Imagine springtime in Italy with fields of wild red poppies in bloom. Our first 3 nights are in Tuscany, staying in the beautiful walled city of Lucca. Lucca has fascinating history, food, wine, art and architecture, great shopping - all in a sophisticated, relaxed atmosphere.
For a preview video of this delightful city click on this: "Happy in Lucca" set to the music of Pharrell Williams.
With Lucca as our "home base," we'll take day excursions to explore Pisa, the white marble mountains of Carrara (where the massive block of marble for Michelangelo's monumental statue of David was quarried), and the coastal town of Viareggio with its famous beach resorts. Here we'll enjoy a luscious seaside lunch and dip our toes in the Mediterranean.
On our last night in Lucca we'll travel into the nearby countryside to enjoy an aperitivo in a fragrant garden, then ...
Then we're off to Umbria to stay in the village of Spello for the fabulous "Infiorata" festival. Built of pink stone, this historic Umbrian hill town has views overlooking lush green valleys of vineyards and olive groves, ringed by distant mountains.
In ancient times Spello was a famous Roman spa town known for wealthy nobles' "getaways" from the city. Our hotel, originally a noble family's villa, is perfectly located facing the cobblestone street where the festival's giant "paintings" of fresh flower petals will be created in just one night.
On the evening of our arrival we will enjoy a welcome dinner in Spellos' renowned Il Molino. The restaurant was once a mill for grinding the grain that would become (what else?) pasta!
Next morning we'll take a quick local train ride to explore the town of Assisi, where St. Francis was born.
Assisi is perched on a mountain with a vast panorama of beautiful countryside below. We'll visit the ancient Basilica of St. Francis, see the tiny chapel where the saint is enshrined, and have lunch in a local trattoria.
In the afternoon we'll return to Spello just as preparation for the Infiorata festival goes into full swing! In every corner of the town people are joyfully engaged in getting ready for the creation of the fresh flower masterpieces that will take hundreds of hands all night to complete.
Flower petals are plucked and sorted by size and color, with everyone from grannies to little children taking part.
Men are busy on the streets, setting up tent coverings that protect the works of art "under construction" through the night. Since only a fine spray of water is used to hold the the flower petals in place, extra care is taken to keep the paintings safe from wind or rain until they are complete.
Designs are chalked right on the pavement to be filled in with petals by teams of young people toiling all night on their hands and knees in order to finish their floral masterpieces by morning.
That night we'll take part in all the excitement as we stroll the festival route, observing the progress of each "painting," eating and drinking delicious Umbrian cuisine. The shops will be open late (I'm going to take you to a fantastic pottery shop where the owner always greets my friends with a special welcome), and we'll hear live music playing all over town - there's even a local bagpipe band!
Morning comes, the tent covers are removed, and dozens of flower paintings are revealed in all their glory.
We'll watch the bishop's celebratory procession accompanied by the town's excellent brass band, and see the judging of all the flower paintings by a panel of local dignitaries who will award ribbons for the winners.
Monday morning we'll travel from Spello to Florence to stay at the splendid Four Seasons Firenze Hotel.
This palatial 15th century mansion stands majestically in its own park surrounded by formal gardens, ancient trees, a large outdoor swimming pool, spa, and gymnasium. Four Seasons Hotels devoted eight years of painstaking restoration to bring this property back to life ... and the results are dazzling!
From our welcome in the hotel's sky-lit inner courtyard filled with plants and lavishly painted frescoes, to the warm, attentive service offered every minute of our stay, we'll discover why Condé Nast has called the Four Seasons Florence one of the 20 best hotels in the world.
Experience living the blissful Italian art of La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life). Our exclusive, 9-day adventure is perfect for all ages. The tour begins in Lucca the afternoon of Tuesday, May 24, and ends in Florence the morning of Wednesday, June 1.
Group size is limited to 8 participants.
$6,250 per person – double occupancy | airfare not included.
Due to the limited space availability, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mille grazie!
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