This morning is left to your own devices. You can enjoy a leisurely breakfast and a cappuccino while you watch the traffic pass in one of Florence’s many piazzas or set out on a shopping expedition for some of the city’s best wares, like fine leather goods and jewelry. After a delicious lunch, you’ll head out to the Tuscan countryside to take in some of the most majestic country villas in Italy. You’ll start by walking along the famed double lane of cypresses that leads to the entrance of the splendid Villa Torrigiani, decorated with classical statues and dramatic balustrades that recall the splendor of Tuscany’s past.
Continue on to Villa Reale, whose renowned garden features the unique and unforgettable Teatro di Verdura – literally, the “Greenery Theatre” but perhaps most eloquently translated as “A Curtain of Green.” This performance space has been designed into the hedges and topiary that fill the gardens. The tour concludes at the most iconic of Lucchese villas, the stunning Villa Mansi, which is now the site of an excellent museum.
Set out for the heart of nature as your guide takes you into the rugged countryside of central Italy and up into the Apuan Alps that dominate the horizon. Much of the marble that makes this region famous throughout the world is still quarried in these mountains, and the scenery remains truly inspiring in its scope and beauty. You’ll get a chance to take in some of Italy’s most beautiful wild flora and fauna before setting out on a leisurely hike through these majestic peaks, making a short ring between Stazzema and the Forte dei Marmi refuge.
After lunch at a local trattoria, you’ll have the afternoon free to explore the rest of this enchanting region, reveling in the rolling hills and endless expanse of verdant fields that make Tuscany one of the most romantic areas in Europe.
Today, discover the secrets of Italy’s best-known and best-loved wine region as you turn to the famed vineyards and wineries of Chianti. You’ll be taken to the ancient and alluring village of Radda, one of the main towns of the Chianti region, where you’ll be led on an extensive and informative tour of the Castello Monterinaldi, where locals have been making wine for centuries, dating back to the early Roman and Etruscan eras. Not only will this tour delight your taste buds, but you will also have a chance to learn how to make wine by participating in their Winemakers for a Day Tour.
Wander through the superb gardens and the marvelous terraces of the elegant estate before making your way into the center of the former fortifications. Here, you’ll get an in-depth look at the remarkable cellars – including some wines that have been bottled for more than 70 years – and the chance to taste some of the best offerings from Castello Monterinaldi. Enjoy sampling the estate’s wines, oils and vinegars while also indulging in the fine cured meats that come from nearby artisans. The rest of the day is at your leisure.
Return to the bustle and life of Florence to do a more in-depth exploration of this charming capital of Tuscany. After a morning train ride and a delicious and filling lunch, the afternoon features a tour of this world-famous “City of Flowers.” Wind your way along the River Arno to take in some of the remnants of the city’s Roman and medieval past before turning to the Piazza della Repubblica, the former Forum in days gone by.
From the piazza, you can explore some of the great monuments of the Renaissance that fill the city. Make you way past the towering dome and the multicolored façade of the famous Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as the Duomo of Florence, whose soaring centerpiece was a marvel in the 15th century and remains a testament to the genius of the age. Walk past the house of Dante, the most famous poet in the Italian language, before taking in the offset tower of the Palazzo Vecchio and the bustling Piazza della Signoria, the political center of the city since the Middle Ages. The tour concludes at the incomparable Basilica of Santa Croce, the largest Franciscan church in the world and the final resting place for some of the luminaries of the Renaissance, from Machiavelli to Michelangelo.
Tour in unexpected fashion today as you cruise through the delightful towns of Lucca and Mutigliano and around the undulating hills of transfixing Tuscany. You’ll enjoy walking around the Piazza Anfiteatro, an exciting hub of Lucca, or simply strolling through the streets of nearby Mutigliano while enjoying the breathtaking weather and stunning scenery of this alluring area before visiting a local farmhouse for an intimate and enchanting wine tasting session, followed by lunch at a highly rated local restaurant.
The afternoon is dedicated to exploring the town of Lucca more fully, a medieval settlement that retains the charm of days gone by and the history of the years that have passed. You’ll certainly want to see the dramatic Piazza Napoleone, Berlinghieri’s triumphant “The Ascension,” a Byzantine mosaic that adorns the Basilica of San Frediano, and the incredible series of sculptures and inlays that fill the façade of San Michele in Foro, featuring interior artwork by Luca della Robbia and Filippino Lippi.
Today is dedicated to complete relaxation and reinvigoration as you make for the immaculate villa-cum-spa of Bagni di Pisa. Nestled serenely in the rolling ridges that ripple on the outskirts of Pisa, this phenomenal facility was built in the 18th century as a home to the Grand Duke of Tuscany and has since been meticulously restored and renovated to return it to the grandeur of its past, including breathtaking frescoes that can be found throughout.
The spa itself is pure bliss, utilizing the healing properties of the waters that flow through Tuscany and harnessing the relaxing power of the best local plants and herbs. You’ll bathe in the pristine waters that run from Mount San Giuliano and enjoy state-of-the-art services that will leave you feeling more invigorated that you have in years.
Today you leave the calm of Tuscany and turn to the excitement of Milan, northern Italy’s most important financial city and a center of the fashion world, home to such famed designers as Armani, Versace, Prada, and Dolce & Gabbana. This afternoon gives you the chance to experience the haute couture of the city in the way that it deserves, as you’ll make your way down the famous Via Montenapoleone, home to the flagship stores of some of the greatest fashion houses on the planet. Locals also swear by the Corso Buenos Aires, reported to be the longest shopping street in Europe and home to a wide array of boutiques, shops and cafes. In the evening, enjoy some of Milan’s fine cuisine at Savini in the famous Galleria or a freshly made cocktail at Rita after a long day of retail therapy.
Today, a private driver will take you from your Milan hotel to the airport in plenty of time for you to board the flight that will take you back home. Your heart will be filled with memories of that past nine days, your suitcase will be bursting with the mementos from your travels, and your head will be swimming with plans for the next time that you return to inimitable Italy.
Nowhere says splendor quite like the famed hills of Tuscany, the home to scintillating countryside and some of the country’s best-loved cities. This nine-day trip will give you the chance to see the best of this arresting area, from the streets of Florence to the magnificent country villas of Lucca, showing you the best food, art and culture around.
Discover the art of the Italian Renaissance as you perambulate through Florence, where you’ll find the astounding Santa Maria del Fiore and the sublime works of Michelangelo on prominent display in the Accademia. Visit the villas of the Italian nobility around Lucca and Mutigliano and enjoy the sumptuous wines of the spectacular Chianti region. You’ll even get the chance to spend a day in the lap of luxury, as you revel in the setting and the services of a world-class spa in the delightful town of Bagni di Pisa.
From the paintings of the Renaissance to the celluloid of today’s silver screen, Tuscany is synonymous with Italian allure and countryside charm. Visit for the sunsets or the light as it mingles with the crisp Italian air over the tranquil peace of an olive grove. Come for the incomparable cuisine, known the world round for its comforting delicacies. Stop by for the culture that has been cultivated for centuries, from big cities to tiny towns. Why ever you choose to visit, you’ll find you have a much bigger problem finding a reason to leave.
$2195 per person (excluding international flights)
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