Stay Put Zutphen

Day 1: Departure

Day 2: Zutphen (d)
Arrive at Amsterdam Schiphol airport where you will be welcome by your Ruijs tour escort. Due to your early arrival, we suggest to visit first the Aalsmeer flower auction ( only possible from Monday through Friday). An early morning start will enable you to see the Aalsmeer Flower Auction in its full glory. This is the world’s largest flower auction! Here flowers and plants are auctioned and then packaged for distribution to all corners of the world. Some of the flowers that you see sold at auction this morning could be at your local florist the very next day! On our way to the hotel, in the eastern part of Holland, we will stop at Haarzuilens, to see the beautiful castle ‘de Haar’and gardens. Also the village is worth a visit. On to Zutphen, to check into our hotel. Afternoon guided walking tour of Zutphen to get a good impression of our ‘home’town for the next week. In the old town, where our hotel is located, we will first visit the impressive Gravenhof, St. Walburgskerk (13th century Romanesque church), the 15th century townhall and the Meat Hall with the lovely wooden ceiling in the great hall. See the town wall with the towers and the lively pedestrian precincts. We will end the tour with a visit to the Municipal Museum, where a local collection about Zutphen and its immediate region is on display, including costumes from between 1780 and 1950. Welcome dinner at the hotel.

Day 3: Zutphen (b,d)
After breakfast we trtavel west and soon we marvel through the multi-colored bulbfields on the way to visit the Keukenhof Exhibition. This world renowned display garden is a 70-acre estate where 6 million bulbs are planted annually by local growers. Keukenhof is the world's largest exhibition of blooming tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. Stroll through the gardens, view the plantings in the three exhibition halls and walk up the windmill for a magnificent look at the brilliant colors in the accompanying bulbfields. After lunch ( not included) visit to The hague for a hort tour of The Hague. We pass the houses of Parliament, The Innercourt, Queen Beatrix’s working palace, Queen Beatrix House and Carnegie’s Peace Palace. On to Delft, where we walk through the historic area with one of the most beautiful squares of Holland., with the town hall (1618) at one side and the “New Church “ (dating back to 1381!) will be admired. In the New Church all members of the Royal family are buried. Delft is also the city famous for Delft’s Blue Porcelain. Enjoy a visit to the popular Delft Blue Pottery factory for an exhibition and tour. Bacdk to Zutphen for dinner and accommodation.

Day 4: Zutphen (b,d)
After breakfast we leave for Apeldoorn, where in the morning you to visit the Palace Het Loo at Apeldoorn, ( closed on Monday) one of the most popular palaces in Holland. Illuminating the historical ties between the house of Orange-Nassau and the Dutch people, the palace has been lovingly restored to its original grandeur and opened to the public in 1984. A guide will take you through the gardens, which are often referred to as “little Versailles”. After lunch Giethoorn, a picturesque town which stands in the middle of the vast bogland area know as De Widen. Peat used to be dug here on a massive scale, creating the many lakes in the region. You will enjoy a tour by boat as cars are not allowed, see the pretty thatched cottages of Giethoorn face onto the canals spanned by hump-backed bridges. Giethoorn is a really true Dutch village! Back to Zutphen for dinner and accommodation.

Day 5: Zutphen (b,d)
After breakfast we head to Arnhem , approx. 20 miles from Zutphen. It’s name is associated with the one of the most tragic episodes in the liberation of the Netherlands. The aim of Operation Market Garden was to gain access to the Ruhr via a corridor north from the Belgian border across the three great rivers. On to direction Nijmegen, you will then make a stop at Groesbeek to visit the National Liberation museum, you will meet Mrs. Melchers, her father was a very important person in the Dutch resistance. She gives a lecture at the museum. Afternoon you will visit the open-air folklore museum, set in 109 acres of splendid wooded parkland. Around 80 authentic farmhouses, cottages, barns, windmills, workshops, a schoolhouse, a church and a steam operated dairy factory have been assembled here to illustrate rural architecture and life in the past. Back to Zutphen for dinner and accommodation.

Day 6: Zutphen (b,d)
We start the day by travelling west again to visit Amsteram, where we will start with with a City Orientation Tour of Amsterdam, with a local professional guide and we will pay a visit the Rijksmuseum. The Rijksmuseum is the largest museum of the country. It is known for its exception collection of 15C and 17C paintings. You can see the Dutch masters and besides Rembrandts famous painting the Nightwatch, you’ll see works of Vermeer, Steen, Hals and many other artists. From December 2003 on the museum will be under renovation. A mini Rijksmuseum with al the highlights is housed in the Philips Wing of the museum. Renovation will take approx. 6 to 7years. Afternoon is free for independent sight seeing, shopping or museum visits. Or stroll around the antique quarter, visit a canal house or visit the Anne Frank House, where the Jewish girl Anne Frank was hidden during WWII. Your tour leader will assist with suggestion. Each participant will get a voucher for a canal boatride, passing gabled warehouses, arched bridges and colorful houseboats. You will discover Amsterdam the best way! From the water side.

Day 7: Zutphen (b,d)
Today you will drive to the southern province of Holland called ‘ Limburg ‘ you will make a stop at the private garden of Mrs. Greve at Heerlen called Huys den Dohm. You will the garden and mrs. Greve will show you around herself! After the visit you pay a visit at the Margaten American Military cemetery, the group will put a floral wreath at the grave of the Unknown Soldier. Continue to Maastricht founded 2000 years ago by the Romans. Lunch on your own in Maastricht. Aftere lunch a local guide will take you for a walk, see the old medieval city walls, visit the St. Servatius Church and the Helport ( old city gate from 1229) .Some free time in Maastricht and then return to Zutphen for dinner and accommodation.

Day 8: Zutphen (b,d)
Day at leisure and the coach and guide are available for excursions. We suggest to visit Deventer, another pearl located on the river Ijssel. Also Deventer was an Hanseatic town and has a histroci centre full of character , showing its rich past. Deventer played also an important religious role as Geert Groote was born here in 1340 and he was the innovator of the Modern Devotion Movement. Also in Deventer a local guide will join the group, to give you insight information. We will pass the Brink (the main swuare) in the down town area with many outdoor café ‘s and the very famous shop of Bussink, where the famous Deventer Bussking ‘s gingerbread is still sold! Continue to pass the Gothic weighhouse built in 1528, the medieval Bergkwartier with restored old houses, the Church and Town hall. We end the tour with a visit to the ‘Speelgoed & Blik ‘museum, being the biggest public collection of toys in Holland.
Time for shopping. Fare-well dinner in a local restaurant (former farm house of mansion). Overnight at Zutphen.

Day 9: Departure
Early departure from your hotel to Schiphol airport for your flight back home. If departure is before breakfast time, we will give each participant a packed breakfast.


Day 1: Departure

Day 2: Berlin (d)
Arrival at Berlin airport. Your Ruijs escort will welcome you. Transfer by private coach to your Berlin hotel. Take some time to rest. In the afternoon you will enjoy a boattour on the Spreeriver. See the many canals and river Spree that connects the city's network of big lakes. This will be your first and relaxing impression of Berlin. (Please note that there are no boattrips from December 15 – March 15). After the boattour you will have a welcome dinner at your hotel.

Day 3: Berlin (b)
After breakfast a local professional guide will come to the hotel to pick you up for a 4 hour tour of former West Berlin. You will drive along the well-known Kurfürstendamm, Berlin's most famous avenue. This is where you will find many of the best shops and department stores and a great deal of people-watching! Pass the Gedächtniskirche (Kaiser Wilhelm memorial Church tower), symbol of the futile destructiveness of WW II and continue to drive through the vast Tiergarten, a park situated in the central part of the City and which will eventually contain the new museums which will consolidate the collections of the museums in the former East and West Berlin. Pass the remarkable new Houses of Parliament with a lot of glass, masterpiece of architecture. You will make a short stop at one of the most interesting museums; the Gemaldegalerie, which has a wonderful collection of old masters. The most interesting is the painting called "The Man with the Gold Helmet', which was long thought to be painted by Rembrandt, but has been shown to be by one of his pupils. The tour will be followed by a visit to one of the outstanding sights of Berlin: Charlottenburg Palace, built by Frederick, king of Prussia, for his wife Queen Charlotte. We will tour this great baroque palace with its gilt interior and the Weisse Saal, which was His Highness' dining room. The afternoon is free for independent sightseeing. Dinner on your own. After dinner you will attend a performance in the ‘Staatsoper Unter den Linden’ in former East Berlin. Superb venue for performance in old glamour style!

Day 4: Berlin (b)
After breakfast departure from the hotel for a half day tour of former East Berlin. You will see the marked differences between western and eastern Berlin. In the eastern half of the city, you will find that under the Communist regime, the architecture is generally either a very drab, institutional style or splendid restorations and recreations of old structures. It is the latter that will draw our attention. The famous avenue is Unter Den Linden, with its revival at the moment of the lively period in 1930/1933. You will pass the two most recognized structures in Berlin, the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate, which was in East Berlin until the wall came down. You will also pass the Berliner Dom, the Deutsche Staatsoper and the Platz der Akademie. You will visit the 'Haus am Checkpoint Charley'. This was the allied checkpoint were foreigners were obliged to pass to enter East Berlin. Now a film about the wall, its history and the numerous attempts to escape from East to West, are to be seen. You also will visit Pergamom Museum, one of the most unique museums in the world. Admire the Pergamom Altar, part of the Zeus temple, from a town that now is situated in Turkey, dating from 160 - 180 B.C. In the aternoon you will enjoy a guided tour to Potsdam, the former 'Locus Potztupimi', where you will visit the palace Sanssouci, which used to be the country-residence of Frederic the Great. Walk in Western direction to the Neues Palais (New Palace) where you can see the 'Marmorsaal'. This marble hall is in the centre of the palace. Dinner on your own.

Day 5: Berlin (b,d)
After breakfast early departure for a day excursion to Dresden. The distance Berlin – Dresden is approximately 120 miles and will last 2 ½ to 3 hours. Dresden is attractively located on the Elbe river. This city was almost completely destroyed during the last month of World War II, but nearly every building has been restored in the mean time. Dresden is a pearl on the River.
Lunch on your own in Dresden. After lunch you will start with a city tour with a local professional guide. You will start with a visit to the Zwinger Museum, one of the most important museums in Europe. This building was also nearly completely destroyed in the war in the massive air-raids, but has been rebuilt exactly as it was. Inside, the collection has treasures like 'Sistine Madonna' by Raphael and works by Rembrandt, Holbein, Titian and many others. There is also a sizeable collection of porcelain and glass. During the city tour you will pass Semper Opera House, which was built between 1871 and 1878. The Semper Opera House or Semperoper in Dresden is home to the Sächsische Staatsoper, one of the city's most important cultural institutions. The opera house is also one of Dresden's most impressive monuments. We also stop at the Cathedral, an enormous basilica edifice, influenced by Italian baroque. Dinner in a local restaurant in Dresden. After dinner transfer back to Berlin.

Day 6: Berlin (b,d)
Full day at leisure in Berlin. Fare-well dinner in Berlin in a local restaurant.

Day 7: Departure (b)
After breakfast transfer from the hotel to the airport of Berlin for your flight back home.


Stay put program Vienna
Day 1: Departure

Flight to Europe

Day 2: Vienna (d)
Upon arrival at Vienna airport you will be welcomed by your multi –lingual tourescort. Transfer by deluxe coach to the centre of Vienna for a short orientation tour by your tourescort before checking in into your hotel. In the afternoon you will have some free time to stretch your legs and freshen up before enjoying a welcome dinner with music! Overnight in Vienna hotel.

Day 3: Vienna (b)
After breakfast enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of the city including the State opera, Ringstrasse, Strauss Monument. In the afternoon you will visit Schönbrunn palace, the fabulous baroque summer residence of the Hapsburg Emperors where Marie Antoinette lived as a young girl. Stroll through the beautiful gardens fille with flowers and statues. Rest of the afternoon you will have some free time for individual sightseeing. You can visit Hotel Sacher where you can buy and taste the famous Sacher torte.Dinner on your own. Overnight in Vienna hotel.

Day 4: Vienna (b)
After breakfast drive to Salzburg, the city of Mozart and Sound of Music.Enjoy a Sound of Music sightseeing tour including a visit of Mozart’s Birthplace. Here you can see the violin he played when he was five. During the tour you will also visit Hellbrunn Palace and see the church of Mondsee where Maria and Captain Von Trapp got married, the old Abbey, the Do-Re-Mi bridge etc. Lunch together. At the end of the afternoon back to Vienna again. Dinner on your own. Overnight in Vienna hotel.

Day 5: Vienna (b)
After breakfast enjoy an excursion in Vienna to the world famous Spanish riding schools whose origins go back to 1572 as an imperial school of horsemanship. Here we see the horses and riders in training. We continue with a visit to the Vienna State Opera House where you will have a guided tour. Afternoon free for visiting one of the many museums or do some shopping. Dinner on own. Overnight in Vienna hotel. Optional: Opera at the Vienna State Opera house or concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Day 6: Vienna (b)
Day at leisure, no bus availble. Dinner on own. Overnight in Vienna hotel.

Day 7: Vienna (b)
Daytrip to Melk. You will enjoy a guided visit at the Benedicitine Melk Abbey, one of the best –known and splendid monastic houses in Austria. Board a Danube steamer and cruise the river while enjoying your lunch. Re-board the coach again for your way back to Vienna. Dinner on your own. Overnight in Vienna hotel.

Day 8: Vienna (b,d)
Day at leisure, no bus availble. Farewell dinner together. Overnight in Vienna hotel.

Day 9: Depature (b)
After breakfast transfer to the airport for your return flight.Auf wiedersehen!


Stay put program Paris
Day 1: Departure

Day 2: Paris (d)
Bienvenue à Paris. Your courier will wait for you at the airport. Get your cameras ready for a coach tour of the most photogenic city on the earth. A local guide will show you the treasures of Paris, including views of the Notre Dame cathedral, the Opera Garnier, Arc the Triomphe, the Champs Elysees, Place de la Concorde. The tour will end at the Eiffel Tower, Paris most famous symbol. The construction was completed in 26 months and the tower opened in March 1889 for the Universal Exhibition of that year. You will visit the second floor to have a spectacular view over the city. Welcome dinner and overnight in Paris.

Day 3: Paris (b)
After breakfast we will visit the Louvre museum with a local guide. Explore the galleries of Le Grand Louvre, home of the enigmatic Mona Lisa, the triumphant Winged Victory and the graceful Venus de Milo. In the afternoon visit the collection of Impressionism in the Musee d’Orsay to see some of the best works of Van Gogh, Monet and Cézanne. Dinner on your own. Overnight Paris.

Day 4: Paris (b)
After breakfast you will leave the city for Versailles palace and gardens the former palace of Louis IV, the Sun King. Enjoy the Hall of Mirrors and all the other beautifully furnished Royal apartments during a guided tour. After the tour you can spend some time in the gardens and surroundings before going back to the center of Paris. In the afternoon depart by coach to the small town of Chartres which is located 55 miles southwest of Paris. Visit to the Cathedral of Chartres. The town is famous because of its cathedral which is one of the great legacies of the middle ages and is studied because it represents the essence of the Gothic style in architecture. To modern viewers it is amazing that this small, French town should possess what is one of the largest cathedrals in the world. Since 876 AD there have been 6 cathedrals on this site and the town was a major pilgrimage destination through much of its history. The cathedral shows the development of cathedral architecture from Romanesque to Flamboyant Gothic. Its stained glass windows cover 26,000 square feet making this the largest collection of medieval stained glass in the world. The blue shade which predominates in these windows has given its name to the colour “Chartres Blue”. Late in the afternoon return to Paris. Dinner on your own. Overnight Paris.

Day 5: Paris (b)
Full day at leisure in Paris to explore areas of interest to the group or shopping. Group could also take optional train trip to the Loire Valley town of Amboise and visit its very famous chateau and Clos Lucé, the home of Leonardo da Vinci which has been restored as a museum showing his futuristic inventions. Dinner on your own and overnight in Paris.

Day 6: Paris (b)
Day excursion to Claude Monet's Garden and House at Giverny, about 50 miles north west of Paris into the French country side. We admire the home, museum and the restored 4 acre gardens of the French impressionist and painter Claude Monet. He lived here from 1883 to 1926 and found his greatest happiness in gardening and painting his famous canvasses in this garden. See the bridges festooned with wisteria arch over the water lilies below, just as Monet painted them. Return to Paris in the afternoon. Before going back to the hotel we will stop at Chateau de Bagatelle, located on the edge of Paris where beautiful blue and gold iron gates lead into a number of French and English style gardens. The orangery overlooks parterres and an outstanding rose trial garden. On a slope above, a Chinese pagoda overlooks sweeping lawns dotted by outstanding specimen trees. Dinner on your own and overnight in Paris.

Day 7: Paris (b,d)
After breakfast you will depart for Père Lachaise, the cemetery where you can find the graves of a.o. Jim Morrisson and Edith Piaff. After this visit we will enjoy a Seine Cruise. The rest of the afternoon at leisure to buy some souvenirs.
Farewell diner and overnight in Paris.

Day 8: Departure
Today it’s time to say goodbye to Paris. You will leave this beautiful city and take all your memories back home


Stay Put Barcelona
Day 1: Departure
Departure North America.

Day 2: Barcelona (D)
Transfer with private motor coach from Barcelona Airport to the hotel in Barcelona. Welcome dinner at local restaurant and overnight at the hotel.

Day 3: Barcelona (B)
Breakfast at the hotel. After breakfast meet your local guide and enjoy a guided city tour by coach to see some of the main sights including the Cathedral, Gothic Quarter, Port Olympic and the Olympic Stadium at Montjuic. The rest of the afternoon at leisure. Dinner on your own and overnight in Barcelona.

Day 4: Barcelona (B)
Breakfast at the hotel.Today we will enjoy a full day excursion to Sitges and Tarragon. Sitges, preserves important references from the Middle Ages and the old farmers’ and fishermen’s town. It offers an impressive architectural and cultural heritage, the result of initiatives by artists, cultural energizers and patrons like Santiago Rusiñol, Ramon Casas, Miquel Utrillo or Charles Deering. Thanks to them, Sitges was a reference point for writers, musicians and other intellectuals and became an important center for disseminating Modernism and the "Americanos", who, after returning with their "fortune" from their American adventure, commissioned large mansions from Modernist and Noucentista (post Art Nouveau) architects. We will bring a visit to the Cau Ferrat Museum. Before it turned into a museum this was the residence studio of Santiago Rusinol after he demolished two fishermen’s homes and built this residence studio. You will see diverse collections related to the artist and modernism are on display. We will continue to Tarragona. A city rich in reminders of Antiquity and the Middle Ages. It involves a lot of walking in the old town and gives you the opportunity to see some of the most impressive Roman remains. The Cyclopean Walls that extend for over 1,000 yards and dates back to the 6th century B.C.; The cathedral that demonstrates both Romanesque and Gothic architecture and a rose window; ancient Roman Amphitheater that seated over 12,000; and Balcón del Mediterráneo, a terrace overlooking Milagro Beach and the magnificent Mediterranean coastline. Dinner on your own and overnight in Barcelona.

Day 5: Barcelona (B)
Breakfast at the hotel. This morning we will visit the Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudí's unfinished masterpiece. It is one of Barcelona's most popular tourist attractions. Construction on this church will continue at least until 2041! We will have an audio guided tour around the cathedral and we will visit the towers. A lift will lead you to the top of the tower from where you have a magnificent view over Barcelona. The rest of the afternoon at leisure. Dinner on your own and overnight in Barcelona

Day 6: Barcelona (B)
Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning we will visit the Parc Guell. This garden complex with architectural elements situated on the hill of el Carmel was designed by the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí and built in the years 1900 to 1914. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Works of Antoni Gaudí". After the visit we will depart to the county of Alt Penedès, known for its top queslity wines and caves. We will visit a local winery and enjoy a guided tour, an audiovisual show and a demonstration of the method cava or sprankling wine is made. Dinner on your own and overnight in Barcelona.

Day 7: Barcelona (B,D)
Breakfast at the hotel. This morning we will enjoy an excursion to Montserrat. Driving across picturesque little villages of the province, we reach the outstanding Montserrat Mountain, situated at an altitude of 1,235 m. Visit the Royal Basilica, where the famous XII century Romanesque sculpture of Virgen Moreneta can be admired. We will also visit the Montserrat monastery at the foothill of the mountain, it served as a safe refuge for the Catalan nationalists escaping from General Franco's regime. Departure to Barcelona and enjoy your free afternoon. Farewell dinner at local restaurant.

Day 8: Departure (B)
Breakfast at the hotel and check out. Departure to the airport for your flight home


Stay-put Spoleto
Day 1: Departure

Day 2: Spoleto (d)
Arrival at Perugia airport. Your Ruijs Travel escort will welcome you. Transfer by private coach to your hotel in Spoleto. Take some time to rest. In the afternoon you will have a guided city tour of Spoleto to show you around in the city that will be your home for the next 7 days. Spoleto, home of the Festival of Two Worlds, has been a cultural center for centuries. Arriving on the Via Flaminia, you can't miss the Rocca Albornoz, a gloomy medieval castle that looks very un-Italian. But once in town, you are back in the land of warmth and harmony. Seen from outside, the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is unforgettable, with its terra cotta-paved piazza, symmetrical belltower and golden Byzantine mosaic. Inside are Fra Filippo Lippi's frescoes, possibly Michelangelo's inspiration for the Sistine Chapel. The magnificent 10th-century church of Sant'Eufemia was the court church of the Dukes of Spoleto, hence its soaring vault. In the municipal cemetery, the church of San Salvatore has a very rare 4th-century facade. The city tour will be followed by a welcome diner in your hotel.

Day 3: Spoleto (b)
Today you will enjoy a full day guided sightseeing of Rome. You will leave early in the morning to visit all the highlights of this ancient capital of Italy. You will see the Roman Forum. The remains of the Roman Forum, the religious, political and commercial centre of ancient Rome, reflect the 12 centuries of history which created Roman civilisation. The forum was excavated in the 19C and 20C. You will continue your tour to the Colosseum, one of world’s biggest ancient amphitheatres. In the Colosseum was space for about 50.000 spectators. Fights between men and beasts, gladiatorial contests, races and mock naval battles took place in the arena. The excavations revealed an underground warren where the wild animals and gladiators waited before being brought to the surface by a system of ramps and lifts. After lunch you will continue your tour to St. Peters Basilica, the largest and most famous cathedral in the world. In the evening you will return to your hotel in Spoleto for dinner on your own and overnight.

Day 4: Spoleto (b)
After breakfast you can enjoy a sightseeing tour of the surroundings of Spoleto by private deluxe coach. This tour brings you through the dark woods of the Valnerina to the rugged peaks of the Monti Sibillini National Park. In this unspoiled part of Umbria there’s an almost spiritual, timeless atmosphere. Small churches, hermitages and chapels mark the ancient pilgrim routes. Summers are long and the mountain air is clean and crisp. Not only the landscape is worthwhile enjoying, on this tour you’ll find time to taste the traditional Umbrian food, specially flavored with the ‘tartufo nero’ that is found in the hills of the Valnerina and of course the excellent red Montefalco wines. On your way to the mediaeval town of Norcia, birthplace of San Benedetto, you’ll visit the Roman abbey of San Pietro in Valle, climb the Monte Coscerno and walk on one of Italy’s natural phenomena’s ‘the Piano Grande’. The Piano Grande ("Great Silence"), is a big plain located in Umbria, near Norcia, on 4200 ft. This mountain plateau is surrounded by the highest peaks of the Sibillini mountains and forms literally and figuratively the highlight of this tour. During spring- and summertime you will find here millions (!) of blooming flowers.... After a visit to the old town of Norcia the coach will bring you back to Spoleto. Dinner on your own and overnight in Spoleto.

Day 5: Spoleto (b)
Full day at leisure. Dinner on your own.

Day 6: Spoleto (b)
Today you will spend time in Assisi. Assisi is still one of Italy’s top sights, ranking with the Colosseum, Pompeii and Venice’s Canals. It preserves the remarkably intact portico of a Roman temple on its main square, one of the better-preserved Albornoz Roccas with sweeping views and a two story basilica hulking at one end of town that’s a festival of frescoes. The basilica showcases the talents of the greatest geniuses of the early Renaissance, both Sienese and Florentine. The town is still recovering to some extend from damage caused by the 1997 earthquake, but Papal intervention has helped speed the recovery of many of the primary sites. You will start your guided tour by visiting the Basilica di San Francesco. This Basilica is a treasure trove of paintings by such masters as Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti, Cimabue, Giotto and many others. You will continue to Duomo di San Rufino. First built as early as the 5th century, this historic church features the baptismal font of St. Francis, St. Clare and Emperor Frederick II. Then on to Rocca Maggiore, at the top of town. Dating back to the 12th century, this grand castle fortress dominates the region since it is perched atop a walled hilltop overlooking the city of Assisi and surrounding countryside. The fortress dominates the city and it is the monument that visitors first see, after the Basilica of St. Francis, as they approach Assisi. From the square in front of it, you can get a glimpse of the city centre below, with one of the finest views of the entire Spoleto valley. A visit of the inside and exterior of this former military structure gives a better idea of the stateliness of this building. It has recently been restored and many elegant and impressive rooms can be visited. Until a definitive decision has been made on how to use it, it often hosts exhibits and art shows. The afternoon can be spend at leisure. Visit one of the museums, stroll through the old small streets and taste the atmosphere of this very old city. Dinner on your own and overnight in Spoleto.

Day 7: Spoleto (b,l)
Rising 1000 feet straight up from the plains around it, Orvieto has been a stronghold for centuries. Orvieto is a pleasant city with a wealth of historic buildings and it enjoys a particularly remarkable site on the top of a plug of volcanic rock. You will enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of this city by foot. After spending your time exploring the narrow streets including the Duomo, which rises above all other buildings in town, you sit down to a relaxing lunch and wine tasting at a local restaurant. After lunch you will pay a visit to the cellars of Orvieto. As Orvieto lies on a bed of volcanic earth it is worth visiting the ‘cellars’ of Orvieto, to understand the history and structure of the city. The majority of the underground chambers (already present in Etruscan times) which have been dug out of the hill are in fact cellars. A visit to these caves (of which more than 1000 are officially listed) will reveal medieval niches for funerary urns, the foundations of a 14C oil mill and the 6C BC base of a well with steps to enable ascent and descent. The rest of the afternoon can be spend at leisure in Orvieto. Dinner on your own and overnight in Spoleto.

Day 8: Spoleto (b,d)
Today will be your last full day in Italy. After breakfast you will leave for Perugia. Perugia has become the most cosmopolitan medieval city in the world. It’s home to one of Italy’s largest state universities as well as the Università per Stranieri, the country’s most prestigious school teaching Italian language and culture to foreigners. Local industry’s biggest name is Perugina, purveyor of Italy’s finest chocolates and the city stages an urban and stylish passeggiata stroll every evening and one of Europe’s most celebrated jazz festivals every summer. You will have a guided sightseeing tour of Perugia and you will visit the National Gallery, one central Italy’s top museums, which houses the largest and finest collection of Umbrian art in the world, including plenty of Perugino paintings. The afternoon can be spend at leisure to do your last souvenir-shoppings before returning back to Spoleto for a Farewell dinner and overnight.

Day 9: Departure (b)
After breakfast transfer from the hotel to the airport for your flight back home.

Montecatini Terme

Montecatini Terme

Day 1: Montecatini (d)
Arrival at Florence airport. Your Ruijs escort is welcoming you. Transfer by private coach to your hotel in Montecatini, your home for the next 6 nights! Afternoon, a local guide will come to the hotel, pick you up for an orientation tour of Montecatini and will show you the down town area, shopping streets and famous spa’s. We will visit the Villa Garzoni in Montecatini, an amazing building dating back to the 17th century and we will visit the beautiful Italian gardens as well, with pools, grottoes, clipped tress, sculptures and mazes. Welcome dinner in the hotel.

Day 2: Montecatini (b,d)
After breakfast we will make our first excursion to the nearby pearl of Italy: Florence. No city played a larger part in creation of the renaissance. Tour will be partly by foot and partly by coach. Upon arrival a walking tour with local guide to see the Duomo, the bronzed-door Baptistery, Piazza della Signoria, Palazzio and Ponte Vecchio. Rest of the day at leisure. You can, for example, visit the Academia, with Michelangelo’s famous sculpture ‘David’ or the Uffizi Museum, which is one of the most famous fine arts museums of the world. But also a visit the famous leather market is worthwhile! Enjoy the beautiful small squares, fountains and statues, all over Florence! Transfer back by private coach to the hotel at the end of the afternoon for dinner and accommodation.

Day 3: Montecatini (b,l,d)
After breakfast we leave the hotel for some more interesting visits. Today we will visit the Medici Villa’s. We start with a visit of the Villa Pertraia and Villa Castello. Villa Petraia dates back to 1364 when it belonged to the Brunelleschi Family, then later to the PallaStrozzi family and afterwards the Medici family. Villa Castello is very near by Petraia and as well designed by Tribolo, both gardens are famous from the paintings of the Medici villas and the paintings of the Venus on the Shell and the Springtime by Boticelli were made for this Villa. Lunch at the Villa Artimino and then a visit of one of the most important workshops of ceramic which is an important item in the Italian garden. If you wish, we can organise a workshop, and each participant can make their own small ceramic vase or pot with Tuscany design. Dinner tonight in a local restaurant.

Day 4: Montecatini (b,d)
Another full day of sightseeing awaits us! This will be a long, but interesting day. Today we travel by train first from Montecatini to Florence where we will catch the TGV (hi speed train) which brings us in 1 ½ hours to Rome, where a local coach and local guide will wait for you! Your guide will take you for an orientation tour of the city. We will pass the Colosseum, Forum, Amphitheaters, the Spanish steps and Trevi Fountain and of course we also will make a stop at the Vatican to see St. Peter’s Basilica with the Bernini colonnade and the enormous square. We have some free time to stroll through down town Rome, before our coach will bring us back to Rome Termini train station, for our trip back to Montecatini. Dinner and accommodation.

Day 5: Montecatini (b,d)
Day at leisure in Montecatini. Dinner and accommodation.

Day 6: Montecatini (b,d)
After breakfast we will depart for a full day excursion to the heart of Tuscany. Admire the lovely hilly landscape, full of vineyards and olive groves. Our first stop will be in San Gimignano, the 14th century town with an authentic medieval atmosphere. Most interesting are the many medieval towers. Our guide will show us the Piazza della Cisterna and the most beautiful Piazza del Duomo. This square with the Collegiate Church, the palaces and the seven towers is breathtaking! On the way to Siena, we will visit a winery and will learn every thing about Italian wine and of course taste the different wines. Siena, the Gothic town and Italy’s best preserved medieval hill town. We will have some time to spend on Piazza del Campo, with its shell shape and typical Tuscan colors (orange/red). Piazza del Campo is known for its annual horse race, called The Palio. Visit the Santa Maria dell ‘Assunta, dating back to the 12th century and famous for its amazing black and white marble interior. Back to Montecatini for a festive fare-well dinner and accommodation.

Day 7: Departure (b)
After breakfast transfer to the airport of Florence for your flight back home!