Tuscany Daily Itinerary
November 5-14, 2019
B- Breakfast, L- Lunch, D- Dinner
Tuesday, November 5 – Arrive Florence; Welcome Reception and Dinner (D)
Upon arrival in Florence, transfer to your hotel and relax before the beginning of your tour. This evening enjoy a welcome reception and meet your Tour Director and fellow travelers before venturing out into the vibrant city of Florence for a traditional Italian dinner.
Wednesday, November 6 – Florence City Tour; Galleria del l'Accademia (B, D)
Your private tour of the Florence begins at the Galleria del l'Accademia, home to Michelangelo’s David. Marvel at the lifelike contours of the 17-foot sculpture and see why this creation has become of the most iconic in the world. Afterward, continue on a 3-hour walking tour of the city. Your guide will point out architecture from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, as well as provide historical commentary and local lore about the sites that you pass. Visit the Duomo Square, where the magnificent Florence Cathedral is, known locally as Il Duomo, for the stunning dome that crowns it. This incredible feat of engineering required a whole new process for its construction, which your guide will describe as you view it from the outside. Delve deeper into Florence’s rich history with a visit to the medieval Palazzo Vecchio and the Church of Orsanmichele to witness statues by famed artists such as Donatello, Ghiberti and Verrocchio. You'll also pass the grand exterior of the Uffizi Gallery, filled with Renaissance masterpieces from Botticelli, da Vinci and other greats.
After taking a break for lunch we continue with our tour with our local guide, learning more about the culture and history, visiting artisan workshops stopping for the best gelato and doing a tasting in the indoor food market, where you would be able to taste real balsamic vinegar, olive oils and other exquisite delicacies from the area.
Tonight we will have dinner together in a local restaurant.
Thursday, November 7 – Uffizi Gallery; Florence Free Time (B)
This morning we will visit the famous Uffizi Gallery. Once inside you will discover an impressive collection of over 1,500 works of art. Though the art spans from Ancient Greece to the 18th century, the museum’s true gems are from the Renaissance era. The Renaissance rooms house masterpieces from da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo and more. Discover the bright hues, composition and varying interpretations of Primavera and the iconic Birth of Venus as you walk through the Botticelli Room. Witness works by Rafael, as well as Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo and da Vinci’s famous Annunciation. Hear the history behind the artists and their great works, as well as the stories of the patrons who made the Uffizi the incredible museum it is today. Then check out the beauty of the world outside with a stop at the rooftop terrace. Take in gorgeous views of the Ponte Vecchio and Arno River.
The rest of the day is free for you to do as you like. You may like to go shopping for famous leather goods on Ponte Vecchio, tour some of the many local churches or climb the dome of the Duomo. Whatever you decide to do Florence is an enchanting city that you will not soon forget!
Friday, November 8 – Siena City Tour (B, L, D)
This morning we leave Florence behind and venture out into the Tuscan countryside. After arriving at our hotel in Siena we will have a light lunch then meet with our local guide for a private tour of Siena. Siena was a very remarkable City-State in the Middle Ages, most of its important monuments were built between the XIII and the XIV century, today we can still admire these artistic and architectural wonders. Walking along the main street, the palaces and squares welcome you as they have welcomed for centuries the many pilgrims and merchants passing by.
The main square, Piazza del Campo, is the natural center of the city. Its shell-shaped heart made of bricks is like a warm carpet of "burnt Siena" color. From here you will walk to the top of the hill where the majestic Cathedral stands, unfolding its exceptional works of art, among which you will find masterpieces by Michelangelo and Donatello. Siena’s narrow alleys, hidden fountains, green valleys and gardens in the middle of the city, are part of its charm. Natural history, legends and secrets are revealed little by little and step by step, as you explore this enchanting medieval town.
After our tour we will have some free time in Siena and then will meet together for a traditional dinner in a local restaurant.
Saturday, November 9 – Olive Harvest Experience (B, L, D)
An olive harvest is one of the most fascinating experiences you can enjoy in Tuscany. It is a wonderful way to learn a lot not only about the local wine & food traditions but also about the local culture. The atmosphere of a working oil mill and the enthusiasm of olive farmers during the harvesting season is something definitely unique. You will experience the olive harvest, be part of the olive oil production process and learn what it takes to make a high quality extra virgin olive oil.
After meeting your guide you will arrive at a beautiful olive grove where you have a general introduction to the world of extra virgin olive oil and to the harvesting techniques. Experience collecting olives from some selected trees assisted by your guide and by the olive farmer.
After harvesting, you will travel to a nearby oil mill, where you see the machinery involved in the process for pressing the olives and extracting the extra virgin olive oil. You will learn about the yield that the production is able to reach and how all leftovers are treated to obtain additional products.
Finally, you relax in a tasting room at the mill and sample some freshly pressed extra virgin olive oil and other local products in a delicious lunch. This evening we will enjoy dinner together at our hotel.
Sunday, November 10 – San Miniato Truffle Festival and Tour (B, D)
Tuscany is well known for its truffles and today you will be visiting one of the largest and well attended truffle festivals. Every year the town San Miniato, located halfway between Pisa and Florence, celebrates the National Festival of the White Truffle, an event that attracts truffle lovers from all over the world.
The protagonist of the festival is the extraordinarily perfumed white truffle of San Miniato, along with a large number of other local specialties such as excellent wines, extra virgin olive oil, pecorino cheese, honey, hams, salamis and other cold cuts, chocolate, bread & focaccia, pickles, preserves, cakes and many other curiosities. During your private guided tour of the festival and San Miniato, you will learn about the local white truffle, the history of the town and the culture of the local people. Of course you will have an opportunity to buy fresh white truffles and browse through the stands discovering an unnumbered series of truffle-based products like truffle oil, pastes and sauces, truffle salt and other preserves.
The festival is a lively event with plenty of options to try truffle based dishes, enjoy local entertainment and indulge in everything truffle!
Monday, November 11 - Podere il Casale Cheese Farm; Pienza Tour (B, L)
Today’s adventure takes us south to Pienza, a UNESCO world heritage site. The name comes from Pope Pius II, who was born here, and it means the city of Pius. Enea Silvio Piccolomini, elected Pope Pius II in 1458, wanted to transform his birthplace, the anonymous village of Corsignano, into the ideal Renaissance town. The construction of Pienza started around 1459 on top of the ancient hamlet and took about four years, creating a harmonious fifteenth-century town. The untimely death of Pope Pius II put a stop to the urban reorganization of the new city, which has remained practically unchanged over the centuries.
Pienza is not only a remarkable and beautiful city, it is also considered the “capital” of pecorino cheese, because of its high quality due to the fact that the cheese is made from especially flavorsome and aromatic milk produced from sheep in Val d'Orcia. You will have the pleasure of visiting one of the farms that produces this exceptional cheese, Podere il Casale. The farm tour offers a unique opportunity to get to know the animals and their way of farming and producing (including visiting their delightful dairy on the grounds). What better way to end an exciting farm tour than to enjoy a delightful meal in the charming rustic dining room. The menu is based on organic local food. The vegetables are seasonal, the meat comes either from their farm or from other organic local farmers. All the fresh pasta is home-made. The extra virgin olive oil, the cheese, the honey, the saffron and some of the wines are made using their ingredients. This meal is a true Tuscan treat!
Tuesday, November 12 – Cooking Class/Winery Tour/Wine-Paired Lunch; Montepulciano; Farewell Dinner (B, L, D)
Today we travel to Montepulciano region, where Sangiovese wines have been produced for centuries. The Avignonesi winery is located near the village of Valiano, just a few kilometers from the historic town of Montepulciano in one direction, and the splendid town of Cortona in the other. The vineyards, villa, chapel and ancient stone wine cellars are the very heart of the Avignonesi winery.
Your experience at Avignonesi begins with your cooking class guided by an Avignonesi chef. After a visit to the synergistic garden to collect the produce for cooking, the chef will teach you how to make a complete Tuscan menu with a "primo" (pasta dish), "secondo" (entrée) and a "dolce" (dessert).
After the lesson, you will enjoy a tour of the vineyards, the ageing cellars and the Vinsantaia, concluding with a four-course wine-paired gourmet meal in their elegant and panoramic Foresteria. The menu features seasonal, organic dishes with locally sourced products, many of which come from their own biodynamic vegetable garden, and will be paired with their best wines.
After visiting the winery we will continue to the town of Montepulciano, where we will explore with the help of our local guide. The city, full of elegant Renaissance palaces, ancient churches, charming squares and hidden corners, boasts vast panoramas all over the wonderful Val d'Orcia and Val di Chiana valleys that surround it. The heart of the city is the Piazza Grande, situated on the peak of the hill, this former acropolis is framed by the most significant and remarkable monuments, including the impressive Cathedral.
This evening we will gather for our Farewell Dinner and share laughter and stories of our time together in Tuscany.
Wednesday, November 13 – Depart for Home (B)
This morning we leave Siena and the Tuscan countryside behind as we wind through the glorious scenery on our return to Florence, where you will return home with your memories of fine food, delicious wine and new friends.