Spotlight on Tuscany

May 9 – May 17, 2019

Your Tour at a Glance

Stay: 9 days, 8 nights

Location: Tuscany, Italy

The rolling hills of Tuscany are home to sprawling vineyards, charming medieval hill towns and enchanting cities steeped in history, culture and legend. Discover them for yourself on this relaxing sojourn into the Italian countryside. Visit Florence, Siena, Pisa and San Gimignano. Sample cheese at the farm where it is made. Partake in a Tuscan cooking class. Savor a seven-night stay in Montecatini Terme, the famous resort and spa town. Enjoy free time to explore the cultural treasures of Florence, including Michelangelo’s “David.” Discover the charming town of Lucca, Italy’s best-kept secret. Learn about the heroic deeds of WWII at remains of the Gothic Line and visit the Museum of Liberation. Enjoy fabulous local wines and the region’s famous cuisine. This is Tuscany as you always imagined it.

LOCATIONS

Close up map of Italy, with the routes for the trip highlighted.

ITINERARY

DAY 1

Golden brown wheat fields with a gravel road weaving its way through.

Overnight Flight 

Rolling landscapes, savory wines, delicious food and stunning architecture…this can only be Tuscany. Unpack once on this journey among Italy’s most charming towns.

DAY 2

Hillside town of stucco buildings amongst rich green trees.

Montecatini Terme, Italy – Tour Begins

Your tour opens in the famous spa resort town of Montecatini Terme, nestled in the heart of the rolling hills of Tuscany. This evening, get to know your fellow travelers during a welcome dinner where regional foods and Italian wines kick off your adventure.

DAY 3

Golden dome at the center of Forence, Italy.

Florence 

A cultural tour in the “Cradle of the Italian Renaissance” showcases the beautiful city of Florence. Join a local Florentine guide who highlights many of the city’s priceless treasures including a visit to the Academy Gallery* – housing Michelangelo’s monumental statue of David. At the Piazza del Duomo, the center of religious life in medieval Florence, see the impressive Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the gilded bronze doors of the Baptistery dedicated to St. John. Take the remainder of your day to explore this unparalleled city as you choose. En route to the hotel, visit a family-owned leather shop and learn the traditional Italian techniques of leather making.

DAY 4

Sceneic river runs under an ancient stone bridge that has multiple rounded arches.

Lucca – Borgo a Mozzano – Gothic Line

Set out on a guided visit to Lucca, Tuscany’s best-kept secret. Renaissance walls, Romanesque churches, medieval streets flanked by towers, and delightful squares are just some of Lucca’s charms. Visit the medieval Basilica di San Frediano. Its otherwise simple façade is adorned with a colorful 13th-century mosaic. Enjoy some time to explore at your own pace. Then set off for Borgo a Mozzano to see the remarkable Ponte del Diavolo (Devil’s Bridge). Continue on to the Gothic Line. Built by the Germans, it was one of their last lines of defense during WWII. We will visit the Museum of Liberation and see the actual fortifications and bunkers.

DAY 5

Leaning stone tower next to the largest baptistry in all of Italy.

Pisa

Explore the many historic sites in the ancient maritime Republic of Pisa including the Piazza dei Miracoli, or “Field of Miracles” (UNESCO). Keep your camera handy during our stop at the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. You probably won’t be able to resist taking a picture that makes it appear as if you are holding this iconic structure up. Visit the Baptistery, the largest in all of Italy. This impressive building of Romanesque and Gothic architecture is known for its perfect acoustics. This evening we travel to the quiet countryside to learn the secrets of traditional Tuscan cuisine. Partake in a cooking class featuring a bounty of local ingredients and culinary techniques that have been passed down for generations. Then sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labor during dinner.

DAY 6

Massive village of tera cotta houses topped with red tile roofs.

Siena

Welcome to Siena. Discover this charming town with a local guide. Embark on a walking tour through its narrow Gothic streets. Take in stunning palaces, mansions and the historic Piazza del Campo along the way. Then, it’s your choice! Explore Siena’s beautiful Gothic cathedral at your own pace -OR- join your guide to get to know local life in a contrada (neighborhood). Next we make our way to a Tuscan winery and meet the people behind some of Chianti‘s finest wines. Learn from experts as you savor a selection of the local varieties. You’ll also learn about the art of winemaking and the process of making olive oil.

DAY 7

Vivid blue garden pool in the courtyard of a stone palace.

Montecatini Terme

The day is yours to relax and experience the local flavor. Take this opportunity to shop at the local boutiques and dine at one of the many fine local restaurants. Or, perhaps you will choose an optional excursion to Cinque Terre with its rugged coastline dotted with terraced vineyards; explore its string of fishing villages nestled between the mountains and the Mediterranean.

DAY 8

Stone medieval town at the top of a forrested hill.

San Gimignano – Cheese Farm Visit

Begin the day traveling to the hilltop village of San Gimignano, one of the most picturesque places in Tuscany. Explore this enchanting medieval town, from its famous 14 towers to its magnificent vistas overlooking the vineyards of Tuscany. Enjoy free time and perhaps indulge in some gelato. Later, enjoy breathtaking views of the Tuscan hills as we make our way to a cheese farm. Learn how the famous pecorino cheese is made before sampling it for yourself. A delightful experience awaits this evening when you attend a Tuscan feast featuring traditional cuisine and savory wines in the magical Tuscan countryside.

DAY 9

Vivid blue garden pool in the courtyard of a stone palace.

Montecatini Terme – Tour Ends

Your journey comes to a close today. Depart with many fond memories of Tuscany.

know before you go

Days of features are interchangeable. Single accommodations are limited and are available on a first come, first served basis. To truly experience the program and destination, you need to be able to participate in physical activities such as longer walking tours, walking over uneven terrain, climbing stairs and periods of standing. Some of the touring days may be longer, with select included activities occurring later in the evening. Some of the most unique sightseeing can mean accessing locations that restrict motor coaches, especially in historic areas. For your comfort, we recommend bringing walking shoes. Most shops and businesses in Italy are closed on Sundays and on national/religious holidays. To complete your tour, we include roundtrip airport-to-hotel transfers when purchasing our airfare with your tour. If you have arranged for your own air, we are pleased to provide you the option of purchasing these transfers. Please note that all transfers will leave at pre-scheduled times. Please be advised many airlines do not provide advance seat assignments until check-in at the airport. Advance seating will be subject to the airline’s terms and conditions. *The Academy Gallery is closed Mondays, as are other state museums. Additionally, the day and time of the visit to the Academy is subject to change based on availability of reservations. In either case, the itinerary will be rearranged to accommodate it. Air passengers will arrive and depart from Florence or Pisa airports.

Budget: $1999 – $2449

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