Tuscany, Italy Tour
August 31-September 14, 2014
Get an authentic taste of historical and contemporary Tuscany with this two-week tour of historic towns and picturesque countryside in Italy.
We will be based in Florence, visiting notable museums and art (such as the Academia with Michelangelo’s David) and the Etruscan sites of nearby Fiesole. We also will go on excursions to other towns such as Sienna and San Gimigniano, and to the beach on the Ligurian Sea, as well as have overnight stays at an agritourism inn and at a hotel in the little-visited Garfagnana valley amidst the Apennines and the Alps.
The vibrant contemporary food culture of Italy.
The trip will emphasize the vibrant contemporary food culture of Italy, and will include real “survival Italian” language instruction and hands-on classes in Italian cooking.
The tour will be led by Drs. Gigi Berardi, professor at WWU’s Huxley College of the Environment, and Jim Allaway, adjunct Huxley faculty.
Gigi’s research interests currently focus on food (initially stimulated by her Italian upbringing) and sustainable agriculture; she has recently completed the draft of a book on these topics, A Cultivated Life, and for several years has led a summer course for Western students to Italy and Switzerland. Jim formerly was a program director and part-time visiting professor at Huxley, and is particularly interested in international ecotourism, parks, and wildlife conservation.
Our partner in Italy is the Istituto Galelei, providing language instruction and cooking classes, logistical arrangements, and long-standing guides for Western.
For more about the instructor, read Gigi's Blog, Good 4 U Gastronomy.
To view photos, click here.
Tuscany, Italy Program $5,200
Single Supplement price: please contact us
Included with program costs:
- Wine tasting and cooking classes
- Special guides
- Double occupancy rooms with single room supplement (TBA)
- Ground Transportation
- Fees into museums
- Excursions (Sienese: Agri- tourism, San Gimigniano, Garfagnana Valley, Via Reggio, Fiesole, Boboli Gardens)
- Most meals
- 10 hours of Conversational Italian and Italian Table etiquette
Not included in program costs:
- Items of a personal nature (including shopping)
- Flights and Visas
- Optional tours/museum visits
- Immunizations or medication
- Travel/trip insurance
Italy Community Program Itinerary
August 31 - September 14, 2014
Sunday Aug. 31 - Arrive in Florence and move into apartments, home base for the first week. Meet late in the day for a briefing; then we will gather for a welcome dinner (included).
Monday, Sept. 1 - Start your day with a two-hour “survival Italian” language class, followed by a group lunch, then a walking tour of Florence guided by a local art history expert. Explore major landmarks including Piazza del Duomo, Basilica di Santa Croce, Piazza Santissima Annunziata, and Piazza Sant'Ambrogio. After dinner, on your own, join us for an optional walk to see the atmospheric Ponte Vecchio in the evening. (Included: lunch; tour; Santa Croce entrance fee)
Tuesday-Thursday, Sept. 2-4 – Tuesday we leave Florence for an Italian Agriturismo resthouse in the Sienese countryside, stopping for a panoramic view of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo and San Miniato church on a hill across the Arno River. We will stay two nights in a farmhouse with a pool, our base for exploring rural Tuscany. Wednesday, visit San Gimignano, a UNESCO World Heritage site, famous for its well-preserved medieval architecture, especially towers, and then historic Siena with its famous Il Campo square and a guided tour of the cathedral and its museum. Thursday, on our return drive to Florence, visit the mineral springs in Terme – and learn more about Dr. Berardi's research in food and culture and the importance of minerals, sun, and Mediterranean fats in the diet. (Included: ground transportation; 3 lunches; 2 dinners and breakfasts at agritourismo; Siena tour; entrance fees)
Friday, Sept. 5 – Start the day with our second Italian language class. This is followed by a presentation on art history, as preparation for our guided tour of the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most famous Renaissance art museums in the world. You will see works by great Italian artists such as Botticelli, Giotto, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raffaello. (Included: lunch; Uffizi entry and tour)
Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 6-7 – Venture by local train northwest to the Garfagnana region, one of Tuscany's best kept secrets. We spend one night in this picturesque valley nestled between two mountain ranges. The area is known for its hillside farms, chestnut woodlands, and distinctive cuisine featuring pork and chestnuts in various preparations, pecorino cheese, spelt, fungi, and chestnut honey. We stay in the central town of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, with opportunities for afternoon and morning hikes led by Dr. Jim Allaway to see some of the surrounding countryside. There is also a local fair in Castelnuovo Garfagnana taking place both Saturday, Sept. 6th and Sunday, Sept. 7th. Lunch one day will be at a premier Slow Food restaurant. Return to Florence the evening of September 7. Check into the renowned Hotel Loggiato Dei Serviti, home base for our second week. (Included: ground transportation; 2 lunches, 2 dinners)
Monday, Sept. 8 – We start the morning with our third Italian language class. In the afternoon we can visit Florence’s central Duomo and related sites (its Museo, Giotto’s Tower, baptistry, and climbing into the dome). We end the day with our first Italian cooking class at Il Tavola, and then the dinner we produce. (Included: breakfast; Duomo sites entry fee; cooking class and dinner)
Tuesday, Sept. 9 – The morning is available to see more of the Duomo sites. In the afternoon we have our fourth Italian language class, followed in the evening by our second Italian cooking class and resulting dinner at Il Tavola. (Included: breakfast; Duomo sites entry fee; cooking class and dinner)
Wednesday, Sept. 10 – Travel to the coastal resort town of Viareggio, part of the Italian riviera, to at least dip our toes in the Tyrrhenian Sea, a lobe of the Mediterranean bordering Tuscany. In the afternoon, visit the walled town of Lucca and explore its many historic attractions. We return to Florence in the late afternoon, but you will have the opportunity to spend the evening on your own enjoying an opera performance in Lucca, home of Puccini. (Included: breakfast; ground transportation; lunch)
Thursday, Sept. 11 - We start with our fifth and last Italian language class, and visit the famous Accademia gallery, home of Michelangelo's David. After lunch, we take the city bus up the hill to Fiesole, now an up-scale suburb but first inhabited by Etruscans hundreds of years before the Romans; here we explore the town and the excavated Etruscan site and museum. (Included: breakfast; lunch; ground transportation; Fiesole entry fee)
Friday, Sept. 12 – Spend the day touring the expansive Pitti Palace and adjacent Boboli Gardens. The Pitti houses the Palatine Gallery and several other museums including the Silver Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Costume Gallery, Porcelain Museum, and Museum of Carriages. The park-like Boboli Gardens, located behind the Pitti, are home to a sculpture collection dating from the 16th through the 18th century. Depending on your endurance at the Pitti, there may be time in the afternoon for shopping or additional sightseeing on your own. (Included: breakfast; lunch; Pitti/Boboli entry fees)
Saturday, Sept. 13 – Our last day! After a free morning for individual activities, we travel through the Chianti countryside to Il Palagio estate, a medieval castle and historic house with a vineyard and winery, olive groves, and an Italian garden. Here we will enjoy estate wine and Italian food tasting (with an opportunity to purchase Il Palagio wine and olive oil and have it shipped home). (Included: breakfast; ground transportation; wine/food tasting)
Sunday, Sept. 14 – Depart Florence (or at least finish the program; you may go on to your next adventure). (Included: breakfast)