"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." - St. Augustine
Florence and its neighbors Natale in Toscana December 4 - 11, 2020 (Looking for 2019 dates? We can get you there, ask us how!)
At Piazza Della Signoria, Florence
Visits to various Tuscan Christmas markets throughout the week
Market visit in Arezzo
Market visit in Cortona
Day trip and market visit to Val D'Orcia
Market visit to Siena
Two private holiday culinary classes with meals following
Day trip to Chianti with cooking class and lunch
Foodie crawl visiting world famous shops
Welcome Wine Tasting
Leisure time on your own for additional shopping!
Overview You've been to Tuscany, yes? But have you been to Tuscany at Christmastime? While Tuscany is beautiful year round, the decorations, lights and holiday cheer of December are incomparable.
The focus of this magical week will be immersing ourselves in the holiday spirit in one of the world's most beautiful city. We will spend time visiting various Tuscan markets, shop for artisanal products and purchase unique gifts not found anywhere else in the world. Skip commercial shops, "early bird discounts" and mass-produced items this year and shop directly from the makers and artisans themselves. Purchase unique hand-made leather goods, wooden gifts, hand-knitted scarfs, pottery, even foodie gifts, all to take back to the States.
We've scheduled this week so that we can experience Florence during F-Light, the Florentine festival of lights, and take part in the famous tree-lighting ceremony.Our week also includes several cooking classes, wine tastings, a foodie crawl and so much more.
Our home base for the entire week will be Florence. Arguably, one of the most historic and most visited cities in Italy, if not the world. Florence is home to such treasures as the Duomo, the Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia, and countless churches including Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce. Not to be missed is the Ponte Vecchio, or the "old bridge," the only bridge to cross Florence until 1218 and the only bridge in Florence that was not to be destroyed during WWII. See the bridge illuminated and like you've never seen it before!
Stroll through Tuscany's decorated streets and check out the season's specialties, and bring some of Italy home with you!
Day 1 - Arrival & Welcome Dinner
Arrive and settle in your accommodations in the early afternoon. Unpack and make yourself at home knowing you will not need to repack until your departure. Enjoy the nearby sights of our home for the week, stretch your legs in the nearby shops or grab your first Christmas treat.
In the evening, we will meet for our first group activity. We will enjoy a welcome wine tasting and dinner with our fellow travelers and new companions.
Day 2 - Day Trip to Arezzo & Cortona
In 2015, a new initiative in Arezzo began focusing solely on Christmas. Called Arezzo: Citta Del Natale, the month long festival draws in well over a million visitors, all here to see, taste and experience this extraordinary city. Attractions include stalls selling handmade crafts, rides, ice skating and so much more. We will spend some time here, browsing the stalls and enjoying all this city has to offer, including delicious food! See video below of this unique market!
After Arezzo, we make our way to Cortona. Holiday markets animate Piazza Signorelli in Cortona at Christmastime and add to the beauty of an already stunning city. Transformed by twinkling lights, decorated trees and decorations, not to mention the window displays, Cortona is a delight during this time of year.
The stalls in Arezzo. Picture courtesy of Arezzo: Citta del Natale
The square of Cortana at Christmastime. Photo: Andrea Migliorati
Day 3 - Visit to Val D'Orcia & the famous Mercatino di Natale Montepulciano
The Val D'Orcia area in Tuscany is undoubtably one of the most beautiful and picturesque area in all of Italy. That beauty comes to live that much more at Christmastime. With more than 80 stalls, the now annual mercatino (open air market) offers handmade gifts to make shopping for even the pickiest person in your life a breeze! Great attention has been paid to the originality of the products sold at the market, with the involvement of the artisans associations and the presence of diversified products in categories such as wood, leather and artisanal foods. Located in Piazza Grande and its vicinity, the market not only offers gifts for everyone, we will have plenty of opportunity to taste specialty foods along the way.
The stalls at the Montepulciano market offer gifts for everyone!
Day 4 - Santa Croce Market & Visit to Lucca
Of all the Christmas markets in Tuscany, perhaps the best known and largest is the traditional German market! Located in Piazza Santa Croce, this market has been an annual Florentine tradition for over 500 years! We will stroll through the festive open air stalls and browse for Italian and German goods, both the edible and non-edible kind! When it comes to food, enjoy a bratwurst and salted pretzel along with a cup of mulled wine. Crepes and waffles aren't too far away either. But if you want to stick with Italian treats, fear not, Italian cheeses, jams and chocolates have been added. This market is the perfect stop for all your Christmas gifts. Today, we will find vendors selling souvenirs, candles, linens, ceramics, hand-knitted sweaters and scarves and gloves to keep you warm! Check out the video below of this breathtaking market.
After our morning stroll at the Santa Croce Market, we visit Lucca, a medieval town adored by many visitors. Here we will have the opportunity to stroll in the city center and look at the beautifully decorated windows. Lucca is most famous for its ancient history and the walls that surrounded the old part of town, which were maintained, unlike many other cities in the region. The walls have now become pedestrian promenades and what attracts most visitors to this city. The walls are meticulously maintained and perfect for strolling with a cup of hot coffee or cocoa. A non-hilly city, Lucca is also easy on the feet!
Day 5 - Feast Day of Immaculate Conception & Florence Tree Lighting
While most shops and markets start decorating for Christmas during the second half of November, today, the official countdown to Christmas begins! Today Italy celebrates Immaculate Conception Day, a national holiday in Italy and the day when many families decorate their trees, set up their Nativity scenes and begin celebrating this joyous season. Concerts, entertainment and the tree lighting in Piazza Duomo are all happening today, and we will be there to take part in the festivities!
During the day, we will enjoy a delicious foodie walk along some of Florence's beloved shops. We will sample delicious foods, including the seasonal Panforte, a delicious fruity and nutty holiday treat. After some time on your own to spend as you wish (more shopping?), we will meet for dinner, before enjoying the night time festivities.
Day 6 - Day trip to Chianti
Spanning the hilly lands between Florence and Siena, this picture-perfect area of Tuscany is filled with landscape, vineyards and artisanal products. Composed of several smaller towns, the Chianti area is most known for its namesake wine and no other area in Italy can offer such beautifully picturesque panorama as this area does. Miles and miles of vineyards adorn the roads, producing some of Italy's best wines, some estimate upwards of 35 million bottles per year!
We will spend an entire day in the Chianti area, sampling wines, eating local specialties and stopping for Instagram-worthy shots. Today, we explore this area in depth and pay a tribute to the famous foods that come from this area, such as the famous wine, oils and truffles. We visit my personal friends, as we experience a day filled with food, wine, cooking, laughing and yes, some opportunity to shop.
Day 7 - Morning visit to Siena & Evening Cooking Class
Made famous for its horse-race known as the Palio, Siena is a not to be missed medieval city in central Tuscany. The shell-shaped Piazzo del Campo is perhaps its main attractions and where the Palio takes place, although today, we're here to hit the markets in one of the biggest medieval squares in the world. Filled with many churches and cathedrals, the Duomo, the largest church in Siena, is adorned for the season.
We will have ample time to walk about the square and pick up a few souvenirs. May we recommend some foodie gifts? Perhaps Ricciarelli, a typical Sienese biscuit made with almond paste, or the season Panforte, a fruit cake still made according to a Medieval recipe.
In the evening, we head to my favorite Florentine culinary studio as we prepare a delicious and festive dinner that is sure to be a memorable way to end our week! Roll up your sleeves and grab your aprons because tonight, we have to work for our dinner!
Mercato nel Campo in Siena. Photo credit Siena Mercato Nel Campo
Day 8 - Arrivederci!
Our week of food, wine and shopping is winding down. The tour ends after breakfast at the hotel.
7 nights accommodations
Daily breakfast at the hotel
4 lunches, 3 dinners
Welcome dinner celebration
Lunch on winery
Visit to Lucca
Visit to Siena
Day trip to Chianti
Two private culinary lessons with Tuscan instructors
Private foodie tour with ample samples throughout the walk
Market visits throughout the week
Private transportation throughout the week
Airfare / Flights
Group pick-up and drop-off. Tour begins and ends at the hotel.
Tips and gratuities for drivers, guides & waitstaff.
Travel Insurance is not included and HIGHLY.
Anything not specifically listed in the inclusions above.
Hotel city tax, paid directly to hotel upon check-out
Price & Details 8 Days / 7 Nights $4000 USD Per Person for Double Occupancy / Single Supplement is $500 USD. Pay in full by check and save $100 USD. $1,000 USD Deposit is required to secure your spot.
Francesca Montillo, Native Italian, Owner and Tour Leader Accompanies all Activities Contact Francesca at email@example.com for booking/reservation and further details.
If you would like to reserve a spot for this tour, or have any questions, please use the contact form below and we will send you the necessary booking instructions or additional information.
Email us today for additional info and to obtain your travel contract.