Depart the U.S. and travel to Italy. The particulars of
your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.
Day 2 - Arrive in Florence
Upon arrival at the Florence airport, a VBT local
representative meets you outside the customs area and helps you transfer
(approximately 30 minutes) to your hotel. The representative will be holding a
VBT sign. If you arrive early, your room may not be ready until 2:00 pm.
You may store your luggage with the reception desk.
You have the rest of the day free to explore Florence with
your City Information included in your Final Travel Booklet. In the evening,
relax in one of the city's restaurants and sample the local cuisine.
Day 3 - All guests meet in Florence / Transfer to Siena / City Walk / Welcome reception
VBT No-Air Package guests: Meet your VBT Trip Leaders at
9:00 am in the lobby of Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci, via de' Tornabuoni 3, Firenze,
phone + 39 055 212645. Your VBT Trip Leaders will be wearing VBT staff
garments. Please come to the meeting in your walking clothes. If your arrival
at the hotel is scheduled later than 9:00 am, or if you are delayed, please
contact the hotel and the staff will pass your message along to your VBT Trip
Leaders. If you arrive later than 10:00 am, when guests leave for Siena, you
must take a taxi (approximately 1 hour) at your own expense (approximately 100
euros/$150 USD) or a bus to your Siena hotel. VBT highly recommends flying to
Italy at least one day before the tour begins; this allows you to rest and
recover from jet lag before you begin sightseeing and walking.
VBT Air Package and Pre-Extension guests: Meet your VBT Trip
Leaders at 9:00 am in the main lobby; they will be wearing VBT staff garments.
Please come to the meeting in your walking clothes.
At the hotel our VBT Trip Leaders will hold an introductory
and safety talk lasting about 1 hour. After the meeting, board a private
motorcoach to Siena (approximately 1 hour). Our walk starts outside the
medieval walls of Siena and ends inside the city. Afterward, you'll have time
to enjoy lunch and to explore a bit more on your own.
After lunch, settle in to your hotel in the city center of
Siena. We will stay here for the next 3 nights.
Later this afternoon we are met by our local city expert,
who will help us explore Siena during a private, guided walk. We will see the
city's main monuments as we tour one of the contrade and learn about the famous
horse race, Il Palio, which occurs twice every year here.
Siena is the embodiment of a medieval city. Its inhabitants
pursued their rivalry with Florence right into the area of urban planning.
Throughout the centuries, they preserved their city's Gothic appearance. The
entire city of Siena, built around the Piazza del Campo, was created artfully,
so as to complement the surrounding landscape.
This evening we gather for a welcome reception, followed by
a dinner of regional specialties served in a typical Sienese Osteria, full of
pictures of Il Palio and snapshots of local culture.
Day 4 - Chianti / Borgo San Felice Winery
After breakfast today we shuttle about 30 minutes outside
Siena to the medieval village of San Gusmé, one of the oldest and best
preserved castle-villages in the Chianti region. From here we start our loop in
the scenic wine region, passing by the beautiful manicured grounds of Villa
Arceno. For lunch we'll enjoy a picnic in San Gusmé, where our walking
afternoon options start. All options take us to the foot of the famous Castello
di Brolio, the imposing castle of the Ricasoli family. Bettino Ricasoli, a
famous 19th-century politician has been credited with the development of the
celebrated Chianti wine varietal. From
here, we can walk an easy stretch to the ancient village of San Felice. This
former Chianti village is now a Relais & Chateux hotel. Here, our hosts
will take us to the underground winery for a wine tour and tasting. Later this
afternoon, we shuttle back to Siena to relax and dine on our own.
Day 5 - Siena / Monteriggioni
Take an early morning stroll around Siena and get a genuine
feel for life in the city as locals begin their day with a cappuccino or two.
Walk the quiet cobblestone streets back to our district, Contrada Della
Chiocciola, and have breakfast at our hotel. Later choose to spend the morning
shopping and exploring on your own or to join our walk from Colle Val D'Elsa to
Strove. This stroll follows a stretch of the ancient pilgrimage route ‘Via
Francigena' connecting Canterbury in England to Rome. We walk gentle, downhill
and flat country paths in the Elsa Valley over iron-rich, sienna-hued soil.
Have lunch on your own and then choose to spend the
afternoon in Siena or walking from Strove to the walled city of Monteriggioni
through open sunflower fields and macchia shrub. Built in 1213, the Castle of
Monteriggioni could not be conquered by the Florentines in spite of their
frequent attacks. It fell only when the captain of the troops betrayed the
Sienese. Stepping inside, we glimpse life as it was 800 years ago. A short
shuttle will take us back to our hotel. Dinner is on our own tonight.
Day 6 - The Abbey of Monte Oliveto / Pienza
This morning a 45-minute shuttle takes us to San Giovanni
d'Asso, in the Asso river valley. From here we start our walk to the tiny stone
village of Chiusure, making our way along a spectacular lunar-like region of
‘Crete Senesi'. Lunch is on your own in Chiusure before we continue walking on
the crest with amazing views of the valley and abbey of Monte Oliveto. The
14th-century Olivetan abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore is our final destination
today. In the Great Cloister, we admire the frescos painted by some of the most
famous artists of the Sienese school.
Later shuttle to nearby Pienza and settle in at our historic
hotel, located in the ancient cloister of the San Francesco church. Before
dinner, follow our Trip Leaders in an orientation walk of this elegant, small
15th-century town, hailed for its Renaissance layout. Just outside of town,
discover the peaceful Pieve di Corsignano before gathering for a group dinner
at a local trattoria. Taste the
famous, local ‘pici all'aglione'.
Day 7 - Montalcino / Sant'Antimo Abbey / Pienza
This morning we shuttle to the hilltop village of
Montalcino, famous for its Brunello wine. Ascend to its topmost “fortezza” for
spectacular countryside views of the Orcia Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage
Site. Then, visit one of the many enoteca or wine cellars.
Leaving Montalcino, we hike country paths and sidle along
vineyards of Sangiovese grapes, olive groves and lovely hamlets. Our route
descends gradually into the Starcia Valley, where we find a picturesque spot
for our Tuscan picnic lunch. We continue to the Romanesque Abbey of
Sant'Antimo, whose luminescent, alabaster interior shimmers with the day's
changing light. From here, we shuttle back to Pienza. Stroll the small town for
some wood or pottery souvenirs or enjoy the hotel swimming pool and sunny
Dinner is on our own tonight.
Day 8 - San Quirico / Bagno Vignoni
This morning a short shuttle takes us to our next starting
point, San Quirico d'Orcia. This fortified, little town on the northern edge of
the Orcia Valley is on the ancient pilgrimage route of Via Francigena, which
brought fame and wealth to the city. We admire the Romanesque church,
Collegiata, with three doorways featuring fine stone carvings. We then regroup
in the Leonini Gardens for a stretching class before starting our walk.
Enclosed within the ancient ramparts of the city, the gardens are a
particularly lovely spot. They retain the original Renaissance structure and
prove to be a well-preserved example of the traditional Italian-style garden.
Our walk leads us to Bagno Vignoni. This is a tiny spa town
founded by the Romans, who discovered its thermal waters 2,000 years ago. The
Medici later built a huge pool in the town's main square, where the hot water
bubbles up. Have lunch at one of the cafes around the picturesque pool, or
picnic just outside town near the natural waterfall.
In the afternoon, you can choose to remain in Bagno Vignoni
and opt to enjoy the waters at the nearby Hotel Le Terme or in the natural
springs or you can continue walking on an optional, more challenging route.
Later, we drive back to Pienza. Get ready for a festive
farewell dinner in a local ristorante
in the nearby hilltop village of
Monticchiello, where we take in our last views of the Orcia Valley at sunset.
Day 9 - Pienza / Transfer to Rome
After breakfast transfer to Rome, arriving at about 12:00
VBT No-Air Package guests: Your trip finishes at Hotel River
Palace, via Flaminia 33, phone +39 06 830011, around 12:00
VBT Air Package guests: Arrive at our Rome hotel at
approximately 12:00 pm and have the rest of the day at your leisure.
If you have chosen the independent Post-Trip Extension to
Rome, you will remain at this hotel for three nights. When you arrive today,
VBT's Rome representative can answer your questions and offer an optional city
walk to make the most of the “Eternal City”. You can also refer to your VBT
City Information in your Final Travel Booklet, which includes maps and
recommendations for restaurants, museums and transportation in Rome.
Day 10 - Depart for U.S.
After breakfast* this morning, you will transfer to the Rome
airport (approximately 40-60 minutes, depending on traffic) for your departing
flight. Please be sure you are ready in the hotel reception area at the
designated transfer time**.
*Please note: For guests with early-morning departures,
breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk
to verify the times that breakfast is served.
**VBT recommends that you check your transfer time in your
“Transfer Reminder.” VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in
advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay
beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will
be at your own expense.