Day 1: Pick- up at the train station in the afternoon in Chiusi. Settle into your apartment at The Country Inn. Take a short trip to the local walled village of Citta della Pieve, a 14th century hill town. Guided visit to 2 churches with paintings from the 16th century. Afterwards, relax at a cafe in the piazza to watch the passeggiata (promenade after siesta.) Return to the Inn and have a full course Italian dinner, always with homemade pasta, regional specialities, and local wine from Tuscany or Umbria included.
Day 2: Trip to Panicale, a 15h century walled hill-town. Take a local tour of the famed Umbrian artist Peregino’s paintings. Guided tour of the pinacoteca (museum) located in an ancient palazzo. Discover the traditional craft of lacemaking: how the designs are made and executed –“fatto a mano” (made by hand). Examine its beautiful intricacies on exhibit there and see the ladies working on new creations. Lunch on your own in a special trattoria known for its excellent Umbrian cuisine, and have a free afternoon to explore the winding streets, and ambience of this picturesque village.
Dinner in the evening at Piegaro—drive through the hills with beautiful views of Lago Trasimeno, and wander the charming lanes of this unspoiled hill town. Experience a sumptuous meal in a grotto that was the lower level of a magnificent villa, former home of a ruling family from medieval times.
Day 3: Excursion to Assisi, the sacred pilgrimage site as the home of Saint Francis. Guided tour of Basilico di San Francesco, where the priceless frescoes by the world renowned painter Giotto depict scenes from Francis’ life and work. There will be time to sightsee through the sun-drenched pink marble piazzas, and visit the lovely Churches of St. Clare and the Madonna Sotto Minerva (built over a Roman Temple of Minerva). The intimate atmosphere of this medieval town is one to be savored before our return to our peaceful Country Inn for another scrumptious traditional meal.
Day 4: Continuing our explorations, we head to the charming, ancient hill towns of Orvieto and Todi. We see flowers everywhere along the gorgeous shop fronts as we examine the façade of the beautiful mosaic -encrusted cathedral at Orvieto. We stroll the streets for awhile, and then proceed in our van to Deruta, known as a great place to buy the hand-painted Majolica ceramics. Next, our visit to the ancient medieval town of Todi is a welcome respite and step back into theMiddle Ages. We tour the museum and learn so much about the ancient Roman and Etruscan art and artifacts that are housed there. Dinner is on your own in one of Todi’s terrific trattorias.
Day 5: Florence, a real Renaissance monument in itself, and so much to see that we leave bright and early on the express train from Chiusi. We take the “Walking Tour of Florence” with a local guide who makes the architecture and piazzas seem as if we know them personally by the time we finish. Together we visit Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia and the magnificent Duomo, with a welcome break for lunch in between times, so that we can fully appreciate and remember these medieval gems. After a trip for shopping at the street market, the rest of the afternnon will be for independent exploration. At the end of a busy and gratifying day, we return by train in the evening to arrive in time for another delicious, full course dinner at our peaceful Country Inn.
Day 6: Visit to Siena, home of the brilliant horserace, The Palio, which takes place annually in the magnificent Piazza delCampo, its main square. The huge square itself is surrounded by gorgeous ochre and umber colored Renaissance architecture that is so spectacular and wondrous to behold. We will visit the 13 th century Cathedrale di Siena, one of Italy’s best, set up on a hill and visible from many parts of the city. There, we will take time to examine the gorgeous sculptures, frescoes, stained glass windows, and the bold mosaic effects of the black and white marble floor. For those art afficianados among us, the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo has some incredible works of Donatello, Duccio and Lorenzetti, as well as offers fantastic views over Siena. We will have a late lunch outdoors at a garden ristorante, and take the afternoon to photograph this beautiful gem of a Hill Town. We head back to the village of Citta della Pieve for a farewell dinner to bid “arrivederci”…