Travel: So much to see and do during whistle-stop tour of Italy...

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We sat on the steps of Rome's Trevi Fountain - the newly groomed marble horses glistening in spring sunshine - and clutched coins in our left hands to throw over our right shoulders.

Splash, splash, splash. Job done. We shall, promised our guide, return to Italy's Eternal City.

Schloss Leopoldskron's library.

Schloss Leopoldskron's library.

We were among the last visitors to perch there as a spate of illegal swimming, inspired by a scene from the Sixties movie La Dolce Vita, has forced the mayor to ban bottoms on the basin of the Baroque masterpiece.

Instead, he will have thousands of tourists filing by in a one-way route.

Rome wasn't built in a day, and our two-day schedule allowed us just a glimpse of a city stuffed full of catacombs, piazzas, palazzos, basilicas, museums and, of course, the Colosseum.

That's when a knowledgeable guide and driver Domenico, who can navigate the frenzied traffic in a city with four million people and eight million cars, are vital. Our Trafalgar trip provided both.

Throughout our whistle-stop trip through Italy, Trafalgar kept springing surprises as our luxury coach whisked us through beautiful countryside, rolling hills and vineyards to stunning destinations, including Perugia, Siena, San Gimignano and Venice.

On what other trip might you meet eco-warrior Celine Cousteau, granddaughter of the famous sea explorer Jacques, a one-woman weaving industry, or take a buggy ride around vineyards owned by a pair of Italian princesses related to the Mona Lisa?

Trafalgar, the world’s largest guided tour company, gives holidaymakers the inside track on culture, cuisine and customs - plus the delights of Italian food in beautiful surroundings.

Our first dinner was on an island in the River Tiber at an apartment formerly owned by film director Antonioni. We tried truffle pasta in Perugia and enjoyed a Chianti and olive oil tasting in a Tuscan farm on the ancient road between Siena and Florence.

Celine Cousteau - ambassador to the TreadRight initiative for sustainable tourism - took us to meet Martha Brozzetti, 46, who has revived the ancient art of weaving in one of the oldest Franciscan churches in Italy.

The art of ice cream making was on the menu in the medieval town of San Gimignano, where gelato wizard Sergio Dondoldi declared: 'Gelato makes people happy.'

Next stop: Venice, the dazzling lagoon city as intoxicating as Prosecco.

Instead of a gondola we took a speedy motor boat to the island of Murano, famed for fabulous glass-blowing.

A mind-blowing finale to our Italian taste of La Dolce Vita.

Travel facts:

- Trafalgar’s (https://www.trafalgar.com/0800 533 5617) 13 day Best of Italy trip is priced from £2,495 per person.

- The price includes 12 nights of accommodation in handpicked hotels, daily breakfast, seven dinners (including Be My Guest dining), must see sightseeing, VIP entry to many sights, the services of an expert travel director and separate driver, luxury coach transportation with complimentary Wi-Fi, and private UK airport transfers.