This itinerary takes you into the lush valleys of Tuscany and Umbria where historic churches, Roman and Etruscan ruins, and hilltop villages are set among vineyards and olive groves that have been cultivated for centuries. Led by expert, local guides, you'll get an intimate glimpse into the region's history and natural beauty, along with a full serving of Italian culture and cuisine.
• Savor a lunch of regional favorites in a Tuscan farmhouse.
• Explore Pienza, a perfect example of Renaissance urban planning.
• Prepare regional dishes with Spello Chef Marco Gubbiotti while learning local culinary traditions during an optional cooking class then dine on your creations!
$75 per person gift certificate for The Country Walkers online store
Journey into the heart of southern Tuscany and Umbria as you trek through sun-drenched hills, rolling vineyards, Roman and Etruscan ruins, and historic hilltop towns. During daily walks led by experienced local guides, you'll follow footpaths only the locals know, allowing you to experience the region in a uniquely intimate way. Most days average 4-8 miles per day, with shorter and longer options available when possible. The terrain includes cobblestone streets, narrow gravel roads, springy turf and packed dirt trails, while a leisurely pace allows for stops en route to explore villages, and cultural and historical sites.
Stop at the 15th-century monastery of Sant’Anna in Camprena, where The English Patient was filmed. Stroll Spello, a walled medieval wonder with Roman roots, and visit the magnificent art museum in Gubbio’s 14th-century Palazzo dei Consoli. On Mt. Subasio, you’ll find splendid summit views and one of the finest walks in all of Italy. The medieval town of Assisi hugs the mountain’s slope, and here you’ll tour the imposing Basilica of St. Francis with a local guide. From fresco masterpieces and Roman aqueducts to Etruscan ruins and historic abbeys, you’re sure to get a full serving of Italian culture.
Feel like an insider as you strike up conversations with residents and work up an appetite for exquisite regional specialties. The great Umbrian tradition of fine food and wine figures prominently during your trip and you'll be treated to tastings of cheeses, olive oils, truffles, wines and other delicacies that fill every day with unique local flavor. Sit down with local hosts for a feast in a Tuscan farmhouse and dine in Ristorante Camesena, where a seemingly endless series of specialty dishes creates one of the trip’s many memorable culinary experiences.
• 6 nights accommodations: 2 nights in Montalcino and 4 nights in Spello
• All meals except for 2 dinners; local wine included
• All on-tour transportation from meeting point to departure point
• Assistance of 2 expert, local guides throughout (for groups of 8 or more)
• Guided walks in Siena, Montalcino, Spello, Assisi, Gubbio, Natural Park of Mount Subasio and Orvieto
• Mobile phone rental - includes free phone rental, preferred calling rates and complimentary shipping
• All entrance fees and special events as per itinerary
Note: Please bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, inclement weather or transportation schedules. Therefore unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise but any itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and our guests’ experience.
Day 1 - Arrive in Florence / Siena City Tour (2 hours, Easy)
After meeting in Florence, we transfer to Siena. The week begins with a walking tour of the historic center of Siena, an atmospheric Tuscan city. With its mixture of Gothic and Romanesque architecture dramatically set on three hills, Siena rivals Florence not only in beauty but also in culture. Following a light lunch of Sienese specialties, explore the world-famous Campo square presided over by the impressive town hall and tower. The Campo is the setting of the celebrated Palio horse race. Your engaging guide leads you to the Duomo, the main cathedral, with its striking marble façade.
Later, transfer to Montalcino, your home for the next two nights. Unchanged since the 16th century, Montalcino is a charming walled hilltop town and the birthplace of Brunello, one of Italy’s finest wines. A magnificent fortress built in 1361 crowns its heights. Your family-run hotel is located at the edge of Montalcino’s medieval walls, in the town’s quiet pedestrian zone – ideally situated to explore the town’s cobblestone alleyways, stone houses, local shops and cafés. You are welcomed with dinner in a warm, wood-beamed restaurant in the heart of town; a glass of Brunello may be paired with a tagliata fiorentina (local grilled beef), a perfect start to the week’s culinary delights.
Accommodation: Hotel Dei Capitani - 2 nights
Day 2 - Torrenieri to Pienza (6 miles, Easy to Moderate) / Optional Afternoon Walk from Bagno Vignoni (2-3 miles, Easy to Moderate)
Optional Afternoon Walk from Bagno Vignoni (2-3 miles, Easy to Moderate)Today’s exploration begins in the outskirts of Montalcino. After an initial short drive to the village of Torrenieri we head toward Pienza, the morning’s destination. On the way, along a ridge between the Orcia Valley and the Crete Senesi (Sienese hills), you pay a visit to the 15th-century convent of Sant’Anna in Camprena, a breathtaking former Olivetan Benedictine monastery where The English Patient was filmed.
Enjoy lunch at an old Tuscan farm house, where your hosts welcome you with an assortment of local pecorino (sheep cheese), cold cuts, homemade preserves and pickles, accompanied by their house wine. Following lunch you are driven a few minutes away to Pienza, the birthplace of Enea Silvio Piccolomini, elected Pope Pius II in 1458. Envisioning the creation of the “ideal Renaissance town,” Pius II had the village renamed and entirely redesigned by Florentine architect Bernardo Rossellino. While the village’s restructuring came to a halt following Pius II’s death, the vision of Humanist urban space and planning was superbly realized in the town center, Piazza Pio II, where the main monuments lie harmoniously along the town’s main axis, the town hall opposite the 15th-century cathedral.
An optional afternoon walk departs from the tiny spa town of Bagno Vignoni, where you can soak your feet in the warm waters flowing out of the town’s picturesque main square – the only one in Italy that is, in fact, a thermal pool. After returning to the hotel in Montalcino, enjoy dinner on your own with your guides’ advice; perhaps a lively local trattoria or a glass of Brunello served al fresco on the panoramic terrace of your historic hotel?
Day 3 - Montalcino to Sant’Antimo Abbey (4-7 miles, Easy to Moderate) / Umbria
Today you depart Montalcino on foot. You walk through gentle hills in the shade of old-growth woods and skirt vineyards where the famous Sangiovese Grosso grape is grown for Brunello wine. You might stop to visit an ancient Etruscan settlement, still under excavation, before continuing through farmland, ancient dwellings, wineries and olive groves to make the dramatic descent to the isolated Romanesque Abbey of Sant’Antimo.
After a truly authentic lunch of pink risotto and wild boar stew, we leave southern Tuscany. Our drive winds through the rolling hills and medieval hilltop villages of the Crete Senesi, then descends to the plains surrounding Lake Trasimeno before entering the main valley of Umbria, a region known as the “Green Heart of Italy.”
Your home for the next four nights is an elegant, historic property featuring a panoramic outdoor terrace and heated swimming pool in Spello, a walled Roman and medieval town. If time permits upon check-in, a short introductory walking tour provides an overview. For dinner, stroll to a nearby restaurant, where you are introduced to the well-known local Sagrantino red wine, Umbria’s answer to Brunello.
Accommodation: Hotel La Bastiglia - 4 nights
Day 4 - Assisi City Tour (2 miles, Easy) / Countryside of Assisi (3-4 miles, Easy to Moderate)
The morning and early afternoon are devoted to an exploration of Assisi. This stunning town sits in a commanding position on the slopes of Mount Subasio and has retained its charming medieval qualities and strong associations with St. Francis. You tour its multifaceted historical center and the Basilica of St. Francis with a local guide. After lunch at a local pizzeria there is time for independent exploration of its narrow lanes and inviting shops.
The afternoon offers several options. You may choose to spend more time in Assisi on your own, return to the hotel and relax by the pool, or stroll the picturesque alleys of Spello. Alternatively, choose an easy walking option by venturing out of town into the lush, surrounding countryside and olive groves before returning to Spello. Dinner this evening is the fruit of your labor in an optional hands-on cooking class! You join Chef Marco Gubbiotti in the kitchen and help him prepare regional dishes while learning some of the many culinary traditions of the region.
Day 5 - Gubbio (5-7 miles, Easy to Moderate)
Gubbio, the medieval masterpiece of Umbria, charms with its intimate alleys and surprisingly spacious panoramic piazza, flanked by the stunning palazzo comunale. Following a scenic drive, the morning walk’s destination is the Church of Saint Ubaldo, perched high on the mountainside overlooking Gubbio. The church is the end point of the annual “Race of the Ceri,” a colorful historic festival where locals race ceri (giant heavy wooden structures that resemble candlesticks). The walking route passes by limestone outcrops and a tiny chapel, meandering through woods, along a creek and up a narrow gorge. Eventually we descend to Gubbio’s main square where lunch awaits at a local restaurant - perhaps suckling pig roasted over an open fire or handmade pasta and crescia, traditional flatbread stuffed with prosciutto.
After lunch you are free to wander around the historic center and perhaps visit the stunning 14th-century town hall, the Palazzo dei Consoli, with its renowned art museum. Or you may choose to absorb the atmosphere of this Umbrian gem over a gelato or caffé before the return drive to Spello. Your guides provide ideas for dinner on your own in the town; a local restaurant or trattoria menu may offer chickpea soup drizzled with olive oil, bruschetta, or strangozzi, the regional square-shaped spaghetti.
Day 6 - Assisi to Spello via the Natural Park of Mount Subasio (5-9 miles, Easy to Moderate)
After breakfast there is a short transfer to the Natural Park of Mount Subasio, a protected area with serene paths meandering through open meadows, and oak and pine woods. Mount Subasio is the sprawling mountain on whose flank Assisi is built. A haven of subtle beauty and spirituality, it was here that St. Francis preached to the birds, all gathered on tree branches. Hiking in the meadows along the summit of the mountain, you are likely to see grazing herds of sheep, white Chianina cows and semi-wild horses before descending to lunch in the small, charming hamlet of Collepino. The table is waiting and spread with an ample antipasto of assorted bruschetta, followed by grilled meats and vegetables.
After lunch you may choose to return to Spello by van or to descend all the way on foot, continuing through olive groves and alongside the ancient Roman aqueduct that once brought drinking water into town along the eastern side of the mountain. This evening’s Farewell Dinne ris at an intimate restaurant where you are welcomed with a glass of crisp prosecco on a panoramic terrace overlooking the Umbrian plain.
Day 7 - Easy City Walking Tour of Orvieto / Depart
You depart Spello for the picturesque city of Orvieto, situated atop a tufo (compacted volcanic ashes) outcrop. This final visit takes you to the main square and its magnificent Gothic cathedral, considered to be one of Italy’s most beautiful, with its intricate bas relief and mosaic-decorated façade. You may choose to stay in this pleasant pedestrian city or depart from Orvieto’s train station for short train connections to either Rome or Florence.
*Prices are per person based on double occupancy, are subject to availability at time of booking, and may change without notice. Single supplement may apply. Except for packages including air transportation, unless stated otherwise, airfare, taxes and government fees are not included. Offers valid for new bookings only. Member Benefits are per person and apply to first and second traveler only. Member Benefits are available only with advertised fare and are subject to change without notice. Your travel arrangements may be modified or canceled subject to the travel providers’ policies. Blackout dates and other restrictions may apply. We make every effort for accuracy at time of printing but reserve the right to correct errors. AAA Travel strongly recommends the purchase of trip protection insurance. Except for packages including air transportation, fares may not reflect additional fuel supplement or port charges and vary by provider.
CST #1003968-80. Registration as seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California.