Tuesday, August 28: SAN FRANCISCO—ROMA
Depart San Francisco to Roma, Italy. Enjoy your meals and refreshments aloft.
Wednesday, August 29: ROMA
Arrive Leonardo Da Vinci airport and transfer on your own to your hotel located five minutes from Piazza San Pietro. The group will meet in the hotel’s lobby at around 6:30 to get acquainted. Dinner this evening in a typical Roman restaurant to try some local specialties like Penne All’Arrabbiata and the wines from the surrounding hills of Rome.
Thursday, August 30: ROMA—ORVIETO
HOTEL MAITANI B.L.
Following breakfast, we will leave for Orvieto driving through the stunning Etruscan countryside. Our Umbrian adventure begins as we leave the Latium region. Orvieto is built on volcanic rock and was one of the most important cities during the Etruscan civilization.
We’ll have lunch in Orvieto at ristorante La Palomba, located in the center of town near the Duomo which was founded in 1290 and is probably one of the most beautiful cathedrals in all of Italy. The façade is a mixture of gothic and Romanesque styles. Inside there are interesting frescoes by Fra Angelico, Signorelli, Pinturicchio and Gentile da Fabriano. For lunch we will definitely try Orvieto’s excellent dry white wine and pasta with BLACK TRUFFLES, the pride of the Umbrian region.
Friday, August 31: ORVIETO—DERUTA—MONTEFALCO
VILLA PAMBUFFETTI B.D.
After breakfast, departure for Montefalco, one of the numerous Umbrian gems. This lovely village is placed on top of a 1500 foot hill, which is why it is called LA RinghIera Dell’Umbria (the balcony over Umbria).
Within the town’s 15th century walls, one can find several interesting churches and unexpected treasures by Renaissance painters such as Perugino and Gozzoli.
The view from the top is breathtaking, reaching towns like Spoleto, Foligno, Spello and Assisi.
Mid-afternoon arrival to our hotel Villa Pambuffetti, which will make you dream. It’s surrounded by a beautiful garden full of secular trees- very intimate. Its elegant fourteen rooms, furnished with old family pieces of the highest quality, will delight you, as will the gracious proprietors, Alessandra and Mauro Ritucci, dear friends of Giovanni.
On our way to Montefalco, we’ll visit a ceramic factory in Deruta, a little town world famous for great ceramic works. You’ll see true artists at work in Ubaldo Grazia’s factory, probably the best in Italy. Their decorative ceramics sell in USA at Neiman Marcus and Gump’s. You’ll be able to purchase at factory prices and they will ship to the USA.
We’ll also visit the TABARRINI WINERY a small winery making some of the best SAGRANTINO and ROSSO DI MONTEFALCO wines in the area.
Tonight we will be treated to “ A Dinner Extravaganza” at the villa. We’ll try delicious dishes made by Alessandra, who studied at the Cordon Bleu Cooking School. Great wines, personally selected by Mauro will be served. For THOSE OF YOU WHO LOVE TO COOK Alessandra will be available for COOKING LESSONS before dinner. You may learn to make some of the dishes featured on the evening’s dinner menu.
Saturday,September 1: MONTEFALCO—ASSISI—MONTEFALCO
VILLA PAMBUFFETTI B.L.
This morning we’ll visit Assisi, the city of St.Francis. In Santa Maria Degli Angeli, a town at the foot of Assisi, we’ll see the “PORZIUNCOLA”- the original church rebuilt by Francesco, the Patron Saint of Italy.
The Porziuncola is a tiny church inside another larger church. From there we’ll continue on to Assisi to visit the Basilica of St.Francesco, and see some of Giotto’s greatest frescoes.
Lovely lunch at Ristorante Siro in Torgiano, a town founded by the Etruscans, situated on a hill not far from Perugia, famous for its great wines.
We’ll taste some of the delicacies this area is known for and of course its special wines.
After lunch we’ll go to your final destination,Villa Pambuffetti, where you can relax around the pool and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure while sipping some wonderful wine from the surrounding hills.
Sunday, September 2: MONTEFALCO—CAMPELLO—PERUGIA
HOTEL ROSETTA B.L.
After breakfast we’ll depart for Perugia, the capital of the Umbrian Region, famous for its University for Foreign students and its Etruscan origins. After a lovely lunch we’ll go on a guided tour of Perugia visiting the most important monuments and seeing an Etruscan Arch dating back to the 5th century B.C.
On our way to Perugia we’ll go to Campello sul Clitumno and stop at a nearby olive oil mill (un vecchio FRANTOIO) and we will visit a friend of Giovanni’s who produces some of the best extra-virgin olive oil in Italy. We’ll have a chance to try some green olive oil on a bruschetta and some home made pecorino cheese.
Monday, September 3: PERUGIA—SAN GIMIGNANO—FIRENZE
HOTEL BERCHIELLI B.D.
After breakfast, we’ll depart for “La Bella Firenze” – The Cradle of the Renaissance. En route to Firenze, we’ll stop in lovely San Gimignano, a medieval town encircled by world famous ramparts bristling with fourteen towers. After the guided tour of this charming town, you will time for a light lunch or for some shopping in the many boutiques.
At around 2:00 PM we’ll drive to Firenze, where you may choose to visit with Giovanni a gold and leather shop. You will be able to buy the best values in town, with a special group discount, after a nice presentation.
Dinner at eight in a lovely trattoria to try some Florentine dishes such as Pappa al pomodoro and Ribollita and enjoy some good Chianti wine.
Tuesday, September 4: FIRENZE
HOTEL BERCHIELLI B.
Half-day sight seeing tour of Firenze’s most famous monuments. We’ll start the tour at the Uffizi to see, among many other masterpieces, Botticelli’s Primavera. We’ll then proceed to the Duomo, the Campanile di Giotto, the Baptistry, and end the tour in Santa Croce.
Lunch or dinner will be on your own. Ask Giovanni for recommendations for good restaurants in Firenze. The afternoon is at leisure to explore this majestic city and cultural center. Ponte Vecchio is next to the hotel Berchielli, therefore, you may want to continue your search for jewelry, gold, leather goods and clothes. We suggest you end the evening with a cup of world famous gelato at “Vivoli”, located near Santa Croce.
Wednesday, September 5: FIRENZE—LUCCA
HOTEL UNIVERSO B.L.
After breakfast we’ll leave for Lucca, a charming Tuscan city full of palaces and churches, among which the Romanesque and Gothic Cathedral is considered one of the most spectacular monuments in Tuscany. Lucca is famous throughout the world for its incredible 16th to 17th century walls and the composer Giacomo Puccini who was born within those walls where he created some of the most beautiful operas.
After lunch in a lovely trattoria to taste some Lucchese specialties and the wines from the surrounding hills, we’ll go on a guided tour of the city “of 100 churches”, as Lucca is also called, and end at the ancient Roman Amphitheater. Our hotel Universo is centrally located, right in front of the Teatro del Giglio and near the house where Giacomo Puccini was born.
Thursday, September 6: LUCCA
HOTEL UNIVERSO B.L.
This morning, our wonderful driver Emanuele will take us to Pisa to explore and walk the splendid PIAZZA DEI MIRACOLI with its famous Leaning Tower. Lunch in a charming restaurant near Lucca.
Back in Lucca in the afternoon for a lovely passeggiata in Via Fillungo, Lucca’s most important street and some shopping.
Friday, September 7: LUCCA—RAPALLO
HOTEL ASTORIA B.D.
After breakfast we’ll depart for Rapallo on the Italian Riviera. This sea-city was once one of Europe’s most fashionable resorts. D.H. Lawrence lived here as well as many other writers and poets. Our hotel ASTORIA is located near the embarcadero where, after a brief rest, weather and sea permitting, we’ll board a boat to Portofino “ the Pearl of the Italian Riviera”. You can spend as much time as you wish visiting this lovely little port.
Dinner in Rapallo this evening to enjoy some pasta Al Pesto, the pride of the region and some fresh fish from the Ligurian sea.
Saturday, September 8: RAPALLO—CINQUE TERRE—RAPALLO
HOTEL ASTORIA B.
The day will be spent exploring CinqueTerre, five rustic and charming towns overlooking the bay. We’ll catch an early train to Riomaggiore. From Riomaggiore we will walk to Manarola, about twenty minutes along the “ Via Dell’Amore” (the love trail), by the sea amidst vineyards and olive groves. We’ll also explore the other towns, like Vernazza, the most beautiful of the five, by foot or train. Back to Rapallo in mid-afternoon by train, for a passeggiata or some swimming in the Ligurian sea.
Lunch or dinner will be on your own. Ask Giovanni for recommendations for a good restaurant in town.
Sunday, September 9: RAPALLO—BELLAGIO—STRESA (ON LAKE MAGGIORE)
HOTEL LA PALMA B.D.
This morning,we’ll drive first to Tremezzo where we will board a private boat that will take us to beautiful Bellagio, the “Pearl of Lake Como”, occupying a magnificent site on a promontory. Bellagio still has narrow streets, nice walks, views, villas and gardens and lots of great shops. We’ll give you some time for a little bite or some wonderful last minute shopping in Bellagio. This area is famous for silk.
At around 3 we’ll depart for Stresa on Lake Maggiore, where we will arrive before 6:00 PM. Our hotel La Palma has an excellent position in a landscaped floral garden on the lakefront, central and quiet.
The town of Stresa first appeared in documents in 998 A.D.
The construction of the Simplon railway at the beginning of the 20th century brought this lovely town international fame. The lake shore, sprinkled with villas and gardens, faces the islands that are crowned by the Alps. This evening you will have time for an Italian “Passeggiata” along the lake, or a rest. Dinner in Stresa.
Monday, September 10: STRESA—ISOLA BELLA—STRESA
HOTEL LA PALMA B.
After breakfast, we’ll board a private boat to visit Isola Bella, a multi-terraced, baroque confection, rising from the lake. We’ll visit the palace and the gardens of this magnificent island. Count Vitaliano Borromeo started the construction of this monumental baroque palace in 1670, and also began to landscape the majestic scenery of the gardens for which the island became renowned.
The stately Borromeo residence contains priceless masterpieces, tapestries, furniture, and paintings by great masters. The gardens bloom with every variety of trees and rare flowers, which provide a classic example of the “celebrated Italian Gardens” of that period. After this visit we’ll go to the Isola Dei Pescatori and visit this lovely little island where many fishermen still live. Back to Stresa where we have to start packing our suitcases for our flight to USA. There are many charming restaurants in town where you can go for dinner.
Ask Giovanni for recommendations.
Tuesday, September 11: STRESA-MALPENSA AIRPORT›USA
Early morning departure for Milano-Malpensa airport for our flight home.