BEST OF TUSCANY
Discover Tuscany’s hidden corners and best kept secrets on our distinctive walking tour. We visit the Chianti region, iconic San Giminiano, superb Volterra and Lucca, a true gem. We meander through quaint medieval hamlets, immersed in mesmerizing landscapes. Excellent Tuscan cuisine, renowned wine, history, culture and traditions complement our journey.
Our walking and hiking tour in Tuscany is the perfect holiday in amidst a superb landscape of rolling hills, cypress trees, hill top towns and vibrant colors. Cradle of the Reinassance, it is one of the most popular destinations in Italy. This exclusive guided tour, however, will introduce you to some of the areas, in this renowned region, that still enjoy a break from the hubbub of tourism.
Starting in the famous Chianti hills, hiking and walking through forests of “leccio”, the Mediterranean oak, we emerge into small medieval hamlets with marvelous panoramic views. We venture into the Aretino, still quite undiscovered area in eastern Tuscany, rich in history and art, birthplace of Michelangelo Buonarroti, favored by Dante and Leonardo da Vinci. We hike through the mesmerizing colorful landscape of the Crete Senesi, and through vineyards of Vernaccia around San Giminiano, on “strade bianche” (white gravel roads), well-maintained paths and trails. We visit the exquisite small towns of Volterra and Lucca, true jewels untouched by modern architecture. We visit enchanting hill top hamlets, extraordinary small medieval towns, artisans, and we enjoy a wine and olive oil tasting. We conclude our remarkable journey in remote, authentic Garfagnana, tucked away between the Apuan Alps and the Appennini Mountains.
With its perfect blend of physical activity, culture, traditions, history, wine, cuisine and Nature, this special program will introduce you to all the special aspects of this generous land.
Extend your stay in Italy, and join our wonderful [Amalfi Coast | Sorrento Peninsula] tour.
DAY BY DAY
Day 1 Arrival – Chianti
Arrive on own in Florence. Transfer with guide and group to Chianti.
Radda is an exquisite medieval village in the heart the Chianti, a region famous for its wine, already mentioned in a document of the 14thcentury, when the red nectar flowed generously on the tables of the rich Florentines. Located near what were the most important communication routes during Medieval times, Radda was the headquarters of the Chianti League and the seat of the Florentine governor. After a short hike amongst the hills, following ancient paths on the footsteps of pilgrims and merchants, we have a light lunch in town. We visit an enchanting walled hamlet on our way to Castelnubovo Berardenga, considered the fourth capital of the Senese Chianti and the sight of the 1260 battle, during which Florence was defeated by the Republic of the Palio.
Day 2 Aretino – Arezzo
The Aretino is still quite undiscovered by mass tourism, stretching from the Chianti hills to the Upper Valdarno. A scenery varying from alpine and solitary to rugged and uneven due to picturesque phenomenons of erosion. The central area is characterized by human presence.
Hiking in this unique environment, we reach the exquisite medieval hamlet of Rocca Ricciarda, a historical feudal property.
We may even reach the top of Pratomagno (great field), where, in 1933, the Australian aviator Herbert John Louis Hinkler crashed while attempting to fly from England to Australia. The 360° view is simply breathtaking, spanning from the Chianti hills to the West, to the Casentino and the Appennini Mountains to the East.
Arezzo is one of the twelve main Etruscan centres, and the world capital of goldsmith’s art. It has maintained the characters of its historical centre, with sumptuous palaces and two walls dating back to the 5th and the 4th-3rd centuries B.C.
Day 3 Crete Senesi
A panoramic, easy hike takes us on an exploration of the mesmerizing, colourful landscape of the Crete Senesi (clays of Siena), dotted by sheep, farmhouses, and crops of wheat and barley.
Practically devoid of vegetation, the Crete are a very unique hilly area, whose ancient origins as a sea basin date back to the Pliocene period (4.5 to 2.5 million years ago). Here one does not find the iconic landmark such as a castle or a cathedral, but only the endless harmony of the ondulating lines of the earth, as if to still represent the waves of that ancient sea, marked occasionally by a tree or a farmhouse. Intimate details, such a sinuous curve in the path, or the contrasting colors of the “creta”, alternating between gray and yellow, trigger strong emotions, and are rendered the more dramatic by the playful games of the light.
We visit Siena, a [UNESCO World Heritage Site], and the embodiment of a medieval city. The city’s Gothic appearance was preserved throughout the centuries and the city built around Piazza del Campo became a work of art blending perfectly into the surrounding landscape.
Day 4 Monte Oliveto Maggiore – Buonconvento
Chiusure is an exquisite hamlet whose existence is mentioned in records dating back to the VIII century. Sitting on an unstable, eroded “calanco” (sedimentary slope), it enjoys a stupendous panorama.
Hiking along the “calanchi”, we reach Monte Oliveto Maggiore, a large Benedictine monastery, founded in 1313.
Buonconvento is one of “Borghi più Belli d’Italia” (Italy’s Most Beautiful Hamlets), a club that promotes the great heritage of History, Art, Culture, Environment and Traditions found in small Italian towns which are, for the most part, cut off from the flow of visitors and tourists, and at risk of depopulation and consequent decline.
The name Buonconvento derives from the Latin bonus conventus, meaning “happy, fortunate community”, who enjoy the fertility of the land. It is also located on the Via Francigena, a pilgrims’s way leading from Canterbury to Rome.
Day 5 San Giminiano
Hiking amongst vineyards of Vernaccia, famous white wine, past villas flanked by cypress trees, immersed in the fragrances of an unspoiled landscape, we reach the beautiful small town of San Giminiano.
In the middle ages, San Gimignano served as an important relay point for pilgrims travelling to or from Rome on the Via Francigena. In the 11th and 13th centuries, ruling patrician families built 72 tower-houses as symbols of wealth and power. Today the town, which has retained its feudal atmosphere and appearance, is a [UNESCO World Heritage Site]. Its unique charm makes it an obligatory stop.
We visit the Collegiata of Santa Maria Assunta, whose interiors hide extraordinary frescoes. Beautiful Piazza della Cisterna is enclosed in a curtain of noble homes and Medieval towers. We make an obligatory stop at the best ice-cream parlor in town.
Day 6 Volterra – Lucca
Volterra is a beautiful town enclosed in defensive walls, sitting on a promontory with a breathtaking view of the surrounding hills. Archeological evidence confirms that Volterra was a favoured settlement since the Neolithic Age. From the 8th century B.C., the Etruscans began to spread and in the 4th century B.C. the great defensive wall was erected to enclose the urban centre and pasture land.
Volterra is a jewel reflecting the interventions of the Reinassance, and famous for the artistic work in alabaster. We visit a couple of artisans, and appreciate this extraordinary.
Of Etruscan origins and already a Roman town in 180 B.C., Lucca is a true gem enclosed by medieval walls, with an intricate network of narrow cobble-stone streets, and framed by the Versilian Coast and the Apuane Alps. A guided tour will introduce us to its history and art.
Some of the best Tuscan olive oil and exceptional wines are produced in the hills surrounding Lucca. We will enjoy an olive oil and wine tasting at an remarkable wine cellar in the historical center.
Day 7 Garfagnana
Garfagnana is a special area, a landscape far removed from the traditional image of Tuscany.
This region, most of which is classified as a regional Nature Reserve, rises up from the valley of the Serchio River, and is flanked by the Appennini Mountains and the Apuan Alps. Besides natural beauty, Garfagnana offers natural beauty and a wealth of traditions and culture, a current way of life.
Hiking on gravel paths through meadows and chestnut forest, and trails we reach vantage points with a bird’s eye view over the Appennini Mountains, the Apuane Alps and the plains near Lucca.
In Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, an enchanting town dating back to 740 A.D., we walk through the historical and have the opportunity to visit a gastronomic shop with all the typical local products and wines.
Some excellent wines are produced in this area.
Day 8 Departure
Group transfer to Florence airport to connect to your homeward-bound flight.
Euros 2850 per person
Euros 370 | Single supplement
Prices are quoted in Euros and based on double occupancy.
What Is Included:
English-speaking local guide for the duration of the trip.
Guide’s expenses (hotels and meals) while with the group.
Seven nights in four-star accommodations (villas, hotel, cottages).
All breakfasts, seven lunches, five dinners.
Water and coffee/tea with your group meals at hotels or restaurants.
Transportation by private vehicle as per itinerary.
All costs related to private vehicle (parking, etc.)
Gratuities to porters and at restaurants.
Private transfer to/from Florence city center on Day 1 and Day 8. Alternatively, we can organize a group transfer from/to Florence Airport.
Guided tour of Lucca.
Sightseeing and activities as specified in the itinerary.
Wine and olive oil tasting in Lucca.
What Is Not Included:
Insurance of any kind (cancellation and medical/evacuation insurance, etc.).
Expenses due to unexpected changes to the itinerary.
Activities not specified in the itinerary.
Wine tastings other than what specified in the itinerary.
Personal expenses (laundry, sodas or alcoholic beverages, telephone calls, etc.).
Anything else not mentioned in “What’s Included in the Price of the Trip”.
Unused transportation during the tour will not be reimbursed.
TRIP DATES & DETAILS
2016 Dates: contact us »
Season: April – October.
Trip Length: 8 days.
Trip Activity [more details]:
Walking | Hiking
History | Culture
Scenery | Flora | Fauna
Gastronomy | Wine
Traditions | Art | Artisans
Trip Rating [more details]: easy to moderate
The Guide [more details]:
The guide(s) will be confirmed about thirty days prior to the beginning of the trip.
ACCOMODATIONS & MEALS
Our accommodations are in extraordinary infrastructures varying from villas and old fortified hamlets immersed in a quiet and pristine natural environment to carefully and elegantly maintained boutique in towns centres. Generally, the hotels on this tour are family-run.
Day 1, 2, 3 – Family-run, four-star villa compound, surrounded by vineyards and olive trees, in Castelnuovo Berardenga. Swimming pool and tennis court. Exceptional view over the Tuscan hills and Siena.
Day 3, 4 – Family-run, four-star ancient fortified hamlet surrounded by oak forest and vineyards. Swimming pool, bocce court.
Day 5, 6 – exquisite, family-run, four-star hotel in the heart of Lucca’s historical centre. Each room, with the name of a flower, has a unique design and delicate paintings on the walls.
Participants booked on the trip will receive a complete list and detailed descripion of the hotels.
Breakfasts – They consist of a generous spread of meats, cheeses, fruit, yogurt, juice, cereal, fresh bread, and other baked goods, accompanied by coffee or tea.
Lunches – On some of the days, we enjoy a picnic lunch and the opportunity to taste local meats, cheeses, chutneys, olives or dried tomatoes, at least one vegetable, fruit, and freshly baked bread. Light lunches at a simple, traditional, family-run restaurant generally entail a set menu refleting the local specialities.
Dinners – We mostly dine at the hotels, where the food is outstanding and reflecting the exquisite Tuscan gastronomy. With the exception of Day 4 and Day 5, we generally order à-la-carte.