return flight with Alitalia and partner carriers, including all airport taxes, security fees and fuel surcharges; - Accommodation in 3-star hotel in Malta and a 4-star hotel in Rome, based on double occupancy – the single room supplement is $720.00 - Daily breakfast and a total of four dinners; - All transfers, sightseeing, and excursions as described in the itinerary; - Arrival & departure group transfers in Malta - Tours in Malta with private coach and Licensed Tour Guide from Sept 21 to 25 - Entrance fees to Malta experience, Sacra Infermeria, Inquisitors Palace, Maritime Museum, Fort St. Angelo Ggatija Temples, The Citadel, Grand Masters Palace State Rooms, Palace Armoury, Fort St. Elmo, Palazzo Pariso & Gardens, St. Paul’s Grotto, Mdina Cathedral, St. John’s Co. Cathedral & Manoel Theatre and Grand Harbour Cruise.
- All items of a personal nature; - Wine, beer, mineral water and similar beverages with dinners; - Gratuities to local guides and drivers - Travel insurance, available on request.
January 19 - 27, 2021
$5,474 from Toronto based on double accommodation
March 02 - 19, 2021
$4,995 from Toronto based on double occupancy
April 13 - 26, 2021
$4,895 from Toronto, including air, based on double occupancy