Fly to Pisa; transfer to Lucignano via the Leaning Tower; welcome dinner.
Those on the group flights will be met on arrival into Pisa Airport and transferred to the hotel. Those not on the group flights, will make your way to your accommodation at the Il Cassero Apartments located in Lucignano. When you arrive there is time to relax and settle in. No doubt the kids will head straight for the outdoor swimming pool, where you can also relax and soak up the countryside views. This evening we'll enjoy a welcome dinner where you'll meet your leader and the rest of the group.
Free; relax by the pool or head to Lucca where you can hire a bike and explore the city walls (optional); evening cookery class and dinner.
Today is free for your choice of activity and gives you a chance to discover the beauty of the area in and around Lucignano. You may wish to hire bikes and ride around the city walls and along the river. You can also play tennis or go horse-riding nearby. If you wish to go further afield you can take the train to the charming historic city of Lucca. Your leader will assist you in selecting the right activity for your family today.
This afternoon you don your apron for an Italian cookery class which takes place in a local restaurant (about 3 hours). Rightly considered some of the best food the world over, this is an opportunity to learn how to make some delicious genuine Italian fare. From rustic pasta dishes to authentic pizza, you can take home the secrets of great cooking. So if you don't know your pasta from your prosciutto, this is your chance to find out. And best of all, having spent that time making it, you get to eat the results of your efforts at the end! Beer, wine and soft drinks are included this evening to wash your culinary creations.
Explore enchanting Siena; picnic lunch.
We take a local bus to Siena, where we spend the day exploring the town. This mediaeval town is among Tuscany's most beautiful, and you can get a real insight into the history and culture of the region here. You take a walking tour of the city. The old town has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site, which will appeal to all the family. The zebra striped duomo (black and white are the colours of Siena) is unusual in comparison to other churches in this style, and the Palazzo Pubblico, with its 97 metre high bell tower covers one side of the main square. Enjoy a picnic lunch amongst the picturesque surroundings. Afterwards, the piazza, 'Il Campo' is a great place to wander. We travel back to Lucigano by local bus.
Explore mediaeval underground cellars in Montepulciano; swim in the Bagno Vignoni thermal baths of Pienza.
Today we travel by minibus to Montepluciano, famous for its wines, this small city also has a lot of interesting art and architecture. Montepulciano is one of the only places in the world where there are ancient mediaeval underground cellars dating back to Etruscan times right in the heart of the town. You will visit one of these, where the wine rests in oak barrels maturing into what will be the future Vino Nobile. It is not only the wine that makes Montepulciano special but also the mediaeval atmosphere and friendly people.
On to the small and well preserved Renaissance town of Pienze. This town has been famous for its hot springs since the Middle Ages and you'll have the chance to take a dip in the Bagno Vignoni, a large rectangular natural pool in which the waters flow.
Morning orientation tour of Florence, visit food market; afternoon free.
We'll travel by local bus to Arezzo train station and from here take the train to Florence, the capital of Tuscany. Florence is a city with wide streets filled with crazy traffic jams, but its museums, churches and palaces house some of the finest art treasures in the world. It has been said that during the second millennium, a third of Europe's most important artists lived in Florence. The minds and talents of the Medicis, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Brunelleschi, Machiavelli, Donatello and Michelangelo all flourished here.
You will take an orientation walk around the city and visit some food markets. The principal sights of this beautiful 'outdoor museum' are easily discovered on foot - the Pitti Palace, the Ponte Vecchio, the Arno River front, the many statues and monuments of the Piazza della Signoria, the Palazzo Vecchio, the 13th-century Duomo, Baptistry and bell tower, and the Santa Croce Church.
The Uffizi is one of the world's oldest art galleries and a work of art itself. See Michelangelo's famous statue of David in the Galleria dell'Accademia. You can climb to Piazzale Michelangelo for the most photographed of all views across the rooftops of Florence. After lunch you are free to explore the city further as you wish; maybe visit a museum, the catherdral, or just wander the old streets of this beautiful city.
Please note - Florentine State Museums (Uffizi, Accademia, Pitti Palace, Medici Chapels, Bargello, Archaeological Museum, Davanzati) can all be booked in advance. Reserve tickets by phone on (+39) 055 294883 from Monday to Friday 8.30am-6.30pm, Saturday 8.30am-12.30pm. You can also book online at www.weekendafirenze.com. We suggest that you book any tickets that you would like at least two months in advance especially for the Uffizi as this museum experiences enormous queues (up to 5 hours) all year round. The individual museums have slightly different opening times and closing days between them but the website - www.firenzemusei.it - has everything you need to know about all of them. Later you return to your apartments by bus and train once again.
Explore the birthplace of St Francis of Assisi; afternoon visit the stunning mediaeval town of Cortona.
You visit the beautiful town of Cortona which sits atop a hill surrounded by walls. For those who wish to take home gifts you can buy many local delicacies and handmade items here. Just outside of Cortona's walls you'll find the Franciscan hermitage Le Celle, the first monastery built by Saint Francis of Assisi in 1211, where a small community of friars still lives today. Through the course of the centuries, the hermitage was restructured and enlarged several times but Saint Francis's small cell has always been conserved in its original state and can be visited today.
Free day; relax at the pool or kayak on the River Serchio (optional); farewell dinner.
Today is your final full day and it is left free for you to choose your own activities. Relax by the pool, or perhaps opt for a half day kayaking trip. This evening we'll enjoy a farewell group dinner together.
Transfer to Pisa; fly to London.
The tour ends here for land only travellers, however those on the group flights will be transferred to Pisa Airport for your flight back to London.