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Day 1 - Arrival Day/Benvenuto!
Welcome to Italy! Your hotel for the next two nights is set in the heart of Florence and within short walking distance from the historical center and all of the important monuments, museums and galleries. 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
After breakfast at our hotel, we will meet our English speaking local guide and enjoy a walking tour of Florence. 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
This morning after breakfast we bid "Arrivederci" to "La culla del Rinascimentoe" (The cradle of the Renaissance) and make our way to the Tuscan countryside. 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
After a leisurely breakfast at our accommodations, we will head off to meet our chef who will guide us through our half-day cooking lesson. 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
Today after our breakfast, we will depart for a tour of two of Tuscany’s most famous towns: Montepulciano & Pienza, set in the Val d’Orcia – what many view as the “quintessential” Tuscany. 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
After breakfast, we'll depart to the Chianti region – an area of Tuscany made famous by the red wine of the same name. 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
After breakfast at the villa, we head out to a full day excursion to Siena, a perfectly preserved medieval town set amid the olive groves and the vineyards of Chianti. 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. The dramatic race will have been completed a few days before our arrival but the town will still be festively decorated and celebrating. 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)
Sleep in this morning if you would like but don't forget about breakfast. Enjoy the morning at leisure at the villa. 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
Morning departure for Cortona after breakfast at our villa. 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
Today is a about La Dolce Vita - the Sweet Life. This morning you can sleep in or get up with the sunrise, it's your decision. 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
Early morning breakfast at our villa as we say our goodbyes. We'll board our vans and depart for the Rome Airport (FCO). Bid Arrivederci to Italy!
Key: B = Breakfast / L = Lunch / D = Dinner, included
*Itineraries are subject to change. Vitalia Tours and its partners will strive to provide you with the best possible tour and experience. It is our intention to adhere to the outlined itinerary as published. However, please be advised that it may be occasionally necessary to substitute an activity due to events that cannot be predicted. Therefore, Vitalia Tours reserves the right to make changes in accommodations, tours or excursions, meals, and itineraries at any time should it become necessary or desirable.
Dates: May 19 - 29, 2018
11 Days/10 Nights
Where: Florence & Tuscan Countryside
Group size: 6-14 Maximum
Tour Cost: $4450 USD per person/double occupancy
$450 USD single supplement
* There is free wifi at our accommodations
** We highly recommend purchasing trip insurance to protect your investment. This is to ensure that you are covered in the event of loss of deposit and cancellation fees, medical emergency or health expenses, personal accident, flight cancellation or delays and to protect your luggage against any loss or damage.
Deposit: $1000.00 at time of booking to reserve your spot
Balance due: March 1, 2018
Traveling Solo? We can suggest a roommate so that you avoid having to pay the single supplement!
May 19 - 29, 2018
We've created an exciting and special tour this summer, just for women. Gather your mother, your daughters, sisters, friends, or travel solo and join like-minded women for this unique Tuscan retreat through the enchanting countryside of Tuscany. At Vitalia Tours, our emphasis has always been on the experiential tour. There will be plenty of activities and sightseeing: We'll eat like the locals, learn all about the art & history with our expert local guides, and experience the simple pleasures of exploring the Tuscany region with its incredible scenery and history.
Our "Ciao Bella" Tour is a fully-escorted tour with all of your accommodations, excursions & tours, transportation and most of your meals completely arranged and included. However, we've left you some flexibility for free time to just read a book, take a swim, meander the small villages we will be visiting, or do some shopping. There will be plenty of food, wine, laughter, chances to make new friends and memorable experiences!