LUCCA: A walking tour of the high-lights of this enchanting medieval city enclosed by an imposing well-preserved 16th century wall and renowned for its anfiteatro, an arena shaped piazza, and the church of San Michele in Foro with its rich Pisan Romanesque facade standing on the site of the original Roman forum. It was in this church that Giacomo Puccini began his musical career as a choirboy.
PISA: The 11th century powerful maritime Republic has at its heart one of the most important monuments in Italy; the Piazza dei Miracoli with cathedral, baptistry and Leaning Tower, all impressive examples of religious architecture. It was only in 1998 that the original harbour of Pisa was discovered only 500metres from the Leaning Tower.
FLORENCE: A trip to Tuscany is not complete without a visit to the great Renaissance city of Florence, the cultural heart of Tuscany. Florence’s museums, palaces and churches contain more good art than perhaps any other city in Europe and the following are just the main highlights – the Duomo and Baptistry, the paintings in the Uffizi, the sculptures in the Bargello and Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia, Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens with splendid view across Florence, the Medici Chapel, Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria and Santa Croce.
SIENA: Siena, the one-time capital of Tuscany, is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and has remained intact through the centuries. Scarcely any street is level as the city is built on 7 hills giving the winding narrow streets a charm all of their own. Of particular note is the gothic black and white marbled Duomo with its stunning marble in-laid floor. Stroll down the various winding streets to the grand Piazza del Campo where the famous Palio horse race is held each July and August. We have several balcony positions that we are able to reserve for the Palio but bookings do need to be made many months in advance.
SAN GIMIGNANO: Known as the “Manhattan of the Middle Ages” due to the many high towers built as a display of the wealth and power of this prosperous city (of the original 76, just 14 have survived). This ancient town has been declared by UNESCO to be part of the World’s Architectural Heritage.
VOLTERRA: This fascinating tour will show you a city that bears evidences of Roman and Etruscans settlements and which better represents the entire Etruscan legacy. Today it is still an important centre for the production of alabaster.
CARRARA AND ITS MARBLE QUARRIES: The quarries of Carrara are an immense cultural and historical patrimony. They were first exploited by Julius Caesar and have supplied artists from Michelangelo to Henry Moore. You can experience how the marble is sculpted and how famous artists spend months there in order to give form to their creations.
FIESOLE: Standing at the foot hills of the Mugello region, Fiesole has substantial Roman and Etruscan remains. The amazing Roman theatre, still used for the annual Estate Fiesolana Festival, the temple and the baths are simply irresistible! As is lunch taken on the loggia of Villa San Michele (once a monastry with its facade designed by Michelangelo).
BARGA: An attractive walled town of the Garfagnana area with a hill-top cathedral overlooking the Apennines and the Apuan Alpes. Its 16th century Palazzi are still clear signs of a glorious past when Barga was under the domain of Cosimo I de Medici who made it a small renaissance court! Nearby visit the Chestnut museum at Colognora, the Teatrino di Vetriano (the smallest theatre in the world) and the magical underground world of the caves of the Grotta del Vento.
CINQUE TERRE, LERICI AND PORTOVENERE: A stretch of protected rocky coastline with five dramatically situated villages, now a world heritage site. One of the best ways to explore the Cinque Terre is by taking the ferry that leaves from Lerici every hour and stops off at Portovenere and each of the villages of the Cinque Terre. There is also a train journey from La Spezia followed by the single gauge train to Monterosso – from here you can walk along the cliffs to the other four villages of Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Whether you decide to reach the villages by land or by boat, our guide will show you the main attractions of these extraordinary fishing villages. Private boat tours, either on a “leudo” a typical Cinque Terre fisherman’s sailing boat or a luxury motor yacht can be arranged on request.