Great news! We have decided to make small group travel available to you at a very affordable price. What are the reasons? The beautiful hill towns and charming villages of Italy are not as accessible to conventional large tour buses of 40 or more. You will be traveling in a small group of only 8 people and an experienced driver/guide from Globus Travel. This way you will get to know everyone easily if you don't know them already, and share your memorable experiences as you make new friends.
More importantly, you will enjoy an insider's perspective of the culture of Italy with its delightful way of life. You will have a tour in our sleek and comfortable Mercedes Sprint van in many of the towns we visit wherever that is allowed. Our experienced guide, Onofrio, will take you to see the views from the forts, the facades of the splendid churches, the outstanding architecture and doorways of the magnificent palazzos ( palaces) , and of course, the stately buildings around the central piazzas (squares). You will receive an overview of each exceptional town, but all in the comfort of our little coach that can go just about everywhere. Later on, if you choose, you may be free to explore the narrow, winding streets for cultural encounters first hand: for example sit in a gelateria for a delicious ice cream, or sip a coffee or an after- dinner drink in the central bar. As you do, be sure to watch the world stroll by—a favorite pass time of the locals everywhere in Italy!
Our flight has just landed and your driver-guide Onofrio is waiting expectantly for you outside the customs area. His goal is to take us to the best sites on our own expedition as mature travelers. We will have the opportunity to experience true Italian culture and the actual way of life. Our little van is ready and waiting to begin our outstanding tour of the best parts of central and northern Italy. Let's go then–the next ten days are your special vacation and we want it to be memorable.
The beautiful medieval town of Orvieto is our first overnight. The ride there is only 60 miles and is very smooth on the autostrada (highway).
On our way we will make our first intriguing visit of the tour: CIVITA DI BAGNOREGIO ("the town that is dying")
This ancient town is known for its striking position atop a plateau of volcanic settlement overlooking the lush Tiber River Valley.
We still have half way to go to arrive at our final destination, but the countryside is so beautiful that you won't mind the remaining trip to reach ORVIETO. The hill town still sits on its impregnable rock, and it once had total control over the road between medieval FLORENCE and ROME.
We will have a delectable continental breakfast of Italian pastries, and afterwards we are excited to be on the road again. Today we are heading to one of the most important centers of Christianity and a World Heritage Site:
ASSISI– the birthplace of St. Francis.
The ride is short and comfortable, with gorgeous Umbrian scenery to admire from our panoramic windows. It is approximately 50 miles, but we are already enjoying the slow pace of village life. To make the most of our tour, we have a stop in TODI one of the most beautiful towns of the Middle Ages. A recent survey reported in the Italian press that it is Italy’s "most livable city," and many Americans have settled here over the years.
We will be arriving in ASSISI soon, but first, another stop to prepare us, We will visit the PORZIUNCOLA , the very first tiny church of St. Francis as a youth, and later on, where he also spent his dying moments. This little church was bestowed around 1208 to St. Francis by the Abbot of St. Benedict of the nearby.
The guided tour of the renowned and beautiful Basilica of St Francis in Assisi has been organized with the co-operation of a Franciscan monk (Who better?) He is going to escort you through one of the most famous shrines in the world. Here, the famous artist, Giotto, painted a spectacular series of frescoes on the life of St. Francis. Pilgrims from all over Italy and, indeed, the world, arrive here in reverence on a spiritual quest for the peace of this esteemed saint. The town, itself, with its soft pink stone, exudes tranquility!
Our overnight stay is in the heart of Assisi in the charming Hotel Berti. After a delicious dinner in a local restaurant we can have an optional free orientation tour in our Mercedes Sprint with our charming driver/guide, Onofrio.
BREAKFAST/DINNER in another local, "untouristy” restaurant
We are ready to reach our new destination: TUSCANY, where we are going to spend the next 3 days. Before we leave the gorgeous UMBRIA region, we make a stop in its main city: PERUGIA, known as the principle university city for foreign students (more then 15,000). Perugia is also known as an important cultural and artistic center of Italy.
Back on the van we still have 2 amazing hill towns with fabulous views before our final destination of the day: MONTEPULCIANO and MONTALCINO– both are the” university of wine makers.” Two of the most excellent red Italian wines are made here: Nobile and Brunello, and a visit to one of these wine producers for a tasting is a must!
Tonight and for the next 2 nights we will be staying in a real medieval CASTLE!!
Again, dinner has been reserved in a fabulous local restaurant, but this time in the lovely town of SIENA, the center of banking in medieval times with incredible architecture around its panoramic piazzas (squares). It is also where the greatest and most exciting horse race in Renaissance history occurs, even to this day!
Today is probably the most memorable highlight of the entire tour. We’ll be visiting two incredible cities that will make it worth the whole trip from home: FLORENCE and San GIMIGNANO. Center of medieval European trade and finance, FLORENCE has been one of the wealthiest of its time, and of course, the birthplace of the Renaissance. Florence is a living art center where most people enjoy constant intimacy with masterpieces of art and architecture. We will spend most of the day exploring this marvelous city!!
On our way back to our ancient castello for the night, we make a very worthwhile visit to SAN GIMIGNANO, a famous walled, medieval hill town known as “ the town of the fine towers”. There are fourteen of them still proudly standing on the skyline of this definitely not to be missed photo opportunity!
Tonight we return to beautiful Siena for another delicious dinner in a local restaurant.
Another exciting day is waiting for us, considering that so far we have visited an average of one UNESCO World Heritage site everyday! This is not unusual for a country like ITALY which has almost 10% of all heritage sites of the world! We are going to be exploring the unique town of PISA.
PISA –to see the famous Leaning Tower
Although PISA is known world wide for its incredible Leaning Tower (the bell tower of the city’s cathedral) , the town has more then 20 historic churches, several palaces and bridges over the ARNO river (same one as in Florence). Be sure to take in this magnificent architecture as we tour the city. Naturally, we will enjoy the spectacular view from the top of the tower–absolutely breathtaking!
In the afternoon we return to our home on the castle, but not before we stop in: MONTERIGGIONI
A medieval walled town located on a natural hillock built by the Sienese in 1214 as a defensive fortification on the front line in their war against Florence. The roughly circular walls of approximately 800 yards and the 14 towers follow the natural contours of the hill. It is an amazing spectacle to behold that you will not see anywhere else!
Tonight a SPECIAL DINNER has been organized in our castle!
Today is our longest driving day. We move east to reach another Italian region: LE MARCHE. After a scenic 4 hrs drive we reach ASCOLI PICENO, the main city in the center of an area known for its salt production since the Roman time. Its central Renaissance piazza is considered one of the most beautiful in Italy. Dinner tonight is in another charming local restaurant.
After our capuccino and delicious pastries, we will use the morning to visit this exquisite little town. Then in the afternoon we go on another exciting excursion to see the village: GROTTAMMARE–"the grotto by the sea"
Really unexpected images and views are all concentrated in one small town. The mild temperate climate, the beach with its fine golden sand, the alleyways and natural balconies of the medieval town, its decorative and majestic pine trees and the splendid Liberty Avenue, have always attracted people in search of a holiday with a human dimension.
Our next visit: MONTAPPONE
Do you know what place is the origin and renowned old world center for the straw hat? The answer is MONTAPPONE. A long tradition handed down to each generation with unchanged creativity and passion–a beautiful craft that still exists today.
Our last visit for the day: OFFIDA– the lace making village. Through the alleys of OFFIDA, visitors cannot help, meeting local women of any age standing outdoors and working on the handmade production of lace, as shown on this old fresco.
Tonight, another sumptuous dinner to enjoy local recipes!
Today we are heading back to where we started one week ago: ROME, where we are going to spend our next 2 days and where soon our magical tour comes to an end. The ride to Rome is about 100 miles and we should be arriving in the early afternoon. The final two nights of our tour we will be staying in a beautiful apartment right in the heart of Rome, where we can sightsee everywhere in the area, and get the feel of life there.
Tonight we have organized a captivating introduction to the city with a Rome by Night tour. The sights in this illuminated ancient capital, and all its glorious monuments and piazzas with their glorious churches and fountains are a wonder to behold! We will stop to eat at a typical pizzeria in a lively neighborhood of Rome called TRASTEVERE. And for dessert we treat ourselves to the best gelato we know!
Full day dedicated to the visit of Rome and the Vatican. Our tour today will cover almost 2800 years of history. The monumental Rome, the Rome of Michelangelo, the Rome of Bernini and Caravaggio is going to be part of our morning tour. The afternoon is taken up completely with our tour of the Vatican, where you are going to be guided by a private local guide throughout the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.
Our last day together! Your flight is waiting for you at the airport where your driver /guide Onofrio, is taking you to say Arrividerci and" Ciao for now! "
Remember, you tossed a coin in the Trevi Fountain, so you will return someday!