From art and culture to food and wine, experience all Tuscany has to offer while based in the Tuscan countryside. Travel through the scenic countryside and take-in the postcard-perfect vistas as you journey to Pisa, Florence, Siena, Chianti, San Gimignano and Cortona. Sample the local wine and learn the secrets of preparing delicious Italian cuisine at a hands-on cooking class. Experience Italy’s ‘La bella vita’ – the good life!
1 Depart the USA
Depart the USA on your overnight flight to Florence, Italy.
2 Arrive Florence, Italy
Upon arrival in Florence, you’ll be met by a Mayflower Cruises & Tours representative and transferred to your hotel in the heart of Tuscany. Flights should arrive by 3:00 p.m. Explore your new surroundings, then join your Tour Manager and fellow travelers for a welcome dinner at the hotel. Meal: D
3 Pisa and Lari
The day begins as you travel to Pisa to visit its iconic landmarks: Piazza dei Miracoli and the Leaning Tower. Your local guide will explain the history of this beautiful little town as you walk through the square, admire the architecture and see the historic walls of this medieval city.
You’ll have free time for lunch on your own before departing by coach to the picturesque village of Lari in the Pisan hills. Home to Europe’s smallest and most authentic pasta factory, learn all about the product as it is transformed from grain to the delicious staple Italy is known for! Return to the hotel for an evening at leisure. Meal: B
Walk in the footsteps of great rulers, artists and philosophers as you discover the breathtaking capital of the Italian Renaissance with your local guide on the included walking tour. Visit the famous Accademia Gallery’ where you get an up-close view of Michelangelo’s masterpiece, David
- undoubtedly the world’s most famous sculpture. See the cathedral and famous bronze doors of the Baptistery in Duomo Square.
Shops line the Ponte Vecchio, a medieval stone-arched bridge spanning the Arno River, and there is plenty of artwork to admire as you visit the main square and heart of the city, Piazza della Signoria. As you reach the Mercato Centrale, you’ll see impressive food shops operated by the ‘Artisans of Taste’ where authenticity, spontaneity and tradition play a leading role in bringing the taste of Tuscany to life. A typical Florentine sandwich is served, along with a glass of local wine. Following free time for shopping, return to the hotel. Meal: B
Today is a special treat as you depart for Siena where it’s ‘all aboard’ a vintage steam train. Travel back in time as you journey through the fascinating Crete Senesi (unique terrain) and scenic landscapes that surround you. Arrive at the ancient station of Sant’Antime for an overview of what it takes to operate the historic train.
The next stop is at a local village to attend an annual festival. Meet the people, learn about their traditions, explore the village, enjoy lunch and immerse yourself in a genuine Tuscan atmosphere. Meal: B
6 Chianti / San Gimignano
Travel through the marvelous Chianti Valley, with its colorful, hilly landscape, for a treat of a different kind! Arrive at a typical Tuscan villa for a hands-on cooking class where the chef reveals secrets and tips of preparing delicious Italian cuisine. After the lesson, relax in the gardens of the villa as you enjoy a lunch consisting of the dishes you just created.
Your next adventure is discovering the walled, hilltop town of San Gimignano with a local guide. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its medieval towers, Duomo, and numerous art treasures. After the walking tour, you’ll be rewarded with a sample of award-winning Gelato, made by Mr. Dondoli. Meals: B, L
Visit the area known for its role in Under the Tuscan Sun
. Well preserved medieval character, cobblestone paths winding through narrow alleyways in the historic center, lively piazzas where daily life takes place – you’ll see it all on the walking tour through this lovely village.
Continue on to Arezzo to discover its monuments, churches and museums that provide a step back into history, which your local guide will relay. The Church of S. Maria della Pieve with its ‘campanile of a hundred holes’ and the Piazza Grande, scene of the ‘Giostra del Saraceno’, a historical knights’ tournament are some of the sites to be seen. Visit a wine cellar to experience a wine tasting of a local vintage before returning to Colle Val D’Elsa for a farewell dinner with your traveling companions and new-found friends. Meals: B, D
8 Florence / USA
After a cultural immersion into the history, local lifestyle and cuisine of Tuscany, it’s time to bid ‘arrivederci’ to Italy as you transfer to the airport for your flight home. Meal: B