Charming Cinque Terre
After meeting your guide at the pier you will walk to your private motor boat and begin your picturesque, one-hour coastal cruise to Monterosso. En route, take in the scenic beauty of the Cinque Terre (Five Villages).
Tall cliffs dropping down into the cobalt-blue sea, cosy beaches at Riomaggiore and Vernazza, and small ports like Manarola highlight the severe, wild landscape of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, the Cinque Terre is also a National Park and protected marine area.
Lovely beaches, rugged cliffs, crystal-clear turquoise water, and many small hotels and restaurants make Monterosso al Mare, the largest of the Cinque Terre villages (population 1,730), the busiest in midsummer. The village center bustles high on a hillside. Below, connected by stone steps, are the port and seaside promenade. The medieval tower, Aurora, on the hills of the Cappuccini, separates the ancient part of the village from the more modern part. The village is surrounded by hills covered with vineyards and olive groves, and by a forest of thin bushes and small trees.
After a short-guided visit and some free time you will reboard the boat to Vernazza.
With its narrow streets and small squares, Vernazza is probably the most charming of the five towns. Because it has the best access to the sea, it became wealthier than its neighbors—as evidenced by the elaborate arcades, loggias, and marblework. The village’s pink, slate-roof houses and colorful squares contrast with the remains of the medieval fort and castle, including two towers, in the old town. The Romans first inhabited this land in the 1st century.
Afterwards return to Portovenere by boat.
Highlights of Lucca
You will meet your tour leader at the port of Portovenere and will depart by AC deluxe coach to Lucca.
Lucca, a living testimony to past times, kingdoms and dominions, lies in a green valley north-west of Florence. This almost impeccably preserved jewel of medieval architecture emanates charm and shows history from every corner of its narrow winding streets. Beginning in Roman times, continuing through the Middle Ages, on to the Napoleonic era and finally to the Risorgimento, Lucca’s monuments, churches, palaces and roads, even its very shape have a story to tell. Each layer blending with preceding ages marking the growth and changes of the city. The broad, high walls, which characterize the city, are a feature of its past, and a pleasant element of its present. Surrounding the ancient city, the ramparts we see today date back to the 16th century. No longer used for defence, they are crowned by 2.5 miles of green parkland. The quaint Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, in the heart of the city, maintained the shape of the Roman Amphitheatre and shows the outline of the ancient arena. The majestic church of San Michele in Foro, with its medieval façade, and signs of refurbishment carried out during the Risorgimento, is built where Lucca’s Roman forum once stood. In the Early Middle Ages, Lucca was an important Lombard duchy and became the capital of Tuscia (the ancient Tuscany). With the creation of the pilgrim route Via Francigena / Romea, Lucca became one of the main “resting stations” on route to Rome, as it is evident in the crosses engraved by passing pilgrims on the walls of St. Martin’s Cathedral arcade. The combination of numerous churches and the line of medieval towers, the most impressive and original being the Guinigi Tower (with its hanging garden made of 5 secular holm oaks) give Lucca a distinctive profile.
The famous composer Giacomo Puccini was born in Lucca in 1858, into a family with a long history of music. The house where Puccini was born is now a museum, which houses portraits, scores, sketches and other memorabilia related to this famous composer’s life and career.
After the guided tour you will have some free time for shopping and individual sightseeing.
Return to the port of Portovenere afterwards.
Lucca and Villa Torrigiani
You will meet your tour leader and your driver and depart to Lucca by AC deluxe coach.
Once in Lucca you will begin the guided tour of the centre.
Lucca deserves to be seen and admired not only for the works of art it encloses, but also for being a rare and precious example of an almost intact historic centre.
The Roman structure is and has remained typically Roman-medieval.
The walls that surround the city have resisted intact and they enclose and isolate Lucca in their green circle.
The magnificence of the walls still leaves visitors speechless. The present walls are the original dating to the 16th century and have an extension of 4200 metres. The present disposition of the walls is very much pleasing to the eye: parks, gardens and a “promenade” make them memorable.
The Church of San Frediano is said to have been founded by the bishop Frediano. It is popular for its large Byzantine mosaic inserted in the façade.
The Roman Amphitheatre was built outside the walls in the 1st or 2nd century. It has an elliptic shape and today is considered to be one of the highlights of the town, dotted with cafés and shops.
The Cathedral of San Martino was built in the 6th century.
The present aspect of the Cathedral is the result of a long remake which started in the 12th century and finished in the second half of the 15th century.
Inside you can admire the famous “Last Supper” by Tintoretto painted in 1590. Although the canvas was accomplished by different hands, it is remarkable for its dramatic perspective and conception of the light.
The “Holy Cross” is a crucifix that was carved, according to the legend, into a cedar of Lebanon by Nicodemus, but the hand of the artist modelling the features was led by the angels.
Piazza San Michele is placed on the area of the ancient Roma Forum and has remained the centre of the town for centuries. This is where the guided tour will end and where you will be given free time for lunch and individual sightseeing before meeting with the tour leader again to drive to Villa Torrgiani.
The villa and its park sum up all the splendour and magnificence of the Lucchese tradition of the country mansion-house. The long and monumental avenue leading to the villa is lined with cypresses, and has a pompous gate from where the façade can be seen, so rich and adorned that it seems to be embroidered on the stone and marble in a triumph of niches, statues and balustrades. The original building dates to 1500, but it was radically rearranged a century later by Maurizio Oddi, the same architect that had so deeply transformed Villa Mansi. The “garden of Flora” is the clearest example of the Lucchese taste, a bright and surprising ensemble of grottoes, nymph temples, flowers, masks, water games, that make you feel as if you were in a fairy-tale.
Return to the port afterwards.
Pearls of the Gulf of Tigullio: Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure
Monuments of Pisa
Florence on your own
Highlights of Florence
Lucca and Pisa
Lucca and Lunch in a Local Farmhouse
Carrara and the Marble Quarries
Wine Tasting in Liguria
Lucca by Bike