Road Scholar : Home
Cinque Terre, Carrara and Medieval Hill Towns

Program Number: 14299RJ
Start and End Dates:
5/17/2015 - 5/28/2015; 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: $3,325.00 - 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

5-17-2015, 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
   NH Cavalieri Pisa
  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

 NH Cavalieri Pisa
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Situated across the piazza from the Pisa train station, convenient for ground transportation to the Pisa airport or to other destinations if one continues elsewhere in Italy. As a staging hotel it is well appointed with modern features and furnishings. Free Wi-Fi throughout the structure, climate controlled lobby, restaurant with an early fast breakfast (5:30-7:00) regular breakfast hours 7-10:30.
  Contact info: Piazza della Stazione, 2
Pisa, NA 56125 Italy
phone: +39 050 43290
  Room amenities: Climate control in room; free Wi-Fi; satellite TV; electronic safe for valuables; mini-bar, direct dial telephone; hair dryer, toiletries.
  Facility amenities: Climate controlled, 24 hour desk service, wireless Internet connection, ask for access code from the front desk personnel, nice lobby, business class hotel with conference center. Café' bar, cocktail bar and lounge.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: N.A. For participants arriving early or remaining after the program end date, please avail yourself of the hotel's on-line reservation system. Please note, the hotel's website is system wide for all their properties, in their menu select Italy and Pisa. Or use a consolidator such as, etc. A credit card may be requested to hold the room.
  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 NH Cavalieri Pisa the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Train from Pisa Airport to La Spezia Centrale (fare about EUR 7) and public bus (EUR 3) or taxi (EUR 30) 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 1 hour. For public transportation options, Lerici does not have a train station, so you need to take the train to La Spezia and then a taxi to Lerici. In the Pisa (Galileo Galilei) Airport terminal ask at the land transportation service window for the next train to La Spezia and purchase a ticket for the most convenient train. You may have to change trains at Pisa Centrale. The fare from Pisa to La Spezia is approx. € 7, the ride is 1 to 1.5 hours depending on the category of train. Supplement for rapid trains is approx € 10, + 4 for express trains. Trains may be less frequent on Sundays and after 8 pm. Be sure to validate your ticket at the green and grey box at the beginning of the 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. Proceed to the taxi stand at the La Spezia train station exit. The fare from La Spezia to the hotel in Lerici is about € 30. Prices subject to change.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Pisa
  Nearest city or town:  Pisa
  Nearest airport:  Pisa Galileo Galilei
  Transportation from site: Hotel is located in the center of Pisa. There are frequent public buses to the airport terminal. Taxi fare from the hotel to the airport would be about EUR 15.
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, May 17)
 In Transit: Overnight flights cross the Atlantic Ocean and arrive the following day.

Day 2: Arrivals/Welcome Reception
(Monday, May 18)
 Morning: Arrival Pisa Airport. Transfer for group travelers to 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 a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Orientation Session / Walk to San Terenzo / Welcome to Liguria
(Tuesday, May 19)

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

 Breakfast: Continental breakfast buffet (juices, yogurt, fruit, focaccia, bread, jam, selection of coffee and tea, milk, croissant, cereals) at the hotel's 6th floor breakfast room. Enjoy the view of the marina and castle every morning of your stay in Lerici.
 Morning: An information session covers the details of the program activities and excursions. A walk in and around the seaside town of Lerici follows. Spectacular view from the castle.
 Lunch: The walk continues along the seaside promenade to San Terenzo. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Back at the hotel, a local expert introduces the region of Liguria, pointing out its unique geography, history as a maritime power, role in the Resistance Movement and UNESCO World Heritage sites.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant that features Ligurian dishes.
Accommodations: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Rustic Cuisine / Portovenere / Boat to Lerici
(Wednesday, May 20)

Note: Portovenere is closed to traffic. Uneven paved road, graded rise and uneven steps (no railing) to visit the church on the promontory.

 Breakfast: Continental breakfast served buffet style at the hotel.
 Morning: Morning classroom session on the culinary traditions of Liguria and the Lunigiana.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Coach 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 that juts out into the sea. The rocky Byron Grotto is dedicated to Lord Byron who once swam the waters of Portovenere. The heart of Portovenere is closed to traffic and has a mix of shops, art galleries and cafes. Boat ride across the bay to Lerici and the waterfront hotel that serves as our program site.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant
Accommodations: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Boat Excursion to the Cinque Terre
(Thursday, May 21)

Note: Tourist boat has open-air and inside seating. Easy walking in the villages of Monterosso and Vernazza. Approx. 30 steps to reach the train platform from the road/path in town. The guide will give details for optional treks along park paths that seasoned hikers may want to explore on their free time. Park paths have uneven graded footpaths and no railings. The guide will have updates on which footpaths are closed due to landslide damage.

 Breakfast: Continental breakfast served buffet style at the hotel.
 Morning: Weather permitting, on a boat ride from Lerici to Monterosso, marvel at the sight of the rocky coast and terraced vineyards of the Cinque Terre. In Monterosso, the northernmost village, a local guide leads a walk of discovery. Some free time to visit the medieval fortress, colorful shops, or sandy beach.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own
 Afternoon: Board the boat for Vernazza and explore the rocky fortress at the top of the town or relax at a café in the small natural harbor/marina. Those accepting a real physical challenge can opt for a self-guided scenic hike from Monterosso to Vernazza. The 2.5 hour walk is along a rugged path, narrowing at some points, with steep inclines and uneven stone steps. Boat back to Lerici late afternoon.
 Dinner: Dinner at a restaurant in Lerici.
Accommodations: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Pontremoli / Malaspina Castle in Fosdinovo / Winery
(Friday, May 22)

Note: The small town of Fosdinovo 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: Continental breakfast served buffet style at the hotel.
 Morning: In a classroom session learn how the traditions of booksellers and pilgrim routes in Lunigiana dating back to the middle ages still flourish 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: Explore The Market / Ethnographic Museum
(Saturday, May 23)

Note: The coach drop off point is at the edge of the pedestrian only zone in the center of La Spezia.

 Breakfast: Continental breakfast served buffet style at the hotel.
 Morning: Explore the colorful Saturday morning market in Lerici. All along the seawalk vendors sell clothing, accessories and household goods. Coach to La Spezia for an expert-led visit of the Ethnographic Museum with its collection of artifacts from everyday life at home and in the fields of Liguria from centuries past. Coach back to Lerici with a stop at the La Spezia train station for anyone considering an independent return visit to a village of the Cinque Terre.
 Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant in Lerici.
 Afternoon: Free Time.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own.
Accommodations: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: Poets of the Gulf / Tellaro
(Sunday, May 24)

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

Day 9: Cinque Terre Winery / Scenic Vineyard Walk
(Monday, May 25)

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

 Breakfast: Continental breakfast served buffet style at the hotel.
 Morning: Coach to the hills above the Gulf of La Spezia. Vineyard walk in the Volastra hillside. Visit a winery and experience first hand the terraced vineyards and local wine products. Board coach again for the 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 a scenic path with vistas of the village perched on the mountain that plunges into the sea. Train (3 min. ride) to Riomaggiore and brief exploration of the easternmost village of the Cinque Terre. Train to La Spezia (10 minutes) and coach to Lerici (30 minutes). Note that the Via dell'Amore connecting the towns of Manarola and Riomaggiore is closed for major repairs of paths damaged by a landslide.
 Dinner: Enjoy the catch of the day at a local restaurant specializing in seafood.
Accommodations: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 10: Life in Italy Today / Free Afternoon
(Tuesday, May 26)
 Breakfast: Continental breakfast served buffet style at the hotel.
 Morning: Learn about the institutions and traditions that prevail in Italy today. Topics include the education system, health care and the role of the family. Q & A follows.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own
 Afternoon: Free Afternoon
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant
Accommodations: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 11: Carrara Marble Quarries / Transfer to Pisa
(Wednesday, May 27)

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: Continental breakfast served buffet style 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. Visit a sculptor's workshop, work schedule of the artist permitting. 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. 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. Walk to the Piazza dei Miracoli where the white marble of the Cathedral, Baptistery and Leaning Tower contrast with the manicured green lawns of the square.
 Dinner: Dinner at a restaurant in Pisa.
Accommodations: NH Cavalieri Pisa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Transfers to Pisa Airport
(Thursday, May 28)
 Breakfast: Continental breakfast served buffet style at the hotel.
 Morning: Transfer to Pisa Airport. Shuttles bus (E. 3) from the train station (across the street from the hotel) leave frequently to the airport for those not leaving on the transfer.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Lerici Hike the Cinque Terre
Hike the paths of the Cinque Terre. Maps available at train station La Spezia 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 ;
There are some opportunities to take a swim in Lerici. Right in front of the hotel there is a dock where you can enter the water - no sandy beach. A sandy public beach is just a short walk away from the hotel along the sea walk to San Terenzo.
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).

You can't find a better value than Road Scholar.

As a not-for-profit organization, we are dedicated to providing all-inclusive educational programs at great value. From lectures to gratuities to field trips to accommodations - the tuition you pay up front is all that you pay.

Specifically, this program includes:

Plus these special experiences...

View the Daily Schedule to see more

And included with all Road Scholar programs:

© Road Scholar 2015 | Call toll-free: 1-800-454-5768