THE BEST OF TUSCANY, UMBRIA
18 Sept – 30 Sept 2014
The rolling hills of Tuscany, Umbria and Le Marche are dotted with vineyards and olive groves. This area of Italy is famous for being known as, the ‘Green Heart’ of the Peninsula.
Each region has its own particular character offering spectacular scenery, authentic cuisine and romantic hilltowns. It is also a journey from the Medieval period to one of the most splendid eras of European civilization: the Renaissance. The experience starts in Rome where you will see works by the greatest masters of the period who were commissioned by the Bishops of Rome. The tour ends where it all started in Florence, the home of the Medici. Between these two highlights, there will be guided tours to explore the treasures and experience the life in centres such as Urbino, Gubbio, Loreto, Assisi, Perugia, Lucca and Siena. Your tour leaders, Mario, Viny and Gianni complement the tour with their intimate knowledge of the history, culture and Italian way of life.
We will give you the opportunity to experience the excellent hospitality of the people of Central Italy with its abundance of traditional local food and wine. You will enjoy leisurely lunches and special dinners in traditional restaurants and osterie. There are also opportunities to shop at local markets and speciality shops.
Day 1 Rome (D) Your tour leaders will meet you at the Hotel in the centre of Rome at 4.00pm. Introductions and a short talk on the tour will precede an afternoon stroll through some of the famous 'piazze' of Rome. The guided walking tour will include Piazza della Republica, Fountain of Trevi, Piazza della Rotonda, Piazza Navona and finally Campo de’ Fiori. The walk will end with an early dinner in a traditional Roman restaurant in Campo de` Fiori.
Day 2 Rome/Loreto/Pesaro (BLD) Today we leave the Eternal City for Pesaro. We will travel in air-conditioned comfort through some of the most beautiful countryside of the Central Apennines. Lunch will be at Loreto, a beautiful hill town second only to Assisi and Rome as a place of religious pilgrimage. The town is a showcase of some of Italy’s greatest artists and architects. We then travel north to the City of Pesaro, which will be our home for the next 3 nights. After check in, an optional passeggiata of the historic centre of the city will precede a dinner at the hotel.
Day 3 Pesaro/Urbino (BLD) Today after breakfast we explore the land once ruled by the lords of Montefeltro. The day is devoted to visiting Urbino, one of Italy's most fascinating towns of the Renaissance. It is also the birthplace of Raphael. A conducted tour of the magnificent Ducal Palace, which houses the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche with its precious paintings by Piero della Francesca, Tiziano, Paolo Uccello and Raphael. Lunch is organised in Urbino in a traditional restaurant where we taste the local casciotta cheese with crescia bread. Free afternoon in Pesaro. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 4 Pesaro/San Marino/San Leo (BLD) Today after breakfast at the hotel, we travel just over the Le Marche border for a day visit to the tiny Republic of San Marino. It is a day for shopping as San Marino is jammed with duty free shops. Apart from souvenirs, you will be able to pick up perfume, watches and leather bags at very reasonable prices. San Marino is also worth a visit for its history and pageantry and its magnificent hilltop setting which offers excellent views of the countryside. In the afternoon we will visit San Leo with its ancient castle perched above sheer cliffs. We will have a rest in the beautiful town square where we will have lunch and taste the delicious formaggio di fossa: a cheese walled up in rock caves to mature for months. Dinner at the hotel.
Day 5 Pesaro/Urbania (BL) After breakfast the group will experience an unforgettable day. We travel to the historical city of Urbania where the group will be guests of Donatella and Giorgio from the award winning osteria. The morning will be taken up with a series of cooking lessons on local cuisine and you will prepare lunch using locally made products. You will then enjoy your fabulous lunch with local wines in a beautiful country setting. Free evening.
Day 6 Pesaro/Gubbio/Assisi (BLD) After breakfast we travel across Le Marche to the beautiful preserved medieval town of Gubbio in Umbria. There will be ample time to wander through the streets of this seldom visited gem. After lunch, we make our way to the famous town of Assisi which will be our base for the next three days. Dinner in a local restaurant.
Day 7 Assisi (BLD) Today is dedicated to Assisi, the home of one of Italy’s greatest, beloved saints, St. Francis. Assisi has always been an attraction for the great artists of Italy. In the Basilica of St Francis we will view many of these masterpieces culminating with Giotto’s Fresco Cycle. The afternoon is devoted to exploring the streets of this mystical town. Dinner will be organised at a traditional local restaurant.
Day 8 Assisi/Perugia/Deruta (BLD) After breakfast we travel by bus to the magnificent university City of Perugia: a centre of art and culture. Perugia is striking for having retained much of its medieval appearance. The morning will be spent visiting the National Gallery of Umbria. In the afternoon we travel to the beautiful town of Deruta: famous for its Majolica ceramics. Dinner in a traditional restaurant.
Day 9 Assisi/Siena/San Gimignano/Florence (BD) Today our journey takes us through some of the richest parts of the Italian countryside and on to Florence, the city of the Medici. On the way to Florence there will be a special visit to Siena to admire the Cathedral and the Piazza del Campo, one of the most beautiful squares in Europe and learn about the famous race the Palio. Also along the way there will be a stop in San Gimignano. A tiny historical city perched on a hill, famous for its numerous towers and art treasures. After our arrival in Florence, the group will check in at the hotel and the rest of the day will include a walking tour, which features the Piazza del Duomo and its cathedral, the Giotto Campanile and the magnificent East Door of the Baptistery known as the ‘Gates of Paradise’. Dinner at a restaurant in the centre of Florence.
Day 10 Florence (BD) Today is devoted to the jewel in the Renaissance art crown - the Uffizi Gallery, which contains the greatest Renaissance masterpieces. You will experience the benevolent patronage of the Medici at the height of their power and influence and the legacy they have left the world. Then we proceed to the Accademia Gallery and admire the original David by Michelangelo and other masterpieces by this great artist. The rest of the day will be free to explore the rest of this beautiful city and wander through the famous markets shopping for leather and gold goods. In the evening dinner is organized in a local restaurant.
Day 11 Florence/Lucca (BD) Today we travel to Lucca: a most beautiful city in northern Tuscany. The city is rich in history dating from the Roman times to the power and wealth of the medieval and Renaissance times. A local guide will walk us through these eras and we will explore the walls and fortifications, the piazze and palazzi which make up this truly beautiful city. Then it is back to Florence for dinner.
Day 12 Florence/Greve (BLD)Today we take a picturesque drive through the Chianti region. You will experience the atmosphere of this part of Tuscany which is full of small villages and hundreds of vineyards dotting the countryside. We will stop for morning tea in Greve in the beautiful town square followed by a special wine tour and lunch at one of the oldest wineries in the area. You will find the lunch and atmosphere an unforgettable experience. Dinner in Florence at a local pizzeria.
Day 13 Florence (B) Mario,Viny and Gianni farewell the group after breakfast at the hotel.
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