Autumn Itinerary

Day 1 Buongiorno, Welcome to Italy!

Prepare to discover something extraordinary around every corner and indulge your senses while experiencing the very best tour of Tuscany and Umbria. We meet you at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport at Fiumicino at 11:00am. You then travel north in our first class coach to Montecatini Terme, Italy’s biggest spa-town.

Stopping for lunch along the road to Tuscany, you’ll arrive in the mid- afternoon in plenty of time to explore this spectacular first stop on your Tuscany and Umbria journey. You’ll then have time to unpack and settle into your centrally based hotel before celebrating your arrival in Tuscany with a welcome Prosecco followed by dinner.

Meals: Dinner

Day 2 Lucca, encircled by intact Renaissance walls 

You can enjoy an early morning walk around Montecatini followed by a delicious breakfast before you head off to the historical and scenic town of Lucca, the birthplace of Puccini.

In Lucca you’ll meet your very own local guide for a short guided tour of this beautiful town. A wealthy town since the days of the Romans, Lucca became a centre for banking and the silk trade between the 11th and 14th centuries when it reached its prime. It is also known for its high quality olive oil.

Following this tour, the afternoon is yours to make your own discoveries in Lucca. Enjoy the atmosphere in the oval shaped Piazza Anfiteatro, climb the 230 steps up the Guinigi Tower and take in the spectacular views of the Tuscan hills, hire a bicycle and ride the complete ring of the city walls or perhaps take in some history at the Puccini Museum.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3 Explore the charms of the Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre is a National Park and UNESCO World Heritage site. The Cinque Terre, which means Five Lands, is comprised of the five small coastal villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso perilously clinging to cliffs of the Italian region of Liguria.

Weather permitting, we travel by ferry along this magnificent coastline giving you a panoramic view of the ancient terraced vineyards as they join together the five villages. Don’t be concerned, if you can’t get there by boat, a train line runs through all the villages. You’ll spend the day exploring these spectacular terraced villages making up Liguria’s Cinque Terre.

Spend the day discovering these remarkable villages, where on street parking is given over to boats, and take in the world famous scenery.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4 Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance

For a change in pace you hop on the local train to Florence, the capital of Tuscany. On your arrival you will be met by your local tour guide who will take you on a guided journey of the iconic monuments surrounding the central piazzas of Florence, but not forgetting some lesser known backstreets.

Following the tour, you’ll have time to discover Florence at your leisure. Florence is not just the cradle of the Renaissance and an open-air museum, this splendid city is also famous for its shopping. You’ll find everything from luxury boutiques, antique stores, local artisan workshops and incredible food markets where you’ll find delicious Italian cheese and many other mouth-watering options.

Then of course, there’s the leather and the jewellery. You’ll take away so many memories from today as you return via train to your base in Montecatini Terme.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5 Cooking with an Italian Chef 

Whether you love to cook, or be cooked for, today’s visit to an 11th century monastery will give you the opportunity to work hands on with an Italian chef in her kitchen. Prepare your taste buds as together you create a traditional Tuscan lunch using fresh local produce, wine and olive oil produced from the trees on the property.

For the non-cooks there is the option to explore further into the Chianti Hills. Lunch can be at a local osteria, Italian style which means whatever the cook feels like making on the day. The Chianti area has a long history of wine production as the hills and the climate are ideal and in 1716 became the first region in the world to have a defined production area. The hilltop villages, many with their medieval-era buildings and churches still standing, offer an enchanting backdrop to your journey.

Meals: Breakfast

Day 6 Welcome to Pienza

This week is spent in the tiny hillside town of Pienza which overlooks the glorious Val D’Orcia (D’Orcia Valley) and is considered the jewel in the Tuscan crown.

En route you will stop for a chance to visit the small perfectly preserved walled town of Monteriggioni which was immortalised in Dante’s Inferno.

There may also take the opportunity to have a wander around another small medieval town, Buonconvento. Then we head to for the UNESCO listed Renaissance town of Pienza. After settling into your hotel, you will take you on a short orientation walk through the town which is your home for the week.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7 Orvieto the spectacular cliff-edged remnant of four volcanoes

You will visit the Etruscan town of Orvieto perched high on a volcanic plateau 325m above the valley below. The city is one of the most ancient in Italy. Much of its history revolves around the Etruscan civilisation of 800-600 BC but there is evidence that before the Etruscans, both Bronze and Iron age people inhabited the area.

Building of the magnificent duomo with its striking facade commenced in the 13th century and took three centuries to complete. Its Chapel of San Brizio contains the superb frescoes of the Last Judgment painted by Luca Signorelli. Underneath the city is a labyrinth of Etruscan caves that form another city underground. These have been used for many purposes over the years including as bomb shelters during World War II.

At the eastern end of the town, close to the funicular, is a huge well, the Pozzo di San Patrizio, built to ensure the town’s water if it came under attack. The well is 62 metres deep and two 248 step staircase, designed as a double helix so that they never intersect, allowed donkeys to carry water to the surface.

Meals: Breakfast

Day 8 Think Palio, horse racing Siena style

Siena is known for the famous Palio, the horse race which is held in the Piazza del Campo twice a year passionately competed between the different contrade or districts of the town for the prize of a silk banner, the Palio. We can arrange a special opportunity for you to visit one of these contrade and see its unique Palio museum and hear the details of how the horse and jockey are prepared for this famous race.

You visit the Duomo with its marble floors depicting biblical and mythological events. It may be possible to tour the ceiling of the Duomo. From this vantage point you can see the entire church. Following the tour, take some time to self-explore and visit the museum, climb the 388 steps of the Torre del Mangia to take in a fabulous view of the town and countryside beyond, or taste the local Panforte the local spicy ‘cake’. Your Tour Leader can offer some great suggestions for other excellent places to visit.

Meal: Breakfast

Day 9 Under the Tuscan Sun 

This morning you’ll spend some time in romantic Cortona, made famous by the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, based on the book by Tuscan local Frances Mayes. As you we will see as you arrive, Cortona cascades down the hillside from the Church of Santa Margherita to the Porta Santa Maria, at the very bottom of the town. From Cortona the view stretches across the Valdichiana, with Lake Trasimeno in the distance.

A visit to MAEC, Cortona’s superb Etruscan museum, is highly recommended and there clues in the city walls that tell of its Etruscan heritage.

Leaving Cortona, prepare to tantalise your taste buds, as we continue on to visit a local wine producer and chef near Montepulciano. Here you enjoy a wine tasting and a lunch Italian style. In other words, whatever he decides to make on the day. You can be guaranteed it will be spectacular.

Montepulciano spreads along a narrow ridge boasting spectacular views from either side of the town and following lunch you will have the opportunity to wander the streets checking out, amongst other things, the many suppliers of the superb local wines, Rosso di Montepulciano and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 10 Brunello Wine 

Today we will visit some of the smaller towns and villages in the region, including the hot springs of Bagno Vignone, a favourite spa spot for the Romans. The thermal springs are highly mineralised and warm. Take a small towel, relax and take in a foot-spa, soaking up all the natural minerals, a treat for your tour weary feet. Feet refreshed, we move on to the classic hill town of Montalcino.

The twenty three hectares of vineyards around the town produce the world’s number one wine, Brunello, one of Italy most prestigious and highly prized wines. We wander through the vineyards to a local winery. This winery is owned by a mother and her daughter who is an award winning wine maker. There’s a light lunch and the opportunity to sample some of this nectar of the gods. After lunch there is still time to wander through the delightful little village of Montalcino.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 11 Experiencing Pienza

Get to know the wonderful little town of Pienza. This town was designed for Pope Pius II as the ‘Ideal City’ by the architect Rossellino and is built on the site of the Pope’s home town, Corsignano. This complete Renaissance creation has some interesting engineering features which were quite remarkable for the 1400s.

Try to visit the Palazzo Piccolomini with its rooftop garden overlooking the Val d’Orcia, built as a summer home especially for the Pope. If you have not already done so, walk the length of nave of the Duomo, taking note of the furniture as you go, an interesting experience! A ten minute walk down the hill is the delightful little Pieve di Corsignano, the original parish church of the village. Its origins are ancient and the current building dates back to the 1100s.

Walking along the main street, Corso Rossellini, you can’t help but be drawn by the wonderful smell of cheese. Stop and sample some of this beautiful locally made pecorino (sheep) cheese or perhaps try one of the local specialities, Pappardelle al Cinghiale (pappardelle with wild boar sauce).

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 12 The Umbrian Life 

For our final week, it’s time to experience the Umbrian way of life as we head to the picturesque town of Montefalco. On your way to Montefalco you can stop for some retail therapy at the Valdichiana Outlet before continuing on to Passignano on Lago Trasimeno the largest lake in Tuscany. The lakeside promenade shows the lake in all its splendour.

Leaving Passignano you will take a short detour to the village of Spello, a picturesque, flower decked village perched on a hillside not far from Montefalco. The surrounding hills are covered with the precious olive trees from which the beautiful Umbrian olive oil is produced.

The views from the top of the village take in the entire valley and on a clear day you can see Assisi and Perugia. On your arrival in Montefalco, you will have a stroll through the historic centre of Montefalco, a town rich in art and tradition. Meeting the bus on the opposite side of the town, it is on to our stay on a farm estate (agriturismo) that is surrounded by a characteristic Umbrian landscape of olive trees and vineyards. It offers a stunning panorama of the valley stretching from Spoleto to Perugia. During your farm stay there will be many opportunities to take the ten minute walk uphill to this delightful little town.

After settling in, you enjoy a traditional Umbrian dinner prepared by our host Giuseppe.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 13 Sophisticated Perugia 

Elevated above a valley patterned with fields, where the River Tiber runs peacefully, Perugia is Umbria’s sophisticated capital. Its historic centre features cobbled alleys, arched stairways and piazzas framed by magnificent mansions. You’ll feel the rich history unfold on every corner of these streets as you enjoy one of the many self-guided walking tours.

We have taken the opportunity to arrange a guided sight-seeing bus tour for you, an excellent way to see this sprawling town’s highlights. Perugia is the home of Perugina Baci chocolates, known to some as Chocolate Kisses.

Today, Perugia is a pleasure-seeking university city, with students filling cafe terraces. Together with its nearby sister city, Assisi, Perugia is a candidate for the European Capital of Culture 2019. When you explore this city, you’ll understand why.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 14 Heading into the Mountains 

Driving into the Sibillini Mountains today, discover Norcia, the birthplace of St Benedict. Built to withstand earthquakes, the buildings of this solid town are lower than any you will have seen so far. It 1859 it was made compulsory to limit the height of buildings to 12.5m to reduce the danger.

It is one of Italy’s culinary capitals, known for its classic sausages, salamis, hams and wild boar products and also famed for its truffles and local mountain cheeses.

From Norcia you wind your way up the mountain, to reach the vast expanse of the Piano Grande. Overlooking the Piano Grande is the summit of Monte Vettore that, reaching the height of 2476m, is the highest peak in the Sibillini Mountains. This provides an opportunity to take stunning some photographs and capture memories that will last a lifetime. This area specialises and is famous for the growing of the best lentils in Italy, so it is recommended that you try some of the lentil and sausage soup.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 15 Discover Assisi 

Visible for miles around, Assisi sits on the slopes of Mount Subasio overlooking the Vale of Spoleto. Built of warm, pink Subasio stone, it is the birthplace of St Francis, the patron saint of Italy. You will be treated by your local guide to a tour through the Basilica to introduce you to, amongst others, the wonderful frescos lining the Basilica’s walls depicting St Francis’ life that attributed to Giotto .The crypt contains the tomb of St Francis which remained hidden until 1818.

At the opposite end of the town you will find the Duomo of Santa Chiara, friend and protégé of St Francis. High above the town is the Rocca Maggiore. Visiting this involves a steep climb either via the roadway or via stairs climbing up through the town. It is well worth the effort for the stunning panoramic view. You can explore your own interests in the beautiful and very historic town at your leisure. Take the time to walk among Assisi’s medieval houses and shops.

There are so many things to experience in Assisi, your tour guide will provide you with some other suggestions only the locals know about.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 16 Food, wine and Art

This is a day when you can choose between relaxing and soaking up the view, or walking up to the village to visit those places you have not had time to see during the week. You can find the superb series of frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli depicting the life of St Francis, lining the walls of the deconsecrated church of San Francesco that is now part of the museum.

Perhaps your interest lies in learning the art of pasta making from a pastaia who makes fresh pasta every day. For those who wish, we can arrange this ‘hands on’ experience so roll up your sleeves, put on your apron, and enjoy the morning cooking your three course lunch and then, of course, sampling the excellence of your hard labour. And what would this meal be without a glass of the local Rosso di Montefalco or Sagrantino, made from the sagrantino grape, a variety found nowhere else in Europe.

Alternatively we can arrange a visit to the local linen factory which makes the superb quality linen products you will probably have seen in the village, or the frantoio or oil mill where the local olive oil producer blends the olives with all the skill and expertise of a wine maker. Then enjoy one final delicious dinner cooked by your host Giuseppe.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 17 Arrivederci  

With 22 days of new memories that will last a lifetime, it’s time to travel back to Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport, Fiumicino, stopping for coffee along the way, and arriving at around 11:30am. Whether you’re staying on in Rome, travelling to other parts of Europe, or heading home, we wish you the safest of travels.

We encourage you to share your stories and photos with us on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter streams. Thank you for choosing to travel with Carolinasusi Italia Tours.

Meals: Breakfast

Note: The itinerary is subject to change. Due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather conditions and other elements out of our control, some items on the itinerary may change during the course of the tour.