Florence, Siena, Tuscan Countryside, Cinque Terre
September 4-23, 2014
Ah, Bella Italia! Wouldn’t we love to explore her majestic art, architecture, and cuisine, her serene villages and vineyards, her romantic coastlines for half of the rest of our lives? Well, on this Women’s Adventure, we’ll have to settle for just a bit less than that, taking in some of the spectacular sights in the top half of “the boot”.
We’ll begin in Florence, my favorite Italian city, full of culture and beauty, and just the right size to enjoy ourselves easily. We will stay five nights, strolling on the Ponte Vecchio to the other side of the Arno, listening to the monks chant their 5:00 Mass near the Piazzale Michelangelo, stopping at a frutta e verdura market for a fresh afternoon snack. After a half day private walking tour to get a feel for the history of Florence, we will visit the old masters in the Uffizi Gallery and the exquisite statue of Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia. Franco treats us like queens at Il Porcospino, a local ristorante near the Medici Chapel..
A day trip to Fiesole will give us our first taste of some northern Tuscany towns, with a spectacular view of Florence from above, and we can explore the Etruscan ruins nestled in Fiesole’s village boundaries. And always there is espresso, cappuccino, gelato and other delicious culinary delights.
We depart Florence and travel by short bus ride to Siena, where the Palio is held each year at the Campo, in July and August. We can see clear evidence of which contrata has won the prize when we’re there. A half-day private tour with my friend Viviana Girola will put some of Siena in a historical context, including entry into the magnificent Duomo, as well as the side gallery with ancient illuminated manuscripts on display. Then we will be free to explore the walkways, churches, shops and alleys of this old world town. My past participants always long to stay more than one night here, so I’ve added two extra nights. Delicious dinners await us, as well as casual daytime grazing on the Campo, full of cafes and street vendors.
After kissing Siena goodbye, we will head to a lovely villa in the Tuscan countryside, near Vagliagli, just outside of Castellina in Chianti. We will take off most days for towns in Chianti, as well as Montipulciano, Pienza, Cortona, and San Gimignano, and perhaps visit Capalbio’s Il Giardino dei Tarocchi (Tarot Garden), a spectacular park with mosaic magnificence in the form of the figures of the Major Arcana.
We can also just spend a leisurely day or two (your choice) at the villa itself, lounging by the pool, walking the area or napping luxuriously in the Tuscan sun. There is always time to write in your journal, one you will receive for the trip, or one you bring with you!
Our departure from the villa, on our way to Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera, will allow time to stop in Pisa for a few hours. We will see the Leaning Tower, of course, and those of you who are adventuresome can climb the tower if you wish. The Baptistry and the Duomo are spectacular, part of the unique Field of Miracles situated within an area the size of a city block. Then we begin our time on the Italian Riviera nicely recovered from floods and mudslides in 2011.
In Cinque Terre, where we will stay for three nights, we can walk or hike from one of the five villages to another, or take the little “milk train” instead, stopping here and then there to explore Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. We will steal away one day, taking the train to the spectacular oceanside town of Portofino (remember Enchanted April, filmed in that area?) for a day of shopping (even just window-shopping) in the high end stores and galleries or just sitting by the sparkling Ligurian sea, sipping chilled Prosecco and watching the yachts come and go.
When we depart from Cinque Terre, we will head for Milan’s Malpensa airport and our return to reality!
Our trip will include AIRFARE FROM DENVER, eighteen nights’ lodging (double occupancy), all transportation within Italy, walking tours in Florence and Siena, a half-day trip to Pisa, sixteen breakfasts, three lunches, two picnics, eight dinners, entrance to the Duomo in Siena, the Uffizi, Accademia, and Medici Chapel in Florence, combo ticket in Pisa (the fee for the Tower climb is not included), Florence Street-wise maps, travel journals, and ME, your planner, guide, and all-around fire extinguisher!
Cost for above, (including airfare from Denver) is $6200.00** A $500 non-refundable deposit holds your space. A referral discount of $250 is yours for early registration by November 30, 2013 OR for bringing a friend not on my list . . .
For questions, please contact Joannah L. Merriman, Lifeprints, 970-481-6339. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out my travel blog, http://www.woodswomanabroad.com for samples of previous trip adventures!
**Double occupancy. Single occupancy available for additional cost. If you are flying from somewhere other than Denver, or if you have miles you’d rather use, please talk with me. Travel insurance is a must, I’ve found, but I will offer a group rate or individual policy for the full value of your trip as well as for lost luggage, trip delays, medical coverage etc. Details about that upon registration.