This 7 night itinerary will take you on a culinary journey through Tuscany with a stop over in the Cinque Terre. Sample both inland and coastal wines across the region, and enjoy the various cultural attractions each town has to offer.
Day 1: Florence
Private transfers upon arrival. Check-in at hotel.
The Duomo: Santa Maria Del Fiore Cathedral
The Duomo of Florence is a church within a church. The contemporary cathedral we see today sits atop an ancient church. In the 7th century, the seat of the Bishop of Florence was transferred to the ancient church. In the 13th century, it was decided that a cathedral was needed to reflect the wealth of both the Church and the city.
The project of the Church of Santa Maria del Fiore was entrusted to architect Arnolfo di Cambio in 1294. Unfortunately, he died before it began. The famous Filippo Brunelleschi took up the torch, and with the help of Lorenzo Ghiberti, completed di Cambio’s vision of the dome. The colorful exterior marble, in shades of pink, green, and white, enhance the beauty of the church’s Gothic architecture. The Campanile, the Duomo’s accompanying bell tower, was designed by the artist Giotto, and was completed after his death.
Today, you can visit all three levels of the church. The ancient church, the current Duomo, the dome itself, and the bell tower. For one of the most spectacular views of the city you’ll need to climb. The many flights of stairs to the dome and bell tower are not for the faint of heart, but they’re well worth it.
Directly across from the Duomo, you’ll find the Baptistry of San Giovanni. It features the same colored marble, highlighting Ghiberti’s exquisite bronze doors.
Day 2: Private Tour Of The Uffizi Gallery
Once accessible only to the Medici family, since the early 1700s the Uffizi is open to the public. Maria Ludovica de’ Medici, the last of the family, determined the museum was the birthright of Florence and its citizens.
The museum contains the greatest collection of Italian Renaissance paintings and sculptures in the world. Beginning with pre-Renaissance masters such as Giotto, and progressing through Masaccio, da Vinci, Michelangelo, and many others. Don’t miss the Botticelli rooms, his “Spring” and “The Birth of Venus” are breathtaking.
There’s also an excellent selection of northern masters, especially Rubens, Van Dyck and Rembrandt. In addition, the Uffizi has an entire wing devoted to works by Caravaggio and others that were previously in storage.
The terrace cafe atop the Loggia della Signoria provides wonderful views of the Piazza della Signoria, the Palazzo Vecchio, and the town of Fiesole on the horizon.
The Boboli Gardens
Eleonora di Toledo, wife of Cosimo I of the Medici family, commissioned the garden behind the Palazzo Pitti in 1549. The greatest talents of the day were summoned to the task, and the result is a true Italian garden. Lush hedges, evergreen trees, narrow paths, grottoes, fountains, ponds, citrus trees, and a number of antique and late-Renaissance statues decorate the venue. Today it’s one of the most-visited sites in the city.
Also on the grounds, are a Porcelain Museum and an amphitheater. A coffeehouse on the premises invites you to sip an espresso or an expensive drink while enjoying the unforgettable view.
Day 3: Full-day Excursion To Cinque Terre
The Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is celebrated for its incredible beauty, picturesque landscape and cultural value. For this full-day excursion, you will be picked up and dropped off at your hotel.
You will meet your guide in Riomaggiore. Due to rock slides, Via dell’Amore and some of the Cinque Terre’s paths are currently closed until further notice. While you won’t be walking between the villages, you will be taking the train or public boat instead.
After Riomaggiore, you will head to Manarola, the second smallest village and probably the oldest. Manarola’s church of San Lorenzo dates back to 1338.
Your next stop is Corniglia. Perched on top of a hill, it is the only one of the five villages without direct access to the sea. Mostly enclosed by charming, terraced vineyards, one side overlooks the blue waters of the sea. You will have a guided visit of the village and its park, before having a local dish and wine for lunch at the Cantina de Mananan.
Last, but certainly not least, is Vernazza, arguably the most picture-perfect of the five towns. Vernazza is also one of the most authentic fishing villages on the Italian Riviera.
Day 4: Ornellaia & The Coastal Wines
Private English-speaking guide and transfers to and from lodging.
Sassicaia and Ornellaia are magical words around the world, synonymous with the highest quality wine. This excursion takes you to the wineries where Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta and Lodovico Antinori started it all.
Your driver and English-speaking guide will meet you at the villa. This full-day program begins with a guided visit of Tenuta dell’Ornellaia, followed by a wine tasting. From there, enjoy a traditional Tuscan lunch at Enoteca Tognoni in Bolghieri, followed by a guided visit of Le Macchiole Winery with wine tasting. Conclude the day with a visit of the Michele Satta Winery with wine tasting before being transferred back to your hotel.
Day 5: Free Day
Suggested Itinerary: Cortona & Arezzo
These two towns are approximately 1hr east of the Chianti region. Cortona is enclosed in Etruscan walls at the top of a scenic hill. The view of the Tuscan countryside from Cortona is truly unforgettable. One Cortona’s highlights is the Etruscan Academy Museum of the City of Cortona. The museum is rich with artifacts from the Etruscan era. You should also pay a visit to the Santa Margherita Sanctuary and the Girifalco Fortress. They are both strategically located on the highest point of the hill, easily reached on foot.
Arezzo is 1hr north of Cortona, and has a long tradition of goldsmiths making it one of the richest provinces in Tuscany. The Medieval center was partly destroyed during WW2, but you can still find numerous monuments and museums with artifacts from that era. An absolute must is the San Francesco Church, home to a magnificent fresco by Piero della Francesca. After a short walk uphill, you’ll reach the magnificent Piazza Grande and the Medicean Fortress.
Day 6: Private Tour Of Lucca With Winery Lunch
You’ll begin your excursion in the gorgeous medieval city of Lucca, often called the “City of 100 Churches.” The tops of the walls are so wide they were converted into jogging paths. There’s even a park that overlooks the historic center. Head to the Piazza Antiteatro, the site of a former Roman theater, now lined with buildings. The original amphitheater retains its structure below the road. You can still see signs of the old structure in the buildings and shops surrounding the plaza.
After exploring the town, you’ll have a guided visit to Tenuta Maria Teresa, for a wine tasting and lunch featuring their wines. Following lunch, you will have a guided visit to the Valgiano winery with wine tasting. You will then be returned to your hotel, perhaps with a few bottles in tow.
Day 7: Full-day Excursion To Volterra, San Gimignano, & Siena
Full-day excursion, with transportation, to explore the towns of Volterra, San Gimignano, and Siena.
You will begin your day with a guided visit to the town of Volterra. A distinct shadow of Etruscan past, Volterra has an elevation of almost 2,000 ft. One of the original neolithic settlements in the area, it dates back to 9 BC. Volterra’s Duomo offers visitors the chance to see baroque paintings, terracotta nativity figures, and carved portraits of Volterra’s Saints. Palazzo dei Priori is the town hall and one of the oldest standing Gothic structures in Tuscany. Florence’s own Palazzo Vecchio was modeled after Volterra’s.
Next, you have some free time in the medieval town of San Gimignano. Just 25mi. southwest of Florence, it’s one of the most charming and picturesque of the Tuscan hill towns (and that’s saying a lot). It’s medieval towers dominate the town like skyscrapers. Walk through the wonderfully preserved town square, the Piazza della Cisterna, and visit the 13th-century Palazzo del Popolo. There are good views from the Rocca citadel, and the entire town is a great place to stroll and soak up the atmosphere.
You will end your day with a guided walking tour of Siena. This picturesque, well-preserved medieval town is a bitter rival with Florence. It is a treasure trove of art, pageantry, and architecture.
Day 8: Departure Day
Check-out of the hotel. Private transfer for departure flights.
Please note this is a sample itinerary and we can modify it to your preferences. Services related with ferries must be checked and scheduled according to the ferry’s timetable on the specific day of travel. All shared tour options must be checked for availability.