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Italian Riviera and Tuscany

2-Centre Holiday (Italy)
There are many reasons why the Italian Riviera and Tuscany are two of Italy’s most popular regions to visit. 
We begin this leisurely tour in Milan, where we will see both the modern and historic sites. From Milan we travel to the Riviera di Levante (known as “The Italian Riviera”) - a rugged coastline with many small bays and inlets. This area is incredibly picturesque, with hills sloping dramatically down to the sea. We will stay 4 nights in this region touring the major highlights. Nearby are the Cinque Terre villages that date from the 12th century - each village is different and all have dramatic coastal scenery. 

The Tuscany region is home to some of the world’s most famous Renaissance art and architecture, breathtaking scenery of medieval hilltop villages, olive groves, hillside vineyards and dramatic mountain ranges. We will stay 8 nights in Montecatini, located in the heart of Tuscany. This elegant and historic spa town is set amid green Tuscan hills and olive groves. It features "Liberty" style buildings (an Italian equivalent to Art Deco), welcoming parks and beautiful gardens. Its many spas provide a range of treatments that take advantage of the healing properties of the therapeutic mineral waters, while the town offers many shops, restaurants and a weekly market to enjoy at your leisure. Local trains and buses operate a regular service to the surrounding towns and villages. Sightseeing in this region will include Florence, the famous Tuscan hilltop towns, elegant villas, farms and medieval towns like Lucca. 

* Those joining any of our tours to Europe must be able to walk fairly long distances and climb stairs easily.

Itinerary / Excursions

We depart for Milan, via Paris.
We arrive in Milan and transfer to our hotel. The balance of the day is at leisure until our Welcome Dinner tonight.
On our morning tour of Milan we see the Cathedral, Duomo, the castle, the Galleria and the famous opera house La Scala. After our tour we depart for the Ligurian coast.
We take a boat ride along one of Italy’s most beautiful coasts, stopping in Portofino - a stunning port town that has long been a favourite destination for the rich and famous. We then continue to the picturesque fishing village of Camogli, known as the “City of the Thousand White Sailing Ships” for its maritime tradition.
We board the local train to Cinque Terre. This UNESCO World Heritage Site consists of 5 picturesque villages clinging dramatically to the cliffs along the rocky coastline of the Italian Riviera. Upon arrival at the village of Monterosso we will have time to explore before taking a scenic boat trip to Vernazza - one of the most beautiful villages. We continue by train to Manarola and after some free time there return again by train to Liguria.
A day at leisure to explore the Italian Riviera, popular for its beautiful beaches, cliffside views and charming towns
We depart for the village of Portovenere, situated on a rocky coastline. The village was dear to Lord Byron for its tranquility. The 12th century village centre still preserves the original coloured houses overlooking the harbour and the Tinetto Islands. We will see 13th century St. Peter's Church built on rocks before we continue to Montecatini.
This morning we enjoy a tour of Siena. Distinguished by its medieval brick buildings, the fan-shaped Piazza del Campo is dominated by the Palazzo Pubblico (where the famous annual horse race is held) and the Gothic town hall. We will also visit a castle in the Chianti District followed by a wine tasting. This evening there will be a talk on the history, art, local traditions and present-day rivalries in Tuscany.
The morning is at leisure to explore this charming spa town with its many shops and cafes. This afternoon we visit a local farm to learn of the agricultural products Tuscany is well known for. The visit will be followed by dinner with a selection of local wine and produce.
After a free morning, we enjoy the lovely Tuscan scenery as we travel to medieval Lucca to visit the 17th century Villa Bernardini - an elegant villa with magnificent gardens surrounded by olive groves and vineyards. The villa has its original furnishings and still houses a green theatre in the garden that seats 400. We then have some time to discover the historic centre of Lucca, followed by dinner at a local restaurant, before we return to Montecatini.
A full day touring in Florence - the "Cradle of the Renaissance". We visit the Academia Gallery to see the magnificent statue of David by Michelangelo. We then have a walking tour and see the multi-coloured marble cathedral, Signoria Square, the Baptistery and Piazzale Michelangelo from where we have the best view over the city.
At leisure to explore the town and stroll the lovely promenade.
A full day to explore the unique hilltop towns set among the Tuscan vineyards and cypress trees. These small towns, with their medieval buildings and monuments, have existed since 1155.
At leisure. You may like to take the cog train up the hill to the ancient upper town.
This evening’s Farewell Dinner at a local farm will feature some specially prepared regional dishes
We fly home via Paris.
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