The Grand Tour of Central Italy
Eat your way through Italy on this foodie adventure that combines cooking classes with culture and cathedrals. Wander the peaceful piazzas of historical Bologna and taste local delights from pasta and cured meats to chocolate. In Florence, rub elbows with local artisans at central market and admire local monuments including Michelangelo’s David and the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral. Visit pioneer winemakers in Lucca, marvel at the colorfully stacked coastal landscape of Cinque Terre, palace-hop your way through Pienza, and peruse the panoramic views of Perugia before heading to the hillside city of Assisi with its famous, fresco-filled St. Francis Basilica.
Trip Type: Cosmopolitan
Day By Day
Day 1 – Arrive in Italy and High Speed Train Rome to Bologna
Welcome to Rome. Upon arrival into Rome Fiumicino Airport please make your way into the arrivals hall where you will be met by a local representative. An English speaking driver will transfer you by private vehicle from the airport to Roma Termini Railway station to connect with your departing train.
Travel by high speed train from Rome to Bologna. It takes an average of 2 hours 36 minutes to travel from Roma Termini Station to Bologna Centrale Station by train, over a distance of around 189 miles (305 kilometers).Starting Accommodation:
Al Cappello Rosso
Day 2 – Bologna Walking Food Tour
Today, experience a unique half day Walking Food Tour with a local English speaking guide: you will visit the local market and stop in some of the most popular traditional food shops where you will taste the delicious local products, and meet the owners telling their stories and jokes. Some of the delicacies you will taste include home-made pasta (Tortellini and Tagliatelle); Mortadella, Parmesan Cheese, Chocolate and many other local delicacies.Starting Accommodation:
Al Cappello Rosso Meals:
Day 3 – Italy Food Valley Tour
The region between Modena and Parma, about 45 minutes north of Bologna, is called the ‘Italian Food Valley’. The area has some of the best Italian food products. Depart on a morning excursion to a small cheese factory, where you will see all the working steps in the production of Parmigiano Reggiano DOP, the world’s most famous (and delicious!) artisanal cheese made only in the Emilia-Romagna countryside. At the end of the visit you will enjoy a breakfast of fresh, warm ricotta made that same morning along with a glass or two of sweet Lambrusco, and, of course, plenty of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
From the Parmigiano factory head to a traditional 'Acetaia', where a local Modenese family invites you into their home to show you the secrets of the famous Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP. This is a single family producing small amounts of the world’s finest vinegar for generations, using the same ancient technique of aging local wine in oak barrels that Italian families in this region have been using for centuries. Next stop is lunch at a trattoria, where you’ll experience the famous Italian light lunch and wine tasting, you’ll eat and drink the best the region has to offer, while seeing local vineyards set among the rolling valleys of Emilia-Romagna. After lunch, enjoy dessert from one of the best Prosciutto producers in the region, where you’ll meet a family that for over three generations has been committed to the production of Prosciutto di Modena DOP, similar to the famous Prosciutto di Parma.Starting Accommodation:
Al Cappello Rosso Meals:
Day 4 – High Speed Train Bologna to Florence and Florence, Italy At Leisure
Travel by high speed train from Bologna to Florence. It takes an average of 41 minutes to travel from Bologna Centrale Station to Firenze Santa Maria Novella Station by train, over a distance of around 50 miles (80 kilometers).
Florence, capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, is home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture. The most popular and important sites in Florence include the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Uffizi, the Bargello, and the Accademia. The churches of Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce are veritable art galleries, and the library of San Lorenzo is a magnificent exhibition of Michelangelo's architectural genius. Wander some of the oldest streets in the city until you reach the Arno River, cross the Ponte Vecchio, and experience the 'newest' area of Florence, the Oltrarno. Be sure to set aside time to see the vast and varied art collection housed in the Pitti Palace. When you grow weary of museums and monuments, head outdoors. Spend a day at the Boboli Gardens or climb the hill to the church of San Miniato al Monte to experience an enchanting view of Florence, Italy.Starting Accommodation:
Palazzo Alfani Meals:
Day 5 – Food Experience and Florence Walking Tour
In the morning, attend an amazing Tuscan Cooking Class. As a first step, you will go shopping with the chef at the central market near Santa Croce Square. You will meet the butchers, the bakers, and the farmers selling vegetables from their own fields. You will learn how to select the highest quality ingredients and taste local foods and wines. After grocery shopping you will have a coffee break in one of the Ancient Cafes of Florence. Then you will reach a beautiful kitchen in a Florentine palace and you will start putting your hands on the ingredients to create your own meal, under the expert supervision of the Chef. The cooking class will end with a lunch (bruschetta, fresh home-made pasta, and a main course) paired with a selection of Tuscan wines.
This afternoon, you will be taken on a private walking Tour, with a local English speaking professional guide focused on the 'Italian Genius in Florence' (about 3 hours). The guide will meet you at the designated location, and take you for a tour through the historical center to admire the city landmarks, avoiding the most crowded places. You will admire the highlights of Italian renaissance art and be fascinated with the stories of the important figures and dynasties of Florentine history who boosted its splendor. The itinerary will feature Ponte Vecchio bridge, Piazza della Signoria with the Palazzo Vecchio, Via Tornabuoni and Palazzo Strozzi, Piazza della Repubblica. You will see the beautiful recently restored church of Santa Maria Novella, the Church of San Lorenzo with the Medici Chapels and, of course, the gorgeous Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, with the Giotto bell Tower. Last but not least, you will visit the Accademia Gallery and have the chance to stand face to face with Michelangelo's David. Return to your accommodation in Palazzetto at your leisure.Starting Accommodation:
Palazzo Alfani Meals:
Day 6 – Siena and Chianti Full Day Tour
Today enjoy a full day excursion to discover the Tuscan Jewel of Siena and Chianti countryside. Chianti Classico, which constitutes undoubtedly the heart of Tuscan wines and taste the great Chianti Classico DOCG. You will be escorted on a private tour in the cellar of a beautiful Caste, where you will learn about the Chianti philosophy and wine making process. In the restaurant of the castel you will enjoy a delicious lunch which will be paired with different red wines allowing you to experience these Tuscan wines.
In the afternoon you will visit Siena with a private local guide. Siena is a beautiful town of medieval origin, characterized by the orange-brown color of its land and buildings. In the Piazza del Duomo, you will visit the Cathedral. Your guide will cover the city’s history and people, in a fascinating itinerary that alternates popular districts and rich noble palaces, fountains, towers, arches and artisan workshop, up to the Piazza del Campo (the shell-shaped square where, the medieval districts compete for the famous Palio, in an unbridled and breathtaking horserace).Starting Accommodation:
Palazzo Alfani Meals:
Day 7 – Travel Florence to Lucca via Bolgheri by Private Vehicle
After checking out of your hotel this morning meet your English speaking driver guide. Depart Florence for the little village of Bolgheri which is located a few miles south-west of Livorno. Around the little village of Bolgheri, that from almost total obscurity in a wine-sense became ultra-fashionable over the past 30 years with the rise of the Sassicaia and other Supertuscans phenomenon. You will visit one of the pioneer wine makers in this area, to recognize the enormous potential for quality of this soil and its unique position. The winery was founded in 1981, in a beautiful, unspoiled part of Tuscany. From the outset, the mission was to produce outstanding wines. Since then passion and dedication, coupled with a unique territory and an extraordinary microclimate, have brought the winery's prestigious labels great success and recognition as one of the most important wineries in the world. You will enjoy a tasting of some of the tope wines such as Paleo Rosso (Toscana IGT, their flagship wine), Messorio (Toscana IGT), Scrio (Toscana IGT) and the Bolgheri Rosso (ex-Macchiole - Bolgheri DOC). After your wine tasting you journey continues to Lucca.Starting Accommodation:
Alla Corte degli Angeli Meals:
Day 8 – Cinque Terre Full Day
Today discover the most impressive Italian coastal landscapes of Cinque Terre on this unforgettable day. The area is an UNESCO world heritage site, where earth and sea fuse to create a unique and unforgettable landscape. The area consists of 11 miles of rocky coast made of caves, beaches and paths with breathtaking landscapes linked by a string of centuries old seaside villages. First stop is Riomaggiore where you will visit to the picturesque marina with its tall, narrow, colorful houses. Spend some time visiting the characteristic center of Manarola and then catch the local train to the next village, Vernazza. A train line that runs along Italy's west coast connects all five villages and is the easiest way to reach and travel between the villages. In Vernazza you have some leisure time to explore the village on your own and enjoy lunch (own account) at one of the typical trattorias. Continue by train to the next village, Monterosso where you have time to the village.Starting Accommodation:
Alla Corte degli Angeli Meals:
Day 9 – Travel Lucca to Pienza via Pisa and Volterra by Private Vehicle
This morning depart Lucca by private vehicle for Pienza. En-route you will visit Pisa and Volterra. Pisa offers more than just the "Leaning Tower". With three thousand years of history, its wealth of art and history make Pisa an obligatory stop on every trip in Tuscany. Your private guide will show you Pisa's most important monuments and squares. The walking tour starts with a visit to the world-famous Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) with its unrivalled quartet of medieval masterpieces. Continue to the Leaning Tower, Baptistery, Cathedral and the Campo Santo cemetery. Passing medieval towers, head for Piazza Dante near Pisa's University where Galileo Galilei taught. The tour finishes at Piazza dei Cavalieri, the central civic square of medieval Pisa with Italy's academic showpiece, the Scuola Normale Superiore. Explore the walled town of Volterra on your own. A jewel of Etruscan, Roman, Medieval and Renaissance art. The central Palazzo dei Priori has medieval frescoes and a bell tower with expansive views. Volterra Cathedral has a marble entrance and a gilded coffered ceiling. Nearby are the remains of the Etruscan Acropolis. The Guarnacci Etrurian Museum has a rich collection of archaeological artifacts. The Roman Theater complex includes the ruins of 3rd-century baths. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the workshops of an artistic craft which is unique in the world: Alabaster. Continue to Pienza to check in to your accommodation.Starting Accommodation:
Relais Il Chiostro di Pienza Meals:
Day 10 – Val d'Orcia Excursion
Today explore the Tuscan countryside in this full day excursion from Pienza. The Val d’Orcia extends from the hills south of Siena to Monte Amiata. It is characterized by gentle, carefully cultivated hills occasionally broken by gullies and by picturesque towns and villages such as Pienza, Radicofani, Montepulciano and Montalcino. It is a landscape which has become familiar through its depiction in works of art from the Renaissance painting to the modern photograph. The tour will start in a beautiful wine estate near Pienza, a unique organic winery in the heart of Val d’Orcia wine region. Visit a wine cellar and enjoy a tasting of three wines. Continue to a small organic cheese farm which a purpose to respect nature and its rhythms. During the guided tour of the farm, you see firsthand the life of a peasant lifestyle today in the Orcia Valley. Through the tour you understand all the production steps which transforms sheep raw milk into an excellent cheese. The locals will show you the daily life from the barn to the dairy. Learn about the farm animals from donkeys to sheep and the role each animal plays on the farm. At the end of the tour, enjoy a delicious farm to table lunch which will include a variety of different types of cheese. There is no better way to enjoy lunch than with views overlooking the enchanting hills of the Orcia Valley.Starting Accommodation:
Relais Il Chiostro di Pienza Meals:
Day 11 – Travel Pienza to Perugia by Private Van
Today enjoy a leisurely transfer from Pienza to Perugia. Transfer time is approximately 1 hour 20 minutes by road.Starting Accommodation:
Locanda della Posta Meals:
Day 12 – Urban Exploration, Assisi and Dinner in Trevi
This morning you will visit the hill town of Assisi, the city of St. Francis and the beautiful St. Francis Basilica, decorated with the worldwide famous Giotto’s frescoes. Enjoy a guided walking tour of the town including St. Clare Basilica, Piazza del Comune with its medieval buildings and interesting Roman sacred construction named Minerva temple and St. Francis Basilica: center of the Franciscan spirituality and cradle of the medieval European art, the Basilica was built upon the Saint’s tomb. It is an architectural masterpiece containing some of the finest paintings of medieval Italian art, from Cimabue to Giotto. Admire the St. Rufino Cathedral with its magnificent Romanesque-style facade, located in the upper part of Assisi. The afternoon is free for you to relax and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of this town, or you might want to explore nearby villages at your leisure.
This evening, enjoy a dinner in Trevi - La Cucina di San Pietro A Pettine.Starting Accommodation:
Locanda della Posta Meals:
Day 13 – Urban Exploration, Perugia to Rome
This morning check out of your hotel and meet your private guide for your transfer from Perugia to Rome with a stopover in Orvieto.
Visit the lovely town of Orvieto with its amazing Cathedral. Orvieto is probably Umbria's most peculiar town, built high up on a vulcanic rock of tufa-stone. It was founded by the Etruscans more than 2700 years ago. In the heart of the medieval town is one of Italy's most astonishing gothic churches, the Cathedral. Among the precious paintings in the interior of the Cathedral, the fresco cycle in chapel of San Brizio is a masterpiece by the renaissance masters Beato Angelico Luca Signorelli. Also famous, the incredible Saint Patricks well (Pozzo di San Patrizio) dating back to 16th century. The streets, the noble and public palaces, the ancient houses, all built in tufa stone, give Orvieto an original and unique atmosphere. The city has long kept the secret of its labyrinth of caves and tunnels that lie beneath the surface. These hidden and secret tunnels are only now open to view through guided tours. The underground city boasts tunnels, galleries, wells, stairs, quarries, cellars, unexpected passageways, cisterns, superimposed rooms with numerous small square niches, detailing its creation over the centuries. Many of the houses of noble families were equipped with a means of escape from the elevated city during times of siege through secret escape tunnels carved from the soft rock. The tunnels would lead from the city palazzo to emerge at a safe point far from city walls. For an authentic experience enjoy lunch at a lovely family run restaurant (own account). After lunch continue by road to Rome to check in at your accommodation.Starting Accommodation:
Hotel Stendhal Meals:
Day 14 – Depart Rome
Ahead of your flight, you will be transferred by private vehicle from your Rome accommodation to Rome Airport for check in. Meals:
Package Level: Superior
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