gelato making workshop and tasting. Then depart for Assisi to see the stone cell where St. Francis of Assisi lived and founded the Franciscan order of Friars. In the Basilica of St. Francis, located above his tomb, you will see beautiful frescoes by Giotto and Cimabue. Continue to Tuscany and its magnificent capital, Florence.
Culture Quest. See the Basilica of St. Mark and the Bridge of Sighs, which connected the old prisons of Venice to the interrogation rooms of the Doge's Palace. A visit to this gothic Palazzo Ducale, once the home of the doge, or "Duke", of Venice is included.
Optional Extensions and Extra Nights:
Further immerse yourself in the culture and wonders of la dolce vita with an extra night in Rome, including the services of your ACIS Tour Manager, at the beginning of your tour.
Fantastic!! Well planned, organized, and executed. Victoria was an amazing guide. Her knowledge and expertise were astounding and she made everything fun!! I was so privileged to be there.
I absolutely loved seeing all that Anna showed us during this trip. Overall, I had to rate the trip as only good because of the strictness of our leaders and the excess of some of the activities. I wish we had more time to explore Italy on our own.
The trip was amazing, although we had a mix up with our tickets, and almost missed a connecting flight. And half of the groups luggage did not land in San Francisco on the return flight. Ours was however delivered to our home within a few days.
Kate Webb tour manager was excellent! Extremely knowledgeable on many topics and cities visited and handled the tour with great professionalism. Would request her again.
Would have been perfect except for having the same meal every night. Should be coordinated so this does not happen. The food is one of the things we look forward to.
still thinking about it!
Would have liked to have had more time DURING walking tours to snap photos and walk into some of the shops along the way. Vouchers for meals would have been nice to choose some of our own meals for variety (adults group) although meals mostly good.
This trip exceeded expectations on every level.
Group Leader 2011
Our tour manager, Espin Bowder, was outstanding. He provided excellent service, helped us make day to day decisions, and was open and flexible, easy to work with. A pleasure!
Group Leader 2011
Traveling in the off season, February and with a small group, contributed to the ease of traveling and sightseeing. We were able to do lots of extras.
Group Leader 2011
Every detail was covered, nice planning.
Group Leader 2011
Wonderful pace, superb blend of education, culture and entertainment! It was a fantastic program overall!
Group Leader 2011
This was the first visit to Europe for most of our students and parents, and what a perfect introduction. You do need to update the rating system. Excellent is such faint praise. In 20 years we've never had a trip that was less than life-altering.
Group Leader 2011
Our guide, Giacomo, was a very knowledgeable, well-spoken, & intelligent young man. We enjoyed his calm demeanor, his commentary and his sense of humor. He was very patient with our oft-times challenging group, handling ages from about 12 to 67.
Our tour manager was FANTASTIC!
You put three different age groups together and that was not good.
The highlight of my trip was stopping in Siena and getting a true vibe for Italian culture.
What to See
Campo de' Fiori
This piazza becomes one of Rome's liveliest outdoor food markets in the mornings. After dark however, crowds spill out of the restaurants into the square. The statue in the center is of Giordano Bruno; it’s up to you to find out why he became famous.
Borghetto Flaminio, Piazza della Marina 32
Open only on Sundays, this partly covered flea market has plenty of knick-knacks, antiques, and designer clothing. Travelers have the opportunity to rummage amongst the goods with Rome's upper class and international celebrities.
Archeoart, Via del Teatro Marcelo 12
Across the road from the Campidoglio is this workshop that sells incredible archeological reproductions of artifacts. Here you can find items from all eras of Roman history, from 10,000 BC to the times of the Roman Empire.
Chocolate & Praline Cioccolateria, Vicolo della Torretta 18
This shop has a charming interior with elegantly painted walls, but the sweetest thing is of course the chocolates. With traditional recipies and natural ingredients, this shop is an excellent place to stop for a treat after a long day of shopping.
Florence is a great place to shop for fine leather goods, jewelry, and clothing. Ponte Vecchio is where some of the best deals on gold can be found. Other nice shopping locations are Via Tornabuoni for high quality (and high fashion) leather goods, Via della Vigna Nuova, around the Duomo, the Flea Market near Santa Croce and San Lorenzo, where the open-air market is popular with visitors.
Carnevale, a festival that lasts ten days prior to Ash Wednesday, is marked by wild festivities and beautiful, traditional masks and costumes. Even if you’re not around to take part in the winter fun, a handcrafted, Venetian mask (which can be bought year round) can make a wonderful souvenir. Spend time looking through the shops learning about the various styles of masks and costumes, each with its own name and history, and pick your favorite!
Castel Sant'Angelo, Lungotevere Castello, 50
Just down Via della Conciliazione from St. Peter's, the massive fortress known as Castel Sant'Angelo, first built by Emperor Hadrian and later used as a papal residence, holds an interesting artillery and arms museum where you can see old battle garb. The papal rooms are ornately decorated, and the views of Rome, especially of St. Peter's, from the top of the castle are breathtaking. Outside, stroll past Bernini’s angels on Ponte Sant’Angelo as you cross the Tiber towards the historic center. Open daily, closed Monday.
The National Museum of Rome
The massive collection of the Museum of Rome is truly unparalleled, for this institution holds some of the most important artifacts of Western History in the world. The collection is contained in three separate facilities: the Baths of Diocletian, which include the Octagonal Hall, the Palazzo Massimo, and the Palazzo Altemps.
The Museums of the Vatican
Within the Vatican there are dozens of museums to be explored. Some of the higlights include: The Egyptian Museum, The Gallery of the Maps, and the Chiaramonti Museum.
Uffizi Gallery, Piazzale degli Uffizi
Allow plenty of time to admire the greatest collection of Florentine Renaissance art in the world. Highlights include paintings by Da Vinci (Adoration of the Magi), Botticelli (Primavera), Raphael (Madonna of the Goldfinch), and Michelangelo (Holy Family), but worth admiring also is the building itself. Inside, frescoes that are artistic enough to match the paintings hanging on the walls adorn the ceilings. Outside, the inner courtyard is filled with sculptures of famous people from Italy’s literary past. Open Tuesday through Sunday.
Bargello, Via del Proconsolo 4
The Bargello houses some of the greatest Renaissance sculptures, including masterworks by Michelangelo, Donatello, and Cellini, wonderfully displayed in what was once a prison in medieval Florence. Upstairs in the lavish General Council Hall, you can admire the panels by Ghiberti and Brunelleschi that were submitted in competition for the assignment to design the Baptistry doors, as well as a youthful David by Donatello. Open daily.
Galleria dell'Accademia, Via Ricasoli 58-60
The Accademia is the place to see one of Michelangelo’s most recognized works—the towering, spectacular, white marble David, which became the symbol of Renaissance Florence. Just like David who took on the giant Goliath and defeated him, Florence saw itself as being capable of taking on any challenge. Also of interest are the Four Slaves; being left in a rough, unfinished state, Michelangelo’s figures seem to be struggling to break free from the stone. Open Tuesday through Sunday.
Galleria dell'Accademia, Vaporetto: Accademia
Perhaps the greatest introduction to Venetian art in the world with paintings By Titian, Carpaccio, Tintoretto, and many others spanning five centuries of works, from medieval times to the present. The museum is housed in a former convent and Church of St. Mary of Charity. Carpaccio's Cycle of St. Ursula, and Giorgione's visually curious, The Tempest, are all on display here. Open daily.
Ca' d'Oro, Cannaregio 3933
The “Golden House,” one of the many buildings that capture your attention as you move down the Grand Canal, is so named for the gold-leaf that originally adorned its canal-side façade. Having gone through countless restorations (the most recent of which is still in progress), the palazzo currently houses the Franchetti collection, which includes Mantegna's St. Sebastian and other art and sculpture. Open daily.
Ca' Rezzonico, Vaporetto: Ca' Rezzonico
Built between 1667 and 1758, this amazing palace, one of few open to the public, retains all of its Baroque splendor. Its rooms, filled with paintings, frescoes and period furniture, now contain the museum of eighteenth century Venice. The ballroom, designed by Giorgio Massari, is a work of art! Open daily. Closed Friday.
Spanish Steps & Piazza di Spagna, Metro: Spagna
Spend an afternoon wandering the shopping area around the Spanish Steps and Via Condotti, or watch the local artists paint the surrounding scenes. The church at the top of these magnificent steps is the Trinita' de' Monti.
Originally where Rome's working class congregated, this area has become one of the more fashionable places to live and to visit. Wide, cobble-stoned Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere forms the heart of this vibrant area, where locals and tourists come out in the evening to stroll beneath the facade of the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere. The church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere is also one of Rome's more interesting churches and Piazza Sonnino provides a variety of restaurants to try.
St. Peter’s Square, Metro: Ottaviano
Although your tour manager will take you to St. Peter's Square and Basilica, another visit to ascend the dome's spiraling stairs to the top will afford one of the greatest views of Rome. Be forewarned: the stairs are not for the claustrophobic! Basilica and Dome are open daily.
Another feat by Emperor Hadrian, the Pantheon stands in its glory much as it did in the ancient days. This was the largest dome ever until the creation of Brunelleschi's dome at the Florence Cathedral of 1420-36, and it's still the largest masonary dome in the world! Take time to also explore Piazza Minerva around the left side of the Pantheon and the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. This beautiful church boasts Michelangelo's Risen Christ. Pantheon: Open daily. Free admission.
Villa Borghese, Metro: Flaminia
The largest public park in Rome is the perfect place to wander or enjoy a picnic away from the bustle and noise of the city streets. Don't miss the Galleria Borghese, newly restored, filled with famous works and some of Bernini's early sculptures, such as Apollo and Daphne. The Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, full of modern European art, is also in this area. Afterwards, exit by Via Veneto walk down one of Rome's most famous streets. Keep your eyes out for the American Embassy, which resides in a beautiful palazzo surrounded by palm trees. Galleria Borghese: Open daily, closed Monday.
Piazza Navona & Campo de' Fiori
The long oval shape of Piazza Navona is due to its original use as Emperor Domitian's race track 1,900 years ago! As the centuries went by, Romans used the bricks that made up the sides of the track to build homes and shops right along the edges, and today it is filled with street artists, famous cafes, and people from around the world enjoying an afternoon espresso or evening gelato. Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers graces the center of the piazza.
Cappelle Medicee, Piazza San Lorenzo
The tomb within these chapels that Michelangelo designed for Cardinal Giulio de Medici, a member of Florence’s most powerful family, houses a magnificent sculpture group by the artist featuring Day and Night on one side, and on the other, Dawn and Dusk. The chapels themselves were constructed in honor of four members of the Medici family. The Cappelle Medicee is located within the San Lorenzo Church complex but has a separate entrance. Open daily, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Duomo, Piazza Duomo
Brunelleschi’s dome is as awe-inspiring today as when his revolutionary feat of engineering was built in 1420. Brush up on the history of the cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore, and the cupola, its characteristic feature, then see it up close and personal by climbing the stairs to the top of the dome for a 360 degree view of Florence and the countryside. Bring an extra roll of film! Open daily.
Boboli Gardens, Piazza Pitti 1
Located behind Palazzo Pitti across the River Arno, wandering the Boboli Gardens is a relaxing way to spend an hour or two in the afternoon after a morning of visiting museums. Laid out by the Medici family, it offers a panoramic view of Florence and the Tuscan hills, as well as many statues, grottoes and fountains. Open daily.
Campanile, Piazza San Marco, Vaporetto: San Marco
The 323 foot bell tower, in front of St. Mark’s Cathedral, offers wonderful views of the lagoon and the city. The tower was first built in the twelfth century and stood until 1902, when it mysteriously collapsed. Ten years later the city's efforts to reconstruct the campanile in its original form were completed. It was here that in 1609 Galileo showed his telescope to Venice’s doge. Listen for the five bells that toll each day. Open daily.
Insalata Ricca, near the Piazza Navona
Meaning "rich salad," this restaurant serves moderately priced, specialized salads, as well as other traditional Italian food. Like many of restaurants in the city, the hours of operation extend later into the afternoon, making a 3 p.m. lunch possible.
Giolitti's, Uffici del Vicario, 40
The oldest gelateria in Rome!
Pastarito Pizzarito, Via Veneto, 13
A refined but informal setting for true lovers of pasta and pizza. What's unique about this restaurant is that you can choose between a classical Italian pizza, or pick your own ingredients. There are numerous locations around Rome, as well as the rest of Italy!
La Pigna (Piazza della Pigna)
A real, family-run trattoria located in a quiet square just behind the Pantheon.
Da Giggetto (Jewish Ghetto)
This restaurant serves typical Jewish Italian food and has been known to have the best fried artichokes in the area. It's recommended that you make reservations early, before it fills up!
Il Porcospino, Piazza Madonna degli Aldobrandini 11/12 R
This wine bar and trattoria, situated in the S.Lorenzo neighborhood in front of Cappelle Medicee, is a perfect place to sample delicious and traditional Tuscan cuisine.
Il Gelato Vivoli, 7, via isole delle stinche
One of the most popular and delicious spots for gelato in Florence.
Caffè Del Doge, Calle dei Cinque, San Polo
Once a coffee-roasting workshop, it has now become a popular café where one can get a delicious cup of Italian coffee for a euro or two.
Ae Oche, Calle del Tentor, Santa Croce
This growing pizza chain is a popular place for students to hang out. Choose from over 90 different types of pizza, and while you wait, admire the vintage U.S. travel advertisments lining the walls.
Ai Tre Scaini, Calle Michelangelo, Giudecca
Known for being quite chaotic, this trattoria offers large traditional pasta and seafood meals. If you like, you can eat out in the garden too.
Al Vecio Penasa, Calle delle Rasse, Castello
For a wide selection of sandwhices at a reasonable price, this place is great for the tired traveler.
Curious about travel with ACIS? Find out answers to your burning questions below.
For Group Leaders and Teachers:see all FAQs
Certainly. You have three different options:
Family members or colleagues may travel as assistants (even if minors, though children must be five years or older to travel in an ACIS group), according to the terms of the Group Leader Stipend Chart.* Assistants must be 21 years old and have at least five participants to their name to be eligible for the Experience Bonus.
Family members or colleagues may take a 20% discount from the program fee. These participants will not count toward your free trip, stipend or other group leader benefits. Like all paying participants, they are subject to mandatory fees (registration, tax, etc.) as well as full payment deadlines.
3. $150 Child Discount
For children under the age of 12, you may take a flat $150 Child Discount (plus the 20% Family/Colleague Discount) off their program fee, but they will still be subject to mandatory fees. The child's registration will not count toward your free trip, stipend or other group leader benefits. The minimum age to travel with an ACIS group is five years old.
*Anyone can become an assistant to the group, provided they have at least one full-paying participant to their credit.
Can a paying participant become an assistant?
Yes. This must be done no later than 65 days before departure and an ACIS Assistant Registration Form must be submitted. Assistants added or canceled within 90 days of departure will be charged a $100 late fee payable either by the applicable assistant or the group leader. Please inform us immediately of these changes in writing.
What if my assistant must cancel?
Please inform ACIS immediately. We regret that if the cancellation occurs within 65 days of departure, we will charge the canceling assistant a $150 late cancellation fee and may not be able to accommodate a substitute assistant. If the cancellation is within 45 days of departure, the assistant must pay a $250 late cancellation fee (see ACIS Assistant Registration Form for policy) and their stipend credits are not transferable. Please always alert us in writing as soon as possible when an assistant cancels.
Do I receive travel insurance as a group leader?
Every ACIS Group Leader receives coverage under our most enhanced protection plan, the Ultimate Protection Plan complimentary for any tour they lead.
What if the group leader must cancel?
A mutual effort is made to find a qualified substitute teacher or other adult who will assume full group leader responsibilities. Participants who choose not to travel with the replacement group leader are subject to the standard cancellation/refund policy
Can I stay on after my group returns home?
Yes. An Alternate Return Request Form must be completed and returned to ACIS no later than 90 days before departure. You will be responsible for any additional flight costs, and must arrange for a responsible adult (preferably an assistant) to take charge of your group on the flight home. You must obtain written permission from a parent/guardian of each participant, naming the adult in charge. There will be a $150 charge for any change made within 90 days of departure, and no changes are possible within 65 days.
Can I stay in a single room?
Single accommodations are provided free of charge for group leaders who have eight or more paying participants counted to their credit AND who do not travel with a spouse or an assistant of the same sex. For those traveling in 2010/2011, see our Service Guarantee. In the unlikely event that a single room is not available, ACIS will reimburse you $20 per hotel night. Eligibility for the single room is based on the standard 1:6 prorate and is non-transferable. If the above does not apply, you may also elect to pay a surcharge of $40 per hotel night for a single room. Single rooms are not available aboard cruise ships, overnight ferries or trains, in China, Africa, Russia and most residence programs.
For Students and Parents:see all FAQs
ACIS groups travel on scheduled flights, using all the major carriers. These include American Airlines, Air France, Aerolineas Argentinas, Alitalia, Finnair, British Airways, British Midland Airways, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Aer Lingus, Icelandair, Iberia, Spanair, Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines Ltd., Northwest, Air New Zealand, Olympic Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Taca International Airlines, TAP Air Portugal, United Airlines, US Airways, Air Europa, and Virgin Atlantic. You'll receive flight information as your departure date approaches.
How many people travel in a group?
ACIS groups average anywhere from 35 to 45 participants traveling together on a bus, led by an ACIS Tour Manager. Small groups are often combined to create one bus group. This is the group with whom you share your travel experience. You eat your meals together, stay in the same accommodations, and travel together on the bus. It's an opportunity to make lifelong friendships!
Tell us more about the tour manager.
"Tour manager" is an important term in educational travel. It refers to your bus group leader, who is rigorously trained and specially selected to assist your group while overseas. ACIS Tour Managers are famous for their multifaceted roles, both educational and logistical. An ACIS Tour Manager is part commentator, counselor, troubleshooter, advocate, and stopwatch! He or she supervises hotel check-ins, directs the bus driver and leads educational activities.
Most importantly, ACIS Tour Managers are travel gurus. They thrive on sharing their passion and love for the cultures of the world, giving you the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of those who live and work there. Over the years, we've employed university professors, film directors, journalists, musicians, business professionals, and other creative achievers. Our tour managers are consistently recognized as top in the industry. You'll receive more information about your tour manager as your departure date approaches.
Your ACIS Tour Manager maintains a professional relationship with the group but is not directly responsible for enforcing discipline or the ACIS behavior guidelines. That is the responsibility of the your group leader. It is your tour manager's responsibility, however, to report to your group leader any infractions and to be sure that ACIS behavior guidelines are adhered to.
Where do we stay?
ACIS groups stay in three- and four-star conveniently located hotels. We place a priority on booking hotels in good locations and safe areas, with convenient access to both local attractions and public transportation.
Students generally stay in rooms with two or three beds. During peak travel periods, hotels sometimes add an extra bed to accommodate heavy bookings. ACIS attempts to prevent this but cannot guarantee that it will never happen. Some hotel rooms in France have a Grand Lit (an oversize double bed for two) instead of twin beds. Those who have paid the adult surcharge stay in double rooms in hotels but not on overnight ferries or trains.
An ACIS bus group is typically made up of two, three, or four groups from around the U.S. who quickly get to know each other and feel part of one overall group. Depending on the mix of male and female students in the bus group, students may be rooming with participants from other groups. Don't worry, this is a great way to meet new people and make some new friends!
The group leader will create a variety of rooming combinations before you leave, in order to make it easier for your tour manager to work out the rooming when you check in to your hotel.
Check-in time at most hotels is early to mid-afternoon. If you arrive overseas early in the morning, you likely have time to change money and do some exploring before you check in.
What will we have to eat?
You will enjoy a variety of meals en route, mixing both native and familiar cuisines depending on your area of travel. Keep an open mind and be willing to sample everything—that's what travel is all about!
Most days you will be served a continental breakfast that includes a variety of fresh rolls, cereal, pastry, butter and jam, coffee, tea or hot chocolate. In Australia and China, you will be served an American-style hot buffet breakfast. On trips to the Americas you may be served the traditional rice and beans. In some hotels in Britain, eggs or other items may be included. In Europe, the larger hotels sometimes serve eggs and other American-style breakfast items for an extra charge.
On most ACIS trips, you will enjoy lunch on your own. Be adventurous and experiment. Many travelers do what the locals do; instead of having an expensive restaurant meal, they buy fresh ingredients at a local market, then put together a sandwich and have a picnic lunch in a city park.
On most tours, beverages at dinner are not included. The are included on tours to China, Costa Rica, Peru, and occasionally other destinations. Sometimes your waiter may put soda or mineral water down on the table without being asked. Be aware that you will be charged for any beverages you consume.
Although ACIS will try to accommodate special-needs meals including kosher, vegetarian and low salt, we cannot guarantee all requests.
How much spending money will I need?
Spending needs vary depending on personal habits, but a typical allowance is $50 per day. This allows for lunch, snacks, soft drinks, postage, souvenirs, local transportation during free time, free-time activities, and optional excursions not already included in your itinerary. Most ACIS participants carry ATM cards, travelers checks and credit cards. ACIS has compiled all the information you need to know in Money Matters.
What should I pack?
Our advice is to pack light—you won't regret it! You will be responsible for carrying your own luggage on and off the bus, in and out of your hotel, and onto trains. Bring comfortable, practical clothes that you can wear more than once, with a few nice pieces thrown in.
Remember to pack clothes that you can layer as the weather can be unpredictable. Lastly, try to avoid bringing new shoes. New shoes can be tough to break in and you’ll want to make sure your shoes are comfortable and reliable. For more information specific to your trip, log into My Account for a detailed packing list.
What about calling home?
Calling home from overseas can be expensive and obtaining local phone cards can be complicated and time consuming. The best way to call is with an ACIS eKit Global Phonecard or Global Mobile Phone. Using the eKit card can save you up to 70% on international and U.S. long distance calls compared to pay phones and hotel phones. Simply charge up your eKit card with the credit card of your choice and it will be ready for use. In addition to cheap calls home, the ACIS eKit Global Phonecard offers you email, Voicemail, the ability to listen to email over the phone and much more!
Another option is the ACIS eKit Global Mobile phone. With a variety of pre-paid plans available, this mobile phone can save you up to 70% on global roaming rates.
Do I have travel insurance?
Yes. Your ACIS Registration Fee includes coverage under our Basic Protection Plan. ACIS recommends you upgrade your insurance coverage by purchasing the Ultimate Protection Plan designed specifically for you travel needs. With the Ultimate Protection Plan, you may cancel for any reason up to the day of departure and receive a cash refund. You will also receive expanded travel protection while on tour.
I am signed up for an ACIS tour. How do I access my account?
You can get your latest account information online—any time, any day. To view your most up-to-date itinerary and account status, just, log in to My Account with your Account ID and password, which can be found in the upper-right hand corner of your invoice. If you have forgotten your password or have additional questions about your account, contact ACIS Client Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.