Day 1 – Florence: Arrival
Upon arrival at Florence Airport, you will be greeted by your private English-speaking driver for a transfer to your hotel: Hotel Laurus Al Duomo 4****. We will book 1 Double Classic Room. Check in and rest of the day at leisure. Hotel Laurus al Duomo is located on the historic Via de’ Cerretani, just 70 meters from the Duomo and 150 meters from the Santa Maria Novella Central Station, within walking distance from the main Museums in Florence and the elegant streets of the historic city center. With a stunning rooftop terrace on the 6th floor, our guests can enjoy a private view of the Duomo of Florence from breakfast in the morning to sunset with cocktails and dinner. A rich menu of typical Tuscan products, along with a full wine list, and more, is available to our guests so that they may enjoy the city in all its splendor.
Day 2 – Florence: Free Day
Breakfast at your hotel and free day at your leisure.
Day 3 – Florence: Walking Tour with Food tour & Accademia Gallery
Breakfast at your hotel and meet your private English speaking guide in the hotel lobby for a walking tour of Florence. You will have the opportunity to observe from close up the priceless Duomo with the dome built by Brunelleschi, the largest brick dome in the world, stretching protectively over the Florentine Cathedral. You will also see its splendid bell tower: the famous Campanile of Giotto 700 years old. Next stop will be the political center of the city that will open its doors to us, offering you the chance to visit the Palazzo della Signoria, seat of the secularists' power and home to the Medici ruling family, later known as the Palazzo Vecchio, today seat of the municipality, as well as the oldest "piazza" (square) in Florence, Piazza della Repubblica, built on top of the Ancient Roman Forum, today surrounded by historic cultural cafès, where young intellectual Florentines like to gather. Your walking will bring you to the nearby San Lorenzo Market, where you will have a taste of Tuscany’s “green gold”, its renowned olive oil, as well as a variety of cheeses, salami and prosciutto, truffle sauces and balsamic vinegar. You will also have a wine tasting where you will enjoy some of the region’s finest wines. Still not full yet? Next stop will be at a local “fiaschetteria” where you will have a tasting of some of the city’s traditional recipes. The tour will end in grand style with one of the finest gelato parlors of the city where you can pick your favorite flavor made with genuine and fresh products. After this culinary experience, you will discover the Accademia Gallery Museum where the most symbolic work of Michelangelo is housed: Il David, an expression of beauty and physical perfection. It also has other sculptures by Michelangelo and a unique collection of Renaissance paintings. Admire the “Il Ratto delle Sabine” by Giambologna (The Rape of the Sabine Women), and discover why all artists made a plaster cast before carving the marble, except for Michelangelo. Wallow in the beauty of “La Madonna ed il Bambino” (Madonna and Child) and “la Madonna del Mare” (Madonna of the Sea) by Botticelli. End of the tour and free afternoon at leisure.
Day 4 – Florence: Uffizi Gallery Tour
After breakfast at your hotel, you will meet your private English speaking guide and make your way to the Uffizi Gallery. The Gallery houses a superb collection of priceless art, originating in great part from the Medici family’s private collection, enriched over the centuries by endowments, exchanges and donations, amongst which an important group of religious works stands out, resulting from the suppression of the monasteries and convents between the XVIII and XIX centuries. Here, you will find the richest collection in the world of works by the Tuscan school, Florentine in particular, among which: Cimabue, Michelangelo, Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci and Raffaello. Without parallel is the incredible collection of works by Sandro Botticelli. At the end of the tour, you will have the rest of the day at leisure.
Day 5 – Florence to Cortona
After breakfast and check out, you will meet your private English speaking driver for a direct transfer you to your hotel in Cortona: Cortona Resort & Spa 4****. We will book 1 Double Comfort Room. Check in and rest of the day at leisure. The Cortona Resort and Spa is a village of unique charm, elegant venues dominated by an eighteenth-century villa which together with features Tuscan-style buildings are part of a secular park of over 30,000 square meters with formal gardens that weave tracks, evocative spaces and an ancient redwood overlooking the swimming pool and the solarium. The resort, with its elegantly furnished rooms, enjoys the best location being just over a mile from the center of the beautiful Etruscan town.
Day 6 – Tuscany: Cheese Experience in Pienza & PM Wine Tasting in Montalcino
After breakfast at your hotel, you will meet your private English speaking driver, be ready to enjoy a unique day! First of all, you will visit the charming village of Pienza, a small town in the center of Tuscany. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site for its artistic beauty and historical importance. This town is completely Renaissance style, because has been built by order of the Pope Pio II – Enea Silvio Piccolomini 1458-1464– who decided to transform his small home town into a beautiful place for him and his court to be protected and relaxed near the water risings of Valdorcia. Pienza is also the capital city of the “Pecorino” – sheep cheese, and organizes every year, on the second Sunday of September, the “Fiera del Cacio” or the Festival of the local sheep cheese. The milk is particularly aromatic because of the configuration of the clayey land scattered with aromatic herbs where the sheep all graze freely, producing a perfumed milk and cheese. Pienza Pecorino cheese has the D.O.P. European label (which means a Protected Origin Denomination). Here, you will have a private visit with lunch and be able to taste its Aged Pecorino cheese. After lunch, you will meet up again with your private driver and he will accompany you to Montalcino, where you will enjoy a private visit at a very unique winery: it is the first winery in Italy with an onlyl female staff, that produces one of the best Brunello di Montalcino wines in the area. Enjoy a visit of the winery, which we are sure will leave you with lasting memories of this day and the flavors that have tantalized your palate, after your tasting of their marvelous wines, including the renowned Brunello Riserva. After the visit, you will meet up again with your private English speaking driver and transfer back to your hotel.
Day 7 – Cortona: Free Day
Breakfast at your hotel and a full free day at leisure.
Day 8 – Cortona: Siena & San Gimignano with lunch
After breakfast at your hotel, meet your private English speaking driver and discover the Tuscan towns of Siena and San Gimignano. Upon arrival in Siena, you will meet your private English speaking guide who will accompany you for a pleasant walking tour of the city. You will discover the Magnificent Piazza del Campo where twice a year (2 July and 16 August) an incredible historical event takes place, that every citizen of Siena looks forward to: the Palio di Siena. You will learn about the history of the 17 Contrade (ancient Sienese name for neighborhoods) and visit the famous Cathedral of Siena, that houses some of the most important monuments of the European artistic panorama. During your tour, you will discover also the “gastronomic” Siena with a tasting of the locally produced “Panforte of Siena” and of “Ricciarelli biscuits” which date back to Medieval times. At the end of the tour, you will reach your restaurant in Siena, where you will sample a menu carefully selected by the chef made up of several courses made with the freshest traditional ingredients. After lunch, you will meet up again with your private English speaking driver and together you will reach San Gimignano, the Medieval village that has been declared a World Heritage Site. Even with its 19th and 20th century renovations, the 13th and 14th century appearance has remained virtually intact and is one of the finest examples of Medieval town organization in the whole of Europe. The main attraction of San Gimignano are the 14 Medieval Towers that still stand today. The oldest is the Torre Rognosa, 51 meters tall, while the tallest is the Torre del Podestà, also known as the Torre Grossa (Big Tower), standing at 54 meters. In AD 1255 a law was passed that prohibited the building of any tower taller than the Torre Rognosa (the tallest at that time), so the two most important families – Ardinghelli and Salvucci - in order to show their power, had two towers built just 50 cm under the 54 meter limit! Together with your private English speaking guide, you will walk around the city and discover all the unknown corners. At the end of the tour, your driver will accompany you back to your hotel in Florence. Rest of the day at leisure.
Day 9 – Cortona: Departure
After breakfast and check out from your hotel, you will meet your private English speaking driver for your direct transfer to Florence Airport and your flight back home.