Cliff view over Vernazza in Liguria Italy
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Tuscany and The Cinque Terre

Cliff view over Vernazza in Liguria Italy

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Tuscany and The Cinque Terre

Tuscany and neighbouring Liguria have been mesmerising travellers for centuries. Home to Italy's most renowned and historic art cities, it's little wonder that artists have been enchanted by the opulence of Renaissance Florence, the splendour of Mediaeval Siena and the charm of the ancient walled city of Lucca. on this ten-night guided walking and sightseeing tour, we take you from the rugged landscapes of the UNESCO-recognised Cinque Terre to the very best of Tuscany, visiting some of her lesser known gems and discovering some peaceful and hidden corners on the way. 

Our journey starts in the coastal resort of La Spezia, perfectly positioned overlooking the picturesque Gulf of Poets. it's the perfect base for exploring Liguria's most enviable coastline, home to the pastel-coloured Cinque Terre villages which topple prettily down the hillside, and Byron's picture-perfect Portovenere. We'll then head south into Tuscany to discover the best of Pisa, Florence and Siena and explore the enchanting countryside. We end our journey in Puccini's city of Lucca, where his music is still celebrated in atmospheric concerts every evening over the summer months.


You stay at carefully picked and centrally located hotels. They range from a gorgeous hotel set within manicured gardens with stunning views from its panoramic swimming pool in Casole d'Elsa, to a modern and friendly hotel just a stone's throw from Florence's multi-coloured Duomo. 

This holiday is a mixture of sightseeing and walking with minibus assistance for all transfers. The walks take place on stony and rocky coastal paths and valley trails, quiet roads and strada bianca. There are no challenging ascents or descents but walking boots are essential and walking poles are recommended. Please note that should the paths on the Cinque Terre be unavailable, exploration will be done using the local train network. 

Note: Whilst our leader remains at our clients' disposal during the tour, local laws in Italy forbid our leader to guide groups in art cities' historical centres, or in museums and art galleries. On all days, the timings given are for the actual walks, rather than the complete day trip.

Daily Itinerary

Tuscany and The Cinque Terre

  • Day
    1

    Arrive in La Spezia

    Arrive in La Spezia

    Arrive in the lively coastal town of La Spezia where we spend the next three nights.

  • Day
    2

    Portovenere and the Poets' Gulf

    Portovenere and the Poets' Gulf 4mi/2.5hr

    This morning we take the boat to the nearby island of Palmaria, part of the Regional Natural Park of Portovenere. Here we follow a circular path around the island and are rewarded with spectacular views of the Gulf of Poets and its rugged coastline. After lunch we explore the charming seaside town of Portovenere. Set in a beautiful sweeping bay and once the haunt of Byron and Shelley, it boasts an impressive C16 castle and a couple of mediaeval churches.

  • Day
    3

    Cinque Terre Walk

    Cinque Terre Walk 2mi/2-3hr

    We discover the heart of the beautiful Cinque Terre, starting in C12 Manarola, where pretty, pastel-coloured houses cling vertiginously to the dark hillsides, their balconies affording stunning views across the turquoise bay. Our walk takes us past farmers working their precipitous vine terraces before reaching picturesque Corniglia. Our last stop is Vernazza with its tower-shaped, elaborate buildings before returning by ferry to enjoy stunning views over the famous five villages.

  • Day
    4

    La Spezia to Florence

    La Spezia to Florence

    After breakfast we set off for Florence (75 mins), stopping off in Pisa's glorious C12 Piazza dei Miracoli along the way to see the Leaning Tower, the Duomo, and the oldest Baptistery in Italy. We aim to arrive in Florence in good time to discover some of the main sights with a local official guide for an informative private walking tour before dinner.

  • Day
    5

    Florence

    Florence

    The great art city of Florence is the Renaissance jewel in Italy's crown. Explore the Uffizi Gallery, Duomo and Baptistery (payable locally) or cross to the quieter side of the Arno River to visit the Boboli Gardens.

  • Day
    6

    Fiesole and San Gimignano

    Fiesole and San Gimignano 1.5mi/1hr

    There are superb views of Florence this morning as we make our way to hilltop Fiesole with its Etruscan remains and Roman theatre. After lunch, it's on to San Gimignano, one of Europe's best-preserved mediaeval citadels. The town is famous for its towers, built by quarrelsome neighbours to outdo each other. You have the option of climbing the highest for a spectacular view, before we make our way to Casole d'Elsa, home for the next three nights.

  • Day
    7

    Siena

    Siena

    For many, mediaeval Siena is simply the most beautiful city in Italy. We start at the Campo - the setting for the city's bi-annual Palio - to admire probably the most harmonious town square in the world.You will meet a local official guide for an informative private walking tour of Siena. There's free time for independent exploration before we return to Casole d'Elsa, where the hotel's glistening private pool awaits.

  • Day
    8

    The Via Francigena Walk

    The Via Francigena Walk 7.5mi/4.5hr

    Today we join the Via Francigena, an ancient European route of pilgrimage from Canterbury to Rome. There are gorgeous views over San Gimignano's ancient towers as we traverse rolling Vernaccia vineyards and olive groves to the River Foci. We pass through tiny hamlets and fields of sunflowers before a final ascent to Colle di Val d'Elsa's historic centre, where we stop for lunch, with gorgeous views over the Elsa Valley.

  • Day
    9

    Casole d'Elsa to Lucca

    Casole d'Elsa to Lucca

    We start the day with a visit to hilltop Volterra, one of Italy's oldest towns. With a superb panorama over the rolling landscape, its centre is a tangle of cobbled alleys, ancient palazzi and Roman remains. Then we move on to the perfectly preserved mediaeval town of Lucca, the birthplace of Puccini. There's time to explore its Roman streets, city walls and amphitheatre before dinner.

  • Day
    10

    Grotta del Vento and the Apuan Alps

    Grotta del Vento and the Apuan Alps 2.5mi/2hr

    Today we take a short drive north following the Serchio river to the Garfagnana region of the Apuan Alps. We visit the Grotta del Vento, one of Europe's most extensive cave networks to discover the impressive limestone stalactite and stalagmite formations which have been created over millions of years. After an optional fresh trout lunch (payable locally), our final, easy walk takes us through shady beech and chestnut forest following the Gallicano stream, with towering mountain peaks above us. On our return to Lucca, there's the option of a Puccini concert in the evocative setting of the Church of San Giovanni (payable locally) - a spectacular finale to your holiday.

  • Day
    11

    Leave Lucca

    Leave Lucca

Accommodations

Hotel Firenze e Continentale, La Spezia

This is a very comfortable and smart hotel, in the very heart of La Spezia, just a stone's throw from the railway station. It dates back to the early 1900's but has been renovated in its original period style with mahogany panelling, marble floors, wrought iron detail and attractive murals. There are fantastic views over La Spezia from the hotel's breakfast room. 

All the rooms in the hotel are comfortable and tastefully decorated with full en-suite facilities. 

Hotel Cosimo De‘ Medici, Florence

This 3-star hotel is beautifully decorated, with rooms in individual styles - some are traditionally Tuscan whilst others are funky and modern. Parts of the the building actually date back to the 18th century, and the reception and public rooms are designed with this in mind, with Persian rugs, stained glass windows and wrought iron doors in evidence. 

Although just off the main Via Nazionale, only 2 minutes' walk from the central station and 5 minutes from the Duomo, the hotel faces an internal courtyard for peace and quiet. All the rooms are double glazed, and all have air-conditioning so there is absolutely no reason not to have a good night's sleep! 

There is no restaurant at the hotel, but there is plenty of choice nearby. 

Hotel Terre di Casole, Casole d'Elsa

Just a 10 minute walk from the centre of the village, the 3* Hotel Terre di Casole has recently reopened after being completely refurbished - and the end result is stunning! The hotel boasts 40 ensuite modern yet stylish rooms which come with either a garden terrace or a balcony - both have views over the pool and the lovely gardens to the rear of the hotel. 

The public rooms at the Terre di Casole reflect the attractive, modern decor in the bedrooms. Both the lounge / bar area and the restaurant are large, airy rooms with a white colour scheme, which lends them a stylish yet minimalist feel. Ideal for relaxing in! 

Your evening meal will be taken in the hotel's restaurant. The menu features a number of classic Italian/Tuscan dishes with a modern twist, all made with herbs from the hotel's garden! The hotel also has a resident pâtissier, so you will be really spoilt for desserts! 

Hotel La Luna, Lucca

The Hotel La Luna is a friendly hotel, tucked away in a quiet side street, just off the atmospheric Via Fillungo, the most sophisticated and exclusive street in Lucca's historic centre. 

The original part of the hotel dates back to the 1200s when it was built elsewhere and then 'moved' about a century later to its present location. It now comprises of 2 buildings, with the 29 en suite rooms divided between the two. Breakfast is taken in the buffet breakfast room in the reception building, where there is also a small bar. 

Call 800.234.9620
Duration
10 Days, 9 Nights
Guest Capacity
8 Guests
Trip Type
Travel Style
Expedition Destinations

Trip Highlights

  • Mixture of sightseeing and varied walking: coastal hikes, mountain walks, hillside rambles, city strolls
  • Hilltop Mediaeval villages, the soaring towers of San Gimignano, the panoramic town of Colle di Val d'Elsa
  • Liguria's world-famous Cinque Terre and UNESCO-recognised Portovenere
  • Art treasures: Renaissance palazzi, Etruscan ruins, Romanesque churches