Extraordinary Tuscany Vacation: Countryside, Riviera & More

A 8 day trip to Italy 
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Come see extraordinary Tuscany on this 8-day tour through famous hillsides to vivacious coastlines. Explore Renaissance art and modern marble. This journey through Tuscany will have you watching the sapphire Ligurian Sea and sitting in a 17th century palace looking over the valley at sunset. Walk along medieval fortified walls and hold the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the palm of your hand. From Michelangelo’s David to the music of Puccini, Etruscan ruins to serene lakes, there is no end to the extraordinary sights of Tuscany and beyond. 

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Pietrasanta, Carrara, Lucca, Pisa, Volterra, Cinque Terre,  Florence , Versilia Riviera or Montecatini Terme

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1 – Beginning the Extraordinary

Welcome to Italy, one of the most coveted vacation destinations in the world, filled with remarkable landscapes and the tremendous city of Florence, known to be the cradle of the Renaissance. Today you will arrive in the charming village of Pietrasanta located in the Tuscan Hills, and often referred to as the “City of Artists.” The medieval town has a quiet atmosphere and a delightful square that opens up directly into the hills. The city is often decorated not just with the historic beauty of the buildings but also modern sculptures, turning the streets into an open art exhibit. The municipality was used as the source of marble for Michelangelo’s works and continues to produce the stone for local and distant sculptors helping keep the city’s traditions alive.

Settle into your accommodation, a luxurious 17th century palace that overlooks the rolling hills outside. In the evening you will enjoy the comforts of a nearby village with a tasting of the local delicacies, from wine to crostini. 

What’s Included: transfer, dinner, accommodation

Day 2 – The Field of Miracles

From outside your room you can see the sunlight stretch across the famous Tuscan hills. The morning brings with it the freshness of espresso and the buttery flakiness of brioche. A short drive will have you in the city of Pisa, known internationally for its famous leaning tower, but locally for its sensational character within the entire Campo dei Miracoli, Field of Miracles. The Romanesque buildings are a collection of grandeur in celebration of architecture and art, starting with the Duomo. The white marbled building dates back to the 11th century while the intricate façade was constructed in the 12th with four open galleried tiers that display statues and decorated marble inlay. Behind the cathedral is the admired Leaning Tower of Pisa that has 294 steps leading to the top and stands over 168 feet tall. The slight miscalculation by the architect made the large stone structure too heavy for the soft ground giving it the effect of leaning. The open tiers are surrounded by arched columns culminating in a concentric point at the top. If you circle the tower you can see the weights that help balance the iconic structure keeping it in place.

In the afternoon you will arrive in Voltera, a town that was walled in the Middle Ages. It holds its Etruscan roots proudly and is filled with Renaissance buildings. The walls were erected in the 13th century with six gates around the ramparts which continue to enclose the historic center. A cool breeze brushes through the streets bringing the scent of fresh grass and aged stone with it. You can find the region’s Etruscan archeological site at the town’s highest point. You can see the temples and dwellings that date back to the Hellenistic period, even the Etruscan tombs that have been created below the ground in several places. The quiet hillside of Volterra is a pleasant place to discover, from the sandstone buildings to colorful hillside, and the fun myths of the vampires at night beyond the walls. 

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, accommodation

Day 3 – The Five Lands

Today you will venture outside of Tuscany and into the coastal splendor of the Italian Riviera and the charm of Cinque Terre, five separate towns that were once connected by a single meandering trail through the mountainside. Arrive at Riomaggiore, a city whose origins date back to the eighth-century. Like the majority of the towns, here you can see the vibrant stone building ascending the mountain, starting from the sapphire water where the marina is located. Follow the signs to the trail that will take you through the mountainside, beside lush gardens where marvelous tomatoes and gigantic basil plants thrive. There was a time when every available space of land was required to grow produce; now the gardens are coveted by all that wander by.

The view of the sea is spectacular with effervescent blue water. Once in Manarola you will notice the distinct difference between the romantic village on the cliff and the seaside charm of Riomaggiore. The water juts up against the natural harbor and sheer cliff that the village looks over. The colorful homes undulate with the mountain and look as they were molded perfectly to one another. The herbaceous scent of pesto mixes with the fresh seafood grilling in almost every restaurant. Sit and enjoy a taste of the local wines, distinct in their robustness ranging from mineral flavors to fruity finishes due to the diverse terrain. Soon you will have the cool sea breeze blowing through you hair as you make your way to Vernazza by boat, journeying around the rocky outpost and finding the bright city fortified by the cove.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 4 – Work of Art

The artistic splendor of Italy goes beyond the images crafted by masters and can be seen even within the landscape itself. After breakfast you will venture into a world of sculpted images, whether carved by human kind or the wears of the elements. Begin in Carrara. At the heart of the Apuan Alps, overlooking the cobalt sea, you will come to the white marble caves that continue to capture imaginations. The area has been used as a marble mine for centuries, including having provided materials for the likes of Michelangelo. Adventure through the “marble caves,” from quarrymen’s vibrant villages to tremendous stones that are carved out of the mountain. Press your hand to the rock wall and enjoy a truly unique opportunity to see a different side of a storied art form.

For lunch you will savor the dishes at a typical osteria that serves lardo di colonnata, a specialty salami from the region. Back in Pietrasanta you will arrive at a marble sculpture ateliers, the workshop that takes the stone you visited at the mountain and shapes the resilient, smooth, and glowing mineral into a more refined form. The area is called the “Sculptor Center of the World,” and you can watch as artists, professionals and novices, fulfill the image in their imaginative designs, with a clink of the chisel and hammer reverberating through the air.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, accommodation

Day 5 – Discovering the City

Today will take you through the Renaissance city of Florence where the buildings are rich with history whether outside the city limits our within. From Piazzale Michelangelo you can look out over the historic city center viewing the Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as the Duomo. It is the largest brick dome in the world and it towers over the cityscape. The spires of Santa Croce and the Palazzo Vecchio’s clock tower all add to the marvelous skyline that eventually reaches to the hills. The streets are filled with the fresh aroma of gelato and pizza drifting along the cobblestone near Piazza Signoria. Staring into the façade of the Duomo is quite an inspiring experience. The detailed front holds intricate color and design, and the dome cannot be missed. The bronze doors of the Baptistery are known as the Gates of Paradise, created by Ghiberti emphasizing perspective on the landscapes and realistic characters of the Old Testament. Although the current doors are a replica, the original can be found in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo located on the opposite side of the Cathedral.

Florence is blossoming with literary and artistic tradition that can’t be missed. The later afternoon is yours to personalize with the flavors of the city, whether visiting the Uffizi Gallery to witness the works of masters such as da Vinci and Botticelli, or strolling through the splendid streets to taste the delightful gelato of Perché No. You will find an overabundance of majesty throughout the city but not before a spectacular visit to the Gallerie dell’Accademia. Venture into the open space of the museum where the immaculate, lofty walls make each displayed image burst forth from their resting place.

In the Hall of the Colossus you can see the sensational detail of Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabines, three remarkable people climb over one another, into the air. The most treasured image of the gallery, and also one of the most famous images in the world, is the located on its own at the ends of a long hall: Michelangelo’s David. The statue stands over 14 feet tall, constructed from pure marble and telling a part of the story of David versus Goliath, as the boy stood ready to battle holding nothing more than his slingshot. Natural light is cast down from the stained glass relief above the statue that literally gives a shimmer to the pristine stone masterpiece.

What’s Included: breakfast, walking tour, accommodation

Day 6 – Great Walls and Music Halls

Many medieval villages throughout Tuscany have preserved their unique remnants of a fortified past; Lucca is a city that has remained behind its lustered walls turning the old barriers into lush parks. The large stonewalls still contain much of their original imposition, encircling the city and marking a distance between the greenery outside and the medieval structures within. However, now you can stroll beside the walls and find the grassy patches swaying in the breeze, along with flourishing trees and a constant aroma of spring.

Towers rise over the cityscape that range in dates from the 12th to the 16th century, each one adding another edge to the helpful walls. The Basilica of San Frediano is ordained with a 13th century mosaic looking out onto the square. The golden coloration brings an apparent shimmer to the depiction of the Ascension of Christ in a Byzantine style as angels take the throne upwards. Take your time exploring the city, from the walls to the charming medieval streets, where you can find antique dealers offering relics from history, ancient and contemporary.

In the afternoon you will come to Torre del Lago, known as the location that Puccini composed his many musical masterpieces. The serene landscape was dubbed paradise by the composer due to its remarkable marsh, lush distant hills, and persistent calm. In the summer the quiet shifts to reverberation as the outdoor theater hosts the Puccini Festival with its live operatic performances. The villa contains relics of the great composer, from photos to his piano. In the evening you will return to your hotel with Puccini’s music on desired repeat.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 7 – Extraordinary Endings or Continuations

Today is the choice of visiting the  luxurious medieval spa town of Montecatini Terme, or the Italian Riviera at Versilia Riviera. One option will offer the open beauty of the lush valleys while the other will have you strolling along fine sand beaches with the mountains lingering in the background.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 8 –  Journey Home

After breakfast you will have a transfer to the airport, and you will say goodbye to Italy.  Your flight will soon have you on your way home marveling over the memories of the past week on your extraordinary vacation.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer 

For ideas on how to extend this 8-day tour, read the luxury trip reviews for ideas on how to extend your customized vacation.

Price

Starting Price 

$2,195
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.