Tuscany villa rental by owner and tours in Chianti
Tours in Tuscany
ANTICO SOLE ITALY
Villa Tuscany collaborates with a specialized travel agency called Antico Sole Italy, Inc. that can offer a variety of tours and activities for your stay in Tuscany. Owner Jennifer Cowden can design customized tours that fit the interests and needs of your group, whether you require an expert guide in Florence or an experienced driver-guide to accompany you to wineries and hill towns across the region. While all tours can be personalized, we offer below an assortment of sample ideas to demonstrate the types of services the agency can offer.
We suggest that you begin your tour planning far in advance of your trip in order to secure the best guides and service.
Antico Sole Italy, Inc.
FLORENCE CITY WALKING TOURS
Private half-day 3-hour walking tours with local expert guides.
Full-day tours can also be designed based on your interests.
A Walk through History
This general walking tour will orient you to the remarkable city that witnessed the birth of the Renaissance. Depending on your starting point, our guide will walk you through many of the streets, piazzas, churches and monuments of Florence, discussing the city's history from the time of the ancient Etruscans and Romans through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and up to modern day. Popular sites include exteriors of the Duomo or Cathedral complex, Piazza Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio, Santa Croce, Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Medici, San Lorenzo, the Arno River and much more. Time allowing we can also include a visit to view Michelangelo's magnificent sculpture of David, one of Florence's greatest treasures.
Highlights of the Uffizi Gallery
An in-depth visit to the Uffizi Gallery, Florence's great museum of Renaissance painting. Tour the gallery's vast rooms of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque painting with our expert, who will focus on the "best of the best" while giving you a mini-lesson in art history and the history of Florence. Included are works by Giotto, Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Pontormo, Titian, Caravaggio and many more. With our private guide you will avoid the long lines.
Michelangelo and the Medici Family
These two legendary names combine for a comprehensive tour of Florence's High Renaissance years. Michelangelo, a Florentine native, left many works in his hometown including the magnificent David, Prisoners, Florence Pieta, Medici Tombs, Laurentian Library and more. The Medici family ran the city for more than 300 years, a span that included the High Renaissance when Michelangelo, who had close connections to the family, was also working in Florence. Our private guide will combine as many works and monuments as possible into a half-day tour that meets your interests.
Artisans and Craftsmen of the Oltrarno
This fascinating tour will wind you through the backstreets of the Oltrarno, or other side of the Arno River, traditional home of the many artisans still working in Florence. While strolling through the most characteristic quarter of the city, you will visit a variety of workshops to view artisans at work (for example marbleized paper, printmaking, wood carving, silver and metal work, jewelry crafting, furniture restoration and so forth). Actual demonstrations will be provided just for you...a peek into the hidden city far from the tourist track!
This tour only runs on weekdays due to the opening hours of artisan workshops.
Churches of Florence
We will visit a selection of churches from different periods in order to admire differing architectural styles as well as the spectacular paintings, frescoes and sculptures inside. In a half-day walking tour we usually have time for 3 visits to interiors of churches, for example Santa Croce, San Lorenzo and Santa Maria Novella - the major basilica churches in Florence. Other churches to consider can include Orsanmichele, the Baptistery of the Cathedral and Santa Trinita’ just to name a few.
EXCURSIONS IN TUSCANY
Private Sightseeing Tours of Tuscany allow you to explore the region’s hill towns and cities with ease.
The tours presented below include a private driver-guide. As an alternative, some of these tours can be designed for you to use your own rental car for transportation, meeting local guides in each town for brief city tours.
Siena and San Gimignano Tour
Day-trip to the quintessential Gothic city of Siena, located about an hours' drive from Villa Tuscany. Siena is famous for the spectacular fan-shaped Piazza del Campo where the Palio horse race is run every summer, as well as an impressive Gothic Duomo. Walking up and down the steep narrow streets of this medieval city is a delight. Sit down for a lunch of local Tuscan fare at one of many trattorias, and don’t forget to try the delicious ricciarelli lemon-almond cookies available at bakeries throughout the city. The tour will also include a stop at San Gimignano, a smaller hill town village noted for its cluster of medieval towers that create a truly impressive sight. Climb a tower for stunning panoramic views. Be sure to grab a gelato in the main piazza, one of the best around!
Pisa and Lucca Tour
Located about one hour's drive west of Villa Tuscany is one of the most famous monuments in the western world: the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Visit it as part of the impressive Campo dei Miracoli or Field of Miracles which also houses the cathedral, baptistery and cemetery of Pisa along with the bell tower. With enough advance notice we can arrange for reservations to climb the tower. Then it's on to nearby Lucca, about a 30 minute drive away, for a nice lunch at a local restaurant. Lucca is known for its delicious olive oil as well as soups and dishes incorporating farro, or spelt, a barley-like grain consumed by the Roman legions. After lunch take a leisurely walk through the pleasant streets of Lucca, which provide great shopping. There are small, Romanesque churches decked in white and grey marble around every corner. You can also rent bicycles to ride around the famous city walls.
Montalcino and Pienza Tour
The Val d’Orcia region located south of Siena is one of the most dramatic in Tuscany. While this provides nice scenery on the drive down, what really brings folks to Montalcino is the spectacular red wine Brunello di Montalcino, one of Italy's best reds. Visit a local winery and learn about what makes this wine so special. You will visit the hilltown of Montalcino with a chance to climb the walls of the Fortezza, with amazing panoramic views over the countryside. The day will include a visit to the nearby hill town Pienza, planned in the 15th century in perfect Renaissance architectural style and famous for pecorino sheep's milk cheese which you can sample as you like. Pick up a wheel to complement the Brunello wine you bought in Montalcino. Schedule allowing, you might swing by the medieval abbey of Sant'Antimo for a listen to the monks singing their Gregorian chants.
*We can also devote the full day to Montalcino and its wines, if you would like to visit more local wineries and lunch among the vineyards.
Montepulciano and Pienza Tour
Also located in the Crete region south of Siena is another well-known hill town called Montepulciano. Like its neighbor Montalcino, Montepulciano is best known for a local wine, this time called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Taste this superb red and walk the streets of this charming medieval hill town flecked with Renaissance palazzos and Etruscan cantinas below. The day will include a visit to the nearby hill town Pienza, planned in the 15th century in perfect Renaissance architecture and famous for pecorino sheep's milk cheese which you can sample as you like. Pick up a wheel to complement the Vino Nobile wine you bought in Montepulciano.
Cinque Terre Tour
The Cinque Terre, or Five Lands, is a cluster of five ancient fisherman's villages on the Ligurian Coast north of Pisa. These characteristic, multi-colored towns offer astonishing views of the coast. Until the 20th century the towns were only accessed by sea or walking paths; as as result they have retained their authentic charm.
After a circa 2-hour drive from Villa Tuscany, we usually start the day at Manarola, at the southern part of the five towns, one of the typical villages that cascades down the hill into the sea. Next you will take a local train to Monterosso at the north end, where you will have time for lunch in a local trattoria to enjoy regional specialties like “trofie” pasta with pesto and fresh seafood. Next jump on the local boat to Vernazza, one of the most popular of the five villages with its pretty harbor decked with colored umbrellas. View of the villages from the sea are a highlight of the day! After Vernazza train back to Manarola to meet driver for journey back to villa. While in the Cinque Terre be sure to try the local sweet wine “Schiacchetrà" and various flavors of scrumptious focaccia.
Arezzo and Cortona Tour
While these two hill towns might be less-visited than others, they have much to offer in pleasant, laid-back settings. In Arezzo, we can visit the stunning and colorful fresco cycle by Piero della Francesca of the Legend of the True Cross, a sublime work by this Tuscan master of the 15th century. Other sites include impressive medieval walls, pretty palaces, Romanesque churches and a charming piazza that hosts a renowned antiques market every first weekend of the month. Roberto Benigni's Oscar-award winning film “Life is Beautiful” was filmed both in Arezzo and nearby Cortona. Cortona, another pretty hill town, was founded by the ancient Etruscans and enjoys a stupendous view over the Valdichiana and Lake Trasimeno. Its modern claim-to-fame was the setting of Frances Mayes' Under the Tuscan Sun. The Etruscan museum is worth a peek as you stroll the pretty streets while shopping and enjoying glimpses of panoramas in every direction.
We can also combine, for example, Siena and Chianti in a full-day trip (half day in Siena, lunch in Tuscany countryside, winery visit and so forth).
WINE TOURS IN TUSCANY
Wine Tasting tours in Tuscany can include day-trips to the production areas of Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Bolgheri and more.
Chianti Wine Town Tour
The countryside between Florence and Siena - called the Chianti wine region - provides the typical Tuscan scenery that most of us are looking for when we come to Italy: gentle rolling hills, rows of vineyards and scattered farmhouses. Your driver will drive you along the picturesque wine roads, stopping at small wine towns along the way which may include Greve, Panzano, Radda, Volpaia, Castellina and so forth. Depending on your interests most days feature a stop at a winery or two for wine tasting, as well as a stop for lunch at a countryside trattoria. Considering the amount and quality of wine available in this wine region, you will be glad you have a driver to take you home at the end of the day!
Montalcino Wine Tour
The Val d’Orcia region located south of Siena is one of the most dramatic in Tuscany. While this provides nice scenery on the drive down, what really brings folks to Montalcino is the spectacular red wine Brunello di Montalcino, one of Italy's best reds. Visit two local wineries and learn about what makes this wine so special during your cellar tours and tastings. You will visit the hill town of Montalcino with a chance to climb the walls of the Fortezza, with amazing panoramic views over the countryside. The day will include visits to two different local cellars, each producing their own versions of Brunello which you can taste during tour, as well as lunch of local fare. If desired, we can include a visit to the nearby medieval abbey of Sant'Antimo to hear the monks sing their evocative Gregorian chants.
Montepulciano Wine tour
Located in the Crete region south of Siena is another well-known hill town called Montepulciano. Like its neighbor Montalcino, Montepulciano is best known for a local wine, this time called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Taste this superb red and walk the streets of this charming medieval hill town flecked with Renaissance palazzos. The day will include visits to two different local vineyards, each producing their own versions of Brunello which you can taste during cellar tour, as well as lunch of local fare.
Bolgheri Wine Tour
A special day of exploring one of the most prestigious wine-making areas in Italy, home of many expensive Super Tuscans and excellent wines. The Bolgheri area is located off the Tyrrhenian coast in western Tuscany south of Livorno. During this outstanding tour you will have the opportunity to visit two different production estates in order to learn about the local Super Tuscan wines through tastings and cellar tours. We will visit one vineyard in the morning, together with a stop at one of the charming medieval hamlets like Bolgheri which is accessed by the impressive cypress-tree-lined Via Bolgherese. After lunch at a local trattoria, we will visit a second winery as well as another village Castagneto Carducci if timing allows - or, if you prefer, a quick stop at the sea!
CULINARY TOURS IN TUSCANY
Custom-designed culinary excursions to meet the local growers and artisan producers of Tuscany's traditional foods. Meet the people who make these foods to learn the history of the production process and why they choose to work they way they do. Understanding culinary traditions offers unique insight into a culture; meeting with the artisans and tasting their foods can enrich your visit to Tuscany and also help you train your palate to recognize the high quality examples of these foods and make informed choices both here and when you find Italian products on the market at home.
Some options for visits and tastings include:
- Olive oil seminar with guided tasting held on the grounds of a nearby castle, with a visit to the castle's olive mill
- Dairy visit with guided tasting at a local estate that raises sheep and makes a wide range of award-winning cheeses from their milk
- Wine-tasting designed to answer your questions and curiosity about Italian wines, wines from a specific region of Italy or those made in a specific style
- Truffle hunting in Montespertoli, one of only a few areas in Italy where the elusive, prized white truffles grow
- Talk with a farmer, a miller and a baker to learn about heritage wheat varieties and discover the health benefits and depth of flavor their flour provides when transformed into bread, pasta and sweets. Montespertoli is the headquarters of one of Italy's first consortiums of ancient grain producers.
- Follow the butcher through the aging cells below his shop to learn the intricate production methods of prosciutto and salumi, with casual tasting
- Meet a 5th generation pastaio (pasta maker) who uses heritage wheat varieties and vintage equipment
Itineraries are planned to meet the interests of your group. Visits can be combined for full-day or half-day excursions, or schedule an olive oil class or wine tasting at aperitivo hour right at Villa Tuscany!
Local access provided by an American food professional who has been living in Italy for 15 years, she is certified as a taster of olive oil by the Region of Tuscany and of wine by ONAV, the Italian Organizzazione Nazionale Assaggiatori di Vino.