ARRIVAL TO ROME
Arrival into Rome at your own time. Your Hotel will be available for check-in from 2pm this afternoon, if you are arriving earlier you can leave your luggage at the hotel while you take in some of the sights of the city. The accommodation is centrally located and easy to get to by public transport or we can arrange an airport pick-up for you. If you are planning to arrive into Rome a day or 2 earlier let us know so we can arrange additional accommodation for you at the arrival hotel.
Accommodation: Hotel Villafranca, a 4 star city hotel
ROME TO PITIGLIANO
This morning at 10.00am a private minibus with our own drivers (Carlo or Marco) will meet you at your accommodation in Rome. A journey of around 2.5 hours will have you arrive in the beautiful Etruscan village of Pitigliano. Along the way the group will stop at Bolsena Lake where you will have time for lunch (not included) and enjoy a walk along the beautiful foreshore. Upon arrival at your hotel in Pitigliano you will be met by our guide (Christine).
Snacks and an aperitif will be served. This afternoon you will be taken on a city walking tour of Pitigliano, including the Palazzo Orsini Museum.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner (traditional local Restaurant)
Accommodation: Hotel in the old town centre
- About Pitigliano
The Etruscan area:
Pitigliano, Sovana and Sorano are enchanting villages that date back to the Etruscan period and lie in the southern part of Tuscany, between the regions of Lazio and Maremma. These villages are called “Città del Tufo” (Tuff cities). Travelling through the Maremma is like going back in time and plunging into remote eras when ancient peoples decided to settle here. Much of the areas original charm has remained intact.
The earliest archaeological finds in the Pitigliano district show that the area was already inhabited in prehistoric times. These first settlements were created by warring groups who raised animals and farmed. There are also many finds from the Bronze Age. During the Etruscan period there was a major population boom. Sovana soon became a prosperous and important town during the Etruscan civilisation’s peak of splendour. From the III to II century B.C. Sovana truly flourished as we can see from the monumental rock-carved tombs that grace its necropolis. The presence of the Roman settlers is evident in the areas of Sorano and Pitigliano. In the middle age the area fell under control of the Aldobrandeschi family and then the family Orsini. In 1608 the area was annexed to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
The Village of Pitigliano
The historic centre of Pitigliano is situated at the top of a cliff that overhangs the three rivers which flow below. The town arrangement is typically Medieval, with the tuff houses perched one on top of the other: part are built over the tuff rock and part are dug into it. In the village we can recognise the various phases and eras of construction: the most irregular and oldest parts, the southern portion (Ghetto) and the end of the town at Capisotto are countered by the broader and more even structure of the recent portions. You can enter the hamlet via Piazza Petruccioli and the two old gates: Porta Capisotto and Porta Becherini.
Sightseeing in Pitigliano:
Orsini Palace, Museum Duomo (Cathedral0, Etruscan Museum, Synagogue & Jewish Museum
The Orsini Palace is the home of the Diocesan Museum of Pitigliano. This imposing edifice dates back to the 13th century; the Orsini family had it restructured between the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries, at which time the architect Antonio da Sangallo the Younger gave it the aspects of a fortress. In the late 18th century, the palace became the Bishop’s seat; most of it now belongs to the Curia and is the seat of the Diocese of Pitiglia- no, Sovana and Orbetello.
Following major restorations carried out during the 1980s, the Diocesan Museum was inaugurated in 1999. The importance of the works on display and the location of the building, with its inviting views of the surrounding valleys and the town, lend a distinctive fascination to this museum. Access is through a sculpted travertine portal from the inner quadrangle of the fortress, typified by an elegant portico and hexagonal well.
The many, tastefully decorated and frescoed inner halls contain the most important works of the Diocese as well as documents and a valuable collection of vestments.
There are a lovely 15th-century painting by Guidoccio Cozzarelli, portraying the Madonna in trono col Bambino tra i santi Pietro e Francesco (Madonna and Child seated on the throne between Saints Peter and Francis) from the Cathedral of Sovana, as well as paintings by Pietro Aldi, Paride Pascucci, Francesco Zuccarelli and many others; special attention should also be paid to both the Madonna col Bambino (Madonna and Child) by Jacopo della Quercia, the importance of which lies in its embodiment of the panorama of Italian art history, and the exquisite Stanza degli Orsini (Chamber of the Orsinis).
PITIGLIANO – VIE CAVE – SANTA FIORA
WALK – The ‘Vie Cave” and bathe in Natural Hot Springs – About 7 Km, 2 hours
Check out of your hotel and meet your guide at 9:30am (luggage transfer). From Pitigliano you will walk the old Etruscan paths “Vie Cave” reaching the village of Sovana where you will have time for lunch (not included) before a short transfer to the beautiful outdoor natural hot springs of Saturnia. Here you will enjoy a relaxing hot dip out in the open before continuing on to the village of Santa Fiora.
(The “Vie Cave” are Etruscan Pathways as rock-sculpted passages which spread out in every direction from the valley below Pitigliano. They are ancient pathways carved out of the rock and you can walk along them as the Etruscans did thousands of years ago. They are carved deep into the rock, so it is almost like being in a cave, but they are open at the top).
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodation: Wine Farm
WALK – Cultural Walking – About 4 km tour, 2 hours
Your guide will meet you in the morning. Today’s walk will start from the Villa to the village of Santa Fiora, passing the ‘water road’. You will discover the old town to be a pearl of the middle ages. New arrivals to Santa Fiora will find a spontaneous welcome from local people and the opportunity of experiencing the real village life of Tuscany. The village is set amongst rolling hills and was called the pearl of Amiata. In the middle ages it was known as the headquarter of the Aldobrandeschi counts and one of the main Tuscan Ghibelline centres.
Lunch will be enjoyed today at a local restaurant with a plate of different Tuscan specialties, followed by a walk back to the Villa.
This afternoon there will be a cooking class with Silvia. You will then enjoy your creations for dinner with wine.
Meals: Beakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Wine Farm
FAUNA AND MONTE LABBRO
WALK – About 8 km tour, time 5 hours
This morning you will meet your guide and take a short transfer to the Parco Faunistico (Wild Life Park) and Monte Labbro. Monte Labbro (1193 metres above sea level) is a limestone ridge with little forest vegetation, rising to the south-east of the Amiata region. The walk to the top is well worth the effort as you enjoy spectacular views over the valley. The area of the park covers about 200ha and spreads over the Monte Labbro slopes and is part of the natural reserve which is dedicated to protecting several animal species, like the wolf and the ungulates, which live in a protected environment. A natural path crosses the forest of Mesophile hardwood, which runs into the Onazio stream. Here you will enjoy a packed picnic lunch.
After lunch the journey continues on white roads through rolling hills past the Buddhist Temple “Merigar” which was founded in 1981 as the first centre of the Dzogchen Community in Italy. In 1990, the XIV Dalai Lama inaugurated the building of the Gompa or Temple of Great Contemplation.
Today’s tour end in the medieval village of Castel del Piano famous for the Palio horse race that takes place in September and involves all the village’s inhabitants. In Castel del Piano there is the famous Corsini bakery, with a long history of breads and sweets since 1921.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner at a local restaurant in the village
Accommodation: Family Hotel Da Venerio in the village centre
CASTEL DEL PIANO – SEGGIANO – CASTLE OF POTENTINO
WALK – About 11 km tour, 4 hours
Today’s walk will start in the village of Castel del Piano. You will walk through beautiful chestnut woods, vineyards, olive groves and other fruit trees, passing through many little medieval towns which are dotted through the hillsides. Each town has its own history and own local stories.
A packed lunch will be enjoyed on the way to the Castle of Potentino, your destination for the afternoon, where the English family Green will give a warm welcome for everybody. In the afternoon you will be taken for a fascinating visit of the castle. Guests will also visit the manor’s wine cellar and will be given information about local wine and extra virgin olive oil production.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Wine farm near Potentino
- About the Castle of Potentino
A little more about the Castle of Potentino
Charlotte and Sally Green bought Potentino Castle in 1999, at which time it almost needed a complete reconstruction. During the restoration works, the Greens gave new life to the castle while maintaining the architecture and social history. The Green family now produces Montecucco DOC Wine, Olive oil and Grappa. Their wine, Sacromonte Montecucco Doc won the awards in 2004 and 2005 as the best wine from the “Gambero Rosso”, one of the most famous Italian wine guides.
The land around Potentino is rich with minerals and limestone, the temperature is hot during the day and cool and windy at night, which permits a long and perfect process for the grapes maturation. The crushed grapes ferment in the Barriques (wooden French vats) where they remain for a maturation period of about two weeks. When the grapes skins are racked off they are left to drain naturally without being pressed in a torque and are sent full of juice to the distillery of the Maestro Gioacchino Nannoni to be transformed into grappa. The young wine ages in wooden vats until matured appropriately. After bottling it rests for several months refining in the castle cellars, before being presented to the consumer.
The olive groves consist mainly of century-old trees which belong to an indigenous variety – the “Olivastra Seggianese”. The olives are hand-picked in October to November: They are pressed immediately and the result is a really good value extra virgin olive oil.
Wine districts of Southern Tuscany
Southern Tuscany is a region of excellence in the area of food and wine. Its lands produce highly appreciated wines, such as Brunello di Montalcino DOCG and Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG that are known worldwide. The region produces many lesser-known wines such as Morellino di Scansano DOC and Rosso di Montecucco DOC.
Brunello di Montalcino is one of the very first DOCG (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin) distinctions ever awarded in Italy. Montecucco gained the
distinction of DOC (Denomination of Controlled Origin) in 1998.
WALK – About 10 km tour, 4 hours
This morning you will take a short transfer to the ancient Benedictine abbey of Sant’Antimo, a special place radiating tranquility, set in a fabulous landscape. With your guide, explore the inside of the abbey and learn about its fascinating history. If you are lucky, you may get the chance to witness the monks singing Gregorian chants as you enjoy the serene natural surroundings of rolling hills covered in olive groves and vineyards, and wild forests. Sant’Antimo is one of the finest Romanesque religious buildings in Italy. The church dates from the 12th century. From here you will depart on foot to Katia’s Brunello DOCG Wine Farm, where you will enjoy an informative tour of the cellar together with a picnic lunch and wine tasting. After lunch your walk continues onto Montalcino, reaching your accommodation.
Located within the fortified walls of Montalcino, Residenza Palazzo Saloni is an 18th-century building with views over the Brunello wine region.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner at a local restaurant in Montalcino
Accommodation: Wine Farm
- About Regional Produce
Olive Oil – Olivastra Seggianese D.O.P.
Italy, which produces nearly a third of the world’s olive oil, boasts a superior class of its extra virgin, made in all regions of the centre and south and in a few places in the north. The most flavourful and wholesome of edible oils is used raw in dressings or as a condiment for salads, vegetables, pastas, soups, seafood and meats.
The best oils show distinct character due to terrain and climate, the varieties of olives they come from and methods of harvesting. Hand picking of under-ripe olives renders oil of deep green colour, fruity aroma and full flavour (sometimes a touch piquant). Mature olives make oil of paler colour and subtler flavour.
Olio extra vergine di oliva comes from the first pressing of olives by mechanical (not chemical) means and must contain less than 1 percent of oleic acid (the key measure: the
lower the acidity the better). Olio extra vergine di oliva may have a maximum of 2 percent acidity.
In the western part of Monte Amiata (Arcidosso, Castel del Piano, Seggiano) the olive cultivation has become deeply-rooted through a multi secular process. The presence of this plant, limited by climatic and altitude factors, is due to the on site existence of a special cultivation the “Olivastra Seggianese” and of its pollinator, the “giogliaio” which is not to be found in any other Italian olive environment, a cultivation that is characterized by its considerable resistance at low temperatures. The oil obtained by the Amiata Olivastra is special for its yield and its low acidity content. “Olivastra Seggianese” has gained the distinction of DOP (Denomination of Protected Origin).
In other areas of Amiata territory other olive varieties can be found, such as: Moraiolo, Leccino and Frantoio.; these varieties are widespread throughout Tuscany.
The chestnuts from Amiata region
Favourable climatic conditions began a lively chestnut culture around Monte Amiata, until the nineteen-fifties chestnuts were an essential and sometimes sole food for the impover- ished rural population during the harsh winter months. Detailed regulations for the better exploitation and conservation of this natural wealth as well as of timber had been laid down by the late 1300’s.
On February 16th 2000, 43 members of the village of Arcidosso decided to give birth to an Association to give value to that fruit: that is called Association for the promotion of the Chestnut IGP from Amiata (Protected Geographical Indication).
The nuts are picked in autumn with great care, either manually or mechanically, allowed to ferment in water at room temperature for six to seven days, and spread out on a large paved area for swift drying-out under the sun –– in case if inclement weather they are dried in special ventilated containers. There follows selection, weighing, and packaging in small bags. Kept dry and cool, the product will keep for at least three years.
PIENZA AND THE VAL D’ORCIA (UNESCO World Heritage Area)
WALK – About 8 km tour, time 3 hours
Your guide will meet you in the morning for a transfer to the village of Pienza, from where you will walk to the village of Bagno Vignoni crossing the valley Val d’Orcia. Hiking in the unspoiled and hidden part of the Orcia Valley while crossing the new DOC Montecucco vineyards, through open fields, small wine farms, olive groves and beautiful wild flowers. You will catch sight of the beautiful Velona Castle in this Tuscan landscape of rolling hills, castles and hamlets. The walk continues up to a little village of Bagno Vignoni where a delicious light lunch will be served before transferring back to Montalcino. In the afternoon you will have time to walk around the fortress and discover the town.
Dinner will be on your own tonight (not included). Your guide will offer some suggestions.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Wine Farm
VALLEY OF THE BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO
WALK – About 14 km tour, 4 hours
Check out with your luggage and departure from Montalcino with your guide for a walking tour to the Valley of the Brunello di Montalcino. This is a really fascinating walk with breathtaking views across the valley. Along the way you will stop at “La Pieve” for a buffet lunch. The walk then continues to the Banfi Castle where there is a glass museum and wine bar. Entrance to the museum and wine tasting for you is included. Later you will be transferred to your overnight accommodation at the family run winery and farm which is situated in the heart of the Montecucco wine production are, immersed in the gentle hills surrounding the Orcia river and just a few minutes away from the Medieval Village of Montenero.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner tonight will be at the winery
Accommodation: Family run winery and farm (2 nights)
COUNTRYSIDE WALKING – MONTENERO
WALK – About 14 km tour, 4 hours
This morning you will depart the accommodation on foot, hiking through the “Giro di Montenero”, crossing the valley to the village of Montenero.
Lunch today will be served in Flavio’s slow food restaurant where the Chef will delight you with a meal produced from locally grown ingredients in the true Slow Food tradition. After lunch your walk will continue back to your accommodation
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Family run winery and farm
SIENA – FLORENCE (FIRENZE)
This morning you will depart by private minibus for Sienna with your guide. You will then have the morning free to discover more of Siena as there is so much to discover in this beautiful city. You will have time for lunch (not included), shopping and site seeing through the gorgeous cobblestone streets. Siena, with its famous square Piazza del campo is really one the most beautiful cities in Italy.
In the afternoon you will meet your guide for your onward journey to Florence, stopping at a magnificent vantage point along the way from where you can take in a view over the city of Florence with it’s decorative bridges and buildings.
(Dinner this evening is not included, but there are many restaurant choices nearby)
Acommodation: Hotel Jane in Florence
At 10am this morning, from your centrally located hotel you will meet with an authorised guide of Florence for a detailed 3 hour tour of the city. The rest of the day is free for you to discover this beautiful city on your own.
Acommodation: Hotel Jane in Florence
- About Florence
Florence is the capital city of Tuscany.
From 1865 to 1870 the city was also the capital of the Kingdom of Italy. A centre of medieval European trade and finance, the city is often considered the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and was long ruled by the Medici family. Florence is also famous for its magnificent art and architecture. It is said that, of the 1,000 most important European artists of the second millennium, 350 lived or worked in Florence. The city has also been called the Athens of the Middle Ages. The historic Centre of Florence was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1982.
The tour finishes in Florence, so you will be departing for your own destinations with memories of an unforgettable experience through the heartland of Italy. Transfer to the airport is included.
INCLUDED WITH THIS TRIP
* Meals – All food quality is carefully selected following the true local Tuscan tradition. During the stay, guests will enjoy:
Lunch and Dinner as detailed in the itinerary
Water and home wine (1/4 Lt. per person) are also included with dinner
* Guide – The group will be accompanied by a fully experienced, local bi-lingual (English speaking) guide. Our guides are highly professional, very friendly with an extensive knowledge of the area. They know every hidden corner and will give you the opportunity to experience all the unspoiled places and the real culture of Tuscany.
* Transport – A private minibus and driver will be available for the group for its everyday transfers and transportation of luggage.
* Twin share Accommodation – Hotels / Logdes / Farms (12 nights as detailed in itinerary)
* All transfers listed in the itinerary
* All paid admissions & wine tastings during the tour listed in the itinerary
* Guided walks listed in the itinerary
NOT INCLUDED WITH THIS TRIP
* International Airfare
* Visa fees – each member of the group must carry a valid passport (valid for at least 6 months beyond the duration of your trip) and have obtained the appropriate visas
* Lunches and dinners not listed on the itinerary
* Tips, personal telephone charges
* Travel Insurance (compulsory) – You will need to give the policy number prior to departure
* Items of a personal nature; postage, drinks and souvenirs
* Entrance fees during free time
* Additional optional activities
* Medical Advice – Please refer to your GP or local travel clinic for up to date travel health advice for the area(s) you are visiting.