The Flavours of Tuscany
Prices from £1,495 per person
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Follow a trail of fine wines and cheeses whilst taking in some of the best experiences in a hidden corner of Tuscany. Renowned for its vineyards, enchanting hilltop hamlets, olive groves and cypress trees, this stretch of Tuscan coast is home to some of Italy’s most desirable ‘slow’ destinations where you can delve into the laid-back way of life that has existed here for centuries.
7 night / 8 day holiday from £1,495 per person (based on two people travelling together) for a departures up to the middle of May (excluding Easter and Italian Bank Holidays) and from the beginning of October – please note prices may vary at other times of the year. A ‘no fly’ option for your return journey is also available.
Day 1 – By rail to Turin
Your holiday begins this morning as you arrive at London St Pancras station. Take the time to admire the wonderful arched glass roof, then sit back, relax and watch the countryside glide past as you travel by Eurostar to Paris at speeds of up to 186mph. Enjoy the light meal and drinks served on board in Standard Premier Class (1st class for leisure travellers). On arrival at the Gare du Nord you are transferred by taxi to the Gare de Lyon where you continue your journey by TGV through France to Turin in Italy. From here, you make your own way the short distance to your hotel for tonight, the welcoming, highly-rated Grand Hotel Sitea (5 star).
Day 2 – Turin to the heart of Tuscany
Enjoy a morning to explore Turin. Perhaps take a stroll under the intricate arcades to Piazza Castello, surrounded by majestic buildings, or maybe discover the celebrated Egyptian Museum and the magnificent cathedral. The latter is a famous pilgrimage site, as it was the original home of the renowned Shroud of Turin.
Later you leave this bustling city by train, travelling in First Class on your InterCity service as it skirts the shoreline to Campiglia Marittima on the Tuscan coast. Here you will be met by Luca, the charming owner of the Relais dei Molini – beautifully set in the pretty village of Castagneto Carducci, and your accommodation for the next six nights. You are transferred from the station through the delightful countryside of Tuscany to the village, surrounded by ancient olive trees. After time to settle in, enjoy dinner in a traditional local restaurant this evening.
Day 3 – Bolgheri and its wines
After collecting your hire car, enjoy a day discovering the flavours and wines of the Bolgheri Doc area, one of the world’s most famous wine-producing regions. During the day you visit the pretty village of Bolgheri, a beautiful hamlet known for its ‘Viale dei Cipressi’ – a sweeping avenue with wonderful cypresses along its length. The village itself, protected by an arched gate, has remained virtually untouched by time; the historical buildings, old roads, charming corners and little shops have seen remarkably little change in centuries. Whilst here, be sure to take in the views of the sea and the islands of the Tuscan archipelago in the distance.
In Bolgheri you stop at a local winery for a guided visit, followed by a tasting of some of their best wines. Then make your way back to Castagneto Carducci for a delicious lunch with the locals – all made with a selection of historic recipes handed down through the generations, including homemade pasta and wild boar sauce amongst others. The rest of your day is then at leisure to perhaps explore this medieval village and learn about the secrets of a local liquor producer, a family-run business dating back over 200 years.
Day 4 – Calidaro Thermal Springs
Rich in natural springs, Tuscany is one of the most important thermal basins in Europe – and the incredible properties of the waters here have been harnessed since ancient times, by both the Romans and the Etruscans.
Some of the most celebrated baths are within easy reach of the Relais dei Molini, such as the Calidario where you have included admission today. The Calidario is a source of hot water at 36 degrees that flows directly into the natural swimming pool which is accessed via heated changing rooms with direct internal passage. A dive into the past to the times when the Etruscan people allowed themselves baths and massages in a unique and fascinating environment, a place where harmony and well-being can still be found today.
Day 5 – Lucca and its culinary traditions
Today you drive to Lucca, a charming walled city with a beautifully preserved medieval core. Here you enjoy an authentic Tuscan cooking lesson in Mrs Teresa’s rustic rural farmhouse. After being greeted with a welcome drink, you begin by sourcing fresh ingredients directly from the orchard. Mrs Teresa then imparts her secrets, so you can cook some of the best Tuscan dishes – before settling down to enjoy them for lunch.
Your afternoon is then free to discover more of the city of Lucca. Wander through the cobbled streets and elegant piazzas, admire one of the numerous churches, or marvel at the walls which encircle this beautiful city flanked by towers and smart boutiques. For those feeling energetic, views of Lucca’s terracotta rooftops and the nearby Tuscan hills are best enjoyed from the top of the distinctive Guinigi Tower, complete with a tree growing from its top (payable locally).
Day 6 – A day at leisure
Make the most of a free day to discover more of the surrounding area. You may wish to head towards the coast, perhaps taking in the towns of Campiglia Marittima (pictured) or Suvereto. Alternatively, you may prefer to explore the parks of the Cornia Valley (where cycle hire is available) and take a route through the vineyards and the amazing scenery. For wine lovers, you could visit one of the local wineries, or even take in the nearby wine museum.
Day 7 – Fattoria Lischeto and Volterra
This morning you drive to the walled town of Volterra. Here you visit the Lischeto Farm, which keeps and develops the local traditions of sheep breeding and cheese production in Tuscany. On some occasions it is possible to walk with the sheep in a ‘shepherding’ experience. This cheese is still made using time-honoured traditions that are rarely used nowadays yet is still renowned for its unmistakeable flavour. Today you visit the farm and the cheese laboratory, to learn about the techniques of cheese production and to make your own cheese! Lunch is served at the farm, using produce made on site.
In the afternoon you have the chance to discover more of Volterra. The town is known for its rich history dating back centuries, with Etruscan, Roman Medieval and Renaissance chapters in its long past. Volterra is also celebrated for its unique landscape of cliffs, gullies and terrestrial graves and for its traditional hand-made alabaster objects made by local artisans.
Back in Castagneto Carducci this evening you enjoy a farewell meal to mark your last night in Tuscany.
Day 8 – Homeward bound
Today after returning your car, Luca transfers you to Pisa airport where you fly to the regional UK airport of your choice (subject to availability) for the final leg of your homeward journey.
You may wish to extend your holiday by taking the train to Siena. From here you can continue by rail on the vintage steam-hauled Nature Train (Treno Natura) into the delightful Val d’Orcia, a UNESCO World Heritage site of outstanding natural beauty. It is an unspoilt agrarian landscape which has been the same for hundreds of years, in some places there are not even roads. You can alight at the different stations and venture along the foot trails to reach the churches, towns and castles along the way – or even stop at one of the nearby farms for a tasting of the wonderful local produce.