12-day Cinque Terre and Tuscany tour
Arrival at the FCO airport in Rome where we will meet our assistant and our driver for transfer to the hotel. Accommodation.
After breakfast, departure towards Cinque Terre. The Cinque Terre are one of the purest areas of the Mediterranean Sea. Eight kilometers of rocky coastline in which five small towns were built on stone mountains and small coves. Due to its history and location, there was no great geographic expansion in that area. The vineyards, typical of this area, contributed to create a unique landscape with winding roads, charming beaches located between cliffs and crystal-clear waters. In addition to the sea, in Cinque Terre can be found paths of unique beauty where to walk admiring the mpressive views, churches, oratories and ancient castles. The Cinque Terre have been a UNESCO National Park and a protected territory since 1997. Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Manarola, Vernazza and Monterosso are the five villages that make up the Cinque Terre, suspended between land and sea.
Monterosso al Mare is the westernmost town of the Cinque Terre. It is protected by hills covered with vineyards and olive trees. It has beautiful beaches with large cliffs and crystal clear waters. The Aurora tower, on the San Cristoforo hill, divides the old town from the newer part of the town, which stretches along the Fegina beach. In the highest area of the old town we can see how the ruins of the castle and its typical tower houses are built, crossed by “carruggi”, narrow medieval streets. Important works of art such as the Crucifix, attributed to Van Dyck, are preserved in the church of San Francisco. In the 16th century, Monterosso was surrounded by thirteen towers, but today only three towers of the castle remain: the medieval tower currently converted into the bell tower of the church of San Giovanni and the Aurora tower. Monterosso beach is the largest in the Cinque Terre and that is why the town is a center of tourist attraction throughout the year.
The name Vernazza comes from “Gens Vulnetia”, an ancient Roman family. It belonged to the slaves who founded the village once they were freed. Vernazza is the most prosperous town in the Cinque Terre. Its historic center preserves the beautiful architectural elements such as arcades and portals. Vernazza has a large number of side streets connected by steep stairs and was built with defensive structures such as tower houses, the Keep and the castle of the Doria family, symbol of its ancient economic importance. Next to the port we can found the parish church of Santa Margherita of Antioquia with its 40-meter octagonal bell tower.
The origin of Corniglia dates to Roman times. Its name derives from “Gens Cornelia”, the local standard of the Roman family. Corniglia is located on a steep promontory hundreds of meters high, near a hill with several vineyards, from where you can admire all the other villages of the Cinque Terre. To get to the center of town you must go up the “Lardarina”, a long staircase made up of 377 steps, or go down the street from the train station. In Corniglia there is a great agricultural activity, and its inhabitants live in the most rural inland area. The old part of the town develops along Via Fieschi whose parish church is dedicated to Saint Peter and is a beautiful example of the peculiar Gothic style of the region.
Manarola has very ancient origins. It was founded by the inhabitants of the probable Roman colony of Volastra. Its name derives from the Latin “Manium arula” which comes from a small altar dedicated to Manes, the Roman family and domestic gods. Manarola is characterized by its tower houses that fulfilled their defensive function in the past. The village is situated on a dark stone promontory and is structured around the course of the Groppo stream, which is currently covered. The square is located in the highest part of the town. There is a parish church in Gothic style from 1338, the oratory and the bell tower. Among the houses, the white cement pyramid stands out, a signal for sailors. Manarola is the quietest town in the Cinque Terre, perhaps because it was discovered later by tourists. It is possible to enjoy nature through relaxing walks, especially on the “Via dell’ Amore “that leads to Riomaggiore.
Riomaggiore is the first town for those who come from La Spezia. Located in the valley of the Rivus Maior stream, now covered. According to tradition, the town dates to the 8th century, when a group of Greeks fugitives found refuge here after escaping from the persecution of Leone III the Isuarico. The houses, painted in the typical traditional colors, follow the tower house scheme and are structured on three or four floors. Access is possible through the main entrance or through the alleys at the height of the upper floors. In the upper part of the town, we can admire the parish church consecrated to San Juan Bautista, built in 1340.
After breakfast, we will leave towards Pisa. Meeting with the local guide in Via Pietro Santina (Parking Bus) to go to the city center. Pisa has three thousand years of significant history, science and art that make this city a must-see on every trip to Tuscany. With our guide we will know the most important squares and monuments of Pisa highlighting the famous Piazza dei Miracoli, with its Leaning Tower, the Baptistery and the Cathedral, you will visit the old town with its typical houses. It was at the University of Pisa that Galileo Galilei began his long battle for a new science. Continuation to Lucca.
Meeting with the local guide at Porta Sant’Anna. Lucca is a precious jewel, inserted in a natural and human environment of exquisite beauty. It has fully preserved all its characteristics of a medieval city, perfectly isolated by the splendid Renaissance walls, built to protect, and the exquisite palaces, Romanesque churches, monuments, etc. All this testifies that Lucca was the center of great trade and crafts, especially in silk work. Transfer by bus to the Hotel.
Breakfast buffet. Departure towards Florence. Meeting with the local guide to visit this wonderful city, cradle of the Renaissance, land of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Giotto, Dante and Machiavelli, among others. During the visit we will have the opportunity to admire the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Baptistery with the famous Gates of Paradise, the Basilica of the Holy Cross, Piazza della Signoria and Ponte Vecchio. Lunch at the local restaurant to enjoy Bistecca Fiorentina. Continuation to San Gimignano where we will meet our local guide. San Gimignano, is a small town of a few thousand inhabitants that holds an astonishing wealth of works of art. Passing under the arch that takes us into the medieval city, we immediately notice that it is a city full of history. We will get to Piazza della Cisterna, the town’s main square. Strolling through the typical streets we will observe the towers that are still standing. At the end of the day, accommodation at the hotel.
After breakfast, we leave heading Siena, one of the jewels of Italian Gothic architecture, a destination that cannot be missed. Enjoy a guided tour of the old town, with its medieval style intact. The tour begins with the church of San Domenico, where the revered relics of Santa Catarina, the patron saint of Italy and Europe, are located. Next, we will visit the beautiful palace of Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the oldest bank in Europe. Later, we will visit Piazza del Campo, the undisputed center of city life, where our guide will explain the rules – and tricks – of the famous horse race, the Palio. We will continue to Greve in Chianti for the visit of Castello Vicchiomaggio. Lunch at the Castle restaurant and visit of the Castle and the wine cellars. In the afternoon, return to the hotel.
After breakfast, departure to Arezzo. Meet your local guide to enjoy a tour of the city that was once destroyed during the Second World War. The center of Arezzo preserves outstanding monuments, churches, palaces and museums, among which the Basilica of San Francesco is perhaps the most famous in the city. Inside, it preserves the fresco cycle of the Legend of the True Cross by Piero della Francesca, a priceless Renaissance masterpiece. We will visit the Medici Fortress, the Roman Amphitheater and the Church of San Francesco, with the wooden crucifix of Cimabue.
We continue to Cortona, a small town located in Val di Chiana, near Arezzo. The city, surrounded by walls from where we still can see Etruscan and Roman vestiges, was built on a 600-meter high hill. This elevated position offers a good view from different points of the city, allowing you to admire the beautiful landscapes of Valdichiana and Lake Trasimeno. The center of Cortona is built around the Piazza della Repubblica, where the Town Hall is located.
We will continue to Montepulciano, this typical town built on the “Mons Politianus” owes its current appearance to the influence of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, as we see in several churches and palaces built by Antonio da Sangallo and Michelozzo. We will visit the most attractive points of this town: the sanctuary of the Virgin of San Biagio, Piazza Grande del Duomo, the Palazzo Municipal. Palazzo Nobili Tarugi and Palazzo Contucci. Return to the hotel and accommodation.
Breakfast at the hotel.
Departure towards Assisi, a city that illustrates what the Umbrian region was like in antiquity and the Middle Ages, an important center of Christian spirituality. Saint Benedict of Núrsia was born in this region, which gave a great boost to monasticism. However, there is no doubt that the greatest lesson came from Saint Francis of Assisi. We will visit the places of the Saint’s life, one of the most exciting experiences that we can live on a trip to Umbria.
We start the tour of Assisi visiting the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, built in 1569. Inside, we can admire the beautiful church of Porciúncula, the Transit Chapel, where Saint Francis died on October 3, 1226. We continue to the Basilica of Saint Francisco, formed by two superimposed churches, linked to two different construction phases: the first Romanesque-Umbra and the second Gothic. We will see throughout the cycle of frescoes of the life of the saint, traditionally attributed to Giotto. Walking along Via San Francesco we reach the old town square, where you can see the Temple of Minerva, transformed into the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva and the Palaces of the People’s Captain and the Priors. Finally, we will visit the Church of Santa Chiara, located on a terrace from where you can admire a beautiful landscape in the Umbria Valley.
We will continue to Perugia, the capital of the Umbria region. Starting with the Etruscan-Roman doors, which combine the flavor of the old with the new urban structures we will continue with the Palazzo dei Priori, the Town Hall, the Fontana Maggiore (made by Nicola and Pisano Giovanni) that dominates the square. The north side of Piazza IV Novembre is occupied by the Cathedral of San Lorenzo, built in the 15th century. At the entrance flanked by a statue of Pope Julius II, there is a pulpit from which Saint Bernard of Siena preached. Inside, the Chapel of the Sacred Ring, has Madonna’s “wedding ring” (made of agate, a precious stone, which changes color according to the user).
We will continue to Rome. Overnight at the hotel.
Breakfast at the hotel. Meeting with our local guide for a panoramic tour of the city through the most iconic places of the eternal city: the Colosseum, stopping to admire this imposing ruin from the time of the Empire (exterior), as well as the Arch of Constantine, the Circus Maximus, the Palatine Hill and the interior of the Church of Santa Maria Mayor. Free afternoon. Overnight at the hotel.
Breakfast at the hotel. Meeting with the local guide at the hotel to enjoy a half-day tour inside the incomparable Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel, where Michelangelo painted his brilliant vision of Creation. Then we will visit the Square and the Basilica of S. Peter.
Free time during afternoon. Accommodation at the Hotel.
Breakfast at the hotel. Meeting with the guide and departure to the airport. Boarding procedures.