Day 1 - Arrival Day/ Benvenuto!
Florence is the capital of Italy's Tuscany region and cradle of Renaissance art and architecture. The museums, palaces, and churches in Florence are some of the greatest artistic treasures in the world. We'll explore this magnificent town, discovering its amazing architecture, quiet piazzas and stunning jewels such as the Ponte Vecchio.
After arrival and check-ins, the group will meet up for lunch and introductions.
Then we embark on a fun and exciting orientation tour where you will be able to see some of the best panoramic views over the city. The rest of the evening is yours to explore or relax. (L)
Day 2 - Florence: Markets & Mysteries of the Medici
Our first stop will be the colorful markets where you can find anything: from a tripe sandwich to a silk scarf!
During the tour our guide will point out famous sites such as the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery, Piazza della Signori, Piazza della Repubblica, and more.
We'll learn all about the dark secrets of Florence's famous noble families and artists with this behind the scenes & highlights tour. Enjoy time for lunch on your own.
The afternoon is free for you to shop, explore art galleries or museums, or just soak in the vibrant life of one of the many piazze while having a caffè or spritz.
We regroup tonight and visit a very fun Florentine restaurant where we can taste the best of authentic Tuscan cuisine. (B, D)
Day 3 - Arezzo: Where Life is Beautiful
Enroute we'll stop at a stunning villa, learn its history and have a delicious wine tasting. Then it is on to lunch in a quiet little "Locanda" or Inn where the traditional Tuscan cuisine is created with a modern spin.
We'll next stop in the town of Arezzo (made famous by the movie "Life is Beautiful" by Roberto Benigni) to explore. Even though the medieval center was destroyed during World War II, Arezzo still has a beautiful piazza and many historical buildings and churches as well as a Roman Amphitheater and the remains of a fortress.
Enjoy a welcome cocktail upon arrival at our accommodations and meet the villa owner for an orientation meeting and check in. Settle in to unpack, relax or stroll around the property.
We'll conclude the day with a group welcome dinner including local wines, served in the comfort of our villa. (B, L, D)
Day 4 - Cooking Lessons & Lake Views
We'll learn to make all sorts of Italian specialties, from antipasti to dolce. The menu will be determined by the season and what is fresh in the garden and the market.
Following our lesson, where I guarantee there will be plenty of laughs and wine, our lunch will be all the delicious dishes that we have produced.
If there is time, we will then make our way to Lago di Trasimeno, a lake in the province of Perugia, in the Umbria region of Italy. The first civilization to inhabit this area was the Etruscans; three of the main Etruscan cities - Perugia, Chiusi, and Cortona - are within 12 miles of the lake.
Dinner with local wines at our villa. (B, L, D)
Day 5 - Val d'Orcia & Pecorino Cheese
Along the way, we should be seeing fields and fields of Sunflowers, as now is the season! We'll first stop in Pienza, famous for its Pecorino cheese, and have a tasting.
After lunch, it's off to the steeply sloped town of Montepulciano where you can wander the streets, stop at shops, churches and town squares.
As well, we'll visit an enoteca where we can tour the ancient cellars and have a wine tasting. Head back to the villa and relax by the pool before dinner. (B, L, D)
Day 6 - Chianti: Farm Lunch & Wine
This is a beautiful region of terra-cotta-roofed towns and winding roads, leading through groves of olive trees, with cypress and endless vineyards stitching sun-dappled rolling hillsides – this is wine country.
We'll visit some quaint villages, have lunch on a local farm and sample some wine. What else would you do in Chianti? And since we are in Italy, we'll stop for some famous gelato!
Dinner at our villa with local wines. (B, L, D)
Day 7 - Medieval Siena
This charming town is a UNESCO world heritage site and is famous for its piazza, museums, cuisine and “The Palio”, a horse race which is run right through the middle of town twice a year.
Built on three hills, Siena's center is lined with narrow, winding cobblestone passages and steep steps. The superb 12th-century Cathedral, constructed of alternating stripes of green and white marble, is one of Italy's most impressive creations.
We'll first enjoy a guided walking tour and then have the remainder of the day at leisure to meander through the shops and narrow streets of Siena, or relax in an outdoor café on the Piazza del Campo, your window to traditional Sienese life.
Dinner tonight at our villa. (B, D)
Day 8 - Benessere & Dolce Far Niente (The sweetness of doing nothing)
This morning is all about relaxing and making ourselves at home at our farmhouse. You may choose to take a dip in the pool, go for a walk, or simply hang out and read a good book.
Lunch on your own and then this afternoon, we're off to the thermal spas (or Terme in Italian)! Tuscany is rich in natural hot springs that bubble out of the ground filled with minerals and the heat of the earth.
The springs have been used for their curative properties since the time of the Romans, who believed that the sulfurous water came from Hades, the underworld.
The warm waters come from deep, underground, volcanic springs and boasts curative properties first discovered by the Etruscans. Time spent there is beneficial to the regeneration of body and soul. Feel your stress be soothed away as the warm mineral water relaxes you. Spa treatments are not included.
Dinner tonight at our villa. (B, D)
Day 9 - Cortona: ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ with a wine-pairing lunch
Cortona, which has its roots in Etruscan history, is a quiet and romantic town nestled in the beautiful hills of the Val di Chiana in the province of Arezzo. It was made famous by Frances Mayes’ book & movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”.
Today is market day in Cortona: See how the local’s shop for their weekly necessities; from fruits and vegetables to cheese, meats, housewares and even clothing. After, we'll visit a beautiful and completely organic winery for a guided tour of their vineyards and cellar.
We will learn the interesting methods that this winery uses: both in their sustainable farming methods and in their biodynamic approach to their vineyards. Our tour will be followed by a fabulous wine-pairing lunch situated in beautiful surroundings with views of the vineyards, valley and hills.
Dinner tonight at our villa. (B, L, D)
Day 10 - Ancient Oil Mills, Olive Oil & Lunch with the Locals
After a leisurely breakfast, we're going to head out to an area of Tuscany that is off-the-beaten path. We'll visit an ancient olive oil mill that has been in the same family since the late 1400’s with a tour, tasting & lunch with the owner’s family. Here you will see that they still crush the olives with an old stone wheel.
After our visit, we will stop at a nearby small medieval village, where you can shop, visit local artisans, or stop and smell the caffè in neighborhood bar.
Final goodbye dinner tonight at our villa. (B, L, D)
Day 11 - Departure Day
We'll board our vans and depart for the Rome Airport (FCO).
Bid Arrivederci to Italy!
12 Days/11 Nights
Where: Florence & Tuscan Countryside
Group size: 6-14 Maximum
Tour Cost: $4650 USD per person/double occupancy
$550 USD single supplement
Balance due: March 1, 2018
Traveling Solo? We can suggest a roommate so that you avoid having to pay the single supplement!
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