experience Italy, off the beaten path

Couples’ Classic Tuscany with Venice & Cinque Terre by Strada Toscana

Best couples tour of Italy! Fall in love with Tuscany, Venice and Cinque Terre, off the beaten path, on a truly unforgettable journey. Visit tucked away places that still honor tradition and authenticity and be enchanted by local Italians who treat you like long-lost family. From the romantic canals of Venice and artist marvels of Florence, to the tucked away fishing villages of Liguria and medieval hill towns of Tuscany, your carefully crafted itinerary includes hand-selected experiences, private visits and intimate, insider tours.

Designed for seasoned travelers or first-time visitors who are looking for more than the usual sightseeing tour, our Couples’ Classic Tuscany with Venice & Cinque Terre tour features the rich and ancient heritage of some of Italy’s most beloved regions through delectable culinary traditions, precious artisans, hidden hamlets, ancient civilizations, medieval marvels, exceptional wines and so much more.

TOUR details: At a Glance

  • May 4-13, 2018
  • 10 Days/9 Nights
  • Trip Price: $3,998 USD per person (based on double occupancy)

A $500 deposit, per person, is required to secure your space on this tour, $100 of which is nonrefundable.

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DAY 1: Arrival

  • Visit to St. Mark’s Square, tour of St. Mark’s Basilica, “maze of alleyways” insider walking tour, gondola ride, welcome dinner
  • Dinner included

AFTERNOON: Our journey together begins in a tucked away neighborhood inside the historic center of Venice. After arrival via water taxi and check-in at our boutique, canal-side hotel, you’ll have time to freshen up and enjoy lunch on your own before we meet in the lobby for our official tour kick-off and orientation! From here we walk together through the winding alleyways of Venice to visit famous St. Mark’s Square and St. Mark’s Basilica. Then it’s back to our quieter neighborhood for our “maze of alleyways” walk, followed by a classic gondola ride together.

EVENING: Dinner at our friends’ classic Venetian restaurant in a former gondola boathouse

 

DAY 2: Venice

  • Early morning walk to Rialto Bridge and Market (optional), vaporetto to the islands of Murano and Burano, Venetian concert (optional)
  • Breakfast included

MORNING: This morning after an early breakfast we’ll walk to Venice’s beautiful Rialto Bridge for a stunning view of the Grand Canal and a stroll through the historic Rialto Market (optional). Then we’re off to catch our vaporetto for a ride through the Venice Lagoon to the islands of Murano and Burano. First top is Murano (world famous for its blown glass works!) where you can peek in countless glass shops – or even visit the Murano Glass Museum. Then it’s on to charming Burano, a centuries-old fishing village – known for its handmade lace and adorable, painted houses. Explore the colorful alleyways on your own and grab lunch at one of the island’s many charming restaurants.

LUNCH: On your own Burano

AFTERNOON: We make our way back to Venice by vaporetto where you’ll have time on your own to relax, shop or explore.

EVENING: We suggest an earlier than usual dinner, on your own, as afterwards you might choose to attend a classic Venetian concert.

DAY 3: Florence

  • Walking tour historic center of Florence, Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence Duomo), Piazza della Signoria, Mercato San Lorenzo
  • Breakfast and dinner included

MORNING: This morning you’ll travel by private Mercedes Benz van service from Venice to Florence.

LUNCH: On your own in-route to Florence

AFTERNOON: After check-in at our boutique hotel in the very heart of Florence, we’ll set out together to explore the city’s historic center where Renaissance art and architecture is virtually everywhere. Our first stop is the world famous symbol of Florence, the magnificent duomo (cathedral) Santa Maria di Fiore, followed by a walk to Mercato San Lorenzo where you’ll find a multitude of leather goods, scarves, gifts and more.

EVENING: Walk through Piazza della Signoria on our way to enjoy a Florentine style dinner at our friends’ family-run trattoria.

DAY 4: Florence & Le Cinque Terre

  • Ponte Vecchio morning walk (optional), Piazzale Michelangelo, walking tour Monterosso al Mare

MORNING: After breakfast it’s off to Ponte Vecchio for a walk across the famous bridge while things are still quiet (optional). Those who wish can revisit Mercato San Lorenzo before check-out, and before our drivers transport us to panoramic Piazzale Michelangelo for one last spectacular view of Florence – from high above – before continuing to our quaint seaside accommodations near the Cinque Terre villages.

LUNCH: On your own in route to le Cinque Terre

AFTERNOON: After check in we’re off to explore Monterosso al Mare – the northernmost of the Cinque Terre villages – with its picturesque alleyways and walking trails that meet up with the sea. You might stroll the beautiful beachside promenade (and grab a gelato), walk up to the Convento di San Francesco (where you’ll find stunning views of the sea!) or meander through Monterosso’s charming alleyways and shops.

EVENING: We dine together at our friends’ chic, seaside restaurant

DAY 5: Le Cinque Terre

  • Exploring Le Cinque Terre villages, Panoramic vineyard walk Manarola (optional), evening on your own
  • Breakfast included

MORNING: Be sure to put on your best walking shoes – and to bring your camera – because after breakfast we’ll be traveling by train to explore the picturesque villages of Cinque Terre, including Vernazza, Manarola and Riomaggiore. At each stop you’ll have the opportunity to walk the seaside paths, shop along the quaint, meandering (and steep!) avenues or simply take in the incredible postcard views.

LUNCH: On your own in Manarola

AFTERNOON: We continue our exploration of the Cinque Terre villages.

LATE AFTERNOON: After returning by train to our “home” village of Bonassola, you can enjoy some time on your own to relax, sip a glass of Prosecco, or perhaps take a stroll alongside the Ligurian Sea.

EVENING: Dinner on your own in Bonassola

DAY 6: Piazze & the Tuscan Countryside

  • Welcome tour Casa Fabbrini, countryside walk
  • Breakfast and dinner included

MORNING: After breakfast it’s off to the Tuscan countryside and your elegant accommodations, Casa Fabbrini, nestled in the heart of picturesque wine country.

LUNCH: Lunch on your own in route 

AFTERNOON: After check-in, you’ll have an opportunity to relax and settle in before enjoying a special welcome tour with delightful owners, Paola and Giorgio, followed by a countryside walk to the nearby village of Piazze for an afternoon coffee or gelato.

EVENING: Aperitivo hour followed by a delicious welcome dinner prepared by Chef Giorgio

DAY 7: Montepulciano & Val d’Orcia

  • Private visit with hand-hammered copper artisan, private Vino Nobile tasting and lunch in our friends’ 15th century cantina, Montepulciano historic center, vineyard photo op, bruschetta-making lesson
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

MORNING: After breakfast, we’re off to regal Montepulciano with its Renaissance palaces and spectacular views. We begin in the historic center of town with a fun, private visit with Cesare, a talented copper artisan, whose hand-hammered cookware is nothing short of stunning. Then it’s on to our friends’ 15th century cantina for a private wine tasting of Vine Nobile di Montepulciano – one of Italy’s finest DOCG wines.

LUNCH: A light lunch will be served during our private wine tasting in our friends’ 15th century cantina

AFTERNOON: Enjoy time on your own for shopping (we’ll point out our favorite artisan shops), visiting churches or for wandering and grabbing a gelato. In afternoon we make our way along the winding, cypress-lined roads to historic La Foce Villa for a private guided tour of the spectacular gardens overlooking the Val d’Orcia.

EVENING: Bruschetta-making lesson, aperitivo hour, chef-prepared dinner

DAY 9: Città della Pieve, Sarteano & Chiusi

  • Village walk (optional), saffron tour and tasting, Etruscan necropolis, archeological museum, pizza night
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner

MORNING: This morning you’ll enjoy breakfast at your leisure, followed by an optional countryside walk to the nearby village. Then you’ll enjoy some free time – perhaps to to relax in a lounge chair with a good book, or to just enjoy the spectacular views. 

LUNCH: Enjoy a buffet-style lunch served up by Chef Giorgio and Paola

AFTERNOON: After lunch we make our way to the medieval town of Città della Pieve for a walking tour that includes a visit with the town’s saffron expert, Alessandro. Città della Pieve has been famous for centuries for its particular variety of saffron, and you’re in for a treat when you taste some of Alessandro’s saffron products. Then it’s on to the countryside near Sarteano for an astounding visit to an Etruscan necropolis (truly amazing!) before continuing to the village of Chiusi for stop in the jaw-dropping Archeological Museum and beautiful cathedral. 

EVENING: Pizza night! Tonight you’ll enjoy a true, Tuscan-style pizza in our friend, Pino’s, cozy pizzeria 

DAY 9: Pienza & Bagno Vignoni

  • Pienza “passeggiata” walk (optional), visit of an organic sheep farm, pecorino cheese tasting, Bagno Vignoni thermal spa (optional)
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

MORNING: After breakfast you’re off to picturesque Pienza – famous for its ideal Renaissance layout and pecorino cheese. Opt to enjoy the town’s “passeggiata” with stunning views of the Val d’Orcia or browse the many artisan shops and/or tour the cathedral and Papal Palace. Next stop is our friends’ organic sheep farm where you’ll enjoy a tour and delectable pecorino cheese tasting.

LUNCH: Enjoy a lunch featuring organic pecorino at our friend’s sheep farm

AFTERNOON: We continue to charming Bagno Vignoni, with its sweeping views and natural thermal springs. Opt for a countryside walk, visit the town’s relaxing thermal spa or travel back to our boutique hotel to enjoy a bit of respite and a cool drink.

EVENING: Aperitivo hour followed by a special farewell dinner prepared by Chef Giorgio, featuring a noted Brunello wine

DAY 10: Departure

Alas, it’s time to say arrivederci. This morning our drivers will transport you to Florence Peretola Airport. Please note that we can also arrange transportation to the Florence train station or to most hotels in Florence.

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EXTRAORDINARY ACCOMMODATIONS

The sophisticated Hotel Ruzzini Palace is housed within a historical palazzo that belonged to one of the most prominent Venetian families. The hotel overlooks spacious, campo Santa Maria Formosa on one side and Rio del Paradiso on the other – featuring a romantic water entrance along a quiet canal. Rooms are decorated in classic Venetian-style.

Situated on Piazza della Repubblica, in the very heart of the historic center of Florence, Hotel Pendini boasts a rich decor, fascinating history and exemplary level of service. Rooms are decorated with elegant appointments and antique furnishing, and the hotel’s breakfast room (always a highlight) is housed in the palazzo’s famous archway – one of the city’s unique landmarks.

Villa Belvedere Hotel Bonassola is an oasis of hospitality and tranquility on the Ligurian Sea, surrounded by green hills, olive groves and lemon trees – just on the quiet outskirts of Le Cinque Terre. Overlooking the azure Blue Bay of Bonassola, the hotel’s panoramic garden is irresistible, with its fruit trees, flowers and inviting lounge chairs. Rooms are freshly decorated and reflect the area’s unique Ligurian style.

Luxurious Casa Fabbrini has a history that dates to the 1600s. Its refined, exclusive atmosphere also reflects the warmth of boutique, family-run agriturismo. Rooms are furnished with antique furniture (with a shabby chic flair), ensuite bathrooms are spacious and the hotel’s proximity to walking trails and the nearby village of Piazze is nothing short of ideal. 

INCLUSIONS Couples’ Classic Tuscany with Venice & Cinque Terre Includes

  • 2 nights stay at Ruzzini Palace Hotel in Venice
  • 1 night stay at Hotel Pendini in Florence
  • 2 nights stay at Hotel Belvedere Bonassola
  • 4 nights stay at Casa Fabbrini in Tuscany
  • Private Mercedes Benz van service to/from all cities, towns and sites included in the itinerary
  • Private Mercedes Benz van service to Florence Peretola Airport upon departure
  • All generous breakfasts with made-to-order Italian coffees
  • 3 lunches
  • 6 regionally inspired dinners at award-winning restaurants or prepared by an award-winning Tuscan chef
  • Regional wines with each included lunch or dinner, featuring local vintages and DOCG wines
  • Accommodations for special dietary requirements, including gluten free, dairy free, Paleo and Vegan
  • Tour inside St. Mark’s Basilica
  • Walking tour of St. Mark’s Square
  • Visit to Rialto Bridge and Rialto Market
  • “Insider Alleyways” walk in Canneregio
  • Vaporetto to the islands of Murano and Burano
  • Classic Venice Gondola ride
  • Visit inside the Basilica Santa Maria di Fiore
  • Walking tour of Florence
  • Shopping in Mercato di San Lorenzo
  • Picturing-taking stop at Piazzale Michelangelo
  • Train transportation Cinque Terre
  • Walking tours in Cinque Terre villages
  • Private demonstration with copper artisan
  • Private Vino Nobile wine tasting in a 15th century cantina
  • Pecorino cheese-making tour and tasting
  • Guided tour of Villa Le Foce
  • Countryside walks (optional)
  • Entrance fees to all sites included in trip itinerary
  • Daily accompaniment with Pamela Haack and/or Strada Toscana guides and hosts
  • Gratuities for restaurant meals and tours
  • And some fun surprises!

Not included: Airfare, alcoholic drinks or wines ordered “on your own”, ground or water transportation outside of that listed in the trip itinerary, tips for hotel staff and drivers

The Unexpected is Part of the Journey: At Strada Toscana we weave amazing, authentic experiences into every trip, but sometimes unexpected things come up. If Mario calls to tell us they’re pressing olives at just this moment, off we go (I mean, we wouldn’t let you miss his newly pressed olive oil!), and if a site has an unscheduled closing, we improvise to include something equally as wonderful and interesting. On that note, if our usual boutique hotels or B&Bs can’t accommodate us (which rarely happens), you can rest assured you’ll stay somewhere of an equal or higher level. The quality of our tours is never at risk, as our team is committed to excellence, along with our vast, local, Italian connections.

Couples’ Classic Tuscany with Venice & Cinque Terre
10 Days/9 Nights
May 4-13, 2018
Trip Price: $3,998 USD per person (based on double occupancy)

A deposit of $500 per person is required to secure your space on this tour, $100 of which is nonrefundable.

DOWNLOAD THE ITINERARY

BOOK NOW

Have questions? Visit our Frequently Asked Questions Page 

REVIEWS : What People Are Saying

“You showed us Italy’s soul, as reflected in its dedicated people doing what they love, and often following in their families’ footsteps as fine artisans – handcrafting wine, cheese, olive oil, and metal work. The Italians, you introduced us to, love life, and love their life’s work, as you do. Their passion, and yours, touched us like no other tour, and we’ve had many. Thank you for your warm and heartfelt hosting, which has redefined vacations for us. As you know, our family is already planning another tour of Italy with you, because we won’t go with anyone but you.” Beverly and Pete Bono

“Well, we have to say that this small group tour surpassed all expectations we may have had about traveling in an organized tour. The entire tour team was a pleasure to be around. Pamela’s sense of humor had us laughing at every meal with her wonderful story telling. We will recommend a Strada Toscana tour to everyone we encounter who is thinking about a tour in Italy.” Rich Emond