elegant gardens of tuscany

Day 1  Overnight flight

Day 2  Florence

2 Ruijs Travel-Italy - Gardens of Tuscany - Boboli Gardens Florence 1

Benvenuto in Italia! Arrival at Florence Amerigo Vespucci Airport. Meet your driver and tour escort, who will accompany you into the city centre. Florence is the city of flowers and scents, in fact its name means flowering. The city is home to numerous beautiful blooming parks and gardens. Your Tuscan journey starts at the famous Boboli Gardens. These huge gardens are situated next to the Pitti Palace, the main seat of the Medici Grand Dukes and offer a magnificent view over Florence. Explore the avenues, terraces, , fountains, the Nymph Grotto and rare collection of sculptures dating from the Roman period to the 17th century on your own. Following a joint welcome lunch you will be transferred to your hotel. Remainder of the afternoon and evening at leisure.
Overnight in Florence.

Day 3  Florence

3 Ruijs Travel-Italy - Gardens of Tuscany - Florence Duomo 1

A full day of Florence sightseeing is on the program today. Get carried away by this enchanting city of grandeur. Your local expert guide will show you the highlights of Florence on a guided walking tour. You will see the Piazza del Duomo with a visit to the Baptistery dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. In the historical centre you will stop at the Piazza della Repubblica and the Strozzi Palace. Continue to the city’s vibrant and main square, Piazza della Signoria. As you proceed, the impressive Basilica di Santa Croce appears. On your way to the Oltrarno quarter you will cross the river Arno, via the famous and photogenic Ponte Vecchio bridge. In this characteristic neighbourhood , you will see various local craftsmen shops and the beautiful Augustinian Santo Spirito Church and Convent. Rest of the day at your own leisure.
Overnight in Florence.

Day 4  Florence – Villa di Medici La Petraia and Villa Castello – Montecatini Terme

4 Ruijs Travel-Italy - Gardens of Tuscany - Villa di Castello

This morning  you will visit two of the most famous Medici villa’s situated in the surrounding hills of Florence. You start with a visit of Villa La Petraia. Villa La Petraia was home to many distinguished families, highlights of this splendid villa are the lavishly decorated rooms, the original Medieval tower, the frescoed courtyard, and the terraced garden. The Italianate terraced garden has a geometric design, its hedges creating a series of green frames punctuated by dwarf fruit and citrus trees. Afterwards you will visit the garden of Villa di Medici Castello. This impressive garden is one of great historical value, it has had significant influence on the development and evolution of the Italian Renaissance gardens as well as on the French formal gardens. Your journey continues towards Villa Ferdinanda Artimino. This Medici villa is known as the ‘Villa of the Hundred Chimneys’ and is an UNESCO Heritage Site. Following a joint lunch at the Villa’s restaurant you will continue your way through the rolling hills of Tuscany to Montecatini Terme. Montecatini Terme is renowned for its thermal waters and spas.  Upon arrival your tour escort will show you around in this elegant Tuscan town. Overnight in Montecatini.

Day 5 Montecatini Terme – Lucca – Montecatini Terme

5 Ruijs Travel-Italy - Gardens of Tuscany - Lucca

Following breakfast you will depart for ancient Lucca. You will make an on route stop at Villa Garzoni and its historic gardens in Collodi. The village is famous for being the birthplace of Carlo Collodi, the author of “The Adventures of Pinocchio”. The majestic villa, also known as the “Villa of Hundred Windows” was built on the ruins of a Middle-Age fortress with orchards and yards surrounding it. Walk through the garden with Renaissance geometry and the spectacular Baroque features.  Next, on to the lovely city of Lucca. Hidden behind imposing Medieval walls, its cobbled streets, handsome piazzas and shady promenades make it a perfect destination to explore on foot. Enjoy some free time to explore the “town of hundred churches” on your own. Make sure not to miss the Lucca Cathedral, the Basilica of San Frediano and the the Botanical Garden of Lucca. Mid-afternoon you will head back to Montecatini Terme and make a stop at the spectacular gardens of Villa Reale di Marlia with its famous Green theatre and Lemon Garden with a group of marble statues depicting Leda and the Swan, an Art Deco Spanish Garden as well as a Nymphaeum. Overnight in Montecatini.

Day 6 Montecatini Terme – Villa Torrigiani – San Gimignano – Volterra – Castellani in Chianti

Ruijs Travel - Italy - Tuscany - San Gimignano 5

You will leave Montecatini Terme for Chianti. You will make an on route stop at Villa Torrigiani to visit the  villa, decorated with 17th century frescoes by Pietro Scorzini and original 18th century furniture and its formal gardens . These gardens were designed by Le Notre. Transformed into an English landscaped park in the early 19th century, there are numerous features of interest. See the sunken walled ‘secret’ garden of Flora, a Nymphaeum of Winds and hidden water jets. Continue your way to San Gimignano. The town is beautifully perched between the rolling hills of Tuscany, surrounded by green fields and vineyards. San Gimignano is one of the best preserved Medieval towns in Italy and UNESCO World Heritage listed not without a reason.  Your next stop will be the walled hilltop town of Volterra. A local expert guide will show the traces of its Etruscan past and the main sights. Conclude this enchanting tour with an Alabaster carving demonstration and learn all about this craftsmanship. Alabaster is prized for its durability, coloration, and luminous effects when held up to the light. Travel onwards to Castellani in Chianti. In the evening you will enjoy a wine tasting, followed by a Tuscan dinner.

Day 7  Castellani in Chianti – Villa Cetinale – Siena – Castellani in Chianti

Ruijs Travel - Italy - Padua - The Palazzo della Ragione 7

After breakfast you will visit to the gardens of Villa Cetinale. Cetinale was originally a farmhouse, built on ruins from an Etruscan settlement. The gardens is considered one of the most beautiful gardens in Italy. Cetinale gardens are filled with climbing roses, lilies, irises, and vine-covered pergolas. In spring, the walls and walkway are covered with wisteria, turning the gardens into in a sea of purple. Wild flowers contrast with the green of cypresses and olive trees. Geometrically shaped flowerbeds lined with hedges surround the citrus garden. Your journey continues to stunning Siena, also known as “the Pearl of Tuscany”. The city is exceptionally rich in history and art, with strong local traditions. A local guide will take you on a walk through the UNESCO World Heritage listed historical centre. You will see the towns highlights, such as the uniquely shell shaped Piazza del Campo,  Fonte Gaia the largest fountain of the city, originally decorated with sculptures by Jacopo della Quercia, and the impressive Piazza del Duomo, with the magnificent Cathedral, Crypt and lavishly decorated Piccolomini Library. After some time at leisure in Siena you will return to Castellani in Chianti for an overnight.

Day 8  Castellani in Chianti – Fiesole – Florence

8 Ruijs Travel-Italy - Gardens of Tuscany - Parco Pratolino

After breakfast you will leave Chianti and travel north towards Florence. Before entering the city you will visit Parco Pratolino a former estate where once a Medici villa stood proudly. Architect Bernardo Buontalenti built the splendid Renaissance villa, surrounded by a wonderland park with water fountains, grottoes, and beautiful gardens filled with exquisite plants and flowers. It was once a small Versailles in Florence. In 1872 the park was sold to the Russian Prince Paolo II Demidoff, who restored the buildings within the property and renovated the park, the layout remaining today. The Park of Pratolino is one of the most beautiful parks in Florence surroundings. Even though the ancient Medicean villa and the original park are no longer existing, there are some monuments from that era remaining today, such as the famous 16th century Colossus of the Apennines by Giambologna, Cupid’s Grotto, the Fountain of Mugnone, the Maschera Fishpond used as pool for hot baths, the impressive Fountain of Jupiter and many more. Afterwards you will be transferred into Florence for a free afternoon in the city. Farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight in Florence.

Day 9  Departure

9 Ruijs Travel-Italy - Gardens of Tuscany - Chianti wine tasting

After breakfast departure to Florence Amerigo Vespucci Airport for your flight back home.