Renaissance art, quaint coastal villages, and world-famous wine: discover the delights of Northern Italy.
Cinque Terre - Imagine five pastel-hued villages perched on the rugged coast surrounded by terraced cliffs and clear deep blue water. It’s Bella Italia at its finest.
Pisa - A legendary city with the iconic architectural duo: the spectacular Romanesque Cathedral and the famous leaning tower.
Lucca - Explore the cobbled streets, picturesque piazzas and shady promenades in this stunning walled city.
Florence – Marvel at the finest collection of Italian Renaissance art and architecture in this fine city.
San Gimignano – A hill town famous for its idyllic rural setting and stunning skyline dominated by 14 soaring towers.
Siena - Sit and watch as the world goes by at one of Italy’s loveliest squares, Piazza del Campo.
Val d’Orcia – Bucolic Tuscan hills dotted with cypress trees, olive groves and vineyards.
Maremma Region - A timeless region where the Etruscans and Romans flourished for centuries
No one understands why the Renaissance began.
Scientific advancements, artistic geniuses, and architectural wonders all sprang out of Northern Italy at the same time.
Da Vinci, Raphael and the artists of Florence created the standard by which all art is judged. In Pienza, Pope Pius II invented modern urban design with his ‘ideal town’ that was both liveable and lovable. And buildings adorned with grand columns and naked heroes became fashionable across the country.
On this trip, we’re unable to tell you how it all started, but we’ll certainly help you fall in love Florence, Pisa, Lucca, and the wonders of this defining period of history.
But that’s not all you experience on this trip.
You also savour the rustic wines made amongst the green hills of Tuscany, taste seafood in the colourful villages of Cinque Terre, and refresh your senses at the curative hot springs of Bagno Vignoni.
Join this tour and begin your love affair with the riches and Renaissance of Northern Italy.
You leave the bustling streets of Nice and head east along the French Riviera. This area of the coast is also called the Côte d'Azur and it’s as stunning as it is famous. It’s where the greatest artists came for inspiration, and the rich and famous come to soak up the sun.
You cross the border and continue your journey along the Italian coast. Your first stop of the day is the charming seaside town of Porto Maurizio where you can get some refreshments. Take a photo of the pastel-coloured houses rising over the harbour like a pop-up book and continue your journey to Recco.
It’s time to have lunch and try a local focaccia with cheese. This little town, located on the aptly named Golfo Paradiso (Paradise Gulf), is the gastronomic capital of the area, so make sure to try as many culinary specialities as possible.
In the afternoon, you arrive in La Spezia, check in to your hotel, and get ready to uncover the gems of the Ligurian coast; Cinque Terre. Perched to the side of the cliffs and strung like colourful beads, Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore are yours to explore for the rest of the day. Just jump on the Cinque Terre train and decide where you want to go first. If it’s beaches and a seafront promenade you’re after, head to Monterosso. The wine lovers should explore Manarola which is surrounded by vines and offers some great local wine. And if you want to visit the hamlets with the great views and a dramatic location, travel to Riomaggiore, Vernazza and Corniglia.
After an afternoon and an evening exploring the Cinque Terre villages, you get on the train back to La Spezia, your base for the night.
Buongiorno! Today is all about discovering the architectural wonders of Northern Italy.
You leave La Spezia in the morning and travel to Pisa where you can explore the city for a couple of hours and have lunch. Once a maritime power competing with Genoa and Venice, this city is now famous worldwide for an architectural project which went horribly wrong. Tilting or not, the Leaning Tower of Pisa has beautiful, elaborate Romanesque architecture and a fascinating history. But remember, the Tower is just one component of a spectacular architectural ensemble. You should not overlook the Duomo, the Baptistery and the Camposanto, which are part of Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles).
Next on the list of our Italian delights is Lucca, known as the city of a hundred churches. Originally founded by the Etruscans, then a Roman colony, the city has gained its wealth through the silk trade. And you can see this prosperity in the abundance of graceful buildings and pretty piazzas. You have time to wander around shady promenades or along the Renaissance city walls before you continue your journey further.
All these impressive architectural gems of the day were just a warm-up. Prepare yourself for a real feast for the eyes as you travel to Florence, your base for the next two nights.
You have a free day in the ‘Birthplace of the Renaissance’ and can decide how you want to spend it.
You can start by following the paths of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Dante and Galileo - stare in awe at the Duomo, the city’s majestic Cathedral that dominates the skyline; see The Birth of Venus and some of the most celebrated treasures at the Uffizi Gallery; and visit Galleria dell’Accademia, to admire Michelangelo’s masterpiece, David.
Man does not live by art alone, so don’t forget to try some of the local specialities. The culinary delights like handmade pasta, pizza, bread, pastries, wine and gelato will help you to regain your strength.
In the afternoon, you could ponder over the Medici’s power and secrets as you explore Palazzo Pitti. The grand palace of this influential family is home to some of the greatest treasures of the Renaissance and the secret Vasari Corridor.
For a perfect end of the day, visit Boboli Gardens peppered with statues, fountains, ponds and hidden mazes. It’s your second night in Florence so spend the evening soaking up the atmosphere as you explore the bustling squares or excellent restaurants and bars.
It’s time to wave Florence goodbye and set off to discover the spectacular medieval hill-towns of Tuscany.
As you travel over the green Tuscan hills, you notice the 14 towers of San Gimignano soaring like a medieval Manhattan. Originally set up by the Etruscans, the settlement was named after San Gimignano, the bishop of Modena, who is said to have rescued it from Attila the Hun. You have a chance to explore this unique town, walk around the well-preserved fortified old centre, and ponder over the noble families who got caught up in a race for building the highest tower house.
You continue south to Siena, the highlight of the day. This gorgeous red-brick city celebrates Gothic architecture like no one else. The place’s essence centres around the unique shell-shaped Piazza del Campo. It’s here where the bi-annual horse Palio is hosted. And it’s also where James Bond madly chases his enemy in ‘Quantum of Solace’. Savour your lunch on the Piazza, watch as the world go by, and enjoy the atmosphere.
Next, you travel along the country roads, past cypress trees and olive groves to arrive in Chianciano Terme in the early evening. This hill-top town in the rural Tuscany is your home for two nights.
Curvy backroads lined by cypress trees, vineyards, olive groves, and old romantic villages.
This is the dreamy Tuscan region of Val d’Orcia where time seems to slow down. This area boasts unspoiled beauty and is steeped in history and culture. No wonder it has been declared a UNESCO heritage site.
Start the day with a leisurely drive through the rolling green hills to Bagno Vignoni. This extraordinary ancient site grew around a basin renowned for its curative waters. The Etruscans, Romans, pilgrims of the Via Francigena, and even the Medici appreciated the hot sulphurous waters here. Today, you can admire this ancient spa and can choose to take the waters at the hot springs bellow the village. So, remember to bring your swimwear and a towel for a quick dip.
Rejuvenated after your therapeutic bath, you continue the journey through the green and ochre hills dotted with chapels. This land, its culture, and identity are inextricably connected with wine production. So, it’s time for you to try some of the best wines in the world in a local winery. You can visit the historic wine cellars, discover the secrets of ageing wine, and savour the legendary Brunello di Montalcino.
Next, you travel to the medieval walled city of Montalcino surrounded by scenic vineyards. With its famous wine heritage and stunning location, it’s a perfect place for lunch. Your adventure takes you to Pienza after your delicious meal and possibly a few too many glasses of Brunello.
This jewel of a city is known as the ‘Ideal City’ and is a fruit of the Renaissance vision of Pope Pius II. Call it vain or forward thinking, but in the 15th century the Pope set about transforming his birthplace. And the results are so stunning that UNESCO designated Pienza as a world heritage site. Wander around the Piazza Pio II and marvel at the magnificent ensemble of the church, papal palace, town hall and accompanying buildings.
You finish your afternoon off with a visit to an organic cheese farm where you have a guided tour and discover more about rural life in Tuscany. Learn about cheese production, savour some local specials accompanied by a glass of wine, and enjoy a remarkable view of Val d’Orcia.
After experiencing and savouring the best of rural Tuscany, you arrive in Chianciano Terme in the early evening for your second night.
You leave Chianciano Terme and Tuscany in the morning and travel south to the Maremma region to discover Sorano. Literally carved out of tuff rock and built on a fortress, this hilltop city feels like a time capsule. It dates back to the Etruscan era and is a fascinating ensemble of towers, alcoves and cellars perched above the Lente river and gorge. Delve into the maze of small streets and alleys and marvel at the city gates and the impressive fortified medieval castle towering over the city.
You continue to another dramatic hilltop city, Pitigliano, where you can enjoy your lunch. The city rises from the outcrop of the volcanic tufa rocks and is surrounded by gorges on three sides. With its rows of jumbled houses and cobblestone streets, it looks like something out of an old fairy-tale. Pitigliano became known as ‘Little Jerusalem’ because it turned to be a safe haven for persecuted Jews. You can still discover their rich heritage in the local cuisine and enchanting synagogues.
In the afternoon, you get off the beaten path and travel through a patchwork of green fields towards the Bolsena Lake. It’s the largest volcanic lake in Italy and its deep waters sustain a thriving fishing community in the local area. You stop to take some pictures and continue along the edge of the lake to Capodimonte. Here, you have time to enjoy the sun and relax on the beach, or you can soak up the atmosphere, roam the town, and admire the castle and many of the town’s beautiful churches.
You continue your leisurely ramble south along the west coast of Italy taking photo stops along the way.
You can say ‘Ciao Roma’ as you arrive in the gateway to Rome in the evening.
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You stay one night in La Spezia, two nights in Florence, and two nights in Chianciano Terme.
To get more information about your accommodation, please contact our friendly team 3 weeks prior to departure.
A good night’s sleep is often needed for a good day of travel.
So, we’ve hand-picked three to four-star hotels in remote coastal villages, bustling towns, and mountain valleys.
Your accommodation is included in the tour price; and when you book your trip, you can choose whether you want double rooms, twin rooms, or single rooms.
The price you see is for all your tour's accommodation and for the tour itself. This figure is based on shared accommodation. When you're booking your tour and select a single room, an additional single room supplement will be added to the price.
You may need a Schengen Visa to travel throughout Europe. Check the official tourism website of the country you’re visiting for up-to-date and reliable information. Travel between countries is easy because there are no passport checks at the borders.
Europe's historic city centres are full of narrow streets and winding roads. So, to speed up your departure and avoid contributing to congestion issues, we only start our trips from the airport hotel specified in your departure information.
Our friendly team will send you more information about your departure location closer to your departure date.
Arrive at the hotel lobby 15 minutes before your departure time. Unfortunately, we’re unable to wait for you if you’re late due to vehicle restrictions. But depending on your situation, we may be able to help you catch up with your tour.
We have a cancellation period of 42 days for our Europe tours. If you cancel your trip before this period, we give you a full refund minus a 10% admin charge. If you cancel inside this timeframe, you’re liable for the cost of the tour package.
We understand how disappointing it is when you have to cancel a trip with us, so please contact our friendly team who will try their best to resell your ticket and refund you.
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It's simple: you book, you go. This means we'll never cancel your tour because of a minimum numbers policy.
Due to logistical reasons, we're unable to let you pre-book a seat on the bus. But our comfortable mini-coaches have huge windows, So you always get a good view.
We like to keep our coaches small, nimble, and odour free. This means we have no on-board toilet facilities, but you frequently stop in local towns and villages for comfort breaks.
Most people can comfortably enjoy our tours, but it's worth bearing in mind that we often include optional short walks in scenic locations. Please also be aware that many of the old European towns are built on steep hills with cobbled lanes, and you may have to carry your own luggage at times.
So that we can ensure you're comfortable travelling with us, please let us know about any special requirements or needs at the time of booking. If you have any more questions, simply email email@example.com .
Unfortunately, we’re unable to have children under the age of five on our Europe tours.
You can ask us about the tours we recommend for younger children. And if your child is less than 1.35m tall, you should let us know, so we can provide them with a suitable booster seat.
We want you to enjoy your trip to Europe. And we believe the best way to do this is to get you off the mini-coach and out exploring. So, we give you plenty of stops to take photos, go walking, and explore ancient ruins.
We exclude visitor attractions in your tour price because it lets you travel your way. It means you can pamper yourself with a luxury lunch or skip an attraction whenever you feel like it.
You don't need to pack or bring along food on the mini-coach. We stop in small European towns, villages, and rural eateries where you can choose whatever meal pleases both your taste buds and your budget.
It’s more enjoyable to travel with light luggage. You can take less by cleaning clothes along the way. Most hotels provide affordable laundry service.
But if you're travelling with more than 20kg, don't worry! There are left luggage facilities close to all our departure points, and courier companies who could ship your excess luggage on to your chosen destination. Our team are happy to help if you need any suggestions or recommendations.
Let's be honest, our drivers and guides would never refuse a cheeky bonus. But it's up to you, and the amount is entirely at your discretion.
We highly recommend you take out travel insurance, so you can enjoy a stress-free journey.
You're protected by ABTOT when you choose to let us book your accommodation on a multi-day tour. This means you can claim back anything you've paid us if we run into any issues. Read our terms and conditions for more information.
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Travel the local way on small group tours of 16 people or fewer
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