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Fratelli Group Travel


For those interested: (on your own if you wish):
After the tour there will be free time to visit the city or visit the Uffizi Gallery; one of the most important Italian museums, and the most visited, it is also one of the largest and best known in the world and holds a collection of priceless works, particularly from the period of the Italian Renaissance.  On your own. Tickets can be purchased at the main entrance for approximately 16.50 Euro per person.  (The museum is vast so you should allow at least 3 hours or more to visit the many galleries).

Spanish Steps: The elegant staircase of 135 steps was inaugurated in the Jubilee Year of 1725 by Pope Benedict XIII, originally used to link the Bourbon Spanish Embassy to the Church of Trinità dei Monti. The name comes from the Spanish Embassy to the Vatican that has been located in the piazza since the 1600s.   Supper on your own, overnight in Rome.

Much of today’s tour will be on foot, please wear comfortable shoes and clothing. 

Combine six hundred years of history, the panorama of the Florentine hills, and the flavors that render Tuscany a gourmet's paradise, and you'll have the perfect combination.

The course (which lasts about 2 hours and a half) will take place in the kitchen of the Castle where the participants, helped by the chef and her staff, will prepare a typical Italian meal.

The participants will be provided with some aprons, chefs hats and everything that is necessary for the cookery. The recipes will be written out for them as well. In this way, you will have the chance to seize the secret of a typical Tuscan cooking, for example to prepare some good gnocchi or tortelloni with tomato sauce.

Departure Day 1 —Newark to Rome / September 17 (for those departing with group airfare.)
Today you depart from Newark International Airport for your evening trans-Atlantic flight to Italy. Meals and entertainment are aloft. Time schedule TBA.

Day 2 —Arrival in Italy, Rome, Fiumicino / September 18               
Upon arrival your tour manager will meet you in the airport after you exit baggage Claim and Customs areas.  We will board our motorcoach; Next Stop Florence.  You will check in to your hotel and have some time to settle in, unpack and freshen up before tonight’s group supper (included) in the local Florentine restaurant called (Travel Advisor 4 stars)“Buca San Giovanni” with wine, water and coffee included; former Sacristy of the Baptistry San Giovanni.   Prior to leaving for supper we will have a  “Welcome Drink” in the hotel lounge. Overnight will be in Florence. 

For those still energized after supper we can take a walk around city center in the evening to catch some of the sites, perhaps a gelato, before our walking tour the next day.

The Getaway
*Florence *Tuscany *Rome
September 17-28, 2023

Day 3— Florence City Tour / September 19
This morning, after breakfast, we will begin our walking tour of Florence.  We’ll begin with the Accademia to see Michelangelo’s famous “David” and “Prisoners in Stone”, then onto Piazza del Duomo, once the center of religious life in medieval times.  We continue on to visit the Piazza della Signoria which was named after the Palazzo della Signoria, also called Palazzo Vecchio. It is the main point of the origin and history of the Florentine Republic and still maintains its reputation as the political and governmental focus of the city.  The next stop will be the famous Ponte Vecchio; the bridge spans the Arno at its narrowest point. It is believed that a bridge was first built in Roman times.  Butchers initially occupied the shops; the present tenants are jewelers, art dealers and souvenir sellers. 

Supper (included) La Bussola (Travel Advisor 4.5 stars) with wine, water and coffee.  Overnight in Florence.

Day 8 —Florence Free Day—OR—Optional Progressive Supper / September 24
Today enjoy a free day around town. Take time to do some shopping for gold and jewelry along the Ponte Vecchio or for Leather apparel and handbags in the Santa Croce district.  In the main square close to the Duomo you can visit many of the designer stores. You may choose to hop the train to Pisa for the day to see the Leaning Tower, it's just an hour train ride from the city.


For those participating:

At approximately 5:00 pm we will re-gather and meet for a progressive supper through some of the off the beaten path districts of Florence.

Florence food tour starts in the lovely Oltrarno neighborhood of Florence, a step or two off the well-trod tourist path. Here you’ll stop in various places (the order changes according to the night) to taste cheese, cured meats, truffles and Florence’s answer to focaccia, along with various olive oils and balsamic vinegar. Your guide will talk you through this, explaining how and why these key ingredients differ so much from one end of Italy to the other.

From there it’s a walk through the Piazza Santo Spirito to every Italian’s favorite time of day – aperitivo hour. Visit a local enoteca (wine bar) for a tour of the cellars and a wine tasting experience, including either one of the region’s famous Super Tuscans or a very special surprise wine, and local crostini (bruschetta).

Passing artisan shops and local bakeries along Via Santo Spirito, you’ll stop in one of the favorite restaurants for an authentic, sit-down dinner. Here you’ll try a classic Tuscan soup, a typical starter, plus a meaty second course that differs according to the season and what's available in the markets.

Finally, you end your meal as the Florentines do, with a gelato (invented here in Florence) and stroll back to the other side of the city.

In the Castel Verrazzano
We are talking about the famous explorer who on April 17, 1524, at the age of 39, was the first European to discover the New York Bay. The castle, in Val di Greve, was the abode of his aristocratic family of origin, the Verrazzanos.  In one of the letters Giovanni da Verrazzano wrote to King Francis I of France – at whose service he had started his adventures on the coasts of North-America – the great seaman wrote: “We often went five or six leagues into the interior, and found the country as pleasant as is possible to conceive, adapted to cultivation of every kind, whether of corn, wine or oil…”Words we might borrow to describe the luxuriant Tuscan hills of Chianti Classico, where the Castle rises with its 16th-century cellars and its 220 hectares of land, which have produced excellent wine for almost a millennium.  A place that was, and is to this day, “as pleasant as is possible to conceive”. Overnight in Florence supper on your own.

Capitoline Hill: The Capitoline Hill is the smallest among the seven hills of Rome. Even though it is the smallest it played a huge part in the religious and political aspects of Rome since the founding of the city center.  

Piazza Navona: The main attraction of Piazza Navona is the trio of fountains that adorn the square. The central and largest fountain is the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers). It was constructed between 1647 and 1651 on request of pope Innocent X.

Fountain of Trevi: It is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and the most beautiful in the world. A traditional legend holds that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are ensured a return to Rome.  The Trevi Fountain is situated at the end of the Aqua Virgo, an aqueduct constructed in 19 BC by Agrippa, the son-in-law of Emperor Augustus.

Day 11 Wine Tasting in Frascati—Castelli Romani Region / September 27
Today we will head out of the city to the south and the Castelli Romani Region. First stop, Castel Gandolfo, this tiny and quaint village, high up in the hills, located 25 kilometers southeast of Rome in the Lazio region of Italy. Occupying a height on the Alban Hills overlooking Lake Albano, the Pope’s sumptuous summer palace, until recently when Pope Francis opened the Palace for tourism for the first time ever.  Much of Castel Gandolfo is discreetly dedicated to the various Pontifical villas and religious foundations. The Papal Palace - with its astronomical observatory attached - dominates Piazza della Libertà, but other locations, like the sprawling papal gardens, are tucked away out of sight.   Tours of the Palace are independent.  This Ancient area sits on the rim of a dormant volcano.  Its rich volcanic soil was much sought after by the Etruscans, Ancient Romans, the Vatican State and most recently by Romans on weekend get-aways.  Wine has been produced in the Frascati region for thousands of years.  Frascati wine is known as the ‘Golden Wine of the Romans’, the ‘Pope’s Wine’ and the white wine of Rome.  Each stone building, cobblestone street, and ancient church tells the story of the centuries of people who have called this region home.  Here we will enjoy a tour of this beautiful winery and taste four of their fantastic wine and some local products. Later, we will return to Rome to our hotel for a little down time before going out on the town tonight!   This evening we will enjoy a farewell dinner (included) with music, wine, water and coffee in Rome.  Overnight will be in Rome.

Day 12 – Departure Day Rome / USA / September 28
Today, we bid not farewell, but Arrivederci (see you again) to Italy as we transfer to airports or train stations.  Upon boarding your flights homebound, or trains elsewhere, not only will we be carrying many kilos of Italy in your luggage, but many memories of fun days, wonderfully interesting meals shared with friends, a bit more culture to add to our already cultured consciousness, but above all, the recollection of an impressive and wonderful journey in Tuscany & Rome on the ITALIAN PENINSULA. 

Day 4 — The Chianti Road “La Chiantigiana” / September 20
This morning, after breakfast, we will leave Florence for the Chianti Wine Region.  We will be traveling along the “Chianti Road” or ”Chiantigiana”. The Via Chiantigiana is one of the most enjoyable motoring routes in Italy.  It runs directly south from Florence to Siena through the middle of the Chianti Classico wine zone of Tuscany, one of the most instantly recognizable landscapes in the world.  After passing Ugolino Golf Course, the oldest golf club in Italy, the Chiantigiana runs upward and follows the ridges between the Val d'Elsa and the Valdarno, wandering from one farmhouse and villa to another, from time to time passing through villages and small towns.  

The territory traversed by the Via Chiantigiana has been one of the most important wine producing regions in Italy for over two centuries. In fact, it was the Habsburg-Lorraine ruling family, most notably Leopold I, Grand Duke of Tuscany, who, during the 18 C and 19 C, began cultivating the grapes that would become modern Chianti.

Since the 1920s, this territory has been the official area of production for the Consorzio del Vino Chianti Classico Gallo Nero wine makers consortium.  Our first stop today will be village of Greve.  Greve's history is connected to the beautiful Castle of Montefioralle located above the town when it served as the castle's marketplace in the 13th century.  The strategic position at the crossroads of three important pilgrimage roads - the Chiantigiana road, the road to Valdarno and the road to Val di Pesa - favored its economic growth.  At the beginning of the 1500s, the curious shaped square was already built and was later described by the Grand Duke Leopold I as "a beautiful square where every Saturday a big market of livestock and food takes place".  While in Greve we will have our wine tasting with lunch (included) at the Castle.  

Day 5—Monteriggioni & San Gimignano / September 21
Today, we continue our journey south of Florence along the Chianti Road to the medieval village of Monteriggioni.  Monteriggioni; represents one of the most important walled castles inthe territory.  It has incredibly preserved an intact structure as if time had never passed on the hill from which it elegantly dominates the surrounding landscape.  Its perfect circular perimeter makes actuality, it was created by just following the curves in the natural ground.  Its strategic location atop a hill overlooking the Cassia Road allowed the castle to control the cities of the Val d’Elsa and Staggia and be on the lookout for any armies approaching Siena.  The intact fortified wall presents 14 towers along which the guards used to walk and patrol the walls and 2 gates, one called the Roman Gate which faces Rome and the other known as the Florentine Gate since it heads toward Florence. The “well” in the center of the square is the well described in Dante’s Devine Comedy.  Here in  Monteriggioni we will have our first wine tasting of the day.

Encircled by 13th-century walls, its old town centers on Piazza della Cisterna. Later, we head to San Gimignano, the city of Bell Towers  a triangular square lined with medieval houses. It has a skyline of medieval towers, including the stone Torre Grossa. The Duomo di San Gimignano is a 12th-century church with frescoes by Ghirlandaio in its Santa Fina Chapel. The "Historic Centre of San Gimignano" is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town also is known for saffron, the Golden Ham, and its white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, produced from the ancient variety of Vernaccia grape which is grown on the sandstone hillsides of the area. There will be some free-time to explore this fascinating city on your own before heading out of the city limits to an “agriturismo”, Podere La Marronaia,  for delightful supper of Truffle and Wine tasting. 

 Podere la  Marronaia is a little jewel set on a hill, surrounded by vineyards and olive trees, a few km from the historic center of San Gimignano, in a very scenic location.

The unique architecture of the property, which immediately drew the attention of  the present owners, Luigi and Silvia, was the old watch tower, located in the central part of the building.

From the info found in the historical archives of the town, it was discovered that this tower was part of a larger group of fortifications, towers, built around 1200 to defend the city of San Gimignano. Already at that time the property reported as “Magronaja”, due to the current “Marronaia”.  In the XIX century Podere la Marronaia was owned by the Monastery of St. Jerome. Today the building is named among the “special historical and artistic interest” heritage of the city.

The guest of honor of this tasting with dinner is the famous Tuscan truffle.
A guided tour to discover the sharp accents of Tuscan truffles, harmonized
throughout the meal with local products: extra virgin olive oil, wines, appetizers
​and assorted dishes.

Later back to Florence.  Overnight in Florence.

Day 9—Florence to Rome / September  25
This morning, after breakfast, we want to get on the road to Rome early.   We check out and board our motor-coach for the trip southbound to the Eternal City.  

Upon arrival in Rome we will check into our hotel and afterwards meet our guide for a visit to Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica. With the Sistine Chapel.” the basilica, with its façade by Carlo Maderno. At 22,067 square meters, St. Peter’s is the world’s largest church; regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines, it is a popular place of pilgrimage, even though it is neither the Mother Church nor a cathedral (San Giovanni in Laterano is both).  It is hard to grasp its proportions until you have seen it.  Particularly impressive is its height, 136 meters from the ground to the top of the magnificent dome tallest in the world.  St. Peter's tomb is said to be below the high altar.  Many popes have been buried here since the Early Christian period.  A church has been on this site since Roman Emperor Constantine the Great.  Construction of the present basilica, which replaced the basilica of the 4th century began on 18 April 1506 and was completed in 1626. According to Catholic tradition, the Basilica is the burial site of the apostle St. Peter, the first Pope and Bishop. St. Peter’s Basilica is also famous as a magnificent work of art, to which major Renaissance artists, including Michelangelo, Bramante, Raffaello, Sangallo and Giacomo della Porta contributed. Gian Lorenzo Bernini designed the ample staircase and elliptical square surrounded by columns, which “introduces the basilica, with the façade by Carlo Maderno.   This evening a pizza & salad supper is included (with wine, water and coffee) and overnight in Rome.

Later we will have a tour and taste of the world famous Perugina Chocolates (Baci) originating from this ancient city.  Perugia has long been considered the Italian capital of chocolate, even more so since it started hosting the annual Euro-Chocolate exhibition, the chocolate industry's most important trade event.  Learn about the famous Baci and how it came about and how it got it’s name. Listen to the story of Luisa Spagnoli who was an Italian businesswoman, ions ahead of her time. She is famous for creating a brand of women's clothing company and the chocolate factory Perugina.  A true and real modern marvel of the early 20th century. It was in 1877 when Perugia, Italy gave birth to one of the most forward-thinking women of its time. Luisa Spagnoli put Perugia on the industrial map in not one, but two major sectors: confectionary, with Perugina chocolate and fashion, with L’Angora L. Spagnoli.

Supper on your own and overnight in Florence.

Day 6— Full Day to Perugia / September 22
Today we proceed into the Umbrian Hills to Perugia.  A university city with one large university and a smaller one catering to foreign students.  The student population gives the city a more youthful feel than a city as old as Perugia might otherwise depict.  The University for Foreign Students brings a distinct foreign presence, even if there aren’t as many tourists.  The city’s history dates back to pre-Roman times, some Etruscan ruins from that era still exist today.  We will explore the city’s main square and the Cathedral of San Lorenzo.  The current cathedral, dedicated from the beginning as the Cathedral of San Lorenzo and Sant' Ercolano dates from the1300s by Fra Bevignate that was initiated in 1345 and completed in 1490. There will be free-time for lunch on your own and browsing through the many gift and chocolatier shops. 

Day 7 / Fun Day!  Cooking Class / September  23

Today we leave Florence city limits once again and head out to the Wine Region.  Our destination today is Castello di Oliveto in Castelfiorentino.  The Castle of Oliveto is an ancient manor built in the 15th century in the heart of the

Florentine hills, 30 km from Florence, and well connected with the most beautiful and picturesque areas of Tuscany. Today, lunch will be by your own hand as we enjoy a Tuscan Cooking Class in this medieval castle.

Lorenzo de' Medici; the popes, Leo X, Clement VII, and Paul III; the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinand III; and the King of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele III are only some of the Castello di Oliveto's illustrious historical guests.  Built in 1424 by the noble Dei Pucci family of Florence, the Castello di Oliveto is one of Tuscany's most beautiful historical residences. What's more, it provides the ideal setting for unforgettable, history-making events of your very own.

Day 10—Rome Monumental & Ancient / September 26
Today, after breakfast, we will begin our tour of some of the most important and popular sites of Ancient & Monumental Rome.

Coliseum, located just east of the Roman Forum, the massive stone amphitheater was commissioned around A.D. 70-72 by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty as a gift to the Roman people. In A.D. 80, Vespasian’s son Titus opened the Colosseum–officially known as the Flavian Amphitheater–with 100 days of games, including gladiatorial combats and wild animal fights.

Pantheon: The Pantheon is the best-preserved building from ancient Rome and was completed in 125 AD in the reign of Hadrian. Its magnificent dome is a lasting testimony to the genius of Roman architects and as the building stands virtually intact it offers a unique opportunity for the modern visitor to step back 2,000 years and experience the glory that was Rome.