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Cinque Terre, Carrara and Medieval Hill Towns

Program Number: 14299RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/5/2014 - 10/16/2014; 9/13/2015 - 9/24/2015; 9/27/2015 - 10/8/2015; 10/11/2015 - 10/22/2015; 4/10/2016 - 4/21/2016; 4/24/2016 - 5/5/2016; 5/8/2016 - 5/19/2016; 5/22/2016 - 6/2/2016; 9/4/2016 - 9/15/2016; 9/18/2016 - 9/29/2016; 10/2/2016 - 10/13/2016; 10/16/2016 - 10/27/2016;
Duration: 11 nights
Location: Italy
Price starting at: $3,195.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type:
Meals: 25; 10 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 9 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Along this jeweled coast, the five villages of the Cinque Terre carve a charming niche where mountains plunge into the sparkling Mediterranean. By land and sea, discover the limitless inspiration of the Cinque Terre and Carrara. Learn why countless artists and authors have found muses in the seaside villages, terraced vineyards and rocky promontories of this area of the Italian Riviera.


• Discover how inhabitants carved vineyard terraces along the steep mountainside in the Cinque Terre.
• Walk scenic paths with breathtaking vistas of the mountains that plunge into the Mediterranean sea.
• Consider the experiences of Romantic English poets who lived near and were inspired by the bay of Lerici.

Activity Particulars

Distances covered on walks in the small villages around Lerici and in the Cinque Terre are minimal but expect inclines and uneven stone steps.

Date Specific Information

10-5-2014, 9-13-2015, 9-27-2015, 10-11-2015, 4-10-2016, 4-24-2016, 5-8-2016, 5-22-2016, 9-4-2016, 9-18-2016, 10-2-2016, 10-16-2016

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Pisa, coach to Lerici, 9 nights; coach to Pisa, 1 night; departure

Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival Pisa
Coach to Lerici
9 nights
Coach to Pisa
1 night

The cliff-lined coast of Liguria stretches from the famed Cinque Terre along the Mediterranean to the French border. With a literary expert, consider the rich history of the Italian Riviera and its connection to renowned artists such as Byron, Shelley and D.H. Lawrence. A local expert highlights the Riviera’s ties to the republics of Pisa and Genoa and the medieval fortifications built to protect inland pilgrim routes to Rome and the Holy Land. After traversing the hills above the Gulf of La Spezia to Manarola, savor the views and wines from the terraced vineyards of a local winery. The flawless white marble of nearby Carrara served as Michelangelo’s raw material. In the city’s still-active quarries, trace the exploitation and refinement of marble from the time of the Romans to today. Explore stylish towns in undiscovered Tuscany guarded by medieval castles, and the awe-inspiring panoramas of the Cinque Terre on a boating excursion.


“Dolce far niente,” the “sweetness of doing nothing.” This ode to leisure is a distinctly Italian phrase, and yet the expression does not do justice to the hard-work ethos of the nation’s inhabitants. The monuments, art and civilization bequeathed to the people of modern Italy are a testament to the industry of their forebearers, and the legacy lives on in today’s Italians, who work hard to better enjoy the sweetness of repose.

Lerici: Hotel on the waterfront with views of the Bay of Lerici and beach access. Pisa: Four-star hotel conveniently located in the center of Pisa.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Jane Bacon

Jane Bacon is an associate of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She worked as an editor for the London publisher Eyre Methuen before deciding to move to the Italian Riviera. Settling in one of the small medieval villages on the Gulf of La Spezia, Jane continued to pursue her literary interests including studying the many well-known English and Italian writers who lived in the area. She continues to teach, write and study local history.
Umberto Cattani

Umberto Cattani is a licensed educational excursion leader in Tuscany. After completing his studies in finance, Umberto worked in Milan as a sales manager for a clothing manufacturer. He discovered his real passion for teaching — and completed the required courses in art history, archaeology and history to achieve his new goal. Umberto lives in Carrara with his wife and daughter.
Raffaella Cecconi

Raffaella Cecconi, a native of Genoa, holds a degree in art history from the University of Genoa and a postgraduate degree from the University of Florence. Raffaella illustrates the history and geography of Liguria for Road Scholar participants and leads a visit to the Museum of the Castle of San Giorgio in La Spezia.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hotel Shelley e delle Palme
  Lerici, Italy 9 nights
   Hotel Galilei
  Pisa, Italy 1 night
 Hotel Shelley e delle Palme
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: The hotel is located in the center of the small town, on the waterfront overlooking the castle and bay of Lerici. All rooms have a terrace with view of the bay. Roof top breakfast room, lounge and bar on ground floor. Across the street from the hotel you can use the steps of a dock to have a refreshing swim. A sandy public beach is a short walk from the hotel.
  Contact info: Lungomare Biaggini, 5
Lerici, NA 19032 Italy
phone: +39 0187 967 127
  Room amenities: Satellite TV, free wifi connection, direct dial telephone, hair dryer, complimentary toiletries, safe box for valuables in the room.
  Facility amenities: Free Wi-Fi connection throughout the hotel. Large terrace on the 5th floor. Bar and comfortable lounge in the lobby. Laundry service available through the hotel (not self-service washer and dryer).
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: varies by season You can book additional nights directly through the hotel’s online reservation systemat Indicate to the hotel that you are with the Road Scholar group and every effort will be made to ensure continuity of room. Another option is to use online hotel consolidators such as or Expedia.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 Hotel Galilei
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The hotel is a modern business class hotel located .62 of a mile from the Pisa Airport (Galileo Galilei). Shuttle bus to the airport.
  Contact info: Via Darsena, 1
Pisa,  56121 Italy
phone: +39 050 507 111
  Room amenities: Private bath, individual control for air conditioning and heat, room safe for valuables, satellite TV, direct dial telephone, minibar, hair dryer and toiletries.
  Facility amenities: WiFi in the lobby area. Business Center. Restaurant. Shuttle bus to the airport.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after:  The hotel is a staging for departures from Pisa Airport.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Lunch provided for morning arrivals. Hotel check in 2:00 pm. Late afternoon Welcome Reception followed by dinner. You will be staying at Hotel Shelley e delle Palme that night.
  End of Program:
Morning transfers to airport, hotel check out by 10:00 am. You will be staying at Hotel Galilei the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Shuttle bus from the airport terminal to Pisa Centrale train station. Train from Pisa Centrale to La Spezia Centrale and public bus or taxi from La Spezia to Lerici.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Lerici
  Nearest city or town:  La Spezia
  Nearest airport:  Pisa
  Transportation to site: To reach the program site on your own, you can book a private car and driver or ride public transportation. Book private car service at The fare is approximately € 140 per vehicle (up to 3 persons). The ride takes about 50min. Public transportation option involves a shuttle bus, train and taxi. You can get the train schedule and purchase a train ticket at the land transportation information window in the Pisa airport terminal. Frequent shuttle buses run from the airport to Pisa Centrale, the main train station (a 5 min. ride). Board a train to La Spezia, get off at La Spezia Centrale and take a taxi to the hotel in Lerici. Train fare from Pisa to La Spezia is € 7, the ride is 1 to 1.5 hours depending on the category of train. Supplement for Intercity or Eurostar train can range from € 10 - 14. Trains may be less frequent on Sundays and after 8 pm. Be sure to validate your ticket at the stamping machine at the beginning of the train platform. Please note you are responsible for handling your own luggage on and off trains. There are elevators to assist the change of tracks at the railroad stations in Pisa and La Spezia. At the La Spezia Centrale train station proceed to the taxi stand at the station exit. The fare from La Spezia to the hotel in Lerici is € 30. Prices subject to change.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Pisa
  Nearest city or town:  Pisa
  Nearest highway: N/A
  Nearest airport:  Pisa Galileo Galilei
  Transportation from site: The hotel in Pisa is located near the airport and offers shuttle van service to the airport terminal and the city center (Pisa Centrale train station)
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departure from points in North America
(Sunday, October 5)
 In Transit: Overnight flights cross the Atlantic Ocean and arrive the following day.

Day 2: Arrivals/Welcome Reception
(Monday, October 6)
 Morning: Arrival Pisa Airport. Transfer to the program site.
 Lunch: A buffet lunch served at the hotel.
 Afternoon: After settling in, meet your fellow travelers at a Welcome Reception.
 Dinner: Dinner at local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Orientation Session and Walk / San Terenzo
(Tuesday, October 7)

Note: The seafront promenade connecting Lerici and San Terenzo is about 1 mile long.

 Breakfast: Continental breakfast at the hotel is served buffet style with a variety of breads, pastries, cereal, yogurt, fresh fruit, coffee, tea, and juices. Enjoy the view of the marina and castle of Lerici from the 6th floor breakfast room.
 Morning: An information session covers the details of the program activities and excursions. A walk in and around the seaside town of Lerici follows.
 Lunch: Scenic walk along the seaside promenade to San Terenzo. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: A lecture focus on the unique rock formation, river valleys and natural harbors that form the eastern end of the Italian Riviera. Learn how inhabitants created vineyard terraces along the mountainside in the Cinque Terre.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant that features Ligurian dishes.
Accommodations: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Culinary Traditions / Portovenere
(Wednesday, October 8)

Note: The traffic-free streets of Portovenere have slight inclines. Stone steps to the promontory of San Pietro.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Morning classroom session on the Culinary Traditions of Liguria and the Lunigiana.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Boat to Portovenere for a stroll along the tightly stacked houses, colorful and tall, that were constructed in a row as an impenetrable fortress. The expert-led walk continues to the marina and to the 12th century chapel set on the promontory. The rocky Byron Grotto is dedicated to Lord Byron who once swam the waters of Portovenere. The heart of the town is closed to traffic and has a mix of shops, art galleries and cafés. Boat ride across the bay to Lerici and the waterfront hotel that serves as our program site.
 Dinner: Dinner at a restaurant in Lerici.
Accommodations: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Boat Excursion to the Cinque Terre
(Thursday, October 9)

Note: Tourist boat has open-air and inside seating. Easy walking in the villages of Monterosso and Vernazza. Approx. 30 steps to the train stations. An optional 2.5 hour trek (guided) along a park trail is for seasoned hikers (uneven graded footpath and no railings). Portions of the park footpath may be closed to hikers if there has been erosion damage.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Weather permitting, on a boat ride from Lerici marvel at the sight of the rocky coast and terraced vineyards of the Cinque Terre to Monterosso, the northernmost town of Five Lands. Free time to test the waters at the sandy beach or visit the shops in the center.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: In Monterosso, board the boat for Vernazza. Explore the church, fortress or tiny natural harbor. Free time to continue your exploration of the Cinque Terre. For those accepting a physical challenge, a licensed guide will lead a walk along a park trail. As of August 2014, the trail is open from Vernazza to Corniglia but closed from Corniglia to Manarola. Alternative activity is a leisurely afternoon in Vernazza or Monterosso before catching the boat to Lerici with the group leader.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Pontremoli / Malaspina Castle in Fosdinovo
(Friday, October 10)

Note: The small town of Pontremoli is traffic-free. Roads and sidewalks, paved with cobblestones, follow the rise of the hill town. The coach drop-off point is at the bottom of the Malaspina castle. A graded ramp of low steps to reach the entrance. Stairs to the upper floor for panoramic view of the valley below.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: In a classroom session learn how the tradition of booksellers in Lunigiana dating back to the middle ages still flourishes today. After a break, board a coach to Pontremoli, town in the northwest area of Tuscany know as Lunigiana (about 30 miles from Lerici).
 Lunch: Sample a variety of local Tuscan dishes at Antica Trattoria Pelliccia in Pontremoli.
 Afternoon: Excursion continues with a coach ride through the Lunigiana hills to Fosdinovo. Expert-led visit of the medieval Malaspina Castle. Nine hundred years of history are rooted in the watchtowers and pathways, courtyards, crenellations, and cornerstones of this well-preserved fortress where the Marchesi Torrigiani Malaspina family resides to this day.
 Dinner: Excursion continues to a winery near the hills above Luni. Enjoy a dinner and sample wines from the Lunigiana
Accommodations: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Market Day / San Giorgio Fortress / Free Afternoon
(Saturday, October 11)

Note: The fortress, situated on a hill, has a graded walkway to the main gate. Inside the castle there are more graded walkways leading to the exhibition area.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Explore the colorful Saturday morning market in Lerici. All along the sea walk vendors sell clothing, accessories and household goods. Coach to La Spezia to the castle/fortress of San Giorgio. A local historian gives an illustrated presentation on prehistoric monoliths (which have a surprisingly modern 'look') found in the area. From the terrace of the fortress enjoy the panorama of La Spezia's natural harbor. Coach to Lerici stops first at the train station in La Spezia facilitates free afternoon activities in the Cinque Terre.
 Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant in Lerici.
 Afternoon: Free Afternoon
 Dinner: Dinner on your own.
Accommodations: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: Cinque Terre Winery and Scenic Paths
(Sunday, October 12)

Note: From the coach drop-off point, an optional 15 min. walk (single file) along narrow uneven paths of a terraced vineyard (no railings). If you suffer from heights, you can wait on a park bench for the group to return from the short walk. The village of Manarola is traffic-free; the walk down the paved road is graded. Minor incline and uneven pavement along the panoramic path with spectacular views of the sea and Cinque Terre village.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Coach to the hills above the Gulf of La Spezia. Vineyard walk above Manarola at Volastra. Visit a winery and experience first hand the terraced vineyards and local wine products. Reboard coach for short ride to Manarola, one of the five villages of the Cinque Terre.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own
 Afternoon: After lunch, explore the village of Manarola and the scenic paths with vistas of the mountains that plunge into the sparkling Mediterranean sea. The Via dell'Amore is currently closed for repairs (update August 2014), but you will stroll an easy path with spectacular views of the village, sea and terraced mountain. Very short train ride to Riomaggiore. Train to La Spezia where the private coach is waiting to return to Lerici.
 Dinner: Dinner a local restaurant
Accommodations: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9: Poets and Writers in Lerici / Tellaro
(Monday, October 13)

Note: The walk between Lerici and Tellaro is a paved road 2.5 miles long. There are no sidewalks but the traffic is very light and pedestrian-friendly as the road ends in the small village of Tellaro.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Classroom session on the English poets and writers who lived in and around Lerici and for whom the bay is called the "Gulf of Poets." After a short break, board a coach for Tellaro, colorful village at the eastern end of the Gulf of La Spezia. A leisurely stroll along the narrow paved path to the small church dedicated to St. George winds down to the marina.
 Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant in Tellaro.
 Afternoon: Return by public bus or walk the paved road that connects Tellaro and Lerici. The walk takes about an hour including stops for panoramic vistas of the sea below.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant
Accommodations: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Life in Italy Today / Free Afternoon
(Tuesday, October 14)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Learn about the institutions and traditions that prevale in Italy today. Topics include the education system, healthcare and the role of the family. Q & A follows
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Free Afternoon
 Dinner: Enjoy the catch of the day at a local restaurant specializing in a seafood menu.
Accommodations: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 11: Carrara Marble Quarries / Transfer to Pisa
(Wednesday, October 15)

Note: Miminum walking from the coach drop-off area to the observation terrace overlooking the marble quarry. Some walking and standing on the brief visit in the center of Carrara.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Following a classroom presentation on Michelangelo and Carrara Marble, board a coach for the 30 minute ride to Carrara, at the foot of the Apuan Alps. An expert guide takes us to the still active marble quarries of Carrara, where centuries earlier Michelangelo chose the pure white stone blocks for his statues. We learn the fascinating technique of modern stone excavation.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant and wine bar in the heart of Carrara.
 Afternoon: A local guide leads an informal walk through Carrara. Board the coach for late afternoon check-in at the hotel in Pisa.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel restaurant
Accommodations: Hotel Galilei
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Transfers to Pisa Airport
(Thursday, October 16)
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Transfer to Pisa Airport. The hotel has a shuttle van for the short (5 min) ride to the airport.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Lerici Hike the Cinque Terre
Hike the paths of the Cinque Terre. Maps available at the bookstore and newsagents in Lerici and at park offices/shops in the villages of the Cinque Terre. For additional information, visit
  La Spezia Museums
The Naval Museum has a collection of ancient and modern model ships as well as interesting figureheads. The Lia Museum houses a unique collection of seals used to render documents official and authentic. For additional information, visit ;
  San Terenzo
A half hour stroll along the seaside walking path to San Terenzo, charming seaside town of the bay of Lerici where Shelley and his family had a home. In 1822 Percy Bysshe Shelley set sail from San Terenzo and died in a boating accident.
Although it is a half hour from Lerici, Viareggio's coast has sandy beaches with colorful bathing establishments that stretch along the shore, many in the decorative Art Nouveau style. Across the street from the beaches is an extensive public park shaded by centuries-old umbrella pines.
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

A Ligurian Kitchen, Recipes and Tales from the Italian Riviera

Author: Laura Giannatempo

Description: A charming, personal cookbook with an abundance of authentic Ligurian recipes that can easily be replicated in an American kitchen.

Cinque Terre Map

Author: Litographia Artistica Cartographica

Description: A detailed shaded relief walking and road map of the Cinque Terre at a scale of 1:40,000.

Enchanted April

Author: Elizabeth Von Arnim, Cathleen Schine (Introduction)

Description: In this delightful book, four Englishwomen are awakened by self-discovery and the power of their friendship on a stay in Italy in the 1920s.

Extra Virgin, A Young Woman Discovers the Italian Riviera

Author: Annie Hawes

Description: A memoir of travels and life in Liguria, where the Hawe sisters ventured and stayed. In this refreshingly candid account, the English sisters end up buying a house and learning the local customs and eccentricities of their neighbors in Diano San Pietro.

Eyewitness Guide Italian Riviera

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: A handsome, beautifully illustrated and informative compact guide to Liguria. It covers places, recommended excursions, hotels and attractions from the border with France east to La Spezia.

Food Wine The Italian Riviera & Genoa

Author: David Downie

Description: A renowned food writer's highly selective guide to Liguria's authentic small eateries, culinary traditions, wine, wineries, food artisans and gourmet shops.

Italy in Mind

Author: Alice Powers

Description: A terrific collection of some of the best literary writing on Italy, including pieces by Melville, Lawrence, Henry James, Mary McCarthy and many others.

Italy, A Short History

Author: Harry Hearder

Description: Elegantly written, generous and informative, this compact book takes in the sweep of Italian history from the Roman Republic through the Renaissance, World War II and up to the present.

Italy, A Traveler's Literary Companion

Author: Lawrence Venuti (Editor)

Description: Not just a literary companion, this anthology is also a who's who of contemporary Italian writers that captures the spirit, history and allure of the country.

La Bella Figura, A Field Guide to the Italian Mind

Author: Beppe Severgnini

Description: Italians themselves love this guide to the Italian character, which addresses the apparently never-ending passion for beauty, disorder and high emotion. Severgnini opens the book with a snapshot of the hubbub at Malpensa Airport, then moves on to Tuscany, Rome, Naples and Sardinia.

Liguria Regional Map

Author: Touring Club Italiano

Description: A map of the region, including Cinque Terra, at a scale of 1:200,000.

Recollections of the Last Days of Shelley and Byron

Author: Edward Trelawney

Description: The lives and deaths of these two most romantic of Romantic poets are lovingly recounted in this memoir by Edward Trelawny. Trelawny was a fascinating figure in his own right, and his tribute to his two lost friends bears all the marks of his own generous, wild personality.

The Portable Romantic Poets

Author: Norman Holmes Pearson, W.H. Auden (Editor)

Description: This is the anthology to take along on a trip to England's Lake District, Italy's Cinqueterre or any other classic haunt of the romantic poets. This selection includes works by all the masters (and even an occasional mistress).

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