The Best of Italy 2017 with Dr. Ron Upton, John Jones and Charles Billingsley

About Tour

July 11 - 21, 2017 (11 Days / 10 Nights)

About Tour

July 11 - 21, 2017 (11 Days / 10 Nights)


charles-billingsley   Charles Billingsley, Special Guest Artist

dr-ron-upton   Dr. Ron Upton, Minister of Music, Idlewild Baptist Church

John Jones - Italy 2017   John Jones, Executive Pastor, First Baptist FTL

phil-barfoot   Phil Barfoot, Host



  • Enjoy the extraordinary sights and scenes of MONTECATINI, CINQUE TERRE, FLORENCE, PISA & LUCCA, VENICE & ROME!
  • Explore the breathtaking cliffs and ocean views of CINQUE TERRE!
  • Indulge in a private boat ride to PIAZZA SAN MARCO for a guided tour of this amazing city and a romantic GONDOLA ride around the famous canals of VENICE!

Singers and Non-Singers Welcome!


Daily Itinerary

(Subject to change)

1st day, July 11 (Tuesday) – Depart the US for overnight flight to Rome

2nd day, July 12 (Wednesday) – Arrival Rome / Siena / Montecatini Terme

Morning arrival into Rome international airport, where we meet our expert guides.

Travel by private coach on the Autostrada into the charming thermal town of  Montecatini Terme.

Check into our Montecatini hotel, followed by a festive welcome dinner at the hotel.

Montecatini is Tuscany’s capital of thermal treatments and spas, with flourishing green parks, fully equipped thermal establishments and a long-dated hotel tradition. Those who enjoy the magical  atmosphere of the belle époque can visit historical socialite locales, such as the Caffè delle Terme, the Locanda Maggiore, the Gambrinus arcades, and the thermal establishments frescoed and decorated after the Art Nouveau style.

Those who wish to ‘take a break’ can turn to the several sports facilities, the hippodrome, the many elegant boutiques, premises devoted to leisure time and amusement, special events and festivals where high quality music plays a key role, in accordance with the tradition of a town that hosted the great Giuseppe Verdi. The town is the ideal place to visit Tuscany, as it is located in the center of the region.

3rd day, July 13 (Thursday) – Cinque Terre

After breakfast, we depart by private coach to La Spezia, the main town in the Gulf of the Poets.

We will set sail on our private boat for an exciting guided excursion along the Cinque Terre, with stops in some of the charming villages.

The stunning Cinque Terre features five fishing villages (Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia,  Manarola and Riomaggiore), are each very unique and set against the craggy hillsides of the azure Mediterranean. Formerly accessible only by sea or by mule tracks, this string of land still keeps its ancient character: miles of hand-built dry stone walls supporting terraced vineyards and groves of lemon, orange and olive trees witnessing centuries of hard labor involved in shaping this fascinating landscape. You can walk on ancient footpaths that run along cliffs falling to the sheer blue waters below or just enjoy a stroll through the pastel-colored houses lined on narrow alleyways.

Return to Montecatini in the late afternoon, dinner on your own.

4th day, July 14 (Friday) – Florence

After breakfast, we will travel the short distance to Florence, the Capital of Tuscany. Guided walking tour of the old town upon arrival.

Florence is the living museum of Italian Renaissance. The city bears witness to the proud spirit and unparalleled genius of its artists and artisans. It has more sights to visit within one square kilometer than any other city in Europe.  It is also a shopper’s paradise: countless shops laden with jewelry of Florentine gold and silver, exquisite leather goods, chic fashion houses and the straw market where you will find great bargains. 

Walk to the lovely Piazza del Duomo to admire S. Maria del Fiore Cathedral, Giotto’s Campanile and the Baptistery’s incomparable bronze doors by Ghiberti, known as the Gates of Paradise. You will then see Piazza della Signoria, the city’s most beautiful square with marvelous statuary and fountains, the Palazzo Vecchio and the 14th century Ponte Vecchio. End the tour at the Basilica of Santa Croce, the principal Franciscan church of Florence, burial place of Michelangelo, Dante, Galileo and Machiavelli.

Enjoy some free time in the afternoon for a gelato or some shopping, before our first concert in the evening at the Basilica of Santa Croce.

Drive back to Montecatini after the concert.

5th day, July 15 (Saturday) – Free day (optional tour to Pisa and Lucca)

After breakfast, Enjoy a free day to relax in Montecatini – maybe you can try one of the 9 thermal resorts in town – or take an optional full day tour to the nearby towns of Pisa and Lucca.

Pisa is famous all over the world for its Leaning Tower, the most well known landmark in Tuscany. Work began in 1173, but due to the softness of the underlying terrain the tower started to lean immediately and the completion of the project took two hundred years. It is situated in Piazza dei Miracoli along with the Cathedral and the Baptistery, unrivaled masterpiece of Romanesque art, dating back to the 11th and 12th century.

Lucca’s history dates back before the Etruscans and has seen the passing of Romans and even Napoleon. This wealth of influences has given Lucca a unique and somewhat different aspect to other towns in Tuscany. Though Renaissance characteristics are well present, the town has a very Middle European look, with a strong presence of 1700 & 1800’s architecture. The old town is surrounded by the imposing 16th century walls, still perfectly intact and from the top provide a beautiful path around the town. Piazza Anfiteatro, Torre Guinigi and the Duomo of San Martino are the other most celebrated monuments. It is also the birth city of Giacomo Puccini, one of the greatest Italian Opera composers.

Evening outdoor concert in Montecatini, in the historic park of Terme Tettuccio.

6th day, July 16 (Sunday) – Verona / Mestre

After breakfast, we check out of our hotel and travel North.

Leave Tuscany this morning and travel north to Verona for a guided tour of this charming town immortalized by the Shakespearean play, Romeo and Juliet.

Verona has delighted painters, poets, travelers and celebrities for centuries. The city is a fascinating crossroads of historical periods and cultures (both classical and Germanic), along with a blend of both Nordic and “Mediterranean” influences. A walk through its narrow streets allows you to get in touch with its varied and fascinating past: traces of its splendid Roman origins, its prevailing medieval structure dating  back to the time of knights and castles, its magnificent Renaissance palaces as well as the impressive fortifications which protect it.

From the vast Roman Arena built in the 1st century AD, you can walk into the center of the city taking note of the galleries and arcades that face the piazzas. It is just above one of these courtyards that you can see Juliet’s house dating from the 13th century. 
Later in the afternoon, we proceed East to the Venice area.

Check into our Mestre hotel followed by dinner at the hotel.

7th day, July 17 (Monday) – Venice

After breakfast, we will transfer by private coach and private boat to Piazza San Marco, for a guided walking tour of this amazing city.

The unique nature of Venice has amazed people since the beginning of its existence. A city rising in the middle of a lagoon, with water flowing between streets, intruding in front of houses and shops. Venice is made up of 118 islands, 180 canals and connected by 400 bridges, and this makes it necessary to walk to most places.

We will start the walking tour in San Marco Square, beautiful in its proportions and romantically facing the canal of San Marco. Visit the Basilica, built from 1063-1073 AD, with its Byzantine and Gothic design, containing the tomb of St. Mark the Evangelist. Next is the Doge’s Palace, seat of the former rulers of the Republic of Venice, the prisons and the famous bridge of Sighs.

Free time in the afternoon for an optional gondola ride, before you move to the church of San Francesco della Vigna for our third concert.

After the concert, dinner on your own in Venice center, then transfer back by private boat and coach to our hotel in Mestre.

8th day, July 18 (Tuesday) – Bologna / Orvieto / Rome

After breakfast, we check out of the hotel and travel South, making our first stop in Bologna, the Italian culinary capital and home to Europe’s oldest University. Take a walk in the historic center to Piazza Maggiore, and maybe try the famous Bolognese sauce at one of the many excellent restaurants.

Continue through the Appennines to the dramatic hill-town of Orvieto, on the southwestern corner of the green Umbria, on the border with Tuscany and Latium. 

Orvieto is one of the most important ancient Etruscan cities, located on the summit of a tuff hill overlooking vineyards and olive groves. The Middle Ages and the Renaissance have determined the most salient characteristics, with narrow streets and elegant buildings, defensive walls built of tuff stone and a magnificent 13th century “Duomo” recently restored.

Walking tour of the old town before we perform a concert in the Duomo.

Dinner at a local restaurant after the concert, then transfer to Rome.

Check into our hotel in the city center.

9th day, July 19 (Wednesday) – Rome

After breakfast, we transfer to Rome.

Rome is the “Eternal City” founded by Romulus in 753 BC and built on seven hills, certainly the most described, illustrated and praised city in the world!

Capitol of an Empire to which it gave its name and the seat of  Christianity after the collapse of ancient civilizations, Rome is rich in relics of its past and was for a long time the first museum-city in the world.

The capitol of the Italian Republic since 1870 and the seat of the Papacy, Rome is today also the center of Italian political, administrative and cultural life. 

Morning guided tour of ancient Rome with admissions to the Colosseum and to the Roman

Forum. Arriving by coach at Piazza Venezia with its impressive monument dedicated to King Victor Emanuel II and the Unknown Soldier you will continue on foot to the famous Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo, from where you will have a fantastic view of the Roman Forum; the religious, political and commercial center of ancient Rome. Walking through the Roman Forum ruins, you will reach the Colosseum and the Flavian Amphitheatre inaugurated in 80 AD. Next, you will see the Arch of Constantine, erected to commemorate Constantine’s victory over Maxentius in 315 AD. Continue by coach by the Circus Maximus, where up to 250,000 spectators gathered during the reign of Trajan.

Free time after the tour before our late afternoon final concert in the splendid Basilica of San Paolo fuori le Mura (outside the Walls), founded by the Roman emperor Constantine over the burial place of St. Paul.

10th day, July 20 (Thursday) – Rome / Vatican

After breakfast, we will transfer to the Vatican for a guided tour of the Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s basilica.

The museums occupy part of the palaces built by the popes from the 13C onwards which have been extended and embellished to the present day. Taking the beautiful Spiral staircase and continuing through the Gallery of the Tapestries and the Gallery of the Geographical Maps, you will arrive in the famous Sistine Chapel a masterpiece of Renaissance art. This is the place where the conclave meets and where you can see The magnificent Last Judgment by Michelangelo. Then visit St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in Christendom built on the tomb of the apostle Peter. During the centuries the plan of the basilica was constantly revised reached its actual aspect in 17th century thanks to Carlo Maderna and to the sumptuous Baroque decorations by Bernini. It hosts masterpieces like Michelangelo’s statue of the “Pietà” and the famous baldaquin by Bernini crowning the pontifical altar.

Afternoon free or explore with your expert guide the most charming squares and fountains of Rome: Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps.

Evening farewell dinner at a local restaurant, followed by a tour of “Illuminated Rome” by bus.

11th day, July 21 (Friday) – Departure

After breakfast, we check out of our hotel and transfer to Rome FCO airport for departure.

With great memories of sightseeing and ministry, lasting impressions of many fantastic places, and acquaintances who will become friends, we start our journey home.

What’s Included

  1. Land transportation by modern motor coach.
  2. Accommodation at 4-star hotels.
  3. Tour managers and guides.
  4. Buffet breakfast each day.
  5. Four dinners provided.
  6. A CCT final packet, including itinerary, all details pertaining to the trip and luggage tags.
  7. Rental fees of performance venues and promotion costs.
  8. Individual health insurance coverage.
  9. Tour management, and coordination of all items related to the tour.
  10. Assistance from CCT Staff throughout the tour.
  11. Admissions to Siena’s Cathedral, St. Mark’s Cathedral, Colosseum, Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica.
  12. Private boat cruise to the Cinque Terre.
  13. Audio receivers for all guided tours.

What’s Not Included

  1. Tips to drivers and guides
  2. Airfare
  3. Travel to and from your home to departure airport.
  4. Meals not specified in itinerary.
  5. We suggest you obtain Trip Cancellation Insurance through Travel Guard. To register, click on the link below. If you prefer to register for this insurance by phone, call 1-800-826-4919 and tell the operator that you are traveling with Celebration Concert Tours. If calling in, you will also need to give the operator our ARC reference number, which is #325579.

Click here to register for Travel Guard