Thursday August 31, 2017
Today we board our overnight flight to Rome.
Friday September 1, 2017
Upon arrival we will meet Heather Burden and travel inland to Spoleto, where we will spend the next four nights. The famous Umbrian town of Spoleto was once described by the poet Shelley as the “most romantic city”.
Saturday September 2, 2017
This morning we will visit the Clitunno truffle workshop, just outside of Spoleto, and see how the area’s elusive black summer truffles are grown. We will then visit the small, unspoilt hill town of Bevagna. Here we will visit a papermaker, housed in the remains of the Roman amphitheatre, who still uses traditional methods to make paper. We then travel to the picturesque medieval hill town of Todi. We will be the guest of an Italian count and visit his villa, which was home to Jacopone da Todi, the medieval poet. The Count will guide us through his home and give us an insight into the life of an Italian aristocrat in the modern world. We have an included group dinner this evening to welcome everyone on the tour.
Sunday September 3, 2017
This morning, we visit Assisi, birthplace of St Francis. We will visit the cathedral of St Francis, its basilica and the chapel of St Clare. There will be free time in Assisi to explore this fascinating town. We return to Spoleto late afternoon.
Monday September 4, 2017
This morning we have a guided tour, which will take us to Spoleto’s Roman amphitheatre, the arch dating from 23AD, the recently restored cathedral and the fortress that soars above the ancient aqueduct. The afternoon is free to relax and enjoy the town of Spoleto.
Tuesday September 5, 2017
Bagno Vignoni, Tuscany
Today we travel west by coach to the Tuscan village of Bagno Vignoni. We will stop for lunch in Orvieto, a town surrounded by vineyards whose white wine is world famous. It also has an impressive gothic cathedral, which houses some of Luca Signorelli’s most beautiful frescoes. We continue on to Bagno Vignoni, a small Orcia River valley village which has long been a favourite among painters and travellers seeking solitude in a beautiful location. We will stay at a small family-owned, 15th-century hotel built by Bernardo Rossellino as a summerhouse for Pope Pius II, who enjoyed the advantage of the nearby hot mineral springs. Tour members will enjoy delicious Tuscan dinners each night during our stay at Bagno Vignoni.
Wednesday September 6, 2017
San Gimignano, Tuscany
We travel through the Tuscan countryside to the town of San Gimignano, known as the City of Beautiful Towers, a classic walled hill town in Tuscany, famous for its medieval architecture and its fourteen surviving towers, creating a beautiful skyline, visible from the surrounding countryside.
Thursday September 7, 2017
Today we visit the great medieval city of Siena. Best known for the famous Palio horse race held in the magnificent Piazza del Campo, Siena is also home to the oldest bank in the world, a spectacular town hall and majestic cathedral. This morning a local guide will introduce us to the sights of the city, including the Piazza del Campo, with its splendid civic tower and the enormous, partially completed Duomo. The afternoon will be free for tour members to explore Siena independently. We return to Bagno Vignoni for our included dinner.
Friday September 8, 2017
Today we will visit the town of Pienza, the birthplace of Pope Pius II and the setting for the film, The English Patient. It was the pope’s dream to turn his old town of Corsignano into a utopian model town. He commissioned architect Rossellino to make it into a jewel of renaissance architecture. The aroma of pecorino cheese and other local specialities will tempt us into the many cheese shops. Near Pienza, we will visit the studio of a local art family, which continues the ancient traditions of Tuscan painting. We enjoy an afternoon’s drive through the beautiful Orcia Valley, with its rolling hills, to the Brunello wine area of Montalcino to savour a wine tasting in a well-preserved 14th-century fortress.
Saturday September 9, 2017
Today we travel by coach north-west to the Portofino Peninsula on the Italian Riviera. We will stop in Pisa for a walking tour, where we will see the famous leaning tower as well as the Piazza dei Miracoli and more. We will also have time for lunch. In the afternoon, we will continue on to Santa Margherita Ligure, a fashionable and elegant seaside resort offering some of the most attractive landscapes on the Italian Riviera. We will stay at Santa Margherita Ligure for four nights.
Sunday September 10, 2017
This morning, we will take a ferry trip to the gorgeous village of Portofino, located at the end of the peninsula. It is a wonderful village, with a protected port area surrounded by towering hills. A local expert will talk about the history of the area as well as its present-day VIP inhabitants. We will walk to the lighthouse, about an hour’s round trip. We will enjoy wonderful views of the Gulf of Rapallo on our walk. We return to Santa Margherita late afternoon.
Monday September 11, 2017
Today, we have a full day in the unique Cinque Terre region. We travel by boat to Riomaggiore, where we will be met by a local guide, who will explain the history, sights and food delicacies of the region, including pesto and anchovies. We will stop at Riomaggiore for exploration of the town. We move on by boat, to the town of Manarola for lunch and some free time. We continue by boat to the town of Vernazza, where we will see the tall, colourful houses and church, clustered together at the head of a well-sheltered cove. We will return to Santa Margherita.
Tuesday September 12, 2017
Today we will travel by boat to visit the beautiful hamlet of San Fruttuoso. This small village stands at the head of a narrow cove in the shadow of Monte di Portofino. We continue on to the small town of Camogli, where tall houses crowd around a small harbour. We will return to Santa Margherita, where the rest of the day will be free for individual exploration.
Wednesday September 13, 2017
Today we will travel by coach to Como, where we spend the next four nights. Como was prosperous under the Ancient Romans and reached its zenith in the 11th century. Now, it is a modern town situated in a beautiful setting on the shores of Lake Como.
Thursday September 14, 2017
Today we visit Villa Carlotta, known for its beautiful setting and spectacular gardens. Built in 1745 and later given as a wedding present to Carlotta, Duchess of Saxe Meiningen. We will take the ferry across the lake to the lovely town of Bellagio. Occupying a magnificent site on the promontory dividing Lake Lecco from Lake Como, it is known for its pretty streets, villas and gardens. The group will have the option of visiting the semi-classical Villa Melzi, known for its splendid gardens, on the shore of the lake. We return to Como by ferry in the afternoon.
Friday September 15, 2017
A free day to explore the town of Como, relax on the lake, or visit surrounding villages.
Saturday September 16, 2017
We travel through the beautiful Italian Lakes countryside to Lake Maggiore. We will take a boat to Isola Bella, the most spectacular of the Borromean Islands. We will see the Palace, built in the Lombard baroque style, including its staterooms, Napoleon’s Room, the Hall of Mirrors, Music Room and more. The gardens are undoubtedly one of the most dramatic examples of 17th-century gardens in Italy, filled with statues and ornamented fountains.
Sunday September 17, 2017
Our final day in the Italian Lakes. Today we depart our hotel and travel to the airport for our flights to Australia.
Monday September 18, 2017
The group arrives in Australia and the tour arrangements concludes.