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UNDISCOVERED TUSCANY THE LANGUAGE INSTITUTE + VIA DEL VINO TOURS

8 Nights: September 12-19, 2019

Cities of art, overflowing with culture, breathtaking vistas across unspoiled countryside, medieval villages oozing with charm— the region of Tuscany epitomizes the romantic notion of Italy. And best of all there are world famous wines and a delightful meal around every corner of ancient stone. Wine expert, Susan Guerra, who left the USA to pursue a lifelong dream of living La Dolce Vita and Phyllis Ignozza, owner of The Language Institute will accompany you on this food, wine and cultural journey to discover the region with all of your senses. This weeklong itinerary has been carefully crafted to include a selection of our favorite Tuscan food & wine producers and to mingle with locals. Along the way we’ll visit Siena, Monteriggioni, San Gimignano, Volterra, Montepulciano, Pienza, Monticchiello, Bagno Vignoni and Montalcino as well as lesser-known historical sights in Pitigliano and Sovana in the Maremma region of Tuscany. To soak in the magic that Tuscany has to offer we’ve selected accommodations in charming villa properties with beautiful gardens, swimming pools and full service amenities.

DIEVOLE RESORT: AN ORGANIC WINE PRODUCING ESTATE IN THE CHIANTI COUNTRYSIDE
VINEYARD VIEW AT DIEVOLE

DAY 1: Our tour begins at Dievole Resort, located in the heart of the Chianti wine region about a half hour from the historic center of Siena. A group transfer from Rome Fiumicino Airport is provided. Meet your fellow travelers over a light lunch at this meticulously restored wine property nestled amidst acres of rolling hills before a late afternoon of sightseeing in Siena, a UNESCO world heritage city filled with images of pre-Renaissance Italy. A guided walking tour of the city includes the Piazza del Campo, site of the famed Palio race, and a visit to the Duomo with free time before dinner at Osteria Da Divo. Consistently rated one of Siena’s top restaurants, Da Divo’s unique setting includes Etruscan rooms cut from the volcanic rock upon which Siena is built.

PIAZZA DEL CAMPO IN SIENA

Siena, a UNESCO world heritage city is filled with images of pre-Renaissance Italy. We'll have a walking tour of the city including the Piazza del Campo, site of the famed Palio horse race, a medieval tradition that takes place each year. We'll visit the Duomo, designed and completed between 1215 and 1263. This stunning cathedral's exterior and interior are constructed of white and green/black marble stripes, representing the symbolic black and white colors of the city of Siena.

SIENA: CATTEDRALE METROPOLITANA DI SANTA MARIA ASSUNTA
LIBRERIA PICCOLOMINI: SIENA CATHEDRAL
INTERIOR OF SIENA CATHEDRAL

DAY 2: After breakfast we’ll stop in the ancient walled village of Monteriggioni. Our morning can begin with an optional, easy hike along an ancient pilgrimage route, the Via Francigena starting from Abbadia Isola, a Romanesque abbey built in the 12th century. We’ll lunch today at a family run winery in the Chianti Classico region before a lazy afternoon meander in Chianti, perhaps with a stop in one of the famed Chianti towns with free time to shop or sip a spritz in the piazza. Later in the day, we’ll return to Dievole to relax before a traditional Tuscan dinner paired with wine.

VIEW OF MONTERIGGIONI

Monteriggioni is a gorgeous, little town that stands on top of a low hill whose slopes are dotted with olive trees and vines. The castle here was founded in the second decade of the 13th century by the Republic of Siena as a defensive outpost against its rival, Florence. For centuries the site carried out this defensive function, resisting countless sieges and attacks. Today, a visit to Monteriggioni is like stepping into the past, with its fully intact medieval walls, fourteen defensive towers and quaint cobblestone streets lined with honey-colored buildings and charming shops.

MONTERIGGIONI
FRESHLY HARVESTED SANGIOVESE GRAPES

We'll have our first winery visit today in the heart of Chianti. The history of Chianti Wine dates at least to the 13th century with its earliest incarnation being a white wine. Today this Tuscan wine is one of Italy's most well-known and recognizable. In the past, Chianti was often associated with basic mass-market wine sold in a squat, straw-covered bottle called a fiasco but today's wines are vastly superior in quality. Though the earliest examples of Chianti were white, the wines gradually evolved into red. Baron Bettino Ricasoli created the first known "Chianti recipe" in 1872, recommending 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 15% Malvasia bianca. In 1967, the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) regulation set by the Italian government firmly established the "Ricasoli formula" of a Sangiovese-based blend.

TYPICAL ITALIAN NIBBLES

DAY 3: We’ll spend the morning today in San Gimignano, a Tuscan gem whose 12th century towers are visible from afar. Stroll along the quaint streets with free time to shop the many artisan boutiques or sip a creamy cappuccino in Piazza della Cisterna as you watch the lineup of elderly locals exchanging gossip under the protection of a shady loggia . Our midday stop takes us to Torraccia di Chiusi, a restored aristocratic residence along the Via Francigena for a buffet lunch and wine tasting under the vine-trellised pergola. After lunch we’ll head to Volterra, a town that still bears traces of its Etruscan and Roman history. The working of alabaster is an ancient tradition in Volterra, with numerous shops and museums dedicated to the artform where you can learn about and purchase hand-crafted pieces made from Volterra alabaster, which is considered the most precious in the world. In the late afternoon we’ll have "apericena" in Volterra before returning to Dievole later in the evening.

THE VIEW OF SAN GIMIGNANO AND ITS MEDIEVAL TOWERS
SAN GIMIGNANO LOCALS

Our lunch stop today will be at Torraccia di Chiusi, a restored aristocratic residence along the Via Francigena. We'll have a buffet lunch with wine under the vine-trellised pergola after a visit of the property and its sparkling wine cellar, a former Etruscan tomb that was discovered completely by accident.

THE GROUNDS AT TORRACCIA DI CHIUSI
OUR GROUP AFTER FILLING UP ON DELICIOUS FOOD AND WINE!
VOLTERRA

As written in The Lonely Planet Guidebooks, Volterra's well-preserved medieval ramparts give the windswept town a proud, forbidding air that author Stephenie Meyer deemed ideal for the discriminating tastes of the planet's principal vampire coven in her wildly popular Twilight series. Fortunately, the reality is considerably more welcoming, as a wander through the winding cobbled streets attests.

A TYPICAL ALABASTER WORKSHOP IN VOLTERRA WHERE THE QUALITY OF THE STONE IS CONSIDERED THE BEST IN THE WORLD

DAY 4: After breakfast we depart Dievole Resort for Montepulciano. The home of Vino Nobile and a former Etruscan settlement, this medieval town of rare beauty boasts panoramic views over the wonderful Val d'Orcia and Val di Chiana valleys. We’ll visit the Tempio di San Biagio, then have free time to meander before a tour of the cellars at Fattoria della Talosa followed by lunch. Later on we’ll check in and have dinner at Villa Cicolina, our charming accommodations just a short drive outside of Montepulciano.

SAN BIAGIO CHURCH MONTEPULCIANO
VIEW OF MONTEPULCIANO
MONTEPULCIANO IS LINED WITH BUTCHER SHOPS AND WINE STORES
THE CELLARS FATTORIA DELLA TALOSA

Later in the day we check in to Villa Cicolina, just a short drive outside of town. Until the end of the 19th century Villa Cicolina was the country residence of a noble family of Montepulciano. It was built in the late sixteenth century as the wooden capitals and doorposts show, then lovingly restored by its current owners, Andrea and Angela, using original furnishings and natural elements .

VILLA CICOLINA
ONE OF THE GARDENS AT VILLA CICOLINA
OUTDOOR SEATING AMONGST THE GARDENS
THE POOL AT VILLA CICOLINA IS NESTLED AMIDST THE OLIVE TREES WITH SPECTACULAR VIEWS OF THE COUNTRYSIDE

DAY 5: After breakfast, we spend our morning at an organic farm near Pienza, where we’ll meet the colorful Ulisse for a tour and a cheesemaking demo followed by lunch. Afterwards, we head to Pienza, the beautiful UNESCO world heritage town widely known as the "ideal city of the Renaissance." There will be free time to stroll and shop, eat a gelato or sip a glass of wine while enjoying gorgeous views of the Orcia valley with Monte Amiato in the distance. Afterwards, we’ll have time to relax at Villa Cicolina before supper.

THE VERY COLORFUL ULISSE AND HIS ORGANIC CHEESEMAKING DEMO
SOME OF THE RESIDENTS OF THE FARM WHO MAKE OUR CHEESE POSSIBLE
A PEACOCK AT THE FARM STRUTTING HIS STUFF!
FRESH, ORGANIC, CHEESES
PIENZA'S MAIN SQUARE

Pienza was transformed in 1459, by Pope Pius II (Enea Silvio Piccolomini) who wanted to turn his home town into the ideal City of the Renaissance. In doing so, all of the construction – the church, papal palace, town hall and adjacent buildings in and around Piazza Pio II went up in just three years and haven’t been remodelled since. In 1996 the town was added to Unesco's World Heritage list, citing the revolutionary vision of urban space.

THE VIEW TOWARD MONTE AMIATA

DAY 6: Today we’ll visit Monticchiello, a tiny, walled medieval village perched high on a hill overlooking the valley below. This tiny gem was the subject of the 2012 documentary film, “Spettacolo,” which tells the story of the Teatro Povero, a yearly play where the town becomes a stage and all its citizens, the actors. We’ll have free time to explore before lunch at the Slow Food restaurant Osteria La Porta. Later we head to Bagno Vignoni for a walk around town and a look at the ancient Roman baths before our aperitivo, “Pici” making and cooking class followed by dinner made with the fruits of our labor.

THE ROAD TO MONTICHIELLO

After lunch we visit the ancient village of Bagno Vignoni, located in the heart of the Val d'Orcia Natural Park. Thanks to the Via Francigena (the main route followed by pilgrims in antiquity on their way to Rome), the thermal waters of the town were found and have been used since Roman times. At the heart of the village is the "Square of Sources", namely a rectangular tank, of sixteenth-century origin, which contains the original source of water that comes from the subterranean aquifer of volcanic origins. The spa of Bagno Vignoni has been attended by the likes of Pope Pius II, Saint Catherine of Siena, Lorenzo the Magnificent and many other artists who chose the village as their main holiday resort.

THE THERMAL WATERS OF BAGNO VIGNONI
VIEW OF THE ORCIA VALLEY FROM BAGNO VIGNONI

After a meander about the thermal baths and the pretty town square we'll have an aperitivo, then begin our “Pici” making and cooking class followed by dinner made with the fruits of our labor.

PICI-MAKING EXPLAINED!
THE FRUITS OF OUR LABOR!

DAY 7: This morning we’ll depart Villa Ciccolina with stops in Montalcino before heading to the town of Sovana, in the lesser-known Tuscan Maremma. Our first stop will be a visit to the Brunello wine producing estate Il Paradiso di Frassina for a tour and tasting of wines that have become the subject of a very unusual scientific research project started by visionary vintner Giancarlo Cignozzi. After our visit we’ll make a stop in Montalcino for free time to explore its many boutiques and wine shops and have lunch on your own. Our last stop before leaving the Val D’Orcia will be a short visit to Sant’Antimo Abbey. According to legend, Charlemagne founded this abbey in 781 after he fell ill nearby and prayed for deliverance. Nestled amidst the vines and olive groves, the abbey is still used by monks chanting their daily prayers. In the late afternoon we’ll check in to the Sovana Hotel & Resort with free time to relax before dinner.

IL PARADISO DI FRASSINA

Giancarlo uses music therapy rather than chemicals to treat his vines. A stroll around this property is not just an opportunity to take in breathtaking views and taste top-rated wines, but to be surrounded by the music of Mozart, pumped into the vineyard through a series of specially designed speakers.

SANT'ANTIMO ABBEY: OUR LAST STOP IN THE VAL D'ORCIA

Later in the day we'll check in for the night at the Sovana Hotel & Resort, a perfectly preserved medieval structure, sitting inside over 10,000 square metres of parkland and olive trees, with sculptures, fragrant rose gardens and the archaeological ruins of an ancient Etruscan city just steps away.

THE SOVANA HOTEL & RESORT
GROUNDS AT THE SOVANA RESORT
SITTING ROOM AT THE SOVANA RESORT

DAY 8: After breakfast and checkout, we'll depart for a visit to the 2500-year old Etruscan archeological site at Sovana. After our visit, we'll head to Pitigliano, with its unmistakable skyline perched high atop a volcanic tufa ridge. Pitigliano is also known as Piccola Gerusalemme (Little Jerusalem) due to the long-standing presence of a thriving Jewish Community. We’ll visit Pitigliano with free time to roam and have an optional tour of the synagogue followed by lunch in a local trattoria.

DETAIL OF TOMB OF THE MERMAID

This undiscovered area of Tuscany features monumental tombs and the Vie Cave, a network of ancient, canyon-like roads carved by hand into the tufa rock by the Etruscans during the Bronze Age. Their purpose is a mystery to this day and they remain continually on the world heritage watch list of endangered monuments because of the fragility of the tufa rock, which is soft and easily eroded.

The Etruscans were a powerful and wealthy civilization in ancient Italy and although they developed a system of writing, the Etruscan language remains only partly understood, and only a handful of texts of any length survive, making modern understanding of their society and culture heavily dependent on much later and generally disapproving Roman sources. In their heyday, the Etruscan elite grew very rich through trade with the Celtic world to the north and the Greeks to the south, and filled their large family tombs with imported luxuries.

OUR GROUP WALKING ALONG THE VIE CAVE ETRUSCAN ROADS
VIEW OF THE PITIGLIANO "SKYLINE"

Pitigliano has an unmistakable skyline perched high atop a volcanic tufa ridge. For several hundred years Pitigliano was a frontier town between the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and, to the south, the Papal States. For this reason, the town was home to a flourishing and long-lived Jewish community, mostly made up of people fleeing from Rome during the Counterreformation persecutions. Pitigliano and its area were inhabited in Etruscan times but the first written mention of it dates only to 1061.

Later today we'll head towards Rome, stopping along the way (time permitting) for a visit to the ancient seaport of Civitavecchia. Our tour ends in the evening with a farewell dinner at our hotel near Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport. An early morning shuttle from the hotel to the terminals is included in the trip pricing. Please allow 3 hours for check in and security clearance.

8 Nights: Sept 12-19, 2019, €3,450 per person (double), Min 12/Max 14 guests Single Supplement €450 (Limited QTY Available)

INCLUSIONS:

  • Round trip group transfer from Rome Fiumicino Airport
  • 8 Nights Accommodation
  • Driver + Air-Conditioned Mini Coach
  • Daily Continental Breakfast
  • 7 Lunches with Wine
  • 7 Dinners with Wine
  • 1 Apericena
  • 2 Winery Tours + Tastings
  • 1 Cheesemaking Demo
  • 1 Pasta Making/Cooking Class
  • Entrance Fees for Historical Sites
  • Local Historical Guides Where Applicable

Individual transfers are available upon request (extra charges apply). Airfare is not included. Dietary restrictions can be accommodated with advance notice.

Please note: Although every effort is made to adhere to the stated tour, itineraries are sometimes subject to change at any time due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of Via del Vino, LLC, The Language Institute and its service providers. A 25% deposit is due at the time of booking. Deposit is non-refundable within 90 days of departure. Trip must be paid for in full 60 days before departure. A day-by-day tour schedule with contacts, transfer information and additional details is provided before your departure. For full terms and conditions follow THIS LINK and reference the section on group culinary excursions.

TRAVEL INSURANCE: Via Del Vino, LLC recommends that you purchase a travel protection plan to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. For your convenience, we offer travel protection through Travelex Insurance Services. For more information on the available plans or to enroll, click on THIS LINK or contact Travelex Insurance Services at 800-228-9792 and reference location number 30-0294.

For additional information, questions or to book this tour contact Susan Guerra: susan@viadelvino.com or (866) 812-1223.

MEET YOUR GUIDES

PHYLLIS IGNOZZA IN MATERA (BASILICATA) FOR THE LANGUAGE INSTITUTE'S INAUGURAL ITALIAN DESTINATIONS TRIP

Phyllis Ignozza is the owner and director of The Language Institute in West Caldwell, an independent language school she established in 2002. Phyllis (Filomena to family and Italian friends!) was born in Puglia where she spent many summers and having grown up bilingual in an Italian household in the USA, she has always enjoyed the best of both worlds.

Teaching Italian language and culture has always been her passion. With a BA in Modern Languages and an MA in linguistics, she has extensive experience teaching students of all ages and levels. She taught high school for 12 years during which time she also successfully completed student exchange and travel programs.

Phyllis has also been active with Italian American cultural groups and professional associations of teachers of Italian in promoting the study of Italian language and culture and preserving the Italian American identity and culture. When she’s not teaching, Phyllis enjoys being at her beach home, yoga, cooking, cinema, music and, of course, being with family and friends.

Undiscovered Tuscany is the third of The Language Institute’s Italian Destinations travel series.

SUSAN GUERRA, WITH CHEF TIZIANO ON THE LANGUAGE INSTITUTE'S UMBRIA & LE MARCHE TOUR

Susan Guerra was born and raised in New Jersey, in an Italian American family and anyone who knows her will tell you she spent her whole life dreaming about someday living Italy.

After studying graphic design, Susan worked as a creative director while she and her husband raised their three sons in Montclair New Jersey. She studied Italian with Phyllis Ignozza at The Language Institute and also studied wine—two subjects she is passionate about. After earning her advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, she left the design world to work in wine retail and also blogged about wine for New Jersey Monthly Magazine, in a column called "On the Vine."

But the call of Italy was never far from her mind and after a decade in the wine trade she and her husband sold everything and took a chance by moving to Perugia, the capital city of Umbria. Shortly after her arrival, she launched her company Via del Vino Tours—a marriage of her passions for Italy, food and wine. In the off season, she spends her free time exploring the lesser-known corners of Italy and skiing in the Dolomites, where she someday wants to plan food, wine and ski tours!

PHYLLIS IGNOZZA & SUSAN GUERRA IN PUGLIA FOR THE LANGUAGE INSTITUTE'S FIRST ITALIAN DESTINATIONS TRIP

www.viadelvino.com

Created By
Susan Guerra
Appreciate

Credits:

Created with images by kasabubu - "tuscany landscape cypress" • ilventi - "piazza siena tuscany" • Pawlowice - "tuscany siena italy" • stux - "library three graces" • arovo - "siena dom church" • StefanoRomeTours - "Monteriggioni (Tuscany)" • Sue Manus - "P1000279" • Skitterphoto - "volterra city medieval" • Pug Girl - "Montepulciano" • DagnyWalter - "italy tuscany holidays" • Abbiateci64 - "Pienza" • Jorden rundt og hjem igen - "Pienza, view from Piccolomini Palazzo" • stux - "abbey monastery church" • Tommasi Family Estates - "Pitigliano" All other photos by Susan Guerra

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