Each day, you will be taken on a professionally guided tour with an English speaking guide of the villages and wineries of Tuscany. You will sample some of Tuscany’s finest wines and feast your body and spirit on some of Tuscany’s best cuisine. Places of interest that you will visit include; Montepulciano, where you will have a wine-tasting of the world class Vino Nobile di Montepulciano; Pienza, a Renaissance architectural model designed by Pope Pius II and producer of the renowned cheese, Pecorino della Pienza; San Gimignano, known as “the City of the Beautiful Towers” and producer of one of Italy’s finest white wines, “Vernaccia di San Gimignano”; Montalcino and Brunello, where you will have a wine tasting of the sublime Brunello wines; Assisi, the birth and death place of Saint Francis of Assisi, and home to several breathtaking cathedrals; and a shopping expedition in Cortona, where the finest artisan crafts, gold jewelry and Italian fashions can be purchased at discounted prices.
Day 1: Transfer from Cortona and Arrival at Villa Rosa dei Venti. After taking a train from Rome or Florence, we will meet you at the train station in Cortona at 2 pm. Once arriving at the villa, your hosts Stefano or Barbara will show you around the beautiful villa and settle you into your rooms. Once you have rested and refreshed a Welcome Dinner will be prepared for you.
Day 2: Montepulciano and Pienza Wine and Cheese tour. We will meet in the main building at 9:30 am to prepare for the day excursion to Montepulciano, a region that is famous for its Vino Nobile de Montepulciano wines. We will visit a grape farm and winery where you will sample this sublime wine. We will also visit the historic sites of the village, and you may spend some time shopping in the local artisans’ shops. We then transfer to Pienza where we will enjoy a tasty lunch (included) and visit the village of Pienza, built under the instruction of Pope Pius II as the perfect Renaissance city. In season, we will also visit a grape harvest.
Day 3: Siena and San Gimignano. 9:00 am meeting for our excursion to Siena and San Gimignano. San Gimignano’s famous towers have withstood centuries, and the city is among very few in Italy who’s towers have survived the wars. San Gimignano produces one of Italy’s finest Italian white wines, Vernaccia di San Gimignano. At noon we will transfer to Siena for lunch (included), and a tour of the city’s historical sites, including the Piazzo del Campo, Torre del Mangia, the Cathedral, and a stroll along the shopping district of Via de’ Banchi.
Day 4: Montalcino and Brunello. We will meet at 3:30 pm for departure to Montalcino, the zone where the world famous Brunello di Montalcino is produced. After a short stop in Pienza, we will visit a historical wine cellar where you will be treated to a tasting of the delightful Brunello wines. We will then take a tour of the town’s beautiful historical sites before dinner (included) in a local “trattoria” (popular restaurant) for typical Tuscan foods and a second wine tasting. We will return to the villa at 11:00 pm.
Day 5: Assisi and Cooking Course. We will meet at 8:30 am for departure to Assisi, home of Saint Francis (Francesco) and St Claire (Chiara). We will visit the St. Francis Basilica, the “Porziuncola” (death place of St. Francis), the Church of St. Maria degli Angeli, and the “Deruta” area to visit the fine ceramic artisan shops, which have been producing some of the world’s finest ceramics since the 15th century. At 1:00 pm we will enjoy lunch in a local trattoria, and then return to the villa for a cooking course with Barbara and Ornella. You will enjoy the dinner you help prepare and spend the rest of the evening relaxing.
Day 6: Shop Until You Drop in Cortona. We will meet at 9:30 am for our trip to Cortona, where we will visit St. Francis Convent, the church of St. Margherita, the Etruscan museum or the museum Diocesano and the historical town center. We will break for lunch at 1:00 pm, and then enjoy a shopping trip in the Val di Chiana. Here you will find great deals on fine Italian fashions (far below the prices in Florence, Milan, or Rome), gold jewelry, wines and olive oils, and local crafts.
Day 7: Departure. After breakfast, we will transfer you back to the train station in Cortona.
Note: During the spring and fall, you may participate in local “Sagre” – food festivals which take place in medieval villages and towns of Tuscany.
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