Bella Italia

Rustic Tuscany

$3,749pp+Air

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Experience the charms of Tuscany on this truly unique and off-the-beaten-path vacation.

Don’t ‘do’ tours?
Then this is the tour for you.
Let’s ‘do’ Tuscany as the locals do.
No museums, no umbrella flags, no microphones, no big cities.
Just us and you and a truffle hound named Blue.
Let’s go off the beaten path, sleep in a vineyard, break eggs, peel garlic and spill wine. Eat with the villagers, drink with the vignerons.
Your guides Briano and Larsino, long time friends and colleagues, have a passion for Tuscany and an in-depth knowledge of the local way of doing things. Small town ‘Sagre’ festivals, exclusive ins at boutique wineries, hands-on cooking lessons, backstreets of small towns, market days, just the right things to order from the menu, and getting as close to sheep as you even would want to be.
Do you like day trips to secluded places and relaxing nights around the fire with good food, great wine and better stories? Then this is the trip for you.
We have 12 luxury van seats, six rooms in a rural agriturismo with all the comforts of home, and ten days to share an insider’s view of Italy.
Join us on this all-inclusive adventure!

Your Host: LARS LEICHT

If it takes getting chased by wild boar to learn the backroads of Tuscany, Lars Leicht qualifies. Though Lars was on a bicycle at the time and heading downhill, the boar was able to keep up. Maybe it was the pack of hunters in hot pursuit, and maybe the boar was trying to use Lars as cover. Either way, both Lars and the boar seemed relieved when they each took a different fork in the road.

Lars first fell in love with Italy while on a university study program in 1984. He then had the good fortune to go to work for a leading Italian wine importer which helped bring him to Italy pretty much every year since — more frequently in the last ten years as he brings groups of professional sommeliers on discovery tours. Lars lived in Tuscany for three years, all the while making key discoveries and life-long relationships that continue to build and expand; he also has an extensive network of family in the small town of Anagni, outside of Rome, where his grandparents grew up.
Lars loves the big cities with their museums and treasures, but much prefers to be off the beaten path and to go where the locals go. Being fluent in Italian helps; and he still learns some local dialect on his adventures.
A former journalist and wine industry veteran, Lars now dedicates his time to helping others discover the insider secrets and backroad joys of Italy as the aptly named “Wine Sherpa in Chief” for his
Vino Viaggio agency and works closely with the Tomaines on their Bella Italia Escorted Tours.

Shall we join Lars on the less traveled route?

 

Your Tour Director: BRIAN TOMAINE

Brian is the owner and lead Tour Director at Bella Italia Tours; his great-grandparents emigrated from Sicily to the U.S. in the early 1900’s and he has always felt a strong connection to his Italian heritage. Brian made his first trip to Italy almost 20-years-ago and immediately fell in love with the lifestyle, the culture and, of course, the food! Since that first trip, Brian has returned countless times and his bond with “il Bel Paese” continues to grow to this day.

After college, Brian landed a position with one of Italy’s most prestigious wine producers which gave him the opportunity to gain even more in-depth insights into Italian culture and history.

During the two decades Brian has spent exploring Italy and sharing it with others, he earned his accreditation as a Certified International Tour Manager and formed Bella Italia Tours. He continues to develop and maintain friendships with people throughout Italy and travels extensively whether for business or pleasure.

As part of a multifaceted career, Brian also spent 10 years as a professional wedding photographer and still enjoys photography as a hobby.

11 Days Rustic Tuscany

Experience Tuscany Like a Local and With the Locals!

An authentic off-the-beaten-path excursion into the heart and soul of Italy.
This trip includes: All airport transfers*, ground transportation, accommodations, entrance to all events as per the itinerary, and all meals in Italy.

Itinerary

Day 1
FCO
We’ll meet at Rome’s Fiumicino airport at noon and board our lux ride and shimmy up the Tyrrhenian coast then turn inland just south of Siena. Our agriturismo is in the hinterlands of Tuscany, a vineyard paradise complete with pool and vegetable garden; and our tranquility base for the duration of the trip. No unpacking bags each night, no click-click of the roller boards on cobblestone streets, just us, the flora and the fauna; home sweet Tuscan home. After settling into our rooms, we’ll enjoy a welcome lunch al fresco under the Tuscan sun to soak in lots of Vitamin D to stave off jet lag. Oh, and some Vitamin V (for vino) to entice maybe a light nap before we wander off to check out the local area and have an early brick oven pizza dinner.
Day 2
San Gimignano
After breakfast we’ll head to San Gimignano and scale to the Rocca at the towns highest point – once a defense against invaders, now the point of pride to show off the lovely Vernaccia wines of the area. We’ll get a full explanation in the Rocca’s interactive museum and settle in for a master class to sample the wines, cheeses and salumi that are the pride of San Gimignano. Later that evening, we’ll go to our first sagra – a local festival, this one in the nearby town of Paganico and dedicated to frogs legs… but with plenty of other yummy choices including pastas, grilled sausages, ribs, Tuscan beans and more. Did we mention wine and beer too?
Day 3
Siena
Today we’ll take a leisurely and informative guided walking tour of this ancient town that began its existence as a Roman trading post. A real jewel box of a city, Siena’s Duomo was supposed to be the largest in Christendom until work was ‘temporarily’ suspended by the plague in the 1400s… The famous tower of city hall looms over the picturesque Campo where twice each year the city’s neighborhoods vie for the coveted Palio in a perverse medieval combination of pageantry, sport and local rivalries. We’ll slide under the shadows of a back alley to a former apothecary turned restaurant will host us for a guided tasting of Tuscany’s proudest red wines accompanied by a light lunch. Then it’s back to our farmhouse for dinner.
Day 4
Montalcino
It’s about time we work for our lunch… as long as that means pitching in and learning a bit from a local chef in the context of a Montalcino vineyard estate! After lunch that we helped prepare, we’ll embark on a walking tour of the sleepy town of Montalcino and enjoy dinner in one of the local restaurants that tourists are never really directed to.
Day 5
Abbadia San Salvatore
’My baby takes the morning train,’ and so will we – though this being an old fashioned steam train and chug-chug-chug our way through unspoiled Tuscan countryside and up an extinct volcano to the town of Monte Amiata Scalo. We’ll check out a local abbey with hidden treasures, and then hop our wheels for lunch in nearby Montenero – never heard of it? Good! That’s why we’re going there! It’s back to the agriturismo to relax for the evening.
Day 6
Monte Amiata
Today we’ll have a leisurely morning on “our” estate and after a vineyard lunch we head back up to Monte Amiata to experience another Sagra, this one dedicated to chestnuts in the teeny town of Monticello Amiata. Good luck finding another tourist…
Day 7
Pienza
Today we’ll visit a sheep farm and learn about cheese making. Afterward, we’ll enjoy a hearty lunch before we return to the agriturismo and tonight, we’ll enjoy a farmhouse dinner.
Day 8
Bagno Vignoni
Get ready for a relaxing spa day in Bagno Vignoni, where volcanic and sulfur waters have been a sought after cure here since Roman times. Take a massage, swim in the pool or just take a walk around town, it’s up to you. Tonight we’ll have a relaxing pizza dinner(B,D)
Day 9
Panzano
Dario Cecchini is the world famous master butcher of Panzano, famous as the man who saved La Bistecca Fiorentina from the mad cow mania of decades ago. We’ll check out his shop in the center of town, a beehive of activity, then roll into his Oficina della Bistecca, or ‘beef workshop,’ to forge bonds of camaraderie at his communal tables. Don’t be surprised if we finish with a ‘street grappa. We’ll swim it all off – or sleep it all off – back at the villa.
Day 10
Montalcino
Our last day ends with a visit to a local icon and symbol of combining Italian tradition with American ingenuity – the Castello Banfi vineyard estate in Montalcino. We’ll take a guided tour and enjoy a tasting at this, one of Italy’s most prestigious and award winning wineries, before repairing to the nearby hilltop town of Sant’Angelo Scalo – population 65. We will take over a good chunk of the main piazza to dine al fresco on traditional dishes made with love and served with passion. Tonight we gather once more around our home fire for our farewell dinner.
Day 11
Rome FCO Airport

Our time together ends today; after breakfast we’ll hit the road one last time for the trip to Rome’s Fiumicino airport for our return flights. Or, perhaps we’ll part company here if you should decide to remain in Italy. (Your Tour Director can help you arrange transportation from the agriturismo.) Either way, we’ll be bringing home some great memories and new friendships. Arrivederci and we hope to see you again soon!

*Airport transfers are included as part of the group. If you are unable to travel with the group, you’ll need to make separate arrangements. You will be notified via email as soon as you book as to what times the airport coach will depart so that you may make your flight reservations accordingly. We understand that flights arrive and depart at different times and plan ahead for that. We do adjust travel plans to try and accommodate everyone however, if you are unable to travel with the group to and from the airport, please contact us, we’re here to help!

The Apartments

All apartments in the agriturismo feature a common kitchen and living room and each private bedroom has its own en suite bathroom.

 

Living Room

 

Dining Room

 

Bedroom

 

Bedroom

 

Montalcino

Tuscan Countryside