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Culturious: Tuscany & Cinque Terre

8-day escorted tour with Tauck

Tauck Tour

Day 1 Reliving the Renaissance in Florence
Your Culturious Tuscany travel begins: 3:00 PM at the Hotel L'Orologia. A transfer is included from the Peretola Airport to the elegant Hotel L'Orologia in the center of Florence, a uniquely themed hotel inspired by the art of fine watchmaking and the world of vintage timepieces. A twisted maze of narrow alleyways... and your Tuscany travel adventure begins. Florence’s Renaissance heart makes yours beat a little faster as you ramble through it with your Florentine guide. Stroll along the Arno and check out Santa Maria del Fiore, the Duomo. See, touch and feel the mark of Michelangelo and Brunelleschi in stately palazzi, beautiful basilicas, even arrogant monuments built by the Medicis to themselves. Cocktails and canapés offer a warm and tasty Culturious welcome tonight. It's a short walk to Ristorante Buca Mario, a quintessential Florentine trattoria, for a true Tuscan welcome dinner. The restaurant is lively, the conversation stimulating... you have arrived in Italy. (D)

Day 2 Inside Florence, a city of secrets... and art
Michelangelo's shadow looms large in Firenze. But how... why... where? A Florentine art history scholar tells all. The Uffizi – founded by the Medicis to display their countless treasures – reveals a few secrets of its own. Getting up close and personal with Botticelli’s Birth of Venus or Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo – in a frame designed by the Master himself – can’t help but touch your soul… and the artist lurking within. We've all got passionate interests, and you'll have time to explore yours in Florence today... as well as check out some of the city's culinary offerings for lunch and dinner on your own. Next up is a visit to the Galleria dell'Accademia, home to Michelangelo's famed David. By midday you'll understand how art and history are inextricably intertwined in Florence. Continue a chat about art… and the Renaissance... and all things Florentine with phrases picked up in today's basic Italiano lesson… bellisimo Tuscany travel days... (B)

Day 3 Art, music and more... living the Florentine life
Take a walk along the cobbled streets of the Oltrarno, its Renaissance palaces harboring salacious scandals and murky intrigues... You're in the thick of Florentine life in the old San Niccolo district's bustling squares and artisans' workshops. Restoration specialist Bettina Schindler-Pratesi shares the secrets of her work… giving new life to old ivory, bone and mother-of-pearl... during a visit to her workshop. A short drive to the Basilica of Santa Croce, eternal resting place for Michelangelo, Galileo, Rossini and other illustrious Italians, offers a chance to reflect on the treasured legacies of their lives. Back in Florence, stroll through the Mercato Centrale with a local guide, sampling traditional Florentine street food – lampredotto sandwiches... fresh fruit... porchetta... gelato...  Following an afternoon exploring as you wish, join concert pianist Gregorio Nardi and his wife Annegret at their Palazzo Bargellini, where you'll enjoy a personal tour, a recital on a Steinway Grand piano, lively discussions on history and local politics, and an aperitivo. Later, dine as you please on your own, perhaps a taste of vino and local cheeses at an enoteca... now that's amore... (B)

Day 4 Carrara marble and the coast on the way to Cinque Terre
The road winds and twists and turns as you travel toward the Gulf of Genoa. Take a winding road deep into a mountain aboard a 4 x 4* to see where celebrated Carrara marble, considered the finest on Earth, has been quarried since Roman times, at what is the oldest industrial site on Earth. After stopping for a simple lunch in the village of Colonnata, continue to Portovenere on the Gulf of Poets, where you’ll instantly get why this stunning Roman-Byzantine town was named for the goddess Venus. Colorful houses cascade along a hillside against the azure sea… the black-and-white-striped Gothic church of San Pietro perched above... images captured as your motor boat (weather permitting) navigates the Mediterranean waters along Cinque Terre from Portovenere to the village of Monterosso, where you'll dine this evening at your hotel overlooking the harbor... images not soon forgotten... (B, L, D)

Day 5 Discovering “The Five Lands” of Cinque Terre
Gazing over the sea from your hotel perched above Monterosso al Mare, life is beautiful. Perhaps a dip in the sea from the private beach of Porto Roca? Monterosso is one of five remote fishing villages strung like jewels along the coast – Cinque Terre, “the five lands.” They’re now linked to the outside world by rail, but for centuries were accessible only by sea… or on foot, the best way to appreciate life in what is truly a world of its own. If you wish, join us for one of the world’s most spectacular coastal hikes, through terraced vineyards overlooking the sea from Monterosso to Vernazza – the “pearl of Cinque Terre.” If not, you'll travel by train, which is an experience unto itself. Fall in love with village life… indelible seascape memories… and lunch on your own in a sidewalk café, alive with the flavors of local wines, citrus, olives, and the catch of the day. The remainder of the day is free to do as you please, find your own pursuits... and what could be better than that? (B)

Day 6 Cycling and Tuscan cooking in Lucca, and on to Sienna
A jog, or a swim, is an excellent way to start the day before a drive through the Tuscan Hills to Lucca. This medieval city's surviving Renaissance-era, red-brick walls shut out traffic and the modern world… leaving a peaceful community that still revolves around its original Roman street plan, encircled by a delightful, tree-lined promenade. And because it’s topographically flat – unlike most Tuscan towns – Lucca is a cyclist’s dream. One of the best ways to explore this historically powerful and culturally rich city is by bicycle... and, led by your local guide, you'll do just that – zipping down its narrow lanes… across its ancient piazzas… even along the top of its massive walls! If you’re wondering if Tuscany is all about the food, a hands-on lesson with experts in the art of making fresh pasta at Fattoria Colle Verde, one of the region’s foremost wineries and olive oil producers, may shed some light. After a little testing and a little cooking, cap your pasta-making debut with a little virgin olive oil tasting… a little Tuscan wine tasting… and more than a little pasta tasting at lunch. Then it's on to the historic Tuscan city of Siena for a two-night stay. (B, L)

Day 7 Siena's treasures, wine tasting class and a Tuscan farewell
Awaken in beautiful Siena and spend the morning exploring as you wish; your Tauck Director can suggest museums, galleries and other points of interest, as well as great spots to enjoy lunch on your own. Or you can rise early and join us for an optional hot air balloon ride over the lush Tuscan landscapes, followed by a champagne breakfast (for an additional $350; ask at booking for details). Later, accompany your local guide to discover Siena's many architectural treasures on a walking tour – including its black-and-white Duomo, one of Italy's great cathedrals, with scenes inlaid in the marble floors and sculpture by Michelangelo. You'll see the Piazza del Campo – where the famous Palio bareback horse race has been held twice every year for centuries – Palazzo Salimbeni, Palazzo Tolomei, Torre di Mangia, Santa Maria della Scalla and more. Learn what makes the wines of the Tuscan Hills so special during a wine tasting class this afternoon. Then cap your Tuscany travel adventure with cocktails and canapés in an ancient wine cellar, followed by a memorable dinner of Tuscan specialties in an absolutely magical spot… under the setting Tuscan sun, for the Culturious only. (B, D)

Day 8 Arrivederci, Tuscany
Your Culturious Tuscany travel experience ends in Florence. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from the Grand Hotel Continental in Siena to Peretola Airport in Florence. As you return to the birthplace of the Renaissance through those magical hills for your journey home, the rich flavors of Cinque Terre and Tuscany travel, Culturious-style, linger in your memory. And there they’ll stay… warm and inviting… until your next visit. (B)

Tour Map
All This Included
For the Culturious, Tuscany travel is tasting the flavors of olive oil – and sharing likes and dislikes. It’s a lesson in key Italian words to get you comfortable ordering gelato on the piazza... or choosing your lunch at a local market. It’s feeling that much more savvy after an art history briefing. It’s walking through the medieval alleys of Siena... or bicycling along the walls of Lucca. It’s laughter. It’s sharing vino made from grapes in the vineyards you’ve just walked through and kicking back. It’s about becoming a part of day-to-day Italy... and new views on life.
  • Small Culturious groups, no more than 20 guests
  • Hike along Cinque Terre’s coastal paths amidst breathtaking views
  • Go inside an artisan’s workshop and studio with a Restoration Specialist
  • Sample the street foods of a Florentine market
  • Take a guided tour of the quarries where Carrara marble has been mined since Roman times
  • Learn about the life & works of Michelangelo at a lecture hosted by a Florentine art historian
  • A wine and olive oil tasting in Tuscany, a wine-tasting class & a cooking class in the art of making pasta
  • Bicycle ride atop the walls of Lucca
  • Find out what makes Tuscan wines so special at a wine-tasting class in Siena
  • Airport transfers upon arrival and departure
  • 12 meals (7 breakfasts, 2 lunches & 3 dinners), service charges, gratuities to local guides, admission fees, taxes and porterage
Accommodations on this Tour
Florence: Hotel L'Orologia
Monterosso: Hotel Porto Roca
Lucca: Grand Hotel Continental
Notes
  • Group Size: No more than 18 guests.
  • Some days include 2-4 miles of walking up steep hills or on uneven terrain and easy biking on relatively flat roads. The pace is up to you. You may be required to sign Tauck’s liability waiver for participation in certain activities.
  • Tours of June 7 and September 27 will stay at the Hotel Vis à Vis in Sestri Levante on nights 4 and 5.
  • For some activities, participation is at your own risk and a signed liability waiver will be required.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines. Sorry, we are unable to offer air from countries other than the U.S. However, for those international customers who are able to arrange their own transportation to the trip origination city, we are able to offer the land/cruise portion of the package, at the price quoted.


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