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
800
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13 days
12 nights
26 meals
11 B 6 L 9 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Lucca, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Lucca
L,D
Grand Hotel Celide

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 2:00 p.m. Drive to Lucca is 25 miles, about a ½ hour. The orientation walk in Lucca is less than 1 mile.

Lunch: At the hotel restaurant. Water, wine and coffee included.

Afternoon: After checking-in at the hotel and getting your room, take some time to freshen up and relax. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Except breakfast, meals will be plated (each dish served to guests by a wait staff) from a set menu unless otherwise specified. Water is included with all meals and other beverages including wine, tea and coffee will be available for purchase unless otherwise specified. Unless indicated differently, transportation will primarily be provided by motor coach. 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. Set out for a neighborhood walk to locate ATM's, pharmacies, grocery stores, restaurants, etc. Return to the hotel for a Welcome Reception to get to know your group leader and fellow Road Scholars.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant. Water and a glass of wine or beer is included.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the full day ahead.

DAY
3
Basilica, Welcome to Tuscany
Lucca
B,D
Grand Hotel Celide

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles exploring Lucca with extended periods of standing during site visits.

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers choices including an egg dish, fresh fruit, yogurt, breads, pastries, sliced cold cuts, an assortment of cheeses, cereals, muesli, jams, honey, butter, and a selection of hot and cold beverages including juice and water.

Morning: We’ll begin by meeting our local expert at the hotel and setting out on foot for a walking field trip to firstly visit the Basilica of San Martino and admire its marble facade decorated with Romanesque statues and motifs. In the Middle Ages the city was a destination for pilgrims traveling to view relics housed within the basilica. On our walk back to the hotel, the walk will conclude with a stroll along the wide walls that surround the city. From the time Lucca was a Roman colony, a protective wall fortified the city within from invaders. With urban expansion the original walls were extended in the 17th century. Today, the 4 kilometers of the wall that encircle Lucca have been turned into a wide tree lined path—the favorite promenade of local residents of all ages.

Lunch: Lunch on your own to explore the local cuisine of Lucca. The group leader will be happy to give recommendations for local eateries.

Afternoon: In the hotel meeting room, learn about the region of Tuscany through a presentation given by a local expert.

Dinner: Dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Piazza dei Miracoli, Tower of Pisa, Winery, Cucina Povera
Lucca
B,L
Grand Hotel Celide

Activity note: Walking up to 4 miles total throughout the day on mostly level urban stone sidewalks and streets; small rise on a grassy knoll to reach the path on our morning walk. Train ride to Pisa is approximately 22 miles, about a ½ hour. Admission to the Leaning Tower is not included in the program cost. Coach ride to winery is about 27 miles, 45 minutes.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After walking down to the station, we’ll take a train to Pisa and, once we arrive, take a short walk to the Piazza dei Miracoli, also known as Piazza del Duomo, for an expert-led field trip through the Duomo and Baptistery. The famous Leaning Tower is also 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. We’ll then have some free time in Pisa. If you choose to climb the 300 spiraling steps of the famous Leaning Tower, you can purchase a ticket for 18 euros per person. The group leader can assist in securing a reserved entrance time a few days before the Pisa field trip. We will then board a coach to a winery right outside of Lucca for lunch and a tasting of the region's best wines.

Lunch: At the winery right outside of Lucca, we’ll have a plated and served meal to accompany the included samplings of local wines.

Afternoon: Coach back to Lucca in the late afternoon. In the hotel meeting room enjoy an illustrated presentation about rustic cooking in Tuscany given by a local expert.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At a venue in the heart of Lucca, we’ll attend a performance to hear the music of Giacomo Puccini, native son of Lucca. The details of the musical program will be given out onsite.

DAY
5
Carrara Marble, Explore Lucca
Lucca
B,L,D
Grand Hotel Celide

Activity note: Coach to Carrara is 28 miles, and takes about a ½ hour. Short walk along a dusty dirt path with a slight incline from the coach drop-off area to the observation terrace overlooking the marble quarry.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will travel by motor coach with a local expert on a field trip to the quarries above the town of Carrara where we will see the massive machinery used to extract the marble and learn how excavation has changed with mechanized equipment.

Lunch: At an wine bar and restaurant in the center of Carrara, enjoy some local Tuscan dishes and wine.

Afternoon: Coach back to Lucca in the mid-afternoon. A local expert will meet us at the hotel and lead us on a pleasant walk along a portion of the defensive walls surrounding Lucca. Along the way, we’ll learn how the walls were built 500 years ago to defend the city from invaders and how they now serve a peaceful purpose as a favorite walking path for walkers and recreational bike riders. The high walls provide a wonderful panorama of the city.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant. Water and a glass of wine or beer are included.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
6
Siena, Duomo, Duccio Masterpiece
Siena
B,L,D
NH Excelsior

Activity note: Coach to Siena is 90 miles, about 2 hours. Walking up to 2 miles in Siena; pedestrian only roads with inclines to the main square. Some steep stairs in front of the Duomo.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Check out of the hotel. Board the coach to Siena along a scenic route through olive orchards and vineyards in the Chianti hills near Siena.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Siena. Water, wine and coffee are included.

Afternoon: Check into the hotel. After settling into our rooms, set out on foot for an expert-led city orientation walk. We’ll meet a local expert who will lead us on a walking field trip to Siena's elaborately decorated cathedral (il Duomo) where the floors are paved with inlaid marble depicting figures in religious and allegorical scenes. The field trip will continue to the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo to admire Duccio di Buoninsegna's Maesta'.

Dinner: At a restaurant in the Piazza del Campo, enjoy some traditional Tuscan dishes with a spectacular view. Water and wine included.

Evening: With our Group Leader we’ll walk back to the hotel along the pedestrian only streets of Siena.

DAY
7
Life in Italy Today, Piazza del Campo, Palazzo Pubblico
Siena
B,D
NH Excelsior

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles on hilly terrain over stone paved streets of Siena; 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: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers choices including an egg dish, sliced cold cuts, an assortment of cheeses, cereals, muesli, yogurt, fresh fruit, breads and pastries, jams, honey, butter, and a selection of hot and cold beverages including juice and water.

Morning: In a classroom session led by our Group Leader at the hotel, we will explore the regional aspects of Italian society and the national institutions that shape the lives of residents today. After a short break, set out on foot for 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. After, we will continue to the Palazzo Pubblico, still serving today as the town hall. One of the rooms contain an important fresco cycle depicting an allegory of Good and Bad Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti and a fresco of Guidoriccio da Fogliano on horseback. Scholars have long attributed the work to the 1300s Sienese painter Simone Martini and our local expert will explain the controversy that has arisen about re-attributing the fresco to a much later artist.

Lunch: Lunch on your own. The group leader and local guide will have suggestions.

Afternoon: Our expert-led field trip will continue to part of the collection in the museum complex of Santa Maria della Scala. Originally a hospital offering shelter and support to people in need, it was eventually converted into a museum complex containing some of the most iconic work in Siena.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel restaurant. Water, wine and coffee are included.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
The Palio as Metaphor for Life, San Gimignano, Organic Farm
Siena
B,D
NH Excelsior

Activity note: The drive from Siena to San Gimignano is 27 miles, and takes about 1 hour. Walking up to 1.5 miles in the small town; not strenuous but the town roads are inclined.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Set out on foot to get an intimate look at the pride and sense of community during an exclusive visit to a contrada meeting hall, chapel and small museum. 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.

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 farm 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 the hotel.

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

Activity note: Drive to Pienza is 35 miles, and takes about 1 hour. Walking up to 1.5 miles in Pienza, a very small hill town.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll begin our day with a field trip via motor coach to the town of Pienza. Pope Pius II Piccolomini (1458-1464), a humanist scholar and poet, was born nearby and, once he became pope, he began a project to transform Pienza into an idealized Renaissance city, built his palace near the main piazza, and renamed the town after himself. The Group Leader will offer directions for independent exploration of the main street, village square of Pienza, and a panoramic road with spectacular views of the rolling Tuscan hills. While in Pienza, we’ll have some free time to explore the cheese shops, wine bars, and small elegant church or just relax on a bench along a scenic path in the heart of the town.

Lunch: On your own to explore the local fare. In the small town of Pienza there are many wine bars, cafes 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, we will have some free time prior to dinner.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel restaurant. Water, wine and coffee are included.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

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

Activity note: Drive to Florence is 42 miles, and takes about 1.5 hours. Walking up to 1.5 miles. The sculpture gallery is on the ground level at the Accademia; the picture gallery on the upper level; there is a small elevator for those who require it.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll begin our transfer to Florence but stop en route in Poggio a Caiano for an expert-led field trip to 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 as well as a glamorous outdoor entrance flanked by grand staircases leading to the main entryway. The main halls are decorated with frescoes by Pontormo and Andrea del Sarto. Afterwards, we’ll continue our transfer to Florence and check into the hotel.

Lunch: At a pizzeria near the hotel in Florence choose from a limited pizza and salad menu. Water and a soft drink are included.

Afternoon: From the hotel, we will set out on foot for the Accademia delle Belle Arti to marvel at Michelangelo's David. A local expert will lead the field trip through 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 traditional Tuscan cuisine. Water and a glass of wine are included.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Renaissance Art, Uffizi Gallery
Florence
B,L
Hotel Berchielli

Activity note: The walk from the restaurant to the Uffizi Gallery is about 400 yards (3 minutes).

Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers choices including an egg dish, sliced cold cuts, an assortment of cheeses, cereals, muesli, yogurt, fresh fruit, breads and pastries, jams, honey, butter, and a selection of hot and cold beverages including juice and water.

Morning: In the meeting room of the hotel, an art historian will join us and give an overview of Renaissance Art and, with an illustrated presentation, describe highlighted works of art in the collection of the Uffizi Gallery. Some free time follows to explore Florence at your own pace. Perhaps visit the area of Brunelleschi's church of San Lorenzo. The Central Market was built in the late 1800's and, even today, vendors still set up their carts along the streets with leather goods, pottery, scarves, souvenirs, etc. Stalls also 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. This gives you an idea of how some Florentines eat when they do not have time to go home.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Piazza della Signoria.

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: On your own.

Evening: At leisure.

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

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles. The Bargello has a flight of stone stairs to reach the upper floor; a small elevator is in service for those who require it.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Meet the local expert for a Walk of Discovery to learn about Renaissance Florence before commencing our expert-led visit of the Bargello National Museum of Sculpture. 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. In addition to sculpture, there are also rooms with fine examples of decorated pottery and armaments including swords, lances, early pistols, and suits of armor. There is also a fresco by Giotto and his school in the Chapel—on the right side one can see what is considered to be an early portrait of Dante.

Lunch: On your own.

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

Dinner: At a local restaurant, recap your adventures and share your favorite memories with your fellow participants over our plated and served farewell dinner. Enjoy a select menu with wine included to toast new friendships.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
13
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check out by 11:00 a.m. Assistance is offered loading and unloading bags from the van or coach. Wheel your own bag luggage to the check in counter. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers. If you are an independent traveler (POP status), see “Ground Transportation from Last Location.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet; for those with early departures, the hotel will prepare a bagged breakfast with a fruit, a roll or pastry, and fruit juice to take with you.

Morning: Transfer to 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!