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ITALY - TUSCANY

From 30 May to 13 June, 2022

Tuscany is the cradle of the Renaissance and known all over the world for its immense artistic and cultural heritage. You can breathe culture in every corner of Tuscany, rooted in antiquity: from the ruins of the mysterious Etruscan civilization with their breathtaking necropolises, to the domination of the Romans, through to the Middle Ages whose traces are still present in beautiful villages, Romanesque and Gothic churches and abbeys, and then to the Renaissance, a golden age that invested in architecture, painting and sculpture, making the region famous throughout the world. Tuscany is a wealth of historic treasures considered one-of-a-kind worldwide: the region is full of art cities and little picturesque villages with a huge cultural heritage, but is also extraordinary because of its fascinating landscape, with its bucolic countryside and rolling hills. Not to mention its amazing islands and coastal areas, its protected parks and, last but not least, its food, simple with authentic flavors, and its wines, ranked among the best in the world: to put it simply, there are really many reasons to visit Tuscany.

(Italia Agenzia Nazionale Turismo)

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1. Land Itinerary:

Rome – Pitigliano – Cortona – Assisi – Montalcino – Pienza – Siena – Volterra – San Gimignano – Lucca – Florence – Milan

 

2. Tour Program:

* Day 01 (Tue 31 May): ROME (Arrival) [-/-/D]

Arrival at Rome’s Fiumicino International Airport. Transfer by private coach to your hotel for check-in. Remainder of the day at leisure. Dinner at your hotel.

Overnight in Rome [FH55 Grand Hotel Palatino]

 

* Day 02 (Wed 01 Jun): ROME [B/L/D]

Breakfast at your hotel. Visit the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, a church first built in the mid-4th century and renovated during the 18th century, thus displaying varied architectural styles and summarizing the most important stages of Christian art in Rome. Visit the Galleria Borghese housed in the Villa Borghese, a Roman palazzo built in the 17th century for Cardinal Scipione Borghese, avid art collector and patron of the arts; Enjoy the extensive art collection from classical antiquities to 16th and 17th century Italian paintings and sculptures. Lunch at a local restaurant. Afternoon at leisure for shopping. Transfer back to your hotel for dinner.

Overnight in Rome.

 

* Day 03 (Thu 02 Jun): ROME – PITIGLIANO – MONTEPULCIANO – PIENZA [B/L/D]

Breakfast at your hotel and check-out. Transfer by coach to Pitigliano [Pitigliano is an attractive and old-fashioned hilltop town in the province of Grosseto, one of the enchanting “tufa towns” of Tuscany, inhabited since the Etruscan times (8th to 5th centuries BC) that became known as “Little Jerusalem” for the historical presence of a well-integrated Jewish community]. Guided sightseeing tour of Pitigliano, including the Medicean Aqueduct (a hydraulic engineering structure built in the 16th century and designed for the water supply of the town), Pitigliano’s historic centre with the Palazzo Orsini (a fortified palace with elegant Renaissance features), the fountain of Sette Cannelle, the Cathedral of Santi Pietro e Paolo (also called Duomo di Pitigliano, a late 13th-century church that was rebuilt several times), the Church of Santa Maria e San Rocco (the town’s oldest church erected in the 13th-century over the grounds of a former pagan temple). Visit the ancient Jewish Quarter, also called Ghetto, built by the Jewish community in the late 16th century after their arrival in Pitigliano where local rulers allowed them to settle in peace and flourish; Visit the ancient Jewish houses with their specific rooms, the Synagogue and the Museum of Jewish Culture; Taste the “Sfratto” traditional sweet pastry. Take a nice panoramic walk from via Santa Chiara to Piazza della Repubblica to enjoy a fantastic view over the underneath valleys. Lunch at a local restaurant. Transfer by coach to Montepulciano [One of the most attractive Tuscan hill towns despite its small size, Montepulciano was built on a limestone ridge of Monte Poliziano in the province of Siena, over the ancient Etruscan city of Nocera Alfaterna. Montepulciano is a major producer of pork, cheese, pasta and honey, and is known worldwide for not just one but two excellent wines, the Vino Nobile and Rosso di Montepulciano]. Guided sightseeing tour of Montepulciano, including Piazza Grande (a monumental square sitting at the town’s highest point and a cozy space enclosed within the ring of elegant buildings) with the 16th-century Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral (also called Duomo di Montepulciano that houses a massive 15th-century Assumption of the Virgin triptych by Taddeo di Bartolo), Palazzo Comunale (early Renaissance town hall designed by the Florentine architect Michelozzo), the beautiful old residences, Piazza Michelozzo with the 13th-century St. Augustin Church and its Pulcinella Tower. Visit one of the historic underground wine cellars of Montepulciano with wine tasting. Transfer by coach to your hotel in Pienza for check-in and dinner.

Overnight in Pienza [Relais Il Chiostro di Pienza]

 

* Day 04 (Friday 03 Jun): PIENZA – CORTONA – PIENZA [B/L/D]

Breakfast at your hotel. Transfer by coach to Cortona [A small but fascinating hill town overlooking Lake Trasimeno in the province of Arezzo, where its cyclopean walls and many ruins reveal its Etruscan origins, Cortona is the main cultural and artistic center of the Chiana Valley (Val di Chiana) of central Italy. Cortona's prevailing character is medieval architecture with steep narrow streets built on a hillside at an elevation of 2,000 ft that embraces a view of the whole fertile Chiana Valley]. Guided sightseeing tour of Cortona, including Piazza Garibaldi (one of the town’s main squares that features an astonishing view over the Chiana Valley), San Domenico Church, Piazza della Repubblica (pretty square that has been the city center since Roman times), Piazza Signorelli and Cortona Cathedral (also called Duomo, of which the original features visible of the medieval church are in the Romanesque façade). Visit the Diocesan Museum at the former site of the local Church of Gesù; Enjoy masterpieces of Early Italian Renaissance painters such as Fra Angelico and Pietro Lorenzetti. Lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, ladies will take a Tuscan cooking lesson while gentlemen will have leisure time in town. Dinner at the cooking lesson’s location. Transfer back to your hotel.

Overnight in Pienza.

 

* Day 05 (Sat 04 Jun): PIENZA – ASSISI – PIENZA [B/L/D]

Breakfast at your hotel. Transfer by coach to Assisi [Assisi is a remarkable town in the province of Perugia, birthplace of St. Francis who founded the Franciscan religious order in his hometown in the early 13th century and shared honors with St. Catherine of Siena as the patron saints of Italy. Now the site of many a pilgrimage to its Basilica di San Francesco, Assisi was hit by two devastating earthquakes in 1997, but the recovery and restoration have been exceptional]. Guided sightseeing tour of Assisi. Visit to San Francesco Basilica, built immediately after St. Francis’ canonization in 1228, comprising the Lower and Upper Churches that were badly damaged by a 5.5 earthquake in Sept 1997 and closed afterward for two years for restoration); Admire the picturesque Italian Gothic style of the Upper Church’s interior and the exquisite 13th-century frescoes by the Italian Proto-Renaissance’s masters Giotto and Cimabue and other late-medieval artists; Visit St. Francis’ tomb in the crypt. Visit to Santa Chiara Basilica, built in the mid-13th century and dedicated to Saint Clare, a follower of Saint Francis of Assisi and founder of the Order of Poor Ladies; Admire the simple yet elegant Romanesque façade and visit Saint Clare’s tomb in the Basilica’s crypt. Lunch at a local restaurant. Enjoy a leisurely walk up to Eremo delle Carceri (a mountain site where St. Francis frequently stayed to meditate and pray). Remainder of the afternoon at leisure. Transfer back to your hotel for dinner.

Overnight in Pienza.

 

* Day 06 (Sun 05 Jun): PIENZA – ASCIANO – MONTALCINO – PIENZA [B/L/D]

Breakfast at your hotel. Transfer by coach to the 14th-century Monte Oliveto Maggiore Abbey, Tuscany’s grandest Benedictine monastery located south of Asciano, a hill town in the province of Siena. Visit the medieval palace perched atop a cliff set amid an old forest of olive and pine trees with its bell tower and its church preceded by the 15th-century Chiostro Grande (Great Cloister); Enjoy the frescoes of “the Life of St. Benedict” by Luca Signorelli and Il Sodoma, masterworks of the Italian Renaissance. At 11am attend the Roman Catholic Mass during which you will listen to the monks’ beautiful Gregorian songs, a form of monophonic, unaccompanied sacred song in Latin from the 8th century. Visit a local vineyard, taste the famous Brunello di Montalcino wine and have lunch. Transfer by coach to Montalcino [A stunning medieval town sitting at 1,860 feet elevation in the province of Siena, Montalcino is an enchanting terrace overlooking the Val d’Orcia, a Tuscan landscape that never ceases to amaze. Montalcino has scarcely changed in appearance since the 16th century, and is famous for its long-aging Brunello red wine, one of the world’s best and most appreciated Italian wines]. Guided sightseeing tour of Montalcino, including the Fortress (built in 1361 atop the highest point of the town and designed with a pentagonal layout), San Salvatore Cathedral (also called Duomo and featuring a 19th-century Neoclassical façade) and Madonna del Soccorso Sanctuary. Transfer back to your hotel for dinner.

Overnight in Pienza.

 

* Day 07 (Mon 06 Jun): PIENZA - SIENA [B/L/D]

Breakfast at your hotel and check-out. Transfer by coach to Val di Chiana [or Chiana Valley, an extensive marshy area lying on the territories of the provinces of Arezzo and Siena in Tuscany]. Enjoy an exceptional truffle hunting experience with an expert-hunter-guide with trained dogs, a thrilling adventure into the wood of Valdichiana Senese in search of those precious underground fungus. The experience will end with a special lunch with truffle menu and local wine. Transfer by coach back to Pienza [Situated between Montepulciano and Montalcino, Pienza is a town in the province of Siena, considered the “touchstone of Renaissance urbanism”. Pienza was the birthplace of Enea Silvio Piccolomini, a Renaissance humanist of the mid-15th century who later became Pope Pius II and attempted to establish this town as a Papal seat]. Guided sightseeing tour of Pienza, including the historic central Piazza and the Cathedral (also called Duomo, a harmonious Renaissance church featuring a rather simple and geometrical façade). Visit to Palazzo Piccolomini, the tasteful summer residence of Pope Pius II built in 1459, which is one of the main architectural feats in Pienza; Enjoy the incredible view over the entire Val d'Orcia from the second-floor loggia; Visit the palace’s back garden, fine example of a Renaissance "roof garden". Visit a local farm and taste the famous local cheese “Pecorino di Pienza”. Transfer by coach to your hotel in Siena for check-in and dinner [Siena is the capital of the province of Siena, located in the central part of Tuscany. Since the 13th century the city is historically linked to commercial activities of the wealthy merchant class, and it is also home to the oldest bank in the world, which has been operating continuously since 1472; Siena is famous for its University, one of the oldest universities in Italy, its medieval cityscape, cuisine and museums].

Overnight in Siena [Hotel Athena]

 

* Day 08 (Tue 07 Jun): SIENA – MONTERIGGIONI – SIENA [B/L/-]

Breakfast at your hotel. Guided sightseeing tour of Siena, including Piazza del Campo (Italy’s most beautiful medieval square located in Siena’s historic center), Palazzo Pubblico and Torre del Mangia (town hall and bell tower built in the late 13th and early 14th centuries, regarded as best example of Italian medieval architecture), Loggia della Mercanzia (elegant Gothic-Renaissance building, another icon of Siena's artistry), Santa Caterina Sanctuary (native house of St. Catherine of Siena transformed into a sanctuary in 1464), Basilica di San Domenico, Piazza Salimbeni. Visit the Siena Cathedral (also called Duomo), a great medieval church built in the early 13th century and dedicated to the Assumption of Mary; Admire the Italian Gothic interior filled with treasures by Pisano, Donatello and Michelangelo as well as frescoes by Pinturicchio. Lunch at a local restaurant. Transfer by coach to Monteriggioni [Monteriggioni is a “sleepy” walled medieval town in the province of Siena of which the economy is mainly based on agriculture and wine; During the lengthy wars between Siena and Florence in the Middle Ages, the city was strategically placed as a defensive fortification. It was mentioned in 14th-century Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy]. Visit to a local vineyard and winery; Enjoy tasting the famous Chianti wines. Transfer back to your hotel in Siena. Remainder of the day at leisure with dinner on your own.

Overnight in Siena.

 

* Day 09 (Wed 08 Jun): SIENA – VOLTERRA – SAN GIMIGNANO – SIENA [B/L/D]

Breakfast at your hotel. Transfer by coach to Volterra [Volterra is a walled town built on a hill between the Era and Cecina valleys in the province of Pisa that still keeps important structures from the Etruscan, Roman, and Medieval periods. The town was known for centuries for the art of working alabaster of which artifacts are some of the most important products of Tuscan craftsmanship]. Guided sightseeing tour of Volterra, including Piazza dei Priori (main square) and Palazzo dei Priori (oldest civic building in Tuscany, now Volterra’s town hall), the typical tower-houses like Buonparenti and Casa Toscano, ruins of the 1st-century BC Roman Theatre, Porta all’Arco (part of the 4th-century BC Etruscan city walls), and ruins of the Etruscan Acropolis. Visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (also called Duomo), that was rebuilt after a violent earthquake in 1120 then enlarged in the late 13th century, of which the interior was completely remodeled in the late 16th century resulting in its late-Renaissance style; Admire the gilded coffered ceiling of the central nave and transept, a beautiful combination of richly decorated geometric and floral elements as well as figures of saints. Visit the Cathedrral’s Baptistry; Admire the altar’s painting “Assumption of the Virgin” by the Mannerist Niccolò Circignani. Lunch at a local restaurant. Transfer by coach to San Gimignano [The most iconic hilltop town of all Tuscany in the province of Siena, San Gimignano is most famous for its medieval architecture with the preservation of a dozen of towers looming up over the town’s rooftops. Definitely a not-to-be-missed destination for exquisite art from Romanesque to Renaissance and good wines said to inspire popes and poets!]. Guided sightseeing tour of San Gimignano, including Piazza della Cisterna and Piazza Duomo (the town’s two main squares connected to each other by an open passage), Palazzo del Popolo (former town hall since the 13th century, now a museum), Rocca di Montestaffoli (ruined fortress that overlooks the Tuscan hilly countryside), Sant’Agostino Church. Visit the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta (also called Duomo), a delightful church built since the 10th century in the Romanesque style with a stupendous fully-frescoed interior by illustrious artists of the 14th-century Sienese school; Admire the cycle of magnificent frescoes, which depict stories from the Old and New Testaments, painted by Domenico Ghirlandaio, Benozzo Gozzoli, Taddeo di Bartolo, Lippo Memmi and Bartolo di Fredi. Transfer back to Siena. Dinner at a local restaurant.

Overnight in Siena.

 

* Day 10 (Thu 09 Jun): SIENA – LUCCA – FLORENCE [B/L/D]

Breakfast at your hotel and check-out. Transfer by coach to Lucca [Nicknamed “town of a hundred churches”, Lucca is the capital of the Province of Lucca and one of Tuscany's most treasured artistic cities; Unlike many other Tuscan hilltop towns and cities, Lucca sits in the centre of the Lucca plain, a breathtaking landscape sculpted by the river Serchio; The city is famous for its intact Renaissance-era city walls, for its romantic-era composer Giacomo Puccini, and for its cuisine regarded as one of Tuscany's tastiest]. Guided sightseeing tour of Lucca, including the Renaissance walls, Torre Guinigi (one of the few remaining medieval towers in Lucca, reflecting the prestige of the 14th-century Guinigi family that it belonged to), Church of San Michele in Foro (church commissioned by Pope Alexander II in 1070 with its striking Pisan Romanesque façade), and Piazza dell’Anfiteatro (large and circular square surrounded by a ring of buildings of which the shape is similar to a 2nd-century Roman amphitheater located at the same place). Visit to Duomo di San Martino (or Lucca’s Cathedral), located in a secluded location of the old city center; Admire the soft Romanesque-Gothic style of both the church’s façade and interior, and the most venerated 8th-century Volto Santo di Lucca, an eight-foot-tall wooden carving of Christ crucified. Lunch at a local restaurant. Afternoon at leisure. Transfer by coach to your hotel in Florence for check-in and dinner [Florence, capital and most populated city of the Tuscany Region, was a centre of trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of medieval Europe. Florence was largely regarded as the cradle of the Renaissance and birthplace of our modern world; During the 15th and 16th century, the city rose to a position of great influence in Italy, Europe, and beyond. Today it attracts millions of tourists each year and is highly praised for its Renaissance culture, art and architecture].

Overnight in Florence [Hotel Pitti Palace al Ponte Vecchio]

 

* Day 11 (Fri 10 Jun): FLORENCE [B/L/D]

Breakfast at your hotel.

Guided sightseeing tour of Florence including Piazza della Signoria (L-shaped square which was the symbol of the Florentine Republic since the 14th century, with the prominent Palazzo Vecchio overlooking it and the vivacious Loggia dei Lanzi serving as an open-air sculpture gallery), Ponte Vecchio (or Old Bridge built over the Arno river since the 10th century which later was connected to the private Vasari Corridor built for the Medici ruling family), Palazzo Pitti (largest Renaissance palace built in the mid-15th century for the Pitti family to be bought a hundred years later by the Medici family and is now the largest museum complex in Florence), and the Duomo (or Florence Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore of which the construction started in 1296 as a Gothic church and completed in 1436 with the famous Dome engineered by Filipo Brunelleschi). Visit to the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, a Renaissance palace designed and built in the mid-15th century for the Medici banking family, and sold to the Ricardi family two hundred years later who in turn sold the grand estate to the Tuscan state in 1814; Visit the palace’s Magi Chapel and enjoy the masterpiece frescoes “The Procession of the Magi” by Benozzo Gozzoli, and the altarpiece “Adoration in the Forest” by Filippo Lippi. Lunch at a local restaurant in Florence. Afternoon at leisure for shopping. Dinner at a local restaurant in Florence.

Overnight in Florence

 

* Day 12 (Sat 11 Jun): FLORENCE – MILAN [B/L/D]

Breakfast at your hotel and check-out. Transfer by coach to Milan [Milan, a city in northern Italy and capital of the Lombardy Region, is the wealthiest and the second most populous city in Italy after Rome. It was one of the largest European cities during the late Middle Ages and became one of the greatest political, commercial and artistic forces in Europe in the Renaissance. Today Milan is not only the industrial and financial center of Italy, but also a major national and international centre of performing arts, and widely regarded as a global capital in architecture and fashion]. Lunch at a local restaurant upon arrival in Milan. Transfer to your hotel for check-in. Afternoon at leisure for shopping and exploring the city on your own. Dinner at the hotel.

Overnight in Milan [Starhotel Rosa Grand]

 

* Day 13 (Sun 12 Jun): MILAN [B/L/-]

Breakfast at your hotel. Guided sightseeing tour of Milan, including Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (largest shopping gallery in Italy and major landmark of Milan) and Teatro alla Scala (or La Scala, one of the leading opera and ballet theatres worldwide). Visit the Milan Cathedral (also famously called Duomo di Milano), by far the largest Roman Catholic church in Italy, a cathedral-church of great dimensions that took nearly six centuries to complete (1386-1965) in a number of contrasting architectural styles; Admire the intricate pink-white Gothic façade entirely built with the Candoglia marble; Enjoy the beautiful stained-glass windows depicting scenes from the Bible and admire the 15,800-pipe giant grand organ; Climb the cathedral ceiling to admire a spectacular view of the city. Visit to Museo del Cenacolo Vinciano where Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece “The Last Supper“ is located in its original place, on the wall of the refectory of the former Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Lunch at a local restaurant. Remainder of the day at leisure with dinner on your own.

Overnight in Milan

 

* Day 14 (Mon 13 Jun): MILAN (Departure) [B/-/-]

Breakfast at your hotel and check-out. Transfer to Milan’s Malpensa International Airport for your flights back to the US.

 

3. Land Tour Package Cost:

$5,200

(International airlines tickets will be booked and paid separately)

Single supplement: $1,080

(Voyages Saigon, Inc.’s Terms & Conditions)

Including:

* Upscale 4-star hotels (double occupancy)

* Three meals daily (except 1 dinner in Siena and 1 dinner in Milan)

* All transportations by private motor coach, including airport/hotel tranfers

* All city taxes

* All guided sightseeing tours, excursions and visits (entrance fees included) as per tour itinerary and program

* Medical Insurance