"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." - St. Augustine
TUSCANY May 1 - May 8, 2019
At Piazza Della Signoria, Florence
Four star accommodations in centrally located hotel
Two private culinary classes with meals following
Private English speaking city tour led by licensed guide
Private wine tastings and day trip to Chianti with lunch on the winery and plenty of wine samples
Private culinary city tour visiting world famous shops
Private day trip to Pisa and Lucca
Private day trip to Siena
Leisure time on your own
Overview The week in Tuscany kicks off with check-in at our four star accommodations. Centrally located, Hotel Orto de Medici will be our home for the week, so unpack and make yourself at home. Perhaps visit their famous gardens and take in some of the Tuscan air. During the week, we will experience the scenic views of Tuscany and sample wines in the wine regions of Chianti with a memorable lunch on the winery. The week will also take us to the world famous cities of Pisa, Lucca and Siena for what are sure to be plenty of photo opportunities. We will also take part in two private cooking lessons and pick up a few culinary tips from our native Tuscan instructors. Our walking city tour in Florence will allow us to get to know our host city while our walking culinary tour will give us the opportunity to sample some of Tuscany's most traditional products.
Sunset over the Arno River
Let Francesca, a native Italian, lead you in Tuscany
Day 1 - Arrival & Welcome Dinner Arrive and settle in your four-star accommodations in the early afternoon. Our home for the week will be the highly regarded Hotel Orto de Medici. 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 gelato.
In the evening, we will meet for our first group activity. We will enjoy a welcome dinner with our fellow travelers and get our first taste of the regional cuisine and wine that we will be enjoying throughout the week.
A stop at Piazza Della Republica, with a hop on the famous Merry-Go-Round is a must!
Day 2 - Private Cooking Class & Walking Tour After breakfast at the hotel, we will head towards San Lorenzo Market where our cooking experience begins. Under the guidance of our chef instructor, we will select fresh and healthy ingredients needed for our cooking lesson. Following the market visit in the morning, we will proceed to the school where we will learn how to prepare typical Italian Tuscan dishes. Grab an apron and be prepared to cook up a delicious Tuscan lunch to be enjoyed by all in the group.
In the afternoon, we will walk off our lunch calories with a private city tour from our English speaking, certified city guide. Walk the streets of the Medici, Donatello and Dante as well as the lesser known side streets of the city. We will visit major churches, such as the Santa Maria Novella and if the lines permit, enter the Duomo, among other high profile attractions.
Spend the evening on your own at your leisure. Walk about the city, grab a gelato and people-watch the way locals do.
A typical small square in Chianti
Day 3 - Day Trip to Chianti After breakfast at the hotel, our private driver will pick us up and we will make our way to Chianti where we will visit two highly praised wineries. We will visit the Southern part of Tuscany, undoubtably the most beautiful countryside the region has to offer. Discover the wines of the area and learn the aging process. Enjoy the landscape, olive groves and of course, the many vineyards.
Lunch may include typical items such as antipasti toscani, ribollita, pasta with meat or mushroom sauce or lasagna.
Evening on your own to spend at your leisure.
Some local specialties we will enjoy during our foodie walk
Day 4 - Walking Foodie Tour & Cooking Lesson Enjoy breakfast at the hotel, but be sure to leave room for our many tastings from our culinary walking tour. We will enjoy local specialties at family owned shops and savor Florence’s “street food” of cured meats, cheeses, olive oil, baked goods, breads, chocolates, and artisan gelato.
Enjoy some time on your own in the afternoon, but don't indulge, we're in for a treat this evening!
In the evening, we will head back to our culinary studio for our second private dinner cooking lesson. Be prepared to work for your multi-course dinner tonight as we prepare antipasti, a first and second course and of course, dinner would be incomplete without dessert. A truly memorable dinner experience is expected tonight!
The city square in Lucca
Day 5 - Day Trip to Lucca & Pisa Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before heading west of Tuscany today on our day trip to Lucca and Pisa. Lucca is a most beloved city in Tuscany, and all of Italy, and we will have time to walk the streets filled with shops, cafes and old-school buildings. Known as the city of 100 churches, Lucca is filled with historical architecture and a can't miss city while in this region. Lunch will be in a trattoria in Lucca.
Getyour camera ready for what will be a memorable afternoon. After lunch, we make our way to the world famous city of Pisa and the famous Miracle Square. Admire the Leaning Tower, Baptistery and Cathedral. Pick up a few gifts to take back, snap lots of pictures and take it all in.
We will return to Florence around 5:00PM and you can enjoy the evening on your own.
The square in Siena.
Day 6 - Day Trip to Siena Today we head to another major attraction and perhaps Italy's loveliest city, Siena! Located on top of three hills, Siena can easily be called Italy's ultimate hill town. Today, we will visit the Siena Cathedral, probably the most precious of Tuscan churches, the Campo Square, famous for the Palio, the annual historic horse-race, the Town Hall, Palazzo Salimbeni and San Domenico Church. Pedestrian friendly, as only residents and cabbies are permitted, Siena is sure to leave an impression. We can walk about the narrow streets, enjoy the adorned balconies and relax with a gelato along the way.
The table is set for our group dinner, we're waiting for you!
Day 7 - Farewell Dinner Our time in Tuscany is sadly winding down. Today you can enjoy the day on your own to walk about the city with freedom. Visit a museum we didn’t get a chance to see, we highly recommend the Uffizi Gallery, return to a place where we’ve been that left an impression, pick up a few foodie gifts for your friends or simply enjoy Italy’s “Il Dolce Far Niente” – literally, the sweetness of doing nothing!!
A farewell dinner is planned for our last evening in Florence. Enjoy a delicious meal with wine, exchange stories and e-mail addresses with your traveling companions and toast to our wonderful week.
Fontana del Porcellino - Florence
Day 8 - Check-Out Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before checking out.
*Day to day specifics subject to change*
WHERE ARE WE STAYING?
Our home for the week will be the top rated and highly praised Hotel Orto de Medici. Located on Via San Gallo, one of the oldest streets in Florence, we will be in the city center, within a few minutes walking distance to the city's main attractions, yet in a quite location. Our rooms are ample in size by Italian standards at almost 200 square feet. Before we head out for the day, fuel up at their exquisite breakfast. Need something from the mini bar? No worries, we will cover it for you. Looking for some relaxing time after our excursions and day trips? Sit in their historic garden and be inspired. After all, it is in this exact location that Lorenzo De Medici met the young Michelangelo.
Some of the amenities of Orto de Medici include a large selection of breakfast options, Wi-Fi throughout, a historic terrace for relaxing, a bar to enjoy a spritz, 24hr reception and the ideal location! Staying in this hotel is a vacation in itself.
Below images courtesy of Hotel Orto de Medici.
WHAT CITIES WILL WE VISIT?
FLORENCE Our home base for the 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.
We will visit several cities in Tuscany during the week, but ample time has been reserved for us to get to know our host city, including an educational city tour, a foodie tour and a day on your own to spend as you wish.
CHIANTI Ready to step away from the main city for the day and enjoy the country side? A day trip to Chianti is in order. 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. The charming small towns of Chianti will feel like an entire different zone than Florence, but you will be surprised to see how close this area actually is to the region's capital.
LUCCA & PISA What would a trip to this iconic region be without a visit to Pisa, made famous for it's easily recognizable leaning tower and Lucca, known for the cobblestones streets?
Located in the western coast of Tuscany, Pisa, one of the smallest towns in Tuscany, is a legendary city just minutes away from the Ligurian coast. A main attraction for visitors from all over the world, this city is home to over 20 churches. Piazza dei Miracoli (Miracle Square) is the home for the leaning tower, which has actually been leaning since it was built. But there's more Pisa than the tower, however, and we will enjoy a leisurely walk visiting the Baptistery and Cathedral. Perhaps we will be able to sample some 'cecina' - a local specialty made from chickpea flour, salt, pepper and oil.
Located not far from Pisa, 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 gelato, while being shielded from the sun. A non-hilly city, Lucca is also easy on the feet!
SIENA 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. It is also one of the biggest medieval squares in the world. Filled with many churches and cathedrals, the Duomo, the largest church in Siena, is adorned with black and white marble, both inside and out.
After an insightful tour taking us to the main attraction, we will have ample time to walk about the square and pick up a few souvenirs. May we recommend some foodie gifts? Perpaps Ricciarelli, a typical Sienese biscuit made with almond paste, or Panforte, a fruit cake still made according to a Medieval recipe.
WHO IS MY HOST & LEADER FOR THE WEEK?
Francesca, native Italian & culinary instructor, will be your host for the week! Join Francesca as she expertly guides you through Italy's most beloved region. Francesca is fluent in Italian, well-traveled and passionate about bringing travelers back to her native land. You will meet her friends, and perhaps even family, on this trip! Learn more about your host by visiting our "about us page". Here's what just one former guest had to say: I have just returned from a week long cooking trip to Italy coordinated by Francesca Montillo. Francesca was responsible for our itinerary, transportation, visits to wineries, restaurants ,and our accommodations, as well as providing the ingredients and tools for our cooking classes. All went smoothly and was worry free. She arranged for special requests from members of the group, such as no dairy, gluten free, or vegetarian at the restaurants we visited with aplomb and within the cooking classes themselves. Not only were our arrangements flawless, thanks to Francesca, but she is also very knowledgable about Italy, Italian food and wine and is quite a good cook in her own right. She also speaks Italian fluently. She is pleasant and was always cheery, even early in the morning. I highly recommend Francesca if you want a wonderful experience of Italy’s food and wine. Jennifer Fisk
WHO ELSE WILL I MEET THIS WEEK?
We're excited to announce an addition to our Tuscany spring tour! The Diva herself! Judy Francini is a Californian who has been calling Tuscany home for over 35 years now. She is the owner of Divina Cucina and has been leading Tuscan market tours and cooking classes for many years. She is a respected authority in Italian cuisine and author of "Secrets from my Tuscan Kitchen." We're excited to have her lead our market tour and learn all about her favored Tuscan specialties.
Judy has been featured in notable outlets such as The LA Times, Variety, Taste Magazine, USA Today, Food & Wine and countless others and is exciting to be escorting you around her beloved city.
7 Nights Accommodations at Hotel Orto de Medici
Minibar in Your Room
Daily Breakfast at Your Hotel
Private Transportation Throughout Tour for Day Trips
Welcome Dinner Celebration
Thank you Dinner Celebration
Lunch on Winery
Day trip to Lucca and Pisa
Day trip to Siena
Winery visits and day trip in Chianti with Wine-Tasting Lessons & Samples
Two Private Culinary Lessons with Tuscan Intructors with Meals Following
Private City Tour Led by English Speaking Certified Guide
Private Foodie Tour With Ample Samples Throughout Walk
Visit to Mercato Centrale
Airfare / Flights
Hotel incidentals such as phone calls, room service (minibar will be included!)
Meals and wine not stated above
Airport / Train transfers on first and last day of tour
Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is HIGHLY recommended in order to protect your investment.
Hotel City Tax of 4.50 Euros per person / per night, to be paid directly to hotel by guest
Price & Details 8 Days / 7 Nights $3,795 Per Person for Double Occupancy / Single Supplement is $750 Above price is for check payment only. Bank or credit card check payment is accepted. A 3% processing fee will be added for Credit Card or PayPal payments. $1,000 Deposit is required and it will be applied towards overall tour cost 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.
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