Tour begins: 3:00 PM at Hotel Plaza Lucchesi, Florence. Look for us at the Peretola Airport for your included transfer to the historic Hotel Plaza Lucchesi, overlooking the Arno River in the center of Florence. Freshen up for a fresh look at Florence on a walking tour with our local guide, including a visit inside the new Opera Duomo Museum. Cocktails and canapés follow on your hotel's rooftop terrace (weather permitting), offering 360-degree views of the city. It's a short walk to a local Florentine restaurant for a true Tuscan welcome dinner.
The Heart of Art
Culturious insights paint an intimate portrait of master artists today. Meet a Florentine art history scholar who provides a "tell all" on Michelangelo during an exclusive insider lecture. Then you're off to discover some of the city's masterpieces on a guided visit to the Uffizi - Europe's oldest art gallery, founded by the Medicis to display their countless treasures - revealing a few secrets of its own. Getting up close and personal with Botticelli's Birth of Venus or Michelangelo's Doni Tondo, in a frame designed by the Master himself, can't help but touch your soul... and the artist lurking within. By midday you'll understand how art and history are inextricably intertwined in Florence. We've all got passionate interests, and you'll have time to explore yours in Florence today... as well as check out some of the city's culinary offerings on your own. Continue a chat about art... and the Renaissance... and all things Florentine with phrases picked up in today's basic Italiano lesson... bellisimo Tuscany travel days...
Art, music and more... living the Florentine life
Walk along the cobbled streets of the Oltrarno to the artisans' workshops in the old San Niccolò district. By special appointment, Culturious takes you inside two working restoration studios to meet the people behind the art. Art Restoration Specialist Bettina Schindler-Pratesi gives new life to antiques dressed in ivory, bone and mother of pearl. Next door, see a multitude of locals at work restoring and immortalizing art from all genres; their meticulous expertise deftly erases the ravages of time, preventing the art from fading into oblivion. Then discover the rich history of Florentine artisans and their guilds as you walk with your local guide over the Ponte Vecchio, with its famous shops, to the Orsan Michele facade featuring sculptures dedicated to the guilds. Continue on to the Gucci Museum in the Piazza della Signoria - occupying a building that once housed original leaders of the guilds - for a guided tour. Following time to explore on your own, concert pianist Gregorio Nardi, and his wife Annegret, invite you to join them for a private evening at the Palazzo Bargellini. Enjoy a tour, a piano recital, discussions on history and politics, and an aperitivo.
Carrara marble & the coast on the way to Cinque Terre
Your first Culturious road trip twists and turns its way toward the Mediterranean Sea; en route, see the huge mountains of white marble at Carrara - snow-like clouds of stone-dust blanket quarried landscapes; view them up close on a guided tour. Changing landscapes mesmerize as you drive along the coast to Liguria and Portovenere on the Gulf of Poets. A motor boat navigates Mediterranean waters along Cinque Terre to the lemon-scented village of Monterosso where your boutique hotel overlooks the harbor from its perch on the hillside.
Discovering "The Five Lands" of Cinque Terre
Wake up in paradise, and if you wish, hike with us through terraced vineyards overlooking the sea from Monterosso to Vernazza, the "pearl of Cinque Terre." If you would prefer not to walk, take the train to your hideaway by the sea. Along the way, fall in love with village life. The rest of the day is free.
Tasting Tuscany in Lucca and on to Siena
A jog, or a swim, is an excellent way to start the day before a drive through the Tuscan Hills to Lucca. This medieval city's surviving Renaissance-era, red-brick walls shut out traffic and the modern world... leaving a peaceful community that still revolves around its original Roman street plan. And because it's topographically flat, Lucca is a cyclist's dream. One of the best ways to explore this culturally rich city is by bicycle... and, led by your local guide, you'll do just that - zipping down its narrow lanes... across its ancient piazzas... even along the top of its massive walls! If you're wondering if Tuscany is all about the food, a hands-on lesson with experts in the art of making fresh pasta at Fattoria Colle Verde, one of the region's foremost wineries and olive oil producers, may shed some light. After a little testing and a little cooking, cap your pasta-making debut with a little virgin olive oil tasting... a little Tuscan wine tasting... and more than a little pasta tasting at lunch. Then it's on to the historic Tuscan city of Siena for a two-night stay.
Sienese treasures & a Tuscan farewell
Awaken in beautiful Siena and spend the morning exploring as you wish; your Tauck Director can suggest museums, galleries and other points of interest, as well as great spots to enjoy lunch on your own. Or you can rise early and join us for an optional hot air balloon ride over the lush Tuscan landscapes, followed by a champagne breakfast (for an additional $350; ask at booking for details). Later, join your local guide to discover Siena's many architectural treasures on a walking tour - including its black-and-white Duomo, one of Italy's great cathedrals, with scenes inlaid in the marble floors and sculpture by Michelangelo. You'll see the Piazza del Campo - where the famous Palio bareback horse race has been held twice every year for centuries - Palazzo Salimbeni, Palazzo Tolomei, Torre di Mangia, Santa Maria della Scalla and more. After some time to explore on your own, cap your Tuscany travel adventure with cocktails and canapés in an ancient wine cellar, followed by a memorable dinner of Tuscan specialties in an absolutely magical spot... under the setting Tuscan sun, for the Culturious only.
Tour ends: Florence. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from the Grand Hotel Continental in Siena to Peretola Airport in Florence. As you return to Florence through those magical hills for your journey home, the rich flavors of Tuscany, Culturious-style, linger in your memory. And there they'll stay... warm and inviting... until your next visit.