South Tuscany & Umbria - Daily Schedule
Meet in the afternoon at Chiusi TGV station in Chiusi Scalo, and transfer to our Umbrian country house, set on a small organic farm, overlooking a lake, near the borders of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio. This is home for the next seven days. Collect your bike or tie on the walking shoes, and set out to explore the nearby villages, before enjoying our first experience of the stunning cuisine of this area. Our host will provide an introduction to the workings of his cantina – wine cellar – before a dinner of local specialities.
To the neighbouring town of Chiusi, a setting much-loved by the early Etruscan people, and by a series of Popes. In modern times the stunning climate has led to the development of a thriving tree nursery industry. Enjoy an introduction to the secondo piatto in the inimitable Tuscan-style, at a lakeside restaurant. After lunch, continue the clockwise circumnavigation of Lake Chiusi, or take the longer route to the fortified Castiglione del Lago sitting dramatically above Lago di Trasimeno. Before dinner, depending on conditions, there could be a chance to participate in the grape harvest. Dinner tonight is included.
After breakfast, set off for the noted wine town of Montalcino, travelling through the countryside of the Val d’Orcia, made famous in the books of Iris Origo. These must be the best known cypresses in the world. (Support vehicle ferrying today!) The steep streets of Montalcino hide a multitude of caves storing one of Italy’s premium wines, brunello di Montalcino. Neighbourhood rivalries are still very strong in Montalcino and you will see the banners delineating the various medieval quartieres whose residents relish their annual battles. Descend to the exquisite Abbey of San Antimo, set in the Umbrian valley. Founded by the Emperor Charlemagne, the abbey boasts Gregorian chants that can still be heard here several times a day. Down to the reputed spa of Bagno Vignoni – the town square is a large thermal pool and there are several other establishments to be sampled. Cruise back home after lunch. On returning to the farm, learn how to grind the local organic wheat. For dinner tonight, we will be helping make one of Umbria’s typical pastas. We will also collect wild and cultivated herbs for the salad and other fresh produce from the estate.
If lake conditions are suitable, a chance to try the traditional fishing techniques of this region. To Pienza, a model Renaissance town laid out on a rectangular pattern by local Pope, Pius II, in the 1400s. Behind the impressive walls and strong facades lie many secrets! Recently, Pienza has proven very popular as a movie set – the locals enjoy their lucrative roles as extras, even if they do have to represent gentlemen from Verona! Strolling the cobbled streets, it is easy to pick the most famous product of this town: pecorino, a delicious sheep cheese. Don’t hesitate to sample it! We’ll enjoy a tasty selection of cheeses in our picnic lunch. Return on small roads, or have a well-earned ride in our support vehicle. Tonight, participate in pizza and bread making using a traditional oak-fired oven. Perhaps some fish???
Today’s outing is to another wine giant (and sworn enemy to Montalcino), Montepulciano. Again, the hillsides are honeycombed with cellars containing splendid wines (Nobile di Montepulciano is the most sought-after). Return at speed via a scenic but obscure, largely downhill, route past stately palazzi and the inevitable grape vines and olive trees. Dinner this evening is your choice and cost – local villages, plus the towns of Chiusi and Castiglione del Lago are all readily accessible.
Take the chance to circumnavigate Italy’s fourth largest, and probably shallowest, lake, Lago di Trasimeno. Much of the route follows a dedicated cycle track close to the shoreline. You will get great views of the small islands and of the massacre site where Hannibal drove the Romans into the lake. (This historic event is still celebrated today). Pause for lunch and to visit the museum depicting life on the lake over the centuries, then return through beautiful lanes to our country house. Tonight the famed active gourmet arriverderci feast in our home cantina - a truly memorable experience!
After breakfast, your Italian rural experience is over. Transfer to Chiusi to collect a rental car or to connect to a train to continue your European journey.
NZ$3450 (GST not applicable). A single supplement applies (if you have an individual room).
Footnote: The organiser reserves the right to change any details in this outline, should this prove necessary.
Included in the cost of each escorted active gourmet tour:
- Daily support vehicle (no panniers or backpacks needed!). Luggage and most purchases you make in the markets and antique shops can easily be transferred.
- An experienced facilitator with knowledge of the attractions, the people, and the history of the area.
- Quality accommodation in properties of character, for the most part with private facilities.
- Gourmet dinners (5) featuring the best of regional specialties – including the special arrivederci banquet on our final night, three lunches including spectacular picnics. Several times you’ll get the chance to ‘follow-your-own-nose’ for midday and evening meals.
- All breakfasts, including exquisite homemade preserves.
- Our active gourmet journeys offer a range of routes from undemanding to taxing, through the very heart of stunning countryside. High fitness levels aren’t absolutely essential though reasonable fitness is necessary.
- Pre-trip guidance (and cycle instruction is available if required).
- Tutored wine tasting and special events.
- Rest days and independent exploration possible (we supply very detailed maps which allow a choice of routes).
- Literature, including a detailed itinerary, clothing guide, use of large-scale maps of the area, and general advice on travelling in Europe.
- Daily briefing and guidance.
- Hire of quality mountain bike.
- Water bottle and hat.
- Luggage transfer between localities.
- A sense of adventure is compulsory!
- Castle and museum entry fees (you choose!)
- Gratuities and most drinks.
- Golf club hire and green fees where applicable.
- Fishing tackle hire and lessons where applicable.
- Visas and passports (as necessary).
- Travel insurance (mandatory).
- Personal items, eg, laundry, telephone, emails, faxes etc
- Canoe hire where applicable.
Limited number of days available?
You can join in for a shorter time. We also offer associated walking or car itineraries for non-cycling partners.
See our FAQ page for more information.
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