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Mediterranean Magic

France & Italy
France’s Cote D’Azur, The Italian Riviera and Tuscany
It is with good reason that the French Riviera, Italian Riviera and Tuscany are so popular: mild weather; historic sites and romantic scenic beauty. Attractions include villages made from ancient golden stone, grand castles, chateaux and hillside vineyards and farms. The aroma of citrus trees and lavender fill the air. The museums, galleries, cobble-stone streets and colourful local markets add their appeal. 

The French Riviera - Beautiful sunsets, sidewalk cafes, flower markets and vineyards. Our 6-night stay in Nice (on a dreamy stretch of the French Riviera known as the Cote d’Azur) is at the boutique styled Best Western Plus Brice Garden - located within a five-minute walk of the beach, old town and flower market. Highlights of our visit here include:

   • Nice - seaside old-world opulence and vibrant street life 
   • St. Tropez - sizzling jet-set favourite
   • Port Grimaud - little Venice of Provence
   • Grasse - perfumery of Provence
   • Tourrettes-sur Loup - medieval city of artists
   • Saint-Paul - favourite haunt of Picasso and Roger Moore
   • Eze - a jewel in the Riviera's crown
   • Monaco / Monte Carlo - playground of the rich & famous

The Italian Riviera is known for its many picturesque and historic towns and villages, dramatic scenery of spectacular cliffs, rugged coastline and small bays. We stay 2 nights in the Grand Hotel Villa Balbi (or similar) in Sestri Levante - a quaint seaside village. We will visit:
   • Portofino - beautiful coastal village on its own peninsula
   • Santa Margherita - picture-perfect seaside promenade
   • Cinque Terre - 5 villages with dramatic coastal scenery 

Tuscany - Picture-postcard hills covered by vineyards, olive groves and stone farmhouses, and the great renaissance cities of Florence and Pisa. We stay in the resort town of Viareggio graced with a lovely coastline of sandy beaches and parks. The Hotel President is located right on the seafront esplanade across from the beach. We will visit:
   • Siena - medieval home to the famous Palio horse race  
   • Chianti - vineyards, olive groves, stone farmhouses  
   • Florence – Cradle of the Renaissance
   • Pisa – world famous leaning tower 

* 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 Nice via Paris.
Upon arrival we transfer to our hotel. This evening is our Welcome Dinner.
Our guided tour of Nice includes the Promenade des Anglais, the Port, and a walking tour in Nice's old town with its flower market and lively pedestrian streets lined with shops and cafes.
 We travel to St. Tropez to explore the village’s narrow streets, Provencal squares and charming old port, and also to taste the local wine. We continue with a boat ride in Port Grimaud, known as “Venice Provencal”, followed by a drive along the coast on “la Corniche d’Or” cut into the red rocks of the Esterel Mountains. The rocky inlets form a beautiful rugged landscape.
Today’s excursion begins in Grasse, France’s perfume capital, where we will visit a perfumery museum and factory. Then we continue to the medieval village of Tourrettes-sur-Loup, which offers splendid vistas over the hills and sea. We travel through the Gorges of the Loup River for more spectacular views en route to Saint-Paul, a quaint 13th century fortified village full of galleries, boutiques and sidewalk cafes. Our walking tour through the winding streets will show us carved fountains, statues and architectural treasures.
Our tour begins in the medieval town of Eze, which offers a beautiful panorama of the French Rivera. Then we travel along the Mediterranean coast to Cap Ferrat, with its luxurious estates and pine groves. Here we visit the sumptuous Ephrussi-de-Rothschild Villa and Gardens. We finish the day in the lovely resort town of Ville Franche-sur-mer.
At leisure to explore. Your Tour Manager will offer suggestions.
We travel to Monaco for a guided tour of the city and the beautiful harbour of Monte Carlo. Then we enter Italy and proceed to the delightful little seaside town of Sestri Levante for a 2-night stay. The town is stunningly situated on a narrow peninsula flanked by beaches. One of the bays - Baia delle Favole - is named in honour of Hans Christian Andersen, who visited in the mid-1800s (favole means “fairy tale”) .
We board the local train for a half day tour to Portofino – a small but perfectly coiffured coastal village adorned with pastel-coloured houses, high-end boutiques and seafood restaurants that fringe its Piazzetta (the small cobbled square overlooking the harbour, lined with super-yachts). A path leads from the Piazzetta to Castello Brown - a 16th-century fortress and museum with art exhibitions and panoramic views of the town and the Ligurian Sea. This afternoon we enjoy a boat ride to Santa Margherita, known for its breezy beach promenade adorned with old aristocratic architecture.
We travel by coach and train to Cinque Terre - five villages that cling dramatically to the cliffs along the rocky coastline. We first stop in Monterosso - one of the most impressive of the villages. Then we take a short cruise to Vernazza - the truest "fishing village" on the Italian Riviera. After some free time we head for Manarola - a charming and romantic village built on a high rock 70 metres above sea level. Later we continue to the beautiful seaside Tuscan town of Viareggio for our final 4 nights.
We take the local train to Florence for a full day in the "Cradle of the Renaissance". Our first stop will be the Piazzale Michelangelo for the best view over the city. We will continue with a half day guided walking tour of the historic centre to see the multi-coloured marble Cathedral, Signoria Square, the Baptistery and a visit to the Basilica of Santa Croce. Enjoy some free time for lunch and time to explore before returning to Viareggio.
A full day tour to the wine country. The medieval city of Siena is famous for its annual Palio horse race but it also happens to be a beautiful city brimming with history. We will visit the Cathedral and see the Piazza del Camp, considered one of the most beautiful squares in the world. After a morning of history it’s time to unwind, so we proceed to Chianti for a tasting of the well-known wines of this region.
This morning we visit Pisa by train, and yes, the tower is still leaning. The beauty of the Campo Di Miracoli will amaze you. It includes the Leaning Tower, the Duomo and the Baptistry. After some free time we return to Viareggio for a free afternoon. This evening is our festive Farewell Dinner with entertainment.
We fly home via Paris.
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