You will arrive independently in the renowned cultural city of Florence, and check into your hotel. In the afternoon, you will receive a welcome briefing from your tour guide and then have a small guided tour of the city centre to orientate yourself.
On your first full day in Florence you can spend the morning exploring independently, and we recommended a visit to the markets of San Lorenzo as produce is arriving fresh from the Tuscan countryside. Specialities include local cheese and bread as well as fresh fruit and veg, and the market is an excellent place to purchase your lunch.
Your private tour guide will meet you in the afternoon for a more in-depth exploration of Florence, learning about the Renaissance history of the city. Artists, architects and writers were attracted to the area by Lorenzo de Medic; the 15th-century ruler of the Florentine empire and a huge patron of Renaissance culture.
It’s thanks to Lorenzo de Medic that famous artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Botticelli were commissioned to create artworks and architecture in the city, which will be highlighted during your tour. Your guide will take you to the Accademia museum, where you will get the chance to see Michelangelo’s most influential piece of sculpture; the statue of David.
You will also visit famous sightseeing spots on the tour such as the Duomo and its iconic bell tower, the Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza Della Signoria, and the iconic Ponte Vecchio bridge. In the evening, continue to explore the city under your own steam or choose somewhere to enjoy dinner before returning to your hotel.
The third day of your tour of Tuscany is brimming with beauty, as you visit two of the region’s most scenic towns. After breakfast in Florence, you will travel to Siena through the stunning Chianti hills, which are famous for their wine.
Siena was once considered to be as powerful and influential as Florence, and remains an outstanding and beautiful city. On arrival, your guide will lead you on a walking tour that begins with visiting the Piazza del Campo, home of the Palio horse race where seventeen different districts of the city compete against each other. You will then visit San Gimignano; a historic walled town within Siena that is known for its tall medieval towers, and was said to have been founded in 63 BC by two patrician brothers who fled Rome and made their home there.
You will be given some free time to have lunch and spend the afternoon in San Gimignano, and then meet back up with your small tour group to enjoy a traditional Tuscan evening meal in the cellar of a Chianti countryside villa. This dinner will also include a wine tasting experience, with each wine chosen to compliment the course of your meal.
On your return to Florence, you will get the chance to go to the Piazzale Michelangelo as the stars come out, and admire an incredible sweeping view of the city in the dark before going back to your hotel.
Today’s itinerary comes from the word ‘villeggiatura’, which was invented by the noble Medici family in the Middle Ages. Villeggiatura means to step back from the busy life of the city and enjoy the quiet Tuscan countryside, which is what inspired merchants and aristocrats to build villas and farmhouses in the Tuscan countryside where they could seek this simple way of life.
Today, this tradition will see you spending your afternoon on a farm in the Tuscan hills, learning the secrets of Italian cooking from a trained chef. After visiting Florence’s Farmers Market in the morning, you will take your local ingredients to the countryside and prepare a delicious lunch under the guidance of a true Italian food expert.
The afternoon’s experience also includes another wine tasting session, along with a visit to a boutique Chianti winery. You will return to Florence feeling refreshed and relaxed, and full of new knowledge about Italian food.
After breakfast at your hotel, you will be met by a driver to depart Florence to travel to Montepulciano. On your journey, you will stop off in Pienza for independent exploration of the village.
Known by many as the “ideal city of the Renaissance” Pienza was created by the famous humanist Enea Silvio Piccolomini, who later became a Pope. Piccolomini transformed his childhood village into what he considered a city ought to be, capturing the philosophy of the 15th century and values of the Renaissance in its architecture and culture.
You will then travel to the town of Montepulciano, which is a classic medieval Tuscan settlement close by to Pienza. With castle walls, ancient architecture, elegant surrounding countryside and famous vineyards, it’s a gorgeous place to visit and spend a few days.
The town itself is full of beautiful Renaissance architecture, including palaces, churches and squares. There are panoramic views all over the city that look out across nearby valleys, enhanced by Montepulciano’s hilltop position.
You will be served lunch at a local Trattoria in Montepulciano, featuring many fine local ingredients such as pork, lentils and pici pasta. This special lunch also includes a wine tasting session with the products of the surrounding vineyards, and you will get the chance to learn more about Tuscany’s wine and the history of its wineries as you drink and dine.
After lunch, you will travel to a hotel in the Val d’Orcia region of Tuscany, and stay overnight.
After the busy pace of your previous days of touring, your final day in Tuscany is spent on a countryside estate in the hills, where you can choose how to spend your time. This is a free day, but the estate features a beautiful garden, horse riding experience for guests. You could also travel to the nearby town of Cortona, which is steeped in Etruscan history.
Tuscany’s cuisine is exceptional, known for its simplicity and refined flavours, and your final meal in Italy will emphasise all of these redeeming qualities. Enjoy a multi-course meal as the sun sets over the Tuscan hills, with a different variety of wine paired to each course as a final luxurious experience in the area.
A transfer from Montepulciano to Rome or Florence is included in this tour, and after breakfast on the estate you will be picked up and taken to one of the cities to either travel home or continue your Italian holiday.