Florence, Lucca, Siena, Tuscan Countryside, Cinque Terre
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 six 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 with our guide, Elena Leo, 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 trips 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. A short train ride to Prato (our guide’s hometown) and we can visit the Textile Museum, a fresco-ceiling chapel, and a Palazzo or two . . . And always there is espresso, cappuccino, gelato and other delicious culinary delights.
We depart Florence and travel by short train ride to Lucca, a unique triple-walled little city, for three nights, where we can ride bicycles on top of the old walls, picnic at one of the wall-top parks, and take a half-day tour of nearby Pisa. 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 on to Siena, where the Palio is held each year at the Campo, in July and August. While we are there, we can see clear evidence of which contrata (city district) has won the prize after the last race. 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. By popular demand, we have three nights in Siena. 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 the Tuscan countryside, near Vagliagli, just outside of Castellina in Chianti. Our hosts will be Mario and Elena, the owners of Tenuta Corsignano, an agriturismo, a working farm with vineyards, olive trees, herb gardens and views of Siena in the distance. We will take off most days for Tuscan towns and villages, such 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 might also have a private cooking class, a delightful half-day experience.
If you choose, you can just spend a leisurely day or two at the agriturismo 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!
We will depart from Corsignano and private drivers will take us to Cinque Terre, where we will stay for three nights. Your choices are many throughout these “five lands”, and you can walk or hike from one of the five villages to another, or take the little “milk train” or boat instead, stopping here and 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, all at the edge of the sparkling Ligurian sea. Sip chilled Prosecco and watch the yachts come and go.
When we say goodbye to Cinque Terre, we will head for the airport (either Milan or Florence) and our return to reality!
Our trip will include AIRFARE FROM DENVER, twenty nights’ lodging (double occupancy), all transportation within Italy, walking tours in Florence, Prato and Siena, a half-day trip to Pisa, combo ticket in Pisa (the fee for the Tower climb is not included), eighteen breakfasts, three lunches, two picnics, eight dinners, entrance to the Duomo in Siena, the Uffizi, Accademia, and Medici Chapel in Florence, bicycle rentals in Lucca, 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 discount of $250 is yours for early registration by November 15, 2015 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 of approximately $1000-$1100, depending on the value of the Euro at time of travel. 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.