An exciting new tour takes us to stunning, sun drenched Tuscany; the Italian region rich in both history and wonderful architecture, considered to be one of the most beautiful parts of Europe. Our base is the charming town of Montecatini Terme and our fabulous itinerary includes a visit to the "Ancient Camellias of Lucchesia". With medieval architecture, the Tuscan landscape and the first warm breezes of the season make the journey to the gardens a must for those who enjoy this vibrant bloom. This, along with an authentic Italian cookery class including lunch, entrance to stunning villas and a visit to some of the region’s most beautiful places make for a wonderful spring holiday.
The 4 star Hotel Adua & Regina di Saba is a noted hotel in Montecatini Terme. Recently renovated, it is elegant and charming and located close to the Spa and to the Shopping centre. The hotel has been owned by the same family for 3 generations and features comfortable, well furnished en suite bedrooms with hairdryer, telephone, TV, air conditioning, minibar and a safe. Other facilities include an elegant lounge, bar and restaurant and in indoor/outdoor swimming pool. A lift serves.
Wednesday Our door to door service takes you to the waiting coach for the drive to Folkestone where we board the morning shuttle train to Calais, champagne and snacks served on board. Through France to Reims and on to our overnight hotel in Dijon.
Thursday The finest Alpine scenery to Chamonix then through the Mont Blanc Tunnel and along the grand Aosta Valley to Genoa. Along the scenic Riviera coast to reach Tuscany and our hotel in Montecatini Terme early evening.
Friday This morning we visit a local ‘agriturismo’ where we will have a short introduction to the tasty world of Italian cuisine. We will gain some experience in the art of making homemade pasta and prepare a typical Tuscan dish. After a traditional Tuscan lunch the afternoon is spent at leisure in our resort, famous for its thermal waters and one of the largest ‘spa towns’ in Italy.
Saturday One of the highlights of our tour! Today we are joined by a guide and head first to Sant’Andrea di Compito – a charming village, which in March changes into a colourful flowery paradise. Here we can admire the oldest types of camellias in Italy. We visit Villa Orsi with its breathtaking garden. Now on to Villa Torrigiani in Lucca, a luxurious 16th-century Tuscan Baroque style building, with blossoming gardens filled with camellias and pools. Inspired by Versailles the palace like villa has an impressive Flora Garden Theatre, with grottos and spectacular working water features. After a wonderful day we return to our hotel with time to relax before dinner.
Sunday Today we use a different mode of transport, travelling by train to Florence, the art and cultural metropolis of Tuscany. The cathedral of Florence dominates the cityscape and together with the Campanile and the Baptistery forms one of the most magnificent collections of works of art to be found anywhere on the planet. The austerity and the beauty of the city, the pride and the consistency of the Florentines is manifested in a unique way in the Palazzo Vecchio. We visit the interesting sights of the historic district accompanied by a local guide. Later admire the jewellery shops on the Ponte Vecchio or enjoy an Italian espresso before we return to the hotel with time at leisure before dinner.
Monday Another full day of guided visits. Our first destination is Volterra, a former Etruscan settlement is located on a rise with a splendid view of the surroundings. Next, we travel to beautiful San Gimignano, known as the "city of beautiful towers". It had 72 towers in its heyday. Now 14 remain, and, rising above Tuscany's Elsa Valley, they make the town look like a medieval dreamscape. During our stay, take in the fresco-covered Collegiate Church, the Civic Museum. We return to Montecatini with time to relax before dinner.
Tuesday This morning we visit the medieval village of Vinci, the birthplace of its most famous son, Leonardo da Vinci. We spend time at leisure to explore Vinci, why not visit the Museum of Leonardo and admire the models, which were constructed in accordance with Leonardo’s own drawings. Later we continue to the beautiful village of Lari, exquisitely located in the hills of Pisa surrounded by cypresses, olive groves and vineyards. We then visit the village’s own pasta factory, owned and run by the Martelli family since 1926, which produces and exports pasta worldwide. Back at our hotel, we enjoy our final evening dinner.
Wednesday This morning we bid farewell to our hosts in Montecantini and begin the journey back to Dijon. We travel back through northern Italy and the alpine peaks via Chamonix at the foot of Mont Blanc then the French Savoy to Macon and the Saone valley, home of the finest Burgundy vineyards. We reach our overnight hotel in Dijon well in time for dinner.
Thursday From Dijon we journey north to Reims then through northern France to Calais for the late afternoon shuttle train to Folkestone. We return to our home area mid evening.
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