Soak up the sights of Tuscany
Soak up the sights of Tuscany, on a charming rail holiday in the heart of the Italian countryside. Sample fine wines, explore Renaissance Florence, see the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa and discover Leonardo da Vinci's picturesque birthplace.
Our Italian escapade begins at our dedicated Departure Office in London St Pancras, where we meet our group and Tour Manager. Here, we board the Eurostar to Paris, where we change trains and continue by rail into Italy. We overnight in Turin, where we enjoy dinner in our hotel this evening.
After breakfast this morning, you have some free time to discover Turin under your own steam. The collection of busy piazzas and iconic Baroque buildings are a delight to explore. This afternoon, we continue our journey to the Tuscan countryside. The Villa San Paolo is our charming base in Tuscany. Located within sight of the UNESCO World Heritage village of San Gimignano, Villa San Paolo combines an authentic rural Tuscan atmosphere with superb country views and contemporary 4-Star accommodation. The rest of your day is free.
After breakfast this morning, we board a private coach for our transfer to Florence, a striking city known as the 'jewel of the Renaissance', owing to its impressive wealth of Renaissance art and architecture - one of the primary draws of the city. On arrival, we take a guided tour of the city, discovering some of its many charms with the assistance of a local guide.
We enjoy a guided tour of the city's many treasures, including the Duomo with its iconic red-tiled dome, and the beautiful Ponte Vecchio - a 14th century bridge that is home to 43 jewellers' shops.
This afternoon is free to continue wandering through Florence's historic centre under your own steam; picturesque narrow streets and squares, including the Piazza della Signoria - the people-watching centre of Florence - are only part of the city's charm. Much of the beauty of the city is found indoors. One fifth of the world's Renaissance art is kept and displayed in Florence's museums, galleries, churches, monasteries and palaces; many in the Basilica Santa Croce and as many as 1,700 masterpieces in the world-famous Uffizi Gallery. This may be the perfect opportunity to see some of the many masterpieces on display here. We are transferred back to our hotel later today, where we have dinner together this evening.
Today is free for you to unwind amidst the beautiful Tuscan countryside. All meals are included during your stay at the Villa San Paolo, including dinners at the on-site Lampolla restaurant, which specialises in local cuisine. Drinks are also included with meals, with local wines, beers and soft drinks available with lunch and dinner.
After a leisurely start today, we make our way to a local Tuscan winery, to experience some of the delicious produce Tuscany is rightly famous for. The Il Palagetto vineyard covers over 200 acres with its sprawling vines and stunning farmland, a picture of typical rural Tuscan life. Founded in 1991, Il Palagetto specialises in fine wines, particularly Chianti, with a temperature-controlled wine cellar on site storing many examples of its renowned produce. We take a guided tour of the winery, learning about the methods used to create its fabulous array of wines, followed by a light lunch and a tasting of three of the vineyard's most popular wines.
Later, we continue to the wonderful town of San Gimignano, where we take a guided tour of its historic streets. San Gimignano earned UNESCO World Heritage status for its striking medieval walls and thirteen well-preserved towers, which date back to the Middle Ages. The town has a long history, benefitting from an excellent position amongst an array of fertile hills, which have ensured San Gimignano's prosperity for centuries - even today, olive oil production is a thriving local trade. Following the tour, you are at leisure to explore further, before we transfer back to our hotel in time for dinner this evening.
Today is free to enjoy at your own pace. Relax and unwind at our hotel, admiring the views of the picturesque Tuscan countryside, perhaps taking advantage of the hotel's many facilities. All meals are provided throughout the day, so you can simply enjoy your free time.
Today we travel by coach to beautifully preserved medieval Siena, a charismatic Tuscan city where steep, narrow streets wind haphazardly through the town, occasionally opening out onto charming piazzas. The city is delightfully traffic-free, making it perfect to explore on foot. Walking among the terracotta-roofed houses, you will frequently stumble across secret squares and hidden back streets, discovering countless small fountains outside tiny community churches.
Sights of interest in Siena include the magnificent Duomo, one of Italy's great cathedrals with a nave flanked on both sides by intriguing giant striped columns, constructed from black and white marble. The cathedral boasts statues by Donatello, Bernini and Michelangelo as well as a unique and elaborate mosaic floor. Enjoy free time to explore after a guided tour.
After breakfast today, we travel by coach to Pisa, the city famous for its leaning tower. In Pisa we enjoy a guided tour that includes the city's incredible Field of Miracles. Here we see the iconic Leaning Tower, and the marvellous white marble Duomo, one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture, with sublime Moorish mosaics. Later, we make a visit to Vinci, a small town most famous as the birthplace of its namesake, Leonardo da Vinci. This sleepy Tuscan town dates back to the Etruscan era, yet has been somewhat overwhelmed by its prodigious son, devoting a museum to his legacy.
Full-scale models of his most famous inventions can be found on display here, alongside examples of his civic plans, depicting a range of structures the genius artist envisioned. You are free to spend your time in Vinci as you wish; the museum the main draw here, though the town itself is undoubtedly pretty, with romantic streets overlooking typical Tuscan country views. Perhaps pay a visit to the Church of Santa Croce, where da Vinci was likely baptised, or discover an array of his manuscripts and drawings, housed at the Leonardo Library. Following time to explore, we head back to our hotel in good time for a four-course farewell dinner this evening.
Leaving Tuscany behind after breakfast, we begin our journey back to the UK. We travel through Europe by rail, arriving in Chambéry, where we spend the night. On Day 10, we continue by high-speed rail to Paris, where we board the Eurostar back to London. On arrival, our tour concludes.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Soak up the sights of Tuscany