Birthplace of saints and home to some of the country’s greatest artistic treasures, the regions of Umbria and Tuscany are a collection of green valleys and picture-perfect hill towns laden with centuries of history.
This 7-day tour has been designed to escape the Easter crowds and enjoy the tranquillity of the countryside in the heart of Italy. See the lush countryside of Umbria and the medieval towns Orvieto, Assisi and Spoleto, home to masterpieces by Lippi and Giotto. And Tuscany, distinguished by rolling hills and dramatic cypress trees, the beauty of the landscape proves a perfect foil for the region’s abundance of superlative art and architecture. The combination of unforgettable art, sumptuous landscapes, and outstanding wines that pair beautifully with its simple food makes a trip to Umbria and Tuscany something beyond special.
Accommodation is in superior four-star boutique hotels, in the hill towns Spoleto and Siena, rather than large cities. This allows you to enjoy the gentle pace and everyday elegance of provincial Italian life, free from noise of the tourist crush.
Picturesque Assisi for a tour of Franciscan treasures, including the Basilica of Saint Francis to see the frescos by Giotto
Beautiful Spoleto surrounded by hills, olive groves and vineyards. Dating from the 12th century, Spoleto Cathedral houses frescoes by the medieval artist Filippo Lippi
The town of Orvieto dramatically perches on a rock cliff
Iris Origo’s La Foce estate, considered amongst the finest gardens in Italy, designed by Cecil Pinsent, is nestled in the Southern Tuscan region of Val d’Orcia
In medieval Siena, admire the striking Gothic cathedral and see the famed shell-shaped Piazza del Campo
Explore Arezzo and San Sepolcro to follow the path of Early Renaissance artist Piero della Francesca
Admire the contemporary architecture of the Antinori winery while enjoying a tasting of the local wines
Days 1-3: Meet your tour leader in Rome and together travel by coach to Orvieto, to visit the hilltop town before continuing on to Spoleto, our base for three nights. From here we visit the nearby ancient town of Assisi.
Days 4 -6: Travel through the Tuscan countryside to Siena, stopping along the way to visit the stunning gardens of La Foce. We tour the sites of medieval Siena and travel to Sansepolcro and Arezzo to admire art by Piero della Francesa.
Days 7: Travel by coach through the Chianti countryside to Florence, pausing along the way for a wine tasting at the Antinori estate.
A limited number of places remain on this tour and as such, internet bookings are not taken. Please contact our travel consultant listed above if you wish to make a booking.
The tour commences in Rome. For international flights, Emirates flies daily into and out of Rome. Contact us for competitive quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the letters B, L and D.
Wednesday March 28: Orvieto
Meet your tour leader, Dr Nick Gordon, in Rome to together travel by coach to Spoleto via the hilltop Umbrian town of Orvieto. Carved out of an enormous plateau of volcanic rock high above a green valley, Orvieto has natural defences that made the high walls seen in many Umbrian towns unnecessary. The Etruscans were the first to settle here, digging a honeycombed network of more than 1,200 wells and storage caves out of the soft stone. After a walking tour of the town, we continue on to Spoleto, our base for the next three nights. After time to settle in and freshen up we meet for dinner. Overnight Spoleto (D)
Thursday March 29: Assisi
In spite of its fame, Assisi retains a strongly spiritual atmosphere which gives it a special place among medieval Italian hill towns. In Assisi we tour the Basilica of St Francis, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture with frescoes, some of which are attributed to Giotto and others by the Sienese artists Lorenzetti and Martini. We also view some other highlights of the town, such as the 1st-century AD Roman temple in the main square and the ancient Roman forum. You might also like to take the steep walk to the Rocca, the defensive fortress above the town, to enjoy the fine views over the valley. The afternoon is free in Spoleto. Overnight Spoleto (B)
Friday March 30: Spoleto
Good Friday in Spoleto is rather low-key, offering a great opportunity to relax and enjoy the early spring sunshine. We take a guided walking tour of Spoleto, exploring the town’s heritage which goes back to Roman times, and includes a Roman theatre, a spectacular medieval aqueduct and fortress as well as superb Romanesque churches. Overnight Spoleto (B)
Saturday March 31: La Foce
We leave Spoleto today and travel to Siena, stopping in the Val d’Orcia to visit one of Italy’s most famous 20th century gardens, La Foce, designed by Cecil Pinsent between 1927 and 1939 for the Anglo-American author and horticulturist, Iris Origo. Pickets of cypress and walls of clipped box, including the famous oblong garden, lead us through themed ‘rooms’ and past herbaceous borders in this romantic and dramatic mix of old and new. We enjoy lunch at the trattoria on the estate, before continuing on, through the Tuscan countryside to Siena. Overnight Siena (B, L)
Sunday April 1: Siena
We celebrate Easter Sunday in the medieval city of Siena, where our local guide shows us the highlights of the historic centre. Siena was an important centre of trade, banking, art and pilgrimage in the Middle Ages, but the Black Death killed a third of the population in 1348 and the city never recovered. It is now frozen beautifully in time, but a large student population lends a vitality to the elegant streets. We tour the Palazzo Pubblico, and the overwhelming cathedral, where every available space is decorated with sculptures, floor mosaics and fine frescoes. Overnight Siena (B)
Monday April 2 : The Piero della Francesca trail
Today we visit a number of sites associated with 15th-century artist Piero della Francesca. The so-called “rational turn” that the Renaissance took with artists such as Piero, who were particularly interested in the mathematics of painting and perspective, can be seen in masterpieces such as his Piero’s famed Resurrection in Sansepolcro, our first stop. After a break for lunch we continue on to Monterchi, where we see his remarkable Madonna del Parto, a fresco showing a pregnant Virgin Mary. Our last stop is Arezzo, where we view the magisterial cycle on the Legend of the True Cross. Overnight Siena (B, L)
Tuesday April 3: Departure
On our way to Florence today we stop in at the Antinori winery. Antinori is one of Tuscany’s leading wine producers, having been in business since 1365. However, their new cellars, opened in 2013, feature stunning contemporary architecture by Marco Casamonti, in a setting of olive groves, vineyards and oak trees. In the late afternoon we arrive in Florence, where the tour ends. (B, wine tasting)
Dr Nick Gordon
Has a University Medal and a PhD in History and lectures on European art. Nick is also a practicing painter and brings this passion to the visual arts.
Dr Nick Gordon is a cultural historian and artist, with over 10 years of experience leading tours to Europe. He has strong interests in art, history, philosophy and architecture, from the ancient world to the present.
Nick holds a University Medal and PhD in history from the University of Sydney. He taught medieval and Renaissance history at the University of Sydney, the history of political thought at the University of Western Sydney, and architectural and Australian history elsewhere. He continues to teach at the Centre of Continuing Education, and gives occasional lectures on topics ranging from Classical Rome through to Australian and contemporary art. Nick has lead tours for Academy Travel since 2007, and designs study tours, residential tours and art-focussed tours, such as the Venice Biennale, Art Along the Rhine, Art Basel, and Amsterdam to Paris: Van Eyck to Van Gogh.
Nick is also an artist and his firsthand experience of art complements his academic expertise, through his knowledge of materials and the processes behind how an artwork is made, and his well-practiced eye for reading art.
We asked Nick, what do you enjoy most about tour leading?
“One of the things I enjoy most about touring is helping people understand more about what they’re seeing. This happens through a combination of background lectures exploring different contexts, cultural commentary on the road, and especially by being able to explain what is going on in an artwork with the artwork in front of us.”
“The aim of all of this is to help people see more for themselves, independently, both on tour and beyond. Some of the best moments for me on tour are when this happens, and you get to be part of something bigger as people start adding their own knowledge and experience to what we’re looking at. It makes each experience unique.”
Located inside Siena’s historic walls, this elegantly furnished four-star hotel is a short walk from Siena Cathedral and Piazza del Campo.
What is included in the tour price? Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price? Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.