Tailormade tour Florence and Tuscany by rail tour Italy

10 nights /11 days

Zurich • Florence • Chianti

This touring holiday to Florence and Tuscany by rail and car includes rail travel with an overnight stop in Zurich or Lausanne giving time to explore city of Florence and then collect a hire-car to travel to the countryside of Tuscany and a stay in the Chianti region near Arezzo. You return by train to Milan and then by overnight sleeper to Paris, with the final part of the journey by Eurostar.

Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £2,310 per person.

Luxury rail-drive tailormade touring holiday to Floremce and Tuscany

This touring holiday to Florence and Tuscany combines two inspiring places, complementary and contrasting, as your destinations with a few days in the cultural capital of Tuscany and the range of art, architecture and history on offer and then into the rich landscape of the countryside, with time to explore both the landscape, appreciate its produce and inhale yet more cultural delights in the small towns and cities. The outward journey takes you from London to Paris by Eurostar and on by Lyria train to either Zurich or Lausanne, where you spend one night. The next day it is onward travel by train from Zurich through the Gotthard, and from Lausanne through the Simplon. Then south of the Alps, you change trains at Milan before reaching Florence, where you spend three nights. As you leave Florence you collect your hire-car and then it’s time to explore the open roads of the Tuscan countryside. Driving distances are quite short allowing you to spend time exploring as you go. You have five nights in the Chianti region of Tuscany, with easy access to the small but dense in culture, city of Arezzo and a host of opportunities to appreciate the countryside by walking or cycling and its produce with cookery lessons, wine-tasting and visits to artisan producers. At the end of your stay in the countryside you return your hire-car to Florence and take the train to Milan, where you change onto the overnight sleeper service to Paris. From Paris it’s back to London by Eurostar. Our highlights of this touring holiday include optional visits and suggested excursions for you as well as our included stops.

Highlights

Overnight in either Zurich or Lausanne • Swiss Alps • Florence • Visit the Uffizi • Visit the Chapel of the Magi in Palazzo Medici Riccardi • Chianti wine route • Visit Arezzo

Day by day

Start your rail holiday by departing London on an early morning Eurostar to Paris. Following a change of station in Paris, you then continue to Lausanne or Zurich by TGV train which reaches 198 mph. Arrive early evening and spend one night here.

Spend the first part of the morning looking around, depending on how late you want to arrive in Florence, before boarding the Eurocity train to Milan. You change trains in Milan and continue to Florence by high-speed train arriving in the evening. On arrival in Florence you will be met at the station and transferred to your hotel for three nights.

You have two full days to explore Florence, the ancient capital of the Medicis and home to a wealth of Renaissance treasures. A visit to see Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia is high on the list of things to do in Florence, along with the majestic architecture of the Duomo and the beautiful work of the silversmiths that line the Ponte Vecchio. Be sure to visit the Chapel of the Magi in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi to marvel at the fresco by Benozzo Gozzoil. If you have special interests in Florence, then let us arrange a private guide for you.

Collect your hire-car and head south into the Chianti countryside. Your destination at Loro Ciuffena, north of Arezzo, is about 60 kms from Florence and we suggest you take a scenic route, driving out of the Arno valley into the start of Chianti following the Chianti wine route through the villages of Strada, Greve and Radda. There are also Tuscan villas and their gardens you could visit on the way. It’s worth stopping for lunch in Radda, before turning north-east to Loro Ciuffena, where you spend five nights.

From your base at Loro Ciuffena, you have numerous activities and excursion possibilities available to you. The small city of Arezzo is about 25 kms to the south and an absolute must to visit. It is an artistic and architectural gem with the painted vaulted ceilings of the cathedral, a 15th century fresco of Mary Magdalene by Piero della Francesca, the Basilica of San Francesco with more Piero frescoes and the Basilica of San Domenico with the 13th century Crucifix painted by Cimabue. There is also a Medici fortress. An antiques market is held here on the first Sunday of every month. We can arrange all sorts of authentic local cultural activities during your stay including cookery lessons, wine-tasting, visits to local artisan food producers of cheese and olive oil. In addition to swimming at the hotel, golf, cycling, hiking, tennis and horse-riding can be organised.

You have most of the day free before needing to return your car in Florence in good time to board the train from Florence to Milan, before changing to the Thello sleeper service to Paris.

You arrive into Paris Gare de Lyon just after 10am and after an easy change of stations in Paris, complete your rail touring holiday by travelling on the Eurostar back to London, arriving at lunchtime.

Holiday price guide Prices from £2,130 per person based on two sharing a double room including second class rail travel. Prices from £2,475 per person based on two sharing a double room including first class rail travel.

Holiday Code ITRD02

Luxury rail-drive tailormade touring holiday to Floremce and Tuscany

Start your rail holiday by departing London on an early morning Eurostar to Paris. Following a change of station in Paris, you then continue to Lausanne or Zurich by TGV train which reaches 198 mph. Arrive early evening and spend one night here.

Spend the first part of the morning looking around, depending on how late you want to arrive in Florence, before boarding the Eurocity train to Milan. You change trains in Milan and continue to Florence by high-speed train arriving in the evening. On arrival in Florence you will be met at the station and transferred to your hotel for three nights.

You have two full days to explore Florence, the ancient capital of the Medicis and home to a wealth of Renaissance treasures. A visit to see Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia is high on the list of things to do in Florence, along with the majestic architecture of the Duomo and the beautiful work of the silversmiths that line the Ponte Vecchio. Be sure to visit the Chapel of the Magi in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi to marvel at the fresco by Benozzo Gozzoil. If you have special interests in Florence, then let us arrange a private guide for you.

Collect your hire-car and head south into the Chianti countryside. Your destination at Loro Ciuffena, north of Arezzo, is about 60 kms from Florence and we suggest you take a scenic route, driving out of the Arno valley into the start of Chianti following the Chianti wine route through the villages of Strada, Greve and Radda. There are also Tuscan villas and their gardens you could visit on the way. It’s worth stopping for lunch in Radda, before turning north-east to Loro Ciuffena, where you spend five nights.

From your base at Loro Ciuffena, you have numerous activities and excursion possibilities available to you. The small city of Arezzo is about 25 kms to the south and an absolute must to visit. It is an artistic and architectural gem with the painted vaulted ceilings of the cathedral, a 15th century fresco of Mary Magdalene by Piero della Francesca, the Basilica of San Francesco with more Piero frescoes and the Basilica of San Domenico with the 13th century Crucifix painted by Cimabue. There is also a Medici fortress. An antiques market is held here on the first Sunday of every month. We can arrange all sorts of authentic local cultural activities during your stay including cookery lessons, wine-tasting, visits to local artisan food producers of cheese and olive oil. In addition to swimming at the hotel, golf, cycling, hiking, tennis and horse-riding can be organised.

You have most of the day free before needing to return your car in Florence in good time to board the train from Florence to Milan, before changing to the Thello sleeper service to Paris.

You arrive into Paris Gare de Lyon just after 10am and after an easy change of stations in Paris, complete your rail touring holiday by travelling on the Eurostar back to London, arriving at lunchtime.

Holiday price guide Prices from £2,130 per person based on two sharing a double room including second class rail travel.
Prices from £2,475 per person based on two sharing a double room including first class rail travel.

Holiday Code ITRD02

Our prices include ● Second-class travel on all trains, with standard class on Eurostar (first and standard premier can be booked at a supplement)
● Double sleeper compartment on Thello sleeper train with one night on board
● Hire of a Group B car from day 5 to 10
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Classic double at Hotel Angleterre et Residence in Lausanne or at the Hotel Ambassador a l’Opera in Zurich
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Classic room at Hotel Bernini Palace in Florence
● 5 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Standard room at Villa Belpoggio in Tuscany
● Private car transfer from Florence Santa Maria Novella station to the hotel
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include ● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals except breakfast at hotels
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Local tourist tax, usually between Euros 1 and 3 per person per night, and payable locally to the hotel
● Transfers in Paris, Lausanne and Zurich

Expressions Holidays includes these hotels in this touring holiday as suggestions, but they can be substituted by others in the same region, if you have a preference to stay elsewhere.
Hotels included in this tour

Holiday price guide

Prices from £2,130 per person based on two sharing a double room including second class rail travel. Prices from £2,475 per person based on two sharing a double room including first class rail travel.

Holiday Code ITRD02

Luxury rail-drive tailormade touring holiday to Floremce and Tuscany

About Tuscany

An Expressions tailor-made holiday in Tuscany allows you to appreciate its classical landscape of rolling hills and vineyards dotted with olive and cypress trees, its misty green-grey mountains that are never too far distant, and hill-top towns of rich brown and gold stone houses. This combines with the beauty of the works of art contained in the towns and villages throughout Tuscany to create an inspirational union of the spirit and the senses. There is an intrinsic comfort in the supposed contrast between the delicacy of a Botticelli and the heartiness of Ribollita soup, yet both are typical of this fascinating region. As birthplace of the Renaissance, the impact of Tuscan and particularly Florentine traditions and culture on European heritage is fundamental to our way of life. In addition to the obvious attractions of the scenery of Chianti and the art cities of Florence and Siena, there are the less well-known regions south of Siena with its moon-like landscape of hills, the patchwork vineyards of Montalcino, the coastal marshlands of the Maremma, the spas of Montecatini and Saturnia, the islands of Elba and Giglio, and the Casentino with the source of the Arno and abundant mushroom crops. Wherever you travel on holiday in Tuscany, you will be inspired by the beauty of your surroundings and the way of life, which is quintessentially that of Italy too.

Highlights of Tuscany

Famous vineyards producing wines of Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Alabaster is produced in Volterra. Gold and silver are worked in Florence and the Ponte Vecchio is lined with jewellery shops. Marbled paper and stationery is a speciality of Florence. Ceramics and hand-painted majolica from raw terracotta from Impruneta to the glazed pottery of Siena are to be found throughout Tuscany. Lucca has traditionally produced silk and hand-woven fabrics. Leather goods including shoes, handbags and belts are to be found from market stalls to designer shops such as Gucci and Ferragamo. Interesting markets include the Mercato dell' Antiquariato which sells furniture from antiques to bric-a-brac in Arezzo on the first weekend of every month, in Pisa on the second weekend and in Lucca on the third weekend. The 'wild' Maremma is known for its long-horned white cattle and cowboys (butteri) and natural springs including Saturnia.

Cultural highlights of Tuscany

As birthplace of the Renaissance, Tuscany contains a wealth of treasures: Giotto`s Campanile and Brunelleschi`s Dome in Florence, the Tombs of Galileo and Michelangelo in Florence`s Santa Croce, Botticelli`s `Birth of Venus` and `Primavera` and the portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino by Piero della Francesca in the Uffizi, Michelangelo`s `David` in the Accademia, the architecture of the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, `The Tuscan Maremma` painting by Giovanni Fattori in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, the Piazza del Campo in Siena, `The Legend of the Cross` frescoes by Piero della Francesco in Arezzo, `The Creation` fresco by Bartolo di Fredi in the Collegiata in San Gimignano, Romanesque church of the Collegiata in San Quirico d`Orcia, 14th Century Fortezza of Montalcino, Renaissance masterpiece of the church of Madonna di San Biagio at Montepulciano, the abbey-church of Sant`Antimo, mediaeval Lucignano and the towers of San Gimignano, the Etruscan Museum in Cortona.  

Festivals in Tuscany

Many of Tuscany`s festivals resound with the flamboyance of the Renaissance and keep Tuscans and visitors alike in touch with the region`s rich history. Others are linked to Tuscany`s hearty traditions of eating and drinking. The most famous is Siena`s Palio which takes place on 2 July and 16 August each year. Others include the Sagra del Tordo (Festival of the Thrush) in Montalcino on the last Sunday in October when there is an archery contest and charcoal-grilled thrush are a delicacy. In Florence, Calcio in Costume (a football match played in mediaeval costume) takes place in June. Pisa has the Giocco del Ponte (Game of the Bridge), a mock battle in Renaissance dress also held in June. Viareggio celebrates Carnival on Shrove Tuesday with a huge display of flamboyant floats. In May and August Massa Marittima holds the Falcon Contest.  

Gastronomy in Tuscany

Simple country food is at the heart of Tuscan cooking. Regional dishes include Bruschetta (bread or ciabatta toasted and rubbed with garlic, olive oil and salt), Ribollita (bean, cabbage and bread soup), Pasta with hare or wild boar sauce, Porcini mushroom and truffle dishes, Bistecca all Fiorentina (thick cut of sirloin and fillet beef), Cantucci (almond and honey biscuits) served dipped in Vin Santo, Panforte (chocolate, nut and spice cake). Pecorino cheese made from sheep's milk. Local wines include the white Vernaccia di San Gimignano and the Bianco di Pitigliano. Famous reds include Chanti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino and the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Vin Santo made from semi-crushed grapes left for several months is an excellent dessert wine.

Luxury rail-drive tailormade touring holiday to Floremce and Tuscany

About Florence

An Expressions tailor-made holiday to Florence is one of the ‘must see’ places of all art lovers. Florence is the centre of the Renaissance movement and the Uffizi Gallery houses a phenomenal collection of painting from this era, as does the Accademia, home to Michelangelo’s statue of David. However, it is the atmosphere of the city which is overwhelmingly Renaissance as everywhere you turn there is yet another reminder of the period either artistic or architectural and this creates a superb museum like ambience to the historic centre. All the sites are easily reached on foot from the Ponte Vecchio to the Church of Santa Maria Novella, to the Accademia, to the Duomo and it is by visiting on foot that you can soak up the amazing atmosphere of the city.

Highlights of Florence

The markets in Florence are great for browsing for leather bags and shoes, but be prepared to haggle the price, as these markets are now really geared up for tourists and you can end up paying more than you need to. Fiesole can be reach by train or bus and has lovely views of the city. The Boboli gardens are an enchanting place to spend a few lazy hours and can be reached on foot over the other side of the River Arno from the main sites. Hire a car and visit Siena, Lucca, San Gimignano, Chianti, Montepulciano, Perugia and many more fascinating mediaeval towns nearby.

Cultural highlights of Florence

The Duomo, The Battistero, Uffizi Gallery, Accademia Gallery, the mausoleum of the Medici family in the Medici Chapel, Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Pitti, The Piazza della Signoria.

Festivals in Florence

There are a wide range of fashion shows held in Florence in January, which can make finding hotel availability difficult during the show period. Otherwise, Florence holds any wonderful festivals throughout the year including the Scoppio del Carro or the explosion of the cart on Easter Sunday, which is really a firework display, but the atmosphere is tremendous. Calcio in Costume in June is a fun spectacle and a slightly different take on ‘Calcio’ or football! Alternatively, in September there is the Festa della Rificolana where children carrying candlelit lanterns converge on the Piazza della Santissima Annunziata to celebrate the eve of the birth of the Virgin Mary. The most notable festival in the area however, is of course the Palio in Siena, just south of Florence and easily reachable by train, which takes place in July and August. Early booking is essential.

Gastronomy in Florence

Florence is famous for its food, namely Bistecca alla Fiorentina and many grilled meats and game dishes, but of course it is the centre of the Chianti wine producing region and thereby has access to some of the most prestigious wines from Chianti and the hearty reds of Southern Tuscany. Olive oil is also in abundance here and is used with everything, from cooking to dipping and even tasting!

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