Nov 29, 2023 - Dec 7, 2023
We'll visit the major Christmas markets as we sail down the Rhine!
17 spots left
Note:Several years ago we participated in a guided tour of Italy conducted by Alex Lavagnini, a full time resident of Tuscany born and bred. His tour was magical in so many respects. He gave us unique experiences, and showed us in-depth the country he so loves. We’ve asked him to curate a trip for us with not only the highlights of Rome, Florence, and Tuscany, but also some of his favorite spots not seen by the typical tourist. We’re doing a deep dive in Alex’s Tuscany top to bottom! Expect 4 and 5 star hotels and service throughout.
The more we look at the details of the trip Alex has put together for us, the more excited we are. We’re going to be experiencing so much of Italy, all packed into 10 magical days. Here’s just a little sample of all he has in store for us:
Come join us! This trip is limited to 15 and will likely sell out soon.
Tuscany Tour 11 days / 10 nights in first class hotels with breakfast
Italian Tour Manager
Grand Hotel Tamerici & Principe is in the heart of Montecatini Terme, one block from the thermal spas and the shopping district. The large gardens feature a sun terrace with outdoor swimming pool with hydro massage. Grand Hotel Tamerici & Principe boasts a range of elegant furnishings, including Murano crystal, ancient bronze, and 19th-century paintings. The rooms come with air conditioning and a satellite TV. Most rooms have a balcony. Restaurant I Gran Duchi serves a delicious mix of Italian and international cuisine, plus a wide selection of Tuscan recipes. On request, guests can have relaxing moments in the spa. It boasts a hot tub with mini-pool, Turkish bath and a bio-sauna. Shiatsu massages, lymphatic drainage and foot reflexology can also be booked.
Just a 10-minute walk from Florence Cathedral, the Hotel Palazzo dal Borgo offers spacious rooms with a flat-screen TV. Palazzo dal Borgo is a converted 15th-century building with a quiet internal courtyard. The breakfast buffet consists of pastries, hot food options and fresh coffee. Rooms are air conditioned and many feature a 4-poster bed, all have private bathrooms. In the lounge area you will find antique furniture and frescoed walls. The property is just two blocks from Florence’s historic center, the Ponte Vecchio and Uffizi Gallery.
Set just inside San Quirico Dorcia’s historic town walls, Palazzo del Capitano is a charming 15th-century building. It features a wellness center and a garden with vegetable patches and fountains. This property is surrounded by olive groves and Mediterranean gardens. The wellness center includes a hot tub, a Turkish bath or a massage. The rooms are decorated in a rustic style, with wooden-beamed ceilings, antique furniture and terracotta floors. They all have satellite TV and free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is served at Trattoria Toscana Al Vecchio Forno, a few steps from Palazzo del Capitano Relais & Wellness. There is also the relaxing living room which was once the stables and the Vecchio Forno restaurant. This Michelin-recommended restaurant serves Tuscan food and wine indoors by the fireplace or outside in the beautiful garden, under the olive trees.
The Hotel Quirinale is a luxury 4 star hotel in Rome. It was founded near Via Veneto in 1865. Predating the Rome Opera house by a couple of years the two buildings are connected by a charming passage through a glorious inner garden. A sense of timeless history is almost physically tangible. The Quirinale’s spacious rooms are uniquely decorated and feature classic furnishings and parquet floors. Each room offers double glazing and a flat-screen TV with satellite and international channels. Some rooms overlook the small garden and courtyard.
Day 1, Wednesday June 7: Depart
Take an overnight flight, arriving in Florence the next morning.
Day 2, Thursday June 8: Arrival and transfer to Montecatini Terme
Meet your guide in Florence and transfer to Montecatini Terme, famous for its thermal bath used by the Medici family in the Renaissance time.
Settle at your hotel in the town center and have some time at leisure in Montecatini, where you can enjoy a nice walk to the ancient building built in the late 18th century by the Grand Duke of Tuscany or stroll in the lively streets. You can also explore the old town, reach it with a scenic cable car and enjoy a breathtaking view of the plain below.
Day 3, Friday June 9: Cooking class and Lucca:
Departure with your driver to a country farm in Tuscany, where you step into the kitchen and prepare a delicious Tuscan lunch during this 2-hour hands-on cooking class. Learn to make a seasonal Tuscan meal with your chef such as homemade pasta, “bruschetta”, and meat sauce. After this, have a three course Tuscan lunch with the food prepared together and much more.
Also enjoy a tasting of a variety of six local wines, olive oils, and vinegar to get a well-rounded look at Tuscan cuisine. In the afternoon, continue your journey to the Roman town of Lucca. Walk along amazingly well-preserved medieval walls and enjoy leisure time to shop and visit local landmarks like Guinigi Tower and the Cathedral of Saint Martin. Return to Montecatini Terme in the afternoon.
Day 4, Saturday June 10: Cinque Terre and Pisa
Private driver to Pisa to visit the Field of Miracles. This pedestrian area is one of the finest architectural ensembles in the world, including the Leaning Tower and the Duomo, a Romanesque masterpiece dating back to the 11th century. After this, you will be visiting the extraordinary Cinque Terre. Crystal clear water, local shops, restaurants, bars, framed by cliffs will make you fall in love of this unique coastline. Visit the best of Cinque Terre, that were designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Monterosso, Vernazza, Riomaggiore; explore these colorful villages, that have long been isolated, hidden between the sea and the mountains.
Day 5, Sunday June 11: Florence
Transfer to Florence in the morning. Meet your private guide and have a skip-the-line tour of the Academy Gallery of Fine Arts (Michelangelo’s David).
Afterward, walk through the historic streets and monuments of Florence, like the Duomo and the Baptistery. Soak up views of the Arno River as you cross the Ponte Vecchio bridge, and stroll through the bustling Piazza della Signoria, where the impressive Palazzo Vecchio sits.
Pizza and Gelato Cooking Class: Learn tips and techniques to make the perfect pizza, tasty homemade tomato sauce and fresh fruit gelato in authentic Italian style. This late-afternoon, chef-led class will introduce you to the history of these glorious Italian creations before you enjoy a dinner of the delicacies that you’ve prepared yourself.
Day 6, Monday June 12: Chianti Region
Travel to the heart of Chianti, famous for its scenic beauty, rolling hills, vineyards, and olive groves, and stop at the tiny village of Greve in Chianti. This town looks like a place truly out of a fairytale, with its cobblestone streets and enchanting homes. See the lovely square with the one hundred years old butcher shop. Next, continue to the world renowned Verrazzano Castle, where the famous explore was born. Have a guided tour of the ancient wine cellar and lunch in the middle of vineyards and olive oil trees. Return to Florence in the afternoon and enjoy some free time.
Day 7, Tuesday June 13: Siena and San Gimignano + Tuscan winery
Departure with a private driver from Florence to San Gimignano and Siena.
Explore the charming village, passing landmarks such as Piazza della Cisterna, the Dome, and Palazzo del Podestà. After this, head to a typical Tuscan winery where you will have lunch and a wine tasting of selected labels. Next, continue to Siena, a medieval town famous for the “Palio” race, a frenzy horse race held in the main square.
Explore the picturesque lanes in the historic center of this hilltop jewel of a city. Visit important attractions like Piazza del Campo and Duomo. See the headquarters of the world’s oldest bank and admire the impressive facade of the Cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary, covered with colorful local marbles. This place holds masterpieces by renowned artists like Michelangelo, Donatello, and Bernini. Head south and arrive at the tiny village of San Quirico d’Orcia, which is the gate to the worldwide known Orcia Valley. Settle at your hotel within the village’s city wall for three nights.
Day 8, Wednesday June 14: Montepulciano and Pienza (Orcia Valley)
Visit with your private driver two of the most charming towns in Tuscany’s UNESCO-listed Val d’Orcia region. Taste prized red wine varietals like Nobile di Montepulciano and stroll through medieval squares in Pienza, famous for its delicious cheese. Have a wine cellar tour in one of the most typical wineries in the area. You will have plenty of stops to snap photos of the scenery along the drive.
Two key scenes from Ridley Scott’s Academy-Award winning, “Gladiator,” were filmed in the Orcia Valley. The serene landscape that has inspired poets and artists for thousands of years was the perfect setting for idyllic scenes.
Day 9, Thursday June 15: Bagno Vignoni
Departure with your private driver to the lovely village of Borgo Vignoni. Enjoy one of Italy’s most spectacular open-air hot springs with this trip in the Tuscan countryside. Visit the spa at the nearby resort and relax in front of the breathtaking view of rolling fields and cypress trees.
You can also explore the old settlement, which is different from the others.
In traditional towns is the main square, in Bagno Vignoni is a pool 150 ft long and 90 ft wide, from the bottom of which bubble up several hot springs whose therapeutic quality has been renowned since antiquity.
Day 10, Friday June 16: Orvieto and Civita di Bagnoregio
Your private driver will drive you through the magnificent Umbrian countryside to Orvieto, renowned for its wine and olive oil. The medieval town sits majestically on the cliffs.
Visit and explore the town, checking out the stunning cathedral, considered one of the most important in Europe, and walking down the many narrow cobblestoned lanes.
Then have a delicious lunch in a family run restaurant, and an extraordinary visit of its underground tunnels and passageways, which have been built more than 2500 years ago by the Etruscans. This is a unique experience!
Next, head to the striking village of Civita di Bagnoregio, which has only 14 residents, making it the least populated town in Italy! Once abandoned due to frequent earthquakes, Civita has been resurrected thanks to a number of artists who discovered the town and restored it. Perched atop a steep hill, the town is an extraordinary place, accessible only through a pedestrian bridge built in 1965. There are no cars in Civita, where time has stood still for the past several hundred years.
After this, you continue to Rome, and settle at your centrally located hotel for two nights.
Day 11, Saturday June 17: Vatican Museums and city tour
Private transfer to Vatican City in the morning. Have an unforgettable experience with a skip-the-line tour of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. An expert guide will passionately lead you through the fascinating Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, with the legendary Michelangelo’s frescoes, providing you with historical facts and leaving you plenty of time to take photos and to absorb the breathtaking beauty of the masterpieces.
Next, you enter Saint Peter’s Basilica, the world’s largest church building, where you will admire some Baroque masterpieces and the breathtaking statue of “Pietà” by Michelangelo.
The tour finally ends in Saint Peter’s Square with its marvelous Bernini columns. You will admire Saint Peter’s dome, created by Michelangelo, and the balcony where the Pontiff gives the blessings. Here you will see Sistine Chapel’s roof where the white or black smoke comes out from in case of the new Pope’s election and the famous obelisk in the middle of the square
At the end of the visit, you have some time on your own for lunch in the Vatican area.
After this, meet your private driver who will show you around the city center, where you will see the main attractions of the Eternal city like Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Navona Square and much more, before dropping you off at your hotel at the end of the tour.
That evening enjoy a three-course farewell dinner with music and show in one of the most renowned restaurants of the capital city.
Day 12, Sunday June 18: Transfer to airport
Your guide for the week will transfer you to the airport for your journey home.
Pre-trip French Riviera – 3 nights (Limit 10)
Before we hit the road, let’s relax for a few days on the French Riviera! Note, this pre-trip has a more relaxed itinerary so we’ll decide the specifics of what we do as we go.
Day 1, Sunday June 4 – Depart US
Today we’ll take an evening flight from home to Marseille, France.
Day 2, Monday June 5 – Arrive Marseille, France
We’ll arrive in Marseille mid-morning and transfer to our four star hotel overlooking the Mediterranean. The rest of the day is yours to recover or fall asleep on the beach. We’ll meet for dinner for the included group welcome dinner. Afterwards we just might have our own 4th of July celebration on the beach!
Day 3, Tuesday June 6 – Marseille to Monaco
After breakfast we’ll drive our mini-van along the French Riviera making stops at St. Tropez, Cannes, and Nice, arriving at our hotel in Cap D’Ail around the corner (literally) from Monaco. The total drive time should be no more than 3 to 4 hours, so there will be plenty of time to stop for a swim or to sight see.
Day 4, Wednesday June 7 – Monaco
After breakfast we’ll take in this historic Principality of Monaco. We’ll take a private guided tour to show us the Prince’s Palace, the yacht basin, and to educate us a bit about its history. After our tour we’re free to explore the city on our own, or backtrack to discover Cannes in more depth. That evening we’ll gather for an included farewell dinner.
Day 5, Thursday June 8, Nice to Rome
Today we return to Nice for a mid-morning flight to Florence to meet the rest of our travelers!
$970 double occupancy
$400 single upgrade
Italy uses the Euro, as do most European countries. We strongly recommend getting some cash from an ATM machine once you land for the best rates. However, you'll only need cash for the occasional souvenir at small shops and for tipping. Mastercard and Visa are universally accepted in Italy, even in the smaller towns.
No. You may come and go with no restrictions, tests, or forms. Only your passport is required.
Please carry money for tips and souvenirs.
If you haven't been to Italy for awhile, you'll find it developed and forward-thinking. Rome is a dynamic, vibrant cosmopolitan city. Florence's population is quite educated and sophisticated. But everywhere you'll find people wanting to greet you and get to know you.
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Nov 29, 2023 - Dec 7, 2023
We'll visit the major Christmas markets as we sail down the Rhine!
17 spots left
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