14299
Italy
Cinque Terre, Carrara and Medieval Hill Towns
Explore the Cinque Terre — the Italian Riviera’s colorful villages carved above the Mediterranean Sea — and learn about medieval life, Michelangelo and the history of nearby Lerici.
Rating (4.95)
Program No. 14299RJ
Length
12 days
Starts at
2,999
Flights start at
825
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12 days
11 nights
24 meals
10 B 6 L 8 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Departure from points in North America
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrivals, Welcome Reception
Lerici
L,D
Hotel Shelley e delle Palme

Activity note: Hotel check in 3:00 pm.

Lunch: A buffet at the hotel will offer a variety of salads, cheeses, focaccia and fresh fruit. Enjoy a glass of local white or red wine. Water is included

Afternoon: After you settle into your room, freshen up and relax, meet back in the hotel lobby at 4:00 p.m. for an orientation walk in the neighborhood to identify ATMs, pharmacies, stores, restaurants, etc., A walk in and around the seaside town of Lerici follows. Spectacular view from the castle. The short walk circles back to the hotel where you will gather for a Welcome Cocktail (or fruit juice).

Dinner: At a restaurant in town. Fixed menu with plated table service. Water and a glass of wine are included.

DAY
3
Orientation Session, Walk to San Terenzo, Welcome to Liguria
Lerici
B,L,D
Hotel Shelley e delle Palme

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

Breakfast: Continental buffet (juices, yogurt, fruit, focaccia, bread, jam, coffee and tea, milk, croissant, selection of cereal) at the hotel's 6th floor breakfast room. Enjoy the view of the marina and castle every morning of your stay in Lerici.

Morning: In the hotel meeting room just off the lobby, the group leader will review the up-to-date program schedule and go over any changes to the itinerary, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. A walk in and around the seaside town of Lerici follows the session to the castle of Lerici (interior closed to the public). Enjoy spectacular views of the bay before circling back to the hotel. Unless specified otherwise, transportation during the program will be provided via motor coach. Breakfasts at both program sites will be a buffet. In Lerici the breakfast is continental which means no hot dishes. There are platters with sliced cold cuts and cheeses, cereal, yogurt, fresh fruit, breads, focaccia and pastries, jams, honey and butter, a selection of hot and cold beverages, juice and water. Unless noted differently, all other included meals will be plated and served from a set regional menu with water included and other beverages available for purchase. During the program free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Please note that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration, attending performances or other events, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow participants. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions.

Lunch: Set out on a walk along the seaside promenade to San Terenzo. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant with an assortment of seafood and vegetable antipasti, a pasta dish, water and a glass of wine. Plated table service.

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 pizzeria on the waterfront in Lerici. A variety of pizzas are served. Water is included as well as your choice of soft drink, beer or wine.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Culinary Tradition in Liguria, Portovenere
Lerici
B,D
Hotel Shelley e delle Palme

Activity 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 buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Classroom session on the Culinary Traditions of Liguria and the Lunigiana, areas known for their fruity olive oil, aromatic herbs, seafood, and wine. Short walk to the dock. Boat ride across the Bay of Lerici to Portovenere takes 20 min.

Lunch: On your own. The group leader will point out a variety of eateries from snack bars, cafés, trattorias, and full service restaurants.

Afternoon: Meet the local guide who leads the 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 back to Lerici and the waterfront hotel that serves as our program site.

Dinner: At a local restaurant a fixed menu of regional dishes. Lerici is renowned in the area of La Spezia for restaurants featuring fresh local seafood, but tonight's meal will feature savory meat and vegetables. Water and a glass of wine are included with the plated table service dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Take a walk in town and stop for a hot beverage or gelato.

DAY
5
Boat Excursion to the Cinque Terre
Lerici
B,D
Hotel Shelley e delle Palme

Activity note: 1.5 hour boat ride to Monterosso has open-air and inside seating. Boat ride from Monterosso to Vernazza is about 15 minutes; Return ride from Vernazza to Lerici is 1.5 hours. Those who opt to leave the group and hike from Monterosso to Vernazza on their own should note the path is uneven, graded and has no railings; the Group Leader will have updates on which footpaths are closed due to landslide damage.

Breakfast: Continental buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Short walk from the hotel to the dock. Weather permitting, with the group leader board a boat and ride from Lerici to Monterosso marveling at the sight of the rocky coast and terraced vineyards of the Cinque Terre. In case of inclement weather or dangerous sea conditions, the group leader will make every effort to switch the date of the boat excursion. In Monterosso, the northernmost village, a local expert will lead a walk of discovery exploring the beachfront and inner narrow streets lined with colorful houses and shops. Those who wish to embark on a real physical challenge can opt for a self-guided scenic hike from Monterosso to Vernazza. The roughly 2.5 hour walk is nearly 3 miles along a rugged path, narrowing at some points, with steep inclines, uneven stone steps, no guardrail nor handrails. The total difference in altitude along the hiking trail is from sea level to 920 feet, not all in one ascent. The group leader will stay in Monterosso to take the afternoon boat ride to Vernazza with those who did not choose to hike the trails on their own.

Lunch: On your own. There are a variety of cafés and foccacerie, as well as trattorie to suit every palate and budget.

Afternoon: The group leader will establish a time and place to meet to board the boat for transfer to Vernazza where you will have some free time to visit the marina or climb the steps to the lookout tower. The town has one main road and a large square at the marina. Those who chose to take the optional hike will meet the group in Vernazza. Explore the rocky fortress at the top of the town or relax at a café in the small natural harbor/marina. The entire group takes the boat back to Lerici later in the afternoon. 5 min walk to the hotel from the dock.

Dinner: At a restaurant on the waterfront in Lerici, a fixed menu featuring seafood dishes. Plated table service. Water and a glass of wine are included.

Evening: Enjoy a walk along the seafront in Lerici.

DAY
6
Pontremoli, Malaspina Castle in Fosdinovo, Winery
Lerici
B,L,D
Hotel Shelley e delle Palme

Activity note: Lerici to Pontremoli is 30 miles, about a ½ hour by coach. Walking up to 1 mile; Fosdinovo is traffic-free; hilly roads and sidewalks are paved with cobblestones. The coach drop-off point is at the bottom of the Malaspina castle with a graded ramp of low steps leading to the entrance; stairs to the upper floor for panoramic view of the valley below. 8 miles from the winery to the hotel in Lerici, the ride takes about 20 minutes.

Breakfast: Continental buffet 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 specialties including testaroli, a whole grain egg less crepe with pesto sauce, and stuffed vegetables with aromatic herbs at Antica Trattoria Pelliccia in Pontremoli. As is the local tradition, water and wine are included with lunch.

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 down towards the coast to a winery in the low hills above Luni. Enjoy a sampler of tasty local products and wines from the Lunigiana. Water is included; other beverages such as soft drinks, beer, tea and coffee are available for purchase.

Evening: Coach back to the hotel.

DAY
7
Ancient Monolith Exhibition in Medieval Fortress
Lerici
B,L
Hotel Shelley e delle Palme

Activity note: La Spezia is 7 miles from Lerici. The coach leaves you off at the bottom of the San Giorgio fortress. A graded walkway leads to the entrance. Inside the castle there are more graded walkways to the exhibition area.

Breakfast: Continental buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Coach to La Spezia to the castle/fortress of San Giorgio where a local historian gives an illustrated presentation on the prehistoric monoliths (which have a surprisingly modern 'look') found in the area. From the terrace of the fortress enjoy the panorama of the natural port of La Spezia. Inside the museum, discover the small but rich and well displayed collection of ancient artifacts. Coach back to Lerici with a stop at the train station in La Spezia for anyone wanting to revisit the Cinque Terre independently during the free afternoon.

Lunch: A light lunch at a local cafe'.

Afternoon: Free Afternoon

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy the type of eatery that fits your budget and taste. The group leader will have suggestions where to go for small plates at a wine bar, or a full-course dinner at a trattoria or restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Poets of the Gulf, Tellaro
Lerici
B,L
Hotel Shelley e delle Palme

Activity 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 buffet 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: At a restaurant in Tellaro. Fixed menu, plated table service. Enjoy a dish of authentic pasta al pesto made from local olive oil and fragrant Ligurian basil. Tradition calls for a glass of white wine which is offered as well as water.

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 on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Cinque Terre Winery, Scenic Vineyard Walk
Lerici
B,D
Hotel Shelley e delle Palme

Activity note: The drive of 25 miles takes about 1 hour along winding country roads. Walking up to 1 mile; minor inclines and uneven pavement. Afternoon use of public train transportation. From the coach drop-off point, there is an optional short walk on a narrow, uneven path of a terraced vineyard with no railings; the group must walk in single file; benches for rest available. A portion of the Via dell'Amore footpath is now open as repairs continue on the section connecting to Riomaggiore.

Breakfast: Continental buffet 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: On your own. There are a variety of focaccerias, cafés and trattorias in the village.

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 (5 min. ride) to Corniglia and brief exploration of the middle village of the Cinque Terre. Train to La Spezia (15 minutes) and coach to Lerici (30 minutes).

Dinner: Enjoy the catch of the day at a local restaurant specializing in seafood. Fixed menu, plated table service. Water and wine are included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Enjoy a stroll along Lerici's seafront.

DAY
10
Life in Italy Today, Free Afternoon
Lerici
B,D
Hotel Shelley e delle Palme

Breakfast: Continental buffet 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: On your own.

Afternoon: Free Afternoon.

Dinner: At a restaurant on the seafront in Lerici. Fixed menu with a sampling of seafood dishes. Plated table service, water is included. Local white wine is included as well.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Carrara Marble Quarries, Transfer to Pisa
Pisa
B,L,D
Hotel Bologna

Activity note: Walking up to 1.5 miles total; slight incline on a dusty dirt path at the quarry; walking and standing on the brief visit in the center of Carrara. The drive from Lerici to the marble quarries is 18 miles. It takes 1 hour along the steep and winding narrow road to the quarries. Drive from Carrara to Pisa is 45 miles and takes about 40 minutes on the highway. The walk from the hotel to the Leaning Tower in Pisa is 1 mile along uneven but flat city sidewalks.

Breakfast: Continental buffet 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 sculptors' workshop, work schedule of the artists 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: At a wine bar/restaurant in the heart of Carrara. Fixed menu with a variety of antipasti served family style. One of the dishes is a tasting of the thick tomato soup known in Tuscany as pappa al pomodoro. Water and a glass of wine are included.

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: Recap your adventures and share your favorite memories with your fellow participants at our farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Fixed menu, plated table service. Water and wine are included to toast new friends and bid arrivederci.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check out by 11:00 am. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers. If you are an independent traveler (POP status), see “Ground Transportation from Last Location."

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel. For those with very early morning departures the hotel will prepare a take away bag with fruit, juice and a roll or pastry.

Morning: Transfer and departure from Pisa airport. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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