Days 1 - Fly overnight to Florence
Depart the U.S. for Italy. The particulars of your
arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary.
Day 2 - Arrive in Florence
VBT Air Package guests: Upon arrival at the Florence
airport, claim your luggage and clear customs. VBT's local representative will
meet you outside the customs area in your arrival terminal and will be holding
a VBT sign. Your representative will help you transfer (approximately 30
minutes) to your hotel.
Please note: If you arrive early, your hotel room may not be
available until 2:00 pm. You may store your luggage with the reception desk.
You have the rest of the day free to explore the historic
city of Florence and enjoy its Renaissance architecture and famous museums with
VBT's City Information included in your Final Travel Booklet as your guide. In
the evening, relax in one of the city's restaurants and sample the local
Day 3 - Meet Trip Leaders in Florence / Transfer to Lucca
VBT No-Air Package guests: Your tour starts at 12:30 pm at
our Florence hotel (Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci, via de' Tornabuoni 3, Firenze,
phone +39 055 212645). Your Trip Leaders will be in the lobby wearing VBT staff
garments. We will transfer by private
coach to Lucca. During our transfer, the coach will stop and you will have the
opportunity to buy lunch. If your
arrival at our Florence hotel is later than 12:30 pm or if you are delayed, you
must take a taxi (approximately 90 minutes) at your own expense (approximately
€150 euro/$200 USD) to our hotel in Lucca or a regional train (approximately 80 minutes,
ticket cost approximately €8 euro/$11 USD). Contact our
hotel in Lucca to advise of any travel delays or changes, and ask the front
desk staff to pass the message on to your VBT Trip Leaders.
VBT Air Package & Pre-Trip Extension guests: This
morning, spend more free time exploring Florence's wonderful museums, shops and
cafés. Discover the 14th-century Duomo, which serves as the focal point of
Florence. Its structure and facade are symbolic of the Renaissance. Take a walk
across the Arno River on the famous Ponte Vecchio and browse the shops of the
goldsmiths and silversmiths who have replaced the butchers and grocers of
centuries gone by. See works by Caravaggio, Botticelli, Raffaello and Rembrandt
at the Uffizi Gallery. Or just relax and enjoy a cappuccino or espresso in the
Piazza del Signoria and Piazza del Duomo, where Florence's art and history
At 12:30 pm, meet your VBT Trip Leaders in the hotel lobby.
They will be easy to recognize as they will be wearing VBT staff garments. Once the entire group is assembled, we
transfer by private motorcoach (approximately 90 minutes) to Lucca. During our
transfer, the coach will stop, and you will have the opportunity to buy lunch.
Upon arrival in Lucca, we proceed to our hotel. After
settling in, meet your Trip Leaders for a safety and bike-fitting session
before a short warm-up ride over the famous Renaissance city walls. They are
large and well-beaten avenues created for pedestrians and bikers. Later this
afternoon, gather for our welcome cocktail at the hotel, sampling local wine
and cheese. From here, we walk to our trattoria for our dinner with Tuscan
Day 4 - Ride to Massaciuccoli / Home-hosted meal
We leave Lucca and ride along an easy bike path lining the
Serchio River. After a few miles we join the gentle rolling ‘piedemontana’ route at the foot hills of
the Apuan Alps—not too far from where Michelangelo used to personally choose
the big blocks of marble that he used to craft his iconic sculptures. Before
noon we reach Lake Massaciuccoli—a shallow lagoon hosting more than 100
species of permanent and migrating birds. Later we meet the descendants of the
Ginori Lisci family—of the world-famous Italian housewares brand—for a prepared
lunch on the manicured grounds of the Ginori villa.
This afternoon we’ll return to Lucca in time to follow our
local guide on a walking tour of the town. Dinner is on your own in one of the
many enticing and cozy city osterias.
Day 5 - Ride to Montecatini Terme
We leave the city walls of Lucca and ride along the Serchio River
on secondary roads to Montecatini Alta. Our way follows the lower skirts of the
Appennino Tosco Emiliano and part of the ‘Via delle Ville,’ or Villa Way. This
name comes from the beautiful private villas built between the XV and XIX
century as the summer homes of noble and rich families of Lucca, which are still
owned by their descendants. We pedal by Villa Torrigiani, the best example of
baroque architecture in Tuscany. We stop on the way at a local farm for our
lunch before reaching Montecatini Terme. The town, known for its spas, is considered the capital of natural hot
springs in Italy. We arrive at our hotel in time to enjoy the swimming pool and
perhaps one of the hotels famous Thai’s massages.
Later tonight we meet for a cocktail at the Terme Tettuccio,
the heart of the Terme complex which dates back to the 1920’s, where people ‘take
the waters’. We then walk to our local restaurant for dinner.
Day 6 - Funicular ride up to Montecatini Alta / Bike to the hometown of Leonardo da
This morning a funicular ride takes us up to Montecatini
Alta. After taking in spectacular views, we start our ride on winding, gently
rolling roads by olive trees and country houses that crisscross the
Valdinievole valley. We arrive in Vinci at the Castello dei Guidi, a former castle-home
that now functions as a museum dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci. We visit the
museum and learn about the incredible inventions of the genius. We ride back to
Montecatini along a scenic route that follows the massif of Montalbano. Later take your time to enjoy the thermal
springs or browse the fashion shops of this small but fancy town. You also have the option to enjoy a thermal steam bath in a unique millennial grotto, called Grotta Giusti, in the nearby hamlet of Monsummano Terme. A shuttle to the grotto is available from the hotel. Dinner
tonight is on your own.
The Terme is a complex of 9 buildings, each with its own
character, staff and range of treatments. To enjoy the hot natural thermal
springs, the easiest and quickest way is to access the Thermal Pool, open from
March to October. It is located in the building called Terme Redi, which is
walking distance from our hotel. The ticket costs €12 euro; no reservation is
required and the total time allowed for the bath is 60 minutes. The thermal pool
is fed with Leopoldina thermal water at 91°, excellent for rheumatic troubles
and vascular disease. A vast range of both relaxing treatments with thermal water and esthetic treatments are
available at the Terme Excelsior, also within walking distance from our hotel.
Reservations are requested. Visit the website www.termemontecatini.it
familiar with the range of packages and book in advance when you arrive in
Italy with the help of our local staff and Trip Leaders.
Day 7 - Ride to Calcinaia / Tour the Vespa museum
This morning, we’ll enjoy an incredible bike ride to our
next destination outside Pisa. We enter a forested area known as Le Cerbaie,
coasting along the protected marshlands of Padule di Fucecchio. We’ll stop on
the way for an included picnic lunch prepared by our Trip Leaders.
Later this afternoon, you have the option to visit the
Piaggio Museum in Pontedera. The Vespas on display are the most beautiful and
rarest examples of this world-famous scooter. Before dinner, a local historian
will entertain us with stories about Pisa. We’ll dine at our fine country hotel
Day 8 - Ride to Pisa and explore the sites
This morning we ride by one of the most beautiful villages
of Italy, Vicopisano, and enjoy the vista of its medieval tower and cobbled
streets. We then head in to Pisa where we’ll see one of the most outstanding
piazzas in the world: Campo dei Miracoli. Here we’ll view the famous leaning
tower, the cathedral, baptistery and cemetery. You’ll have plenty of time to explore
and have lunch on your own. Tonight we’ll celebrate with a farewell dinner at a
local osteria just outside the
beautiful medieval village of Vicopisano.
Note about the Leaning Tower: To visit it inside, there are
about 290 steps; visits typically last a maximum of 30 minutes, including the climb
and descent. Be aware the times are very
rigid, so make sure you are there at the precise time, otherwise you lose your reservation.
The entrance fee is €15 euro and can be paid at the ticket office in the square. It is recommended to
book it in advance, and this is the best resource: http://www.opapisa.it/en/plan-your-visit/ticket-office.html
(click on Ticket Office). Cost is €18 euro if you choose to book online in advance.
Please note that you cannot carry large backpacks, and this visit is not recommended
for travelers who suffer from claustrophobia or vertigo.
To visit the other great monuments in Campo dei Miracoli (Baptistery,
Duomo, Cemetery, Opera museum) travelers can buy tickets right there.
Day 9 - Transfer to Rapallo / VBT No-Air Package ends
VBT No-Air Package guests: Your trip ends at the Pisa airport
at approximately 9:30 am. You are responsible for your own transfer to the
airport for your flight home.
VBT Air Package guests: After breakfast, transfer to the
lively city of Rapallo in Liguria and get acquainted with our luxurious hotel. Rapallo
is an old small town on the sea and a gateway to Cinque Terre and Portofino. A
local expert is there to welcome us and be our guide for the remainder of the
morning. Your hotel room may not be available until 3:00 pm and you may store your
luggage with the reception desk.
If you have chosen the independent Post-Trip Extension to Rapallo,
you will remain at this hotel for three nights. Our local representative can
answer your questions and facilitates your discovery of Cinque Terre and
Portofino over the next few days. VBT's City Information in your Final Travel
Booklet includes recommendations for restaurants, museums and transportation in
the area, and will help you explore on your own.
Walking is the best way to discover Rapallo and the most
popular activity here. Tourists come from all over the world to hike on the
spectacular walking paths of this region. The Sanctuary of Montallegro in
Rapallo, which can be reached by cable car, is the most important religious center
in the Tigullio area. The pathway leading up to the sanctuary is very
interesting, as it is the route to San Fruttuoso Abbey. Lace-making also has a
long tradition here, and seventeenth-century Villa Tigullio houses a local lace
Also worth noting is our luxurious 5-star deluxe hotel, which
has a unique setting facing the bay to the east and the headland of Portofino
to the west. Travelers will enjoy its refined ambiance, panoramic restaurants,
scenic swimming pool and poolside bar, Fitness Club, and the private beach.
Day 10 - Depart for home
After breakfast* this morning, you will transfer to the Genoa
airport (approximately 40 minutes, depending upon traffic) for your departing
flight. Please ensure you are ready in the hotel reception area at the
designated transfer time**.
*Please note: For guests with early-morning departures,
breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the front desk
to verify the times that breakfast is served.
**Please note: VBT recommends that you check your transfer
time in your “Transfer Reminder.” VBT transfer times and departure points are
finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you
extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to
the airport will be at your own expense.