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The Green Heart of Italy
11 Days

A journey that takes in many of the highlights of central and southern Tuscany before heading to the heart of Umbria’s medieval spirit.

 
About

Highlights:

  • great walks through the vineyards of Chianti and the inspirational scenery of Umbria
  • wine tastings in unique settings
  • Piero della Francesca in Arezzo
  • Cortona, home to ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’
  • the Romanesqe abbey of Sant’Antimo, that echoes with Gregorian chant
  • Assisi, birthplace of Saint Francis
  • walking over the Ponte dei Torri in Spoleto
  • the awesome Piano Grande
  • the gardens of the Villa Lante, outside Viterbo

 
Day 1

Overnight flight from USA


 
Day 2

Transfer to the hotel
Arriving in Florence, you are met at the airport international exit by a Mondo Verde Expeditions LLC representative. Transfer by private bus to our hotel in Gaiole in Chianti. (Depending on the arrival time, there is also the possibility of a short walk, including lunch, along the way.) Welcome dinner at our hotel. Overnight Gaiole in Chianti.


 
Day 3

Radda in Chianti & Volpaia
A short transfer takes us to Radda, once capital of the League of Chianti and one of Chianti's most attractive hilltop villages. We'll visit the town and then, after a short walk, reach nearby Volpaia. Here we'll take a guided tour of the Castello di Volpaia's unique winery and olive press, and then enjoy a tasting of their excellent wine and olive oil. After a light lunch, a short walk and a transfer bring us back to our hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure, with dinner on your own. Overnight Gaiole in Chianti.


 
Day 4

Castello di Meleto & Badia di Coltibuono
After breakfast, our morning begins with a pleasant walk through vineyards to one of the magnificent medieval castles that surround Gaiole, the Castello di Meleto. We'll visit the 18th-century theatre, built for the private amusement of the lords of the manor, and then continue our walk to another castle at nearby Barbischio. We stop for lunch in Gaiole and then head to the Badia a Coltibuono to visit of this ancient abbey and its splendid garden. Dinner at our hotel this evening. Overnight Gaiole in Chianti.


 
Day 5

Arezzo & Cortona
We head to Arezzo this morning and enjoy a walking tour of the city, including a visit to see Piero della Francesca's magnificent frescoes in the Bacci Chapel in the church of San Francesco. After time for lunch on your own, we continue our exploration of Eastern Tuscany with a visit to Cortona, made famous by Frances Mayes' book 'Under the Tuscan Sun'. We then transfer to our next hotel, a beautifully renovated village with sumptuously appointed rooms. This evening we dine in the restaurant of our hotel, acclaimed for its innovative pasta dishes and delicious desserts. Overnight Sinalunga.


 
Day 6

Montalcino, Sant’Antimo & Pienza
A fascinating tour with a local manufacturer of terracotta starts our day. We then travel to Montalcino, famous for the Brunello wine that is produced here. We then walk to the strikingly beautiful 9th-century church of Sant’Antimo, set in an ideal landscape. After lunch, we'll stop to visit Pienza, the utopian dream of Pope Pius II, before returning to our hotel. Overnight Sinalunga.


 
Day 7

Assisi & Spello
This morning we leave Tuscany and head into Umbria. Our first stop is Assisi, where a local guide will take us on a tour of the quieter, less touristed sections of town before taking us to the Basilica of San Francesco with its spectacular fresco decorations. After lunch at the nearby farmhouse of local friends, we walk through olive orchards to nearby Spello. In the late afternoon, we transfer to Spoleto, the city of the Festival of the Two Worlds, and dine at one of our favorite trattorie in the center of town. Overnight Spoleto.


 
Day 8

Spoleto
A tour of Spoleto with a local guide starts our day. We'll see the remnants of Spoleto's Roman past, the cathedral with exceptional frescoes by Filippo Lippi, and the theatrically shaped Piazza del Duomo, where the famous Festival of the Two Worlds takes place. We'll walk over the Ponte dei Torri (built as a bridge-acqueduct in the 14th century over the remains of an even earlier Roman acqueduct) and to the ancient church of San Pietro, where some of Umbria's best Romanesque sculpture can be seen. Returning to Spoleto, the remainder of the day will be at leisure. Overnight Spoleto.


 
Day 9

Norcia
An excursion to Norcia, birthplace of Saint Benedict in the 5th century, is today's highlight. The town, surrounded by mountain peaks, is famous throughout Italy for its pork and truffles. After visiting Norcia, we travel up to the amazing Piano Grande, once the bed of a primordial lake it is now a completely flat plain surrounded by mountain peaks. It is without question one of the most unexpectedly beautiful natural wonders of Italy. We'll enjoy a festive dinner together in Spoleto this evening. Overnight Spoleto.


 
Day 10

Parco dei Mostri, Viterbo & Villa Lante
Our journey south towards Rome today will delight all the garden lovers amongst us. Leaving Umbria, we head into Lazio and stop in Bomarzo to visit one of Italy's most famous Mannerist gardens, the Parco dei Mostri (Park of Monsters). Built "to ease the broken heart" of Prince Pier Francesco Orsini after the death of his wife in 1560, the garden, originally called the Village of Marvels, is filled with weird and wonderful sculptures, all intended to astonish the prince's illustrious guests. After a brief stop in Viterbo, seat of the papal court in the 13th century, with free time for lunch, we head to Bagnaia to see the spectacular water gardens of the 16th-century Villa Lante. Our travels together end in the late afternoon with a transfer to our hotel at the Rome airport. Overnight Fiumicino.


 
Day 11

Arrivederci!

Flight home.


 
Basics

Pricing upon request

No fixed departure dates. You choose when you want to go. There can be just two of you or a group of friend. You can also plan it as a family vacation. Private guide and services throughout the program. We are flexible and able to make adjustments to the program in order for us to meet all your needs and expectations.


 
Moderate

Journey requires moderate walking.


 
Reading List

http://www.longitudebooks.com/find/d/24859/r/3A/mcms.html


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