Escorted Italy Group Tour – Best of Umbria & Tuscany Tour
Best of Tuscany & Umbria – OPEN TO ALL
Plus Cinque Terre in Liguria
ESCORTED ITALY GROUP TOUR IN SMALL GROUPS
MAXIMUM GROUP SIZE – 12
Main Destinations: Lucca, Pisa, Florence, Pienza, Montalcino, Orvieto, Civita di Bagnoregio, Assisi, Spoleto, Perugia, Deruta, Cortona, Siena, San Gimignano, Castellina-in-Chianti. And the bonus: Cinque Terre in Liguria.
HIGHLIGHTS OF TUSCANY & UMBRIA TOUR:
NOTE: Our Umbria and Tuscany tour has optional pre & post tour extensions to Venice and Rome. See end of the page.
ARRIVAL AIRPORT: Florence or Pisa
DEPARTURE AIRPORT: Florence
NOTE: It is possible to extend your Umbria and Tuscany tour. Add either Rome, Venice or both. Inquire. See suggested itinerary at the bottom of the page.
(B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
DAY 1: Arrival & Guided Tour of Lucca, Welcome Dinner, Overnight in Lucca
NOTE: Speak to us about your arrival time in Florence. Arrive at the Florence airport where you will be picked up and transferred to Luca. We will spend in Lucca. You will stay at an elegantly restored 13th century palace, now a 4 Star hotel, on a street once an ancient road that runs right into the medieval square.
Lucca is an elegant city that is rich in history. It has sites that depict its Etruscan and Roman rule, and much later by Napoleon and his sister, Elisa. This ancient Tuscan city is completely enclosed by a massive well-preserved wall (60 ft. wide x 40 ft. high) – wide enough to hold small parks and a pedestrian path along the top. It is also the birthplace of composer Giacomo Puccini. You will enjoy Lucca’s ancient and charming squares, medieval streets, elegant shops and palaces. The shops are upscale and elegant. A local expert guide will take you on a walking tour of Lucca to see important sites and hear about the city’s rich history.
Walking Tour of Lucca is planned late afternoon. Aperitif and Welcome dinner at one of Lucca’s top restaurant is planned to mark the start of our Best of Tuscany and Umbria tour. (D)
DAY 2: Pisa, Cinque Terre, Overnight in Lucca
The morning is yours to enjoy as you please. After lunch, we’ll travel to Pisa, where you will see the enormous Miracle Square and its magnificent buildings, church, and baptistery – not to mention the famous Leaning Tower.
We then proceed to Cinque Terre, one of the most beautiful coastlines of Italy, in the region called Liguria, which stretches from the French border in the west to La Spezia in the east.
The charming villages of the Cinque Terre (Italian for Five Lands) along the five miles of Liguria’s rocky coast are unforgettable: olive groves, vineyards, winding stone paths and enchanting small beaches wedged between cliffs, fishing villages and colorful rooftops. The Cinque Terre was finally recognized as a national park in 1999 and UNESCO-protected territory since 1997.
You will see the largest of the five villages, Monterosso. This lush green village is sheltered by hills covered with vineyards and olive groves. Its beautiful beaches, steep, rugged cliffs and crystal-clear waters make this one of the most charming stop on the Ligurian Riviera. Excellent restaurants abound here for a wonderful lunch stop.
You will continue with a very short train ride to Manarola, the fourth village of the Cinque Terre starting from the north. You will have a leisurely stroll along a beautiful footpath called the Lovers’ Pathway, “La Via dell’Amore,” which starts in Manorala and ends up in Riomaggiore, the last of the five villages.
Group lunch is planned. Leisure time on your own in Lucca this evening. We’ll have restaurant suggestions for dinner. (B, L)
DAY 3: Travel to Pienza, Tour of Siena & Montalcino, Wine Tasting, Overnight in Pienza
Today, our Tuscany tour takes us to Pienza, a UNESCO World Heritage site overlooking the stunning Orcia Valley. Charming and tiny, Pienza is the birthplace of Pope Pius II, who ordered the town to be redesigned into a masterpiece Renaissance city.
En route to Pienza, we will make a stop in Siena, a UNESCO World Heritage site that has one of Italy’s most beautiful squares, the fan-shaped Piazza del Campo. Our guide will take us through the city’s history and local culture on their Palio horse race each neighborhood vigorously compete. You will also see the duomo, a beautiful cathedral featuring the work of such famous artists as Donatello. The rest of the day is on your own. This is a lively pedestrian-only walled city and it is a treat to explore it day and night, especially after the day trippers have gone. Dinner on your own tonight. Siena has many options for a nice meal. Lovely outdoor cafes and restaurants with tables outside may be in order.
Tuscany’s backroads, the endless rolling hills and stately cypresses of Val D’Orcia, the most photographed and definitely a beautiful part of Tuscany, is where we will spend the day. We’ll travel through scenic countryside to reach Montalcino, whose acclaimed vineyards produce one of the world’s great wines, Brunello di Montalcino. We’ll visit a friend, a wine merchant, where we will sample a variety of Italian wine including the celebrated Brunello.
We’ll arrive Pienza in the evening. Group lunch is planned. (B, L)
DAY 4: Orvieto & The City Undergound, Civita di Bagnoregio, Farm Visit: Cheese Sampling and Farm to Table Dinner, Overnight in Pienza
We’ll make our way to Spoleto in Umbria, where we will stay for the next 3 nights. Our hotel her is the wonderful Hotel San Luca. Our first stop along the way is Civita di Bagnoregio, in the province of Viterbo in Lazio region. Founded by the Etruscan over 2500 years ago, it sits high up atop a plateau of volcanic tuff, now only accessible by a foot bridge. Over the centuries erosions caused its edges to fall off, disconnecting the hill (now Ciita) from the bigger sister town of Bagnoregio, thus creating its dramatic position.
Our next stop is Orvieto, an ancient Umbrian hill town. Our guided tour of this medieval town features a beautiful Gothic cathedral and the San Brizio chapel where pilgrims and art lovers alike come to see Luca Signorelli’s colorful frescoes vividly depicting the Apocalypse. Orvieto is just as interesting below ground as it is above. The creation of the underground city started over 2500 years ago by the Etruscan and continued beyond the middle ages. There are thousands of grottoes along with cisterns, medieval old presses, millstone among other things. You will see and hear about this during a tour of this incredible Underground city.
Our group dinner today is at a local farm where we will enjoy a farm to table meal. The farm also produces cheese among other things so we will sample some local products. (B, D)
DAY 5: Travel to Spoleto, Tour of Cortona & Assisi, Overnight in Spoleto
Today we’ll make our way to Spoleto where we will stay in an elegant family-owned 4 Star property for three nights. Our first stop along the way is to Cortona, one of the oldest hill towns in Tuscany. As we follow its meandering medieval walls of Cortona, we will be treated to magnificent views of the Val di Chiana, the valley below, with vineyards, olive grove, and a view of Lake Trasimeno. You will welcome the free time on your own for self-exploration, shopping and lunch. You may want to go inside Palazzo Casali where the Museum of the Etruscan and Roman City of Cortona is housed.
Then we continue to magical Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis, patron saint of the animals and founder of the Franciscan order. Our guided tour of this spectacular city, includes the Basilica of St. Francis, famous for brilliant frescoes depicting the saint’s life. We will also travel through time through Assisi’s various historical sites like the Temple of Minerva and Piazza del Comune, both built two millennia ago. You will have some free time to explore Assisi’s winding medieval streets and to have lunch after the guided tour.
We’ll arrive in Spoleto late afternoon. Group dinner is planned. (B, D)
DAY 6: Morning Guided Tour of Spoleto, Leisure Afternoon & Evening, Overnight in Spoleto
We’ll sleep in today and start the morning with a guided tour of ancient Spoleto, a beautiful Roman town built atop a mountain on the Flaminia Road. Ancient Spoleto has a long and amazing history that also included the Lombards, the Goth and Popes. Spoleto repulsed Hannibal’s attack and it was an important ally to the Romans. Spoleto boasts many important Roman structures including an ancient aqueduct and city wall, churches, a Roman theater, 14th century fortress, museums, including lovely medieval squares and streets. A local licensed guide will take us through the city’s incredible history and important sites. Leisure time on your own after the guided tour.
As always, we’ll have restaurant suggestions for you for lunch and dinner. (B)
DAY 7: Perugia, Deruta, Overnight in Spoleto
Today we explore lively Perugia, world-famous for its chocolates and the art and cultural center of Umbria. Perugia has so much offer its visitors. Henry James called it “city of infinite view”. It is one of Umbria’s most picturesque and elegant cities with an incredible Etruscan and Roman history.
In our guided tour our guide will take us through Perugia’s rich Etruscan and Roman history starting at a level beneath the modern city, continuing through the city’s many sites including a 3rd century B.C. gate hidden in the massive 16th century Papal fortress, Etruscan gates and arches, churches, and palaces. Leisure time to explore, browse the elegant shops and have a leisurely lunch. Consider going into Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, housed on the 3rd floor of the grand Palazzo dei Priori (19 Corso Vanucci).
Our final stop is Deruta, a town famous for ceramics. You will have time to pop into a couple of artisan shops in town before we head back to Spoleto. The rest of the day is at your leisure. We’ll have restaurant suggestions for your dinner out. (B, L)
DAY 8: Travel to Florence, Walking Tour of Florence, Accademia Museum, Overnight in Florence
Today we travel to Florence, the birthplace of Renaissance. After we check into our hotel, our guide conduct a walking tour of Florence. We’ll hear about Florence’s rich history as we pass magnificent squares like the Piazza Signoria, the duomo, Ponte Vecchio and more. We’ll take you to the Accademia museum to see some of Michelangelo’s works including the celebrated Statue of David.
Florence, the birthplace of Renaissance. Our guide will share Florence’s rich history as we pass magnificent squares like the Piazza Signoria, the duomo, Ponte Vecchio and more. We’ll take you to the Accademia museum to see some of Michelangelo’s works including the celebrated Statue of David. Group lunch is planned. (B, L)
DAY 9: Morning Uffizi Gallery Tour, Leisure Time, Overnight in Florence
You’ll have some free time for lunch and self-exploration today. Today you will have a guided tour of the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most famous museum in the world. You’ll see masterpieces by great Italian artist like Botticelli, Raphael, Giotto, Caravaggio, and Leonardo da Vinci. You’ll also have some free time for lunch and self-exploration. We are available to assist you in planning your day. (B)
DAY 10: San Gimignano, Chianti: Castellina-in-Chianti, Olive Oil & Wine Tasting, Farewell Lunch, Overnight in Florence
Our first destination today is San Gimignano, one of Italy’s most well-preserved medieval towns, known for its beautiful towers and a white wine called Vernaccia. There were originally 72 towers, but only 15 remain today. You will stop in the main squares, Piazza della Cisterna and Piazza del Duomo. A local expert guide will take us through its history and its important sites like La Collegiata church, the civic museum, the fortress and Torre Grossa. You will enjoy some free time to stroll the medieval streets, sit at an outdoor café to have a drink or have lunch, shop for some unique souvenirs, and photograph the picturesque valley the town overlooks. Make a point to stop for gelato at one of Italy’s best gelaterie in Piazza della Cisterna.
We cannot offer a Tuscany tour without including the Chianti region, world famous for its wine production and its charming villages and towns. Our destination in Chianti is tiny and charming Castellina, now one of the most important destinations in Chianti. Along the ancient wall is an ancient tunnel with windows overlooking the beautiful Tuscan countryside. During our leisurely stroll, we’ll come across a fortress, artisan shops, palaces of noble families and a church with an impressive fresco.
Our tour of Chianti is not complete without a stop at a respectable winery. They also produce olive oil and so we will have an opportunity to sample some they produce. We will also have a fantastic lunch with wine pairing to mark the end of our tour together. (B, L)
DAY 11: Departure Day – Private Transportation to Airport or Train Station in Florence
Prepare for your departure for home. A private transfer will take you to the airport or train station in Florence.
OPTIONAL 3-DAY TOUR OF ROME
DAY 1: Arrival in Rome, Ancient Rome Tour, Overnight in Rome
Our driver guide will meet you at the train station upon arrival and take you to your hotel in Rome. After you check in and have lunch, you will have a guided tour of Rome. Rome’s fascinating history will come alive as our excellent tour guide shows Rome’s Colosseum, forum, arch of Constantine and more. The end of your guided tour will leave you in the Pantheon square, where you may sit at one of the cafes facing what some of us believe is the most beautiful ancient structure in Rome.
DAY 2: Private Tour of Vatican With Expert Tour Guide, Overnight in Rome
Our tour guide in Rome will pick you up at the hotel early in the morning for your guided tour of the Vatican museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. Explore on your own after the tour.
DAY 3: Last Day in Rome
Explore on your own and prepare to depart for your next destination.
OPTIONAL 3-DAY TOUR OF VENICE
Before or after the our Best of Tuscany and Umbria tour
DAY 1: Arrival in Venice, Venice Walking Tour: St. Mark’s Square, The Duomo, Doge’s Palace, Bridge of Sighs and More, Doge’s Palace, Overnight in Venice
You will take the train from Florence to Venice. Our tour escort will meet you at the airport and take you to your charming hotel in Venice via a private boat. After you check in and lunch, you will have a guided tour of Venice’s St. Mark’s Square, the Basilica and Doge’s Palace. See the ancient political and administrative center of the Republic of Venice, the Doge’s Palace -the seat of the government including the prison and the famous Bridge of Sighs and St. Mark’s Basilica with its gold mosaics.
DAY 2 : Leisure Day, Overnight in Venice
You are free to explore Venice on your own. Explore without any specific destination in Venice can be very rewarding. You’ll experience many different neighborhoods, see how people live and come across great restaurants outside the tourist track. We suggest a visit to Peggy Guggenheim museum. The museum is in a mansion, her old home on the Grand Canal. It is located in a nice and quieter part of Venice. You may also consider taking a public boat to Murano island. (B)
DAY 3: Last Day in Venice, Prepare for Your Flight Home
Have breakfast and enjoy Venice one last time. (B)