19715
Italy
Italy: Classic Tuscany and the Treasures of Florence
Explored medieval villages, discover Renaissance architecture, visit ancient marble quarries and savor renowned wine and cuisine as you learn the timeless story of Tuscany and Florence.
Rating (5)
Program No. 19715RJ
Length
13 days
Starts at
3,689
Flights start at
950
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13 days
12 nights
26 meals
11 B 6 L 9 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Flights Depart North America
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrival & Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Lucca
L,D
Grand Hotel Celide

Activity note: Hotel check-in is available from 1:00 p.m. Pisa Airport is 20 km (12.5 miles) from Lucca. The road winds around a small mountain that separates the two cities. The walk around town will cover less than a mile.

Lunch: Lunch buffet for those with arrivals before noon or soon thereafter. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

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., The short walk circles back to the hotel where you will gather in the meeting room for a briefing session. The group leader will greet everyone and lead introductions with a Welcome Cocktail (or fruit juice). We will review the program theme, the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have. 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.

Dinner: At a restaurant near the hotel a 3 course fixed Tuscan. Plated table service, water is included. A glass of wine from the hills of Lucca is offered to welcome you to Tuscany.

Evening: Explore briefly the area around the hotel or stroll around the city.

DAY
3
From Origins to the Present
Lucca
B,L,D
Grand Hotel Celide

Activity note: Extended periods of standing during the expert-led walk in the heart of the pedestrian only small city. Walk to the center and back to the hotel.

Breakfast: This day and for the next four mornings, the breakfast buffet at the hotel offers juice and water, an egg dish, sliced cold cuts, assortment of cheeses, cereal, muesli, yogurt, fresh fruit, breads and pastries, jams, honey and butter, and a selection of hot and cold beverages.

Morning: Set out on foot for an expert-led walk in Lucca that explores the walls which date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. The circumference is just over 3 miles and the lanes are wide enough for walkers and recreational bike riders. For a unique panorama of the city when you have some free time, borrow a guest bicycle from the hotel. It will take you 25 minutes for a leisurely ride once around. Meet the local expert for a walk of discover in Lucca. In the Middle Ages the city was a destination of pilgrims traveling to view relics housed within the basilica of S. Martino. Admire its marble facade decorated with Romanesque statues and motifs. The walk concludes in the commercial heart of Lucca.

Lunch: At a characteristic restaurant in the center of town, a set menu features local dishes. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Back at the hotel a local expert presents an overview of Lucca and Tuscany.

Dinner: At a charcteristic trattoria in Lucca. Plated table service, 3 course fixed menu. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Calcium Carbonate to Art: Carrara Marble, Music of Puccini
Lucca
B,L
Grand Hotel Celide

Activity note: Coach one hour to Carrara and the quarries. Not a strenuous day in terms of distances covered on foot, but extended standing when the local expert stops to point out interesting sites in the quarries and in Carrara center. According to the ongoing projects, the artist workshop may be dusty and noisy with the power tools in action.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Coach to the quarries above the town of Carrara. See the massive machinery used to extract the marble, then wonder how it was accomplished since antiquity prior to the invention of mechanized equipment.

Lunch: At a winebar/restaurant in the center of Carrara. Enjoy some local Tuscan dishes. Fixed menu, plated table service. Water and wine are included.

Afternoon: Learn about marble as the medium for artists. Working schedule permitting, visit an artists' workshop. Coach back to Lucca mid-afternoon in time for a presentation on the Culinary Traditions in Tuscany at the hotel.

Dinner: Opportunity to seek out a special place to eat.

Evening: Attend a performance of music of Giacomo Puccini, native son of Lucca. The exact date and program will be determined closer to departure date.

DAY
5
Explore Lucca, Train to Pisa
Lucca
B,D
Grand Hotel Celide

Activity note: The walk is about a mile from the Pisa train station to the Piazza dei Miracoli, the Duomo complex comprised of the famous Leaning Tower and Baptistery. The terrain is flat with stone pavers or cement sidewalks mostly along pedestrian only streets. Because of the dizzying circular staircase we do not climb the Leaning Tower as a group activity. You will have some free time at the end of the expert-led visit if you want to take the challenge.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Set out on foot with the local guide to explore the ancient Roman amphitheater. Over the centuries the structure has been incorporated into the urban area but some structural walls remain as does the eliptical shape. Today in the piazza you will find a lively mix of houses, shops and restaurants.

Lunch: Lunch on your own.

Afternoon: Meet at the hotel or in town at the appointed time. Short walk to the station. Train to Pisa and short walk to the Piazza dei Miracoli. Expert-led visit of the Duomo and Baptistery. See the exterior of the famous Leaning Tower, part of the same Duomo complex. The lacy white marble tiers of the buildings contrast with the wide green lawns, which is unusual for a city cathedral. Until the port of Pisa silted up, the city was a strong maritime republic (along with Genoa, Amalfi and Venice) and the wealth of the city is demonstrated by the civic and religious pride the inhabitants had by funding such a grandiose construction. Train back to Lucca late afternoon and short walk back to the hotel.

Dinner: At a charcteristic trattoria in Lucca. Plated table service, fixed menu. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Siena, Chianti Wine Production, Medieval Civic Pride
Siena
B,L,D
NH Excelsior

Activity note: The 75 mile ride takes about 1.5 hours. Minimal walking from the coach to the winery restaurant. Once in Siena, the streets (pedestrian only) from the hotel to the Campo is half a mile and has some inclines as you near the wide Campo which slopes down to the Town Hall. The medieval network of streets of Siena are mostly traffic free.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Coach to a winery along a scenic route through olive orchards and vineyards in the Chianti hills near Siena.

Lunch: Enjoy a lunch with an antipasto sampler and pasta course in the Chianti region and sample the local red wine. Water is included.

Afternoon: Coach south to Siena through the Tuscan countryside. Check into the hotel located in the historical center of town. After settling into your room meet for a city orientation walk that ends up in the Piazza del Campo. The perimeter of the wide square is the site where the famed Palio horse race takes place in July and August. Expert-led visit continues to the Palazzo Pubblico. The great hall of the medieval Palazzo, still serving today as the town hall, contains an important fresco cycle depicting an allegory of Good and Bad Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Of note is the fresco of Guidoriccio da Fogliano on horseback. Scholars have long attributed the work to the 1300s Sienese painter Simone Martini. The guide will explain the controversy that has arisen about re-attributing the fresco to a much later artist.

Dinner: Sample a 3 course regional menu (and enjoy the view) at a restaurant in the Campo. Fixed menu, water and a glass of Chianti are included. Plated table service.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Life in Italy Today, Duomo, Duccio Masterpiece
Siena
B,D
NH Excelsior

Activity note: Negotiating the inclines and descents of the hill town of Siena will require more effort than the walks in Lucca or Florence. The historical city center is restricted to car traffic so that you can walk freely, but every walk is up or down an incline.

Breakfast: This day and for the next four mornings, the breakfast buffet at the hotel offers juice and water, an egg dish, sliced cold cuts, assortment of cheeses, cereal, muesli, yogurt, fresh fruit, breads and pastries, jams, honey and butter, and a selection of hot and cold beverages.

Morning: A classroom session explores the regional aspects of Italian society and the national institutions that shape the lives of residents today. After a break, an expert-led walk to and visit of Siena's elaborately decorated cathedral (il Duomo). The floors are paved with inlaid marble depicting figures in religious and allegorical scenes. The visit continues to the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo to admire Duccio di Buoninsegna's Maesta'.

Lunch: Lunch on your own.

Afternoon: Guided visit continues of part of the collection of the museum complex Santa Maria della Scala.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant a fixed menu with plated table service. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
San Gimignano. The Palio, More than a Horse Race
Siena
B,D
NH Excelsior

Activity note: San Gimignano is about 25 miles from Siena and the coach ride takes about an hour. Walk around the small hill town which is entirely closed to traffic. Not a strenuous excursion but the town roads are inclined. During free time, you can opt to climb one of the open towers to gain a commanding view of the countryside below.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Learn first hand about the Palio, the race held twice in the summer months where each of the city's districts, called contrade, sponsor a horse to represent their neighborhood. A local expert explains how the shame of losing the Palio is enough to encourage cheating. Even though there is one race in July and another in August, the competitive spirit among the contrade is manifest all year round. Get an intimate look at the pride and sense of community during an exclusive visit to a contrada meeting hall, chapel and small museum.

Lunch: Lunch on your own.

Afternoon: Excursion by coach to San Gimignano for an expert-led visit of the medieval city. An original Etruscan town, this town retains much of its medieval aspect. At one time 77 towers were standing in the city. They were used in family rivalries in order to attain the advantage of higher ground. Board the coach for a short ride a few miles outside of town to an organic farm where you can visit the farm and wine celler. The host explains the production of extra virgin olive oil, wine, saffron and the characteristics of Chianino cattle.

Dinner: Enjoy a field to table dinner at the organic farm's restaurant. Sample Vernaccia di San Gimignao, one of the few Tuscan white wines produced in the area.

Evening: Coach back to Siena.

DAY
9
Pienza and the Tuscan Hills
Siena
B,D
NH Excelsior

Activity note: One hour coach ride to Pienza (34 miles from Siena) and a coach ride through the Tuscan countryside on the return. Short walks in Pienza, a very small hill town.

Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Coach excursion to the town of Pienza. Pope Pius II Piccolomini (1458-1464), a humanist scholar and poet, was born in the nearby village of Corsignano, and once he became pope he began a building project to transform his home town into an idealized Renaissance city. He built his palace near the main piazza and renamed the town after himself.

Lunch: Lunch on your own. In the small town of Pienza there are wine bars, cafés and restaurants from which to choose.

Afternoon: On the coach ride back to Siena, sit back and admire the rolling hills of vineyards dotted with isolated farmhouses. Once in Siena some free time prior to dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel a set menu. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy a stroll to bid arrivederci a Siena.

DAY
10
Coach to Florence, Medici Villa, Accademia Gallery
Florence
B,L,D
Hotel Berchielli

Activity note: Transfer to Florence by coach - 42 miles, 1 hour ride. 1 mile walk to the Accademia along narrow sidewalks. The sculpture gallery is at ground level; the picture gallery on the upper level.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Transfer to Florence with a stop in Poggio a Caiano for an expert-led visit of the Villa of Lorenzo de'Medici. The architect Sangallo incorporated elements of classical antiquity: an arched portico which served as a porch and a shaded area around the building; an entrance flanked by grand staircases leading to the main entrance. The main halls are decorated with frescoes by Pontormo and Andrea del Sarto. Coach continues to the hotel in Florence.

Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant near the hotel. Set menu, plated table service. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Walk to the Accademia delle Belle Arti to marvel at Michelangelo's David. A local expert leads the visit of the sculpture collection in the main hall which includes the David as well as the unfinished pieces called the Prisoners which seem to be still imprisoned in the block of Carrara marble. There are other small collections in the museum that you might want to browse on your own, such as the collection of early string instruments or the painting gallery with works from the Middle Ages, Renaissance and early 17th century.

Dinner: At a local restaurant enjoy a set Tuscan menu. Plated table service. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy a walk to the Ponte Vecchio, just 150 yards from the hotel.

DAY
11
Market Walk, Uffizi Gallery
Florence
B,L
Hotel Berchielli

Activity note: Minimal exertion, the historical center if Florence is closed to traffic and the terrain is level. The hotel is about 300 yards from the Uffizi.

Breakfast: This day and for the next three mornings, the breakfast buffet at the hotel offers juice and water, an egg dish, sliced cold cuts, assortment of cheeses, cereal, muesli, yogurt, fresh fruit, breads and pastries, jams, honey and butter, and a selection of hot and cold beverages.

Morning: Some free time in the morning for a Market Walk in the area of Brunelleschi's church of S. Lorenzo. Along the streets vendors set up carts with leather goods, pottery, scarves, souvenirs, etc. In the late 1800's the Central Market was built. Stalls display and sell fresh and cured meats, cheeses, breads, and other foods. In addition there is a fresh 'fast food' court where you can get sandwiches, pizza, focaccia, or hot dishes. Many of the vendors have strictly farm to table menus. Mid morning in the hotel classroom an art historian gives an overview of Renaissance Art, and with an illustrated presentation, describes highlighted works of art of the collection of the Uffizi Gallery.

Lunch: At a restaurant in the Piazza della Signoria enjoy a light lunch featuring bruschetta, an entrée, vegetable and dessert. Water is included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Reserved entrance time to the Uffizi eliminates the wait to enter. Once inside, visit the rooms of art treasures at your own pace. In the Gallery works are arranged in an order that illustrates the progression from the International Gothic style to Mannerism and examples of Baroque art with pieces by Caravaggio and Artemisia Gentilleschi.There is a coffee/refreshment bar at the end of the corridor on the upper level where you can relax and purchase refreshments while enjoying a commanding view of the bell tower of Palazzo Vecchio and the Cupola of the Duomo.

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, or a full-course dinner.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Walk of Discovery, Bargello Museum
Florence
B,D
Hotel Berchielli

Activity note: The walk from the hotel to the Bargello is about half a mile. The museum has a flight of stone stairs to reach the upper floor. A small elevator is in service for the truly needy.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: A guided walk to Piazza della Signoria and Piazza della La Repubblica, major squares in Florence: Expert-led visit of the Bargello National Museum of Sculpture follows. The collection includes sculptures by Donatello (St. George, David), the competition pieces between Brunelleschi and Ghiberti for the north doors of the Baptistery and sculptures by Michelangelo, Giambologna and Cellini. The expert-led visit focuses on sculpture and at the conclusion you are free to visit the other collections of decorated pottery and armaments: swords, lances, early pistols, and suits of armor.

Lunch: Lunch on your own.

Afternoon: Free time to explore Florence at your own pace.

Dinner: Recap your adventures and share your favorite memories with your fellow participants at our farewell dinner at a characteristic restaurant. Fixed menu features Tuscan dishes, plated table service. Water and wine are included.

Evening: At leisure. Take a stroll along the Arno River to bid arrivederci a Firenze.

DAY
13
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: The ride to the airport, 5 miles from the city center, takes about 20 minutes.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel, continental breakfast for early departures.

Morning: Departures from Venice 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!