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Italy

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Italian Lakes and Tuscany Tour

Explore the palaces of Genoa, seductive Portofino and the craggy Cinque Terre, Tuscany’s medieval towns, the delightful villages and ports that litter Lake Maggiore and Lake Garda, and stay in a Venetian Villa in the Veneto region.

Inclusions:

  • All excursions, scenic drives and sightseeing
  • Fully escorted by our experienced Tour Manager
  • Travel in a first class air-conditioned touring coach
  • End of tour tips to Tour Manager and Driver, tips for local guides
  • 15 nights authentic, specially selected hotel accommodation
  • Hotel porterage (1 bag per person)
  • Welcome drinks Stresa, and Winnie’s Bar beside Lake Garda
  • Breakfast daily
  • 10 dinners including 4 local restaurant dinners – Stresa, Lucca, Tuscan Hills & Lake Garda, plus farewell dinner in our Venetian Villa hotel
  • Lunch in Lucca and a light lunch at Panini Hombre
  • Wine & olive oil tasting in a Tuscan Osteria, pizza and pasta cooking demonstration in Lucca, ‘Parmigiano-Reggiano’ tasting at the Panini Hombre farm and Grappa Museum tour and tasting
  • Entrances: Isola Bella, Abbey of San Fruttuoso, Accademia Gallery Florence, Ferrari Museum Maranello, the Panini family private Maserati collection, Villa and Gardens of Il Vittoriale, Poli
  • Grappa Museum
  • Local guides – Isola Bella, Genoa, Florence, Ferrari Museum, Il Vittoriale by Lake Garda, Verona, Vicenza, Poli Grappa Museum
  • Private boat rides on Lake Maggiore and Lake Como, panoramic train ride on the Centovalli Express train to Locarno, visit Portofino by boat and Cinque Terre boat excursion
  • Personal audio system whilst on tour
  • Free WIFI available on most coaches and at hotels
Italy, Sicily – Savour Sicily

Known as the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily has a long history of producing a variety of noted cuisines and wines with one of the most important aspects of Sicilian cuisine being the quality of ingredients used. Sicily, like many other areas of Italy, still follows the seasons very closely, resulting in fresh produce which are rich in fragrance and flavour. On this 11 day tour, you will experience the best of Sicily with cooking demonstrations and sightseeing around the island.

Inclusions:

  • Boutique stays in centrally located accommodation, including breakfast
  • Transfers on arrival (Palermo) and departure (Catania/Siracusa)
  • Land transportation in an air-conditioned mini-van, with our own personal driver
  • Ferry to and from the Aeolian island of Salina
  • Lunches and dinners, including beverages, at what we consider to be Sicily’s most memorable and authentic restaurants
  • Cooking demonstrations with Sicily’s best chefs, including recipes and aprons
  • Food related tours and tastings including our favourite pastry shops, Sicily’s liveliest markets, wineries, delicatessens, a dairy and a chocolate factory
  • Entrance fees into the temples of Agrigento
  • Printed maps and guides to help you roam and wander the towns ?in your free time as well as us on hand at all times to provide our knowledge and suggestions on all things Sicilian
Salento & The Ionian Coast

The Salentine peninsula is located at the extreme south of the Puglia region. Starting from Brindisi, head south to Lecce to discover the extraordinary examples of baroque art with the church of the Rosario, the 17th century Cathedral, Palazzo Vescovile and the church of Santa Croce. Don’t forget to visit the 16th century Palazzo del Saggio, the renaissance church of San Marco and the 2nd century Roman amphitheatre.

On your way down stop in Maglie to see the 18th century parish church and reach Otranto. The coast opens in several bays with a succession of caves, among them the Grotta Zinzulusa and the Grotta Romanelli with graffiti drawings and traces of prehistoric settlements.

In one hour you can drive through picturesque coastal villages such as Ciolo where there are amazing views of the Adriatic sea. From the iconic suspended bridge, you can easily reach the port village of Santa Maria di Leuca and taste unforgettable seafood dishes.

Then head to Gallipoli and get lost in the picturesque city centre barricaded on the islet called “la cittá”, the castle built at the beginning of the 16th century, and the Cathedral of Sant’Agata. Taste the traditional puccia Gallipolina. Before driving back to Brindisi, stop in Galatina to see an example of Franciscan architecture or simply enjoy the white sand beaches of the Ionian Coast.

Gastronomy note: Don’t miss the opportunity to taste the ragu salentino (meat sauce), Taralli, ciceri e tria (tagliatelle in chick pea broth) and the orecchiette pasta with broccoli.

Umbria - Val Tiberina to Perugia

In Val Tiberina, which crosses Umbria from north to south, the Tiber river unhurriedly meanders through fertile terraces and hills. In this harmonious rural valley landscape, presenting some features of the nearby Tuscan hallows the towns and villages are rich in history, works of art and thriving craft activities.

You can start you road trip in Florence or Siena driving on the A1 highway directly to Citta’ di Castello where you can admire an example of gothic architecture represented by the Palazzo del Comune or the high communal tower and the Duomo.

Following the Tiber river course pointing south you will pass through enchanting landscapes that will gently take you on a discovery of the “green heart of Italy”. The medieval and ancient roman buildings will accompany you during a visit to Gubbio where you will feel like stepping back in time.

Continuing your drive down to Gualdo Tadino you will appreciate the splendour of the Cathedral built by the Lombard masters in the 13th century while a stop in Nocera Umbra is a must for those wanting to taste famous Umbrian truffle dishes, cold cut meats or the unique pecorino cheese. Driving onto the SS3 road will then take you to Assisi in only 30 minutes. The town of Assisi with its 13th century famous basilica of San Francesco is one of the most famous in the Christian world with paintings by Giotto and many other important artists.

Perugia is the final destination; located on a hill dominating the Umbrian plain this historic city has seen the passing of Etruscan and Roman domination, rising as an important urban centre that still presents charming paved streets that open onto unexpected views of countryside or squares in front of old villas.

Italy, Tuscany – Tuscan Cooking

Have fun and join our cookery and wine tasting holiday in this beautiful part of Northern Tuscany. Combine cooking and wine tasting and learn all the basic Italian cooking techniques and traditions la bella “Garfagnana and Serchio Valley has to offer. We will visit our local market, wander the streets of Barga, known as one of the prettiest villages in Italy and we shall visit Lucca. The most part of the time there are concerts, folk festivals, outdoor food festivals (where you can savour typical products), theatre, Barga Jazz and the Opera Barga.

Inclusions

  • Transfers included (driver will have a sign saying “La Mezzaluna”)
  • 4 nights accommodation
  • Daily breakfast
  • Daily lunch
  • Evening meals
  • Wine and soft drinks included in meals (all other drinks are extra)
  • 2 x 4 hour cookery sessions
  • Trip to Barga, Lucca, Local Market
  • Live music with Alex.
  • Wine tasting at Alex’s winery “Per…Bacco! “
  • Local transfers
  • Free time to relax and explore the area
Lucca to Garfagnana and Versilia

The thousand faces of Tuscany can be explored starting from the harsh inland areas marked by rocky spurs with villages to society evenings on the Versilia coast. This itinerary features many interesting and unusual stops.

Start you tour from Lucca and a unique walk around 16th century walls, hiding the old city centre, away from the rest of the urban city. Get lost in the myriad of small streets that make up the old town while you come across some architectural masterpieces such as the church of San Michele, San Frediano, the Guinigi Tower Piazza Anfiteatro. In Lucca you can find some of the most renowned examples of fine Italian products such as extra virgin olive oil that gives a special taste to dishes like traditional spelt soup.

You can then take the SS12 road heading to the medieval villages of Barga and Castelnuovo in Garfagnana, two pearls nestled among the green tops of the Garfagnana area and the Serchio River Valley where you will find on your road the ancient Ponte della Maddalena (also called the Devil’s bridge), a remarkable example of medieval engineering used by pilgrims to cross the river.

In these places time seems to be stopped and the locals still live simply, enjoying the beauty of the landscape that matches perfectly with the goodness of the culinary specialities like the crostini antipasto or the pappardelle with boar. That’s probably why the famous Italian poet Giovanni Pascoli spent many years of his life here between 1885 to 1912.

The SP13 road brings you to the seaside with a 100 km drive which crosses the beautiful Alpi Apuane Regional Park, a route especially loved among bikers for its curves, but equally enjoyable by car in every season of the year.

Nature lovers should definitely stop for a visit at the Botanic Garden in Pian della Fioba. The last stretch of the trip starts when you reach Marina di Massa. From here you can head south along the beautiful Lungomare which on your way to Pisa, crosses some of the most renowned seaside resorts like the charming Forte dei Marmi, the elegant Pietrasanta (and its Marina) or the vibrant Viareggio. Your trip ends in Pisa where in addition to admiring the famous Leaning Tower you can enjoy a walk on the Arno river or visit one of the great exhibitions at Palazzo Blu Art Galley.

Pompeii to the Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast lies between the gulf of Naples and Salerno. Crossed by a mountainous ridge, its coastline descends sheer into the blue sea, breaking into a series of rocky spurs. Famous for its mild climate and beautiful scenery, numerous towns are set amidst lush vegetation.

Begin your road trip in Pompeii with an unmissable visit to the excavations of the Roman city destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD and on which the excavation work began in the 18th century. Get amazed by the great forums, theatres, and buildings that were once the centre of public life and by the private homes, some with precious mosaic decoration whose magnificence has remained unchanged over the centuries.

Take the SS145 which will bring you down the coast to Castellamare di Stabia and Vico Equense, recently renowned for hosting an annual culinary event held at the beginning of June with the participation of worldwide famous chefs. This could be the perfect opportunity to taste traditional seafood dishes such as pasta with colatura di alici (anchovy sauce) and many others.

Then you could head to beautiful Sorrento to enjoy stunning landscapes as well as a great swim into the Mediterranean Sea; even if it could be considered hard to navigate through the winding roads of the coastline it is definitely the best way to take advantage of what this amazing land has to offer.

Going on with the itinerary, point east to Positano, another pearl of the Mediterrenan where you can visit the old town centre and the parish church of Santa Maria Assunta with majolica decorative cupola. While following on the SS163 you will easily reach the picturesque fishing village of Praiano where you can taste some fresh octopus salad or the typical impepata di cozze (mussel soup with hot pepper).

Last but not least, the beautiful Amalfi is just 10km away, so in less than 30 minutes of breathtaking coastal driving you will reach one of the most iconic towns in Italy. The famous façade looking like a spectacular balcony on the Mediterranean Sea. Amalfi is also famous worldwide for being one of the independent maritime republics competing with Venice, Pisa and Genoa for the dominium of the maritime trades around the year 1000.

Note: To avoid the traffic try not to travel on Saturdays or Sundays during summer season. Drive carefully and watch out because the roads – although spectacular – are mostly tight and curvy.

Italy Rome – Temptations of the City

Italians are the masters of creating simple dishes that sing with flavour. Regional, seasonal and as fresh as possible, Italy’s cuisine is hearty, satisfying and made with heart. Inspired by the kitchens of the nonna, Italy’s food is authentic and surprising – pizza and pasta are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the diverse array of unforgettable food you’ll find on this adventure that travels from Rome to Venice via San Gimignano and Bologna.

Inclusions

  • 6 breakfasts and 3 dinners
  • Transportation, bus, metro, private minibus, train
  • 2 nights stay at a farm
  • 5 nights stay at a hotel
  • Farmstay (2 nights), Hotel (5 nights)
  • Wine Tour and Tasting in Agriturismo
  • Gelato Museum visit including gelato making in Bologna
  • Pasta-making class in Bologna
  • City Food Tour in Rome
  • Welcome aperitivo and stuzzichini in Rome
  • Cicchetti Crawl in Venice
  • City Orientation Walking Tour in Venice
  • Group Tour Leader
Italy Friuli – Food & Wine of the Adriatic Sea

For an amazingly authentic and all inclusive experience in northern Italy, consider a stay in the region of Friuli. This is a great package for those looking to learn more about local wines and regional foods. Departing from Venice, this six day experience is your chance to connect with locals and enjoy a little piece of regional Italy.

Inclusions

  • Transport
  • Airport pick up (Venice)
  • All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) + drinks
  • Five nights 4 star accommodation
  • 24h private English tour guide
  • All cooking classes
  • All wine tastings
  • All entrance fees
Brescia and Lake Garda

Garda is the largest Italian Lake: the itinerary starts from the town of Brescia in Lombardy, known for its ancient metallurgical tradition and second only to Milan for population size and economic importance. The city reaches the Riviera of Lake Garda allowing visitors to explore the fascinating natural scenery and examples of fine art.

In Brescia do not miss Piazza della Loggia, the Duomo, the Capitoline temple and the Roman theatre together with the principal Roman archaeological site in Lombardy. Taste the renowned casoncelli bresciani, a pasta dish, or ask for Minestra mariconda and Polenta to match with the precious wines that this land has to offer.

Then head to Gargnano via SS237, located on the western shore of Lake Garda in the middle of the “Parco Alto Garda Bresciano” where you can admire magnificent villas and palaces with beautiful gardens reminiscent of their wealthy past.

Follow the banks of the lake to get to Salo’ where Benito Mussolini seated his Social Republic between 1943 and 1945 before being captured by the Partisans. Then, with just a 40 minutes drive you can finally reach the southern side of the lake and be amazed by the beautiful Desenzano del Garda and the unique Sirmione, an historic Roman village located on a peninsula and only accessible on foot by crossing the old medieval walls of the Scaligero Castle.

Here you can explore the famous Grotte di Catullo, the ruins of a Roman Villa that once belonged to the namesake poet who lived there in the 1st century BC, hire a small boat for a scenic sailing trip on Lake Garda or relax at the thermal spa.

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