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No distance at all separates Lucca and Pisa from Portofino, the Cinque Terre & Genoa, but the treasures they offer make for a diverse experience. In Pisa’s Square of the Miracles there’s the Leaning Tower, cathedral and baptistry, but much less well known are the colourful villages that cling to the Ligurian coastline.
Take in two of Italy’s most desirable regions: Tuscany and the Italian Riviera. They’re delightfully different from each other, but both are evocatively scenic. First, we visit Tuscany, always a favourite destination for art, architecture and stunning countryside, staying in Lucca, the birthplace of Puccini. It’s one of Tuscany’s most graceful towns, with a historic quarter nestling inside preserved Renaissance walls. Then discover Porto Venere, the Cinque Terre’s unspoilt villages with their riot of colour, and Portofino’s stunning harbour, plus of course Genoa, with its fascinating mix of medieval alleyways and imposing Palazzi.. This tour offers contrasting cultures, centuries of history and ravishing landscapes, all crying out to be experienced.
Arrive at the airport for your flight to Lucca from where you will be taken to your hotel.
After breakfast we take a tour with a local guide who will bring the story of Lucca to life. The city was founded by the Etruscans, and its well-preserved walls date from the Renaissance. As we explore the centre, you’ll notice the rectangular grid pattern which originated with the street plan of Roman times, while the oval Roman amphitheatre is another evocative reminder of millennia past.
This afternoon you can experience more of Lucca’s wonders, exploring its cobbled streets, strolling along its shady promenades and relaxing in its elegant piazzas. As the birthplace of Puccini, Lucca hosts numerous concerts celebrating his work. You can often hear talented vocalists during rehearsals, which adds a wonderful acoustic dimension to your enjoyment of this beautiful city.
After breakfast, it’s just a short drive to Pisa for a guided tour that takes you to the heart of this historic city.
You’ll marvel at how such a relatively small space can accommodate such magnificence. The Leaning Tower – one of the world’s most instantly recognisable silhouettes – is your iconic introduction to the rest of the piazza.
We conclude our visit with the Camposanto, a huge cemetery reputed to contain soil from Golgotha – the site of Jesus’s crucifixion. The great and good of Pisan society wanted to be laid to rest in holy ground and the arched Gothic cloister is lined by sarcophagi and huge frescoes, some in the process of being restored to their former glory.
In the afternoon we return to Lucca for you to relax or explore at your leisure.
This evening we dine at a local restaurant serving traditional Tuscan cuisine.
Our morning drive north takes us past Carrara’s enormous gleaming quarries, source of the finest marble, which has been used in masterpieces by sculptors from Michelangelo to Henry Moore and fashioned since Roman times into the great monuments now dotted across Italy’s landscapes and beyond. Our exploration of the extraordinarily arresting coast of Liguria brings us to the Gulf of the Poets, an evocative name for an inspiring area.
One of its highlights is the picturesque village of Porto Venere, its fortress high on the hillside overlooking an array of colourful multi-storeyed houses lining the harbour. A stroll along the promenade reveals a network of narrow medieval lanes leading to the church and castle. We will enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before continuing to Genoa, where we stay for the rest of the tour.
We spend the next two days exploring the splendours of the surrounding coastline in the manner to which local people have been accustomed for millennia – by boat. Our private charter takes us to the extraordinary Cinque Terre, which translates as ‘Five Lands’. We visit a selection of these five villages – Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore – cut off from the landward side by rugged terrain and steep coastline, making them almost unreachable by car. The dramatic locations, the vivid colours and the way the villages seem to fuse organically with the rugged topography make this one of Europe’s principal scenic highlights. Seafood dominates menus here, anchovies being a local speciality, while steeply terraced hillsides produce fine olives and the ingredients for pesto. Immerse yourself in your surroundings and a lifestyle that has changed very little over time
You can watch fine watercraft quietly going about their business on the shimmering waters as we sail the short distance to Portofino. Arriving here by boat gives you a real sense of the way in which this historic fishing village established itself and thrived around its own superb natural harbour, with a setting of cypress trees and olive groves. A walk to the headland offers a life-affirming view and the scents of thyme, pine and wildflowers hanging heavy in the air.
We return to Genoa in the afternoon, where you will have a bit more free time to enjoy this intriguing coastal city, or simply relax and seek out a local restaurant for dinner.
Transfer to the airport for our flight home.
The price of this holiday is per person based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability at the relevant supplement. The price includes:
UK Citizens do not require a visa to enter Italy however must have a valid passport. For the most up-to-date passport and visa information visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/italy/entry-requirements
We are unable to accept responsibility if you are unable to travel because you have not complied with any passport/entry/immigration requirements.
Cinque Terre & Portofino by Boat
Important note: Visiting the Cinque Terre and Portofino by boat is subject to weather conditions. If safety concerns mean we can’t sail to the Cinque Terre on Day 6, we’ll travel by rail instead, visiting a selection of villages. If we’re unable to sail to Portofino on Day 7, we’ll travel there by the only other method of transport allowed – local bus. When assessing the weather, the captain’s decision to sail or not is final, so please consider this when booking this tour.
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
All transfer times listed here are approximate, and dependent on traffic. If you have a question regarding transfer times please don't hesitate to contact us.
|Arrival airport or train station||First hotel location||Transfer time||Final hotel location||Departure airport or train station||Transfer time|
|Pisa Airport||Lucca||40 mins||Genova||Pisa Airport||2 hrs 30 mins|
Trudy & Alex Lafferty
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