Small group tour Gardens of Tuscany tour Italy

6 nights/7 days

Greve in Chianti • Villa Poggio Torselli • Villa Vignamaggio • Villa Geggiano • Villa Garzoni • Palazzo Pfanner • Parco della Villa Reale • Villa Torrigiani • Lucca

A 6-night garden tour of Tuscany for small groups of up to 14 people combining the Chianti and Lucca region that reflects the diversity and beauty of Tuscan villas and their gardens; Italianate, baroque, parkland, water features and stunning views.
Holiday price guide

Available on selected dates, as specified below, from £2,690 per person.

Luxury garden tour of Tuscany for small groups of up to 14 people

This 6-night Italian garden tour for small groups of up to 14 people combines the classical heart of Tuscany with a stay near Greve in Chianti from where you visit some of the most beautiful and historic gardens in the Chianti area, accompanied by a local guide; Villa Poggio Torselli is renowned for its spectacular flowering plants including Indian giant hibiscus and a golden crown of 120 secular lemon trees, Villa Vignamaggio boasts an ornate Italian garden with ornamental trees, roses and cypress and Villa Geggiano, frequently used as a film set, is resplendent with ancient cypress, sculpted boxwood as well as lemon trees. These three villas date from the 15th Century. The gardens at Badia a Colibuono, a former mediaeval abbey, take their spirit from the old monks’ hortus conclusus. Today there is still a domestic quality to the garden with its pots of lavender, potted olive trees, clumps of hydrangea, and a vine-covered pergola. There is a formality dating from the early 20th Century with its box parterre and magnolia grandiflora too. This is a garden for all seasons. From Chianti you move further west towards the coast and the town of Lucca, which offers the opportunity to visit some of the less well-known gems of this region, including the baroque gardens of Palazzo Pfanner inside the mediaeval town, Villa Grabau, Villa Oliva, the Parco della Villa Reale and the Villa Torrigiani. En route though you visit the impressive gardens of Villa Garzoni, famed for its Baroque terraces, staircases and water cascades. The Villa Grabau is renowed for its English-style parkland which abounds in rare trees, planted initially in the 16th century when the villa was built and added to over the years. Villa Oliva enjoys views over the countryside near Lucca from its position on a hillside. Its gardens descend the hill and there are numerous waterfalls and fountains. The Parco della Villa Reale is an extensive garden and parkland with numerous linked water features, a Moorish garden, a lemon garden, a green theatre and a camellia walk. Finally, the Villa Torrigiani houses a baroque garden with nymphaeum, grottoes, water games and flowers.

Highlights

Greve in Chianti • Villa Poggio Torselli • Villa Vignamaggio • Villa Geggiano • Badia a Coltibuono • Villa Garzoni • Palazzo Pfanner • Parco della Villa Reale • Villa Torrigiani • Villa Grabau • Lucca

Day by day

You depart from London Heathrow on the BA604 at 08.25 arriving at 11.45 hrs at Pisa. You are met by your driver and then transferred to your hotel for the first three nights, the Villa le Barone at Panzano near Greve in Chianti. There is time to unpack and explore the hotel and its grounds as well as the country tracks nearby before dinner at 19.30 hrs.

Today combines visits to Villa Poggio Torselli and Villa Villamaggio, both of which date from the 15th century, with guided tours at both gardens. In the morning you visit Villa Poggio Torselli, renowned for its spectacular flowering plants including Indian giant hibiscus and a golden crown of 120 secular lemon trees. There will be free time for lunch between taken in the pretty village of Greve in Chianti (at own expense but suggestions will be made by the local guide) and then a visit with a wine tasting at Villa Vignamaggio in the afternoon. Villa Vignamaggio was the home of the Gherardini family and Lisa Gherardini who is said to be the subject of da Vinci’s Monna Lisa. Return to the hotel Villa le Barone in the late afternoon, in good time for dinner which will be at 19.30 hrs.

You visit two gardens today. Your first visit in the morning is at Villa di Geggiano, which dates from the 15th century and is now a national monument, resplendent with ancient cypress, sculpted boxwood as well as lemon trees. There is free time in Siena for lunch (at own expense). The afternoon’s visit is at Badia di Coltibuono, a former abbey, where the gardens follow the design of the monks’ hortus conclusus. Today there is still a domestic quality to the garden with its pots of lavender, potted olive trees, clumps of hydrangea, and a vine-covered pergola. There is also a formality dating from the early 20th Century with its box parterre and magnolia grandiflora. This is a garden for all seasons. You should arrive back at the hotel at about 17.30 hrs in time to rest and change before dinner at the hotel at 19.30 hrs.

You leave Greve this morning for your second stay of the tour, at the Bagni di Pisa near Lucca. En route we have included a visit of the gardens of Villa Garzoni, dating from 1652 and famous for the balustraded terraces, symmetrical staircases and water cascades, which make the most of the hillside location. Lunch is included at the Ristorante Garzoni. You arrive at the Bagni di Pisa mid to late afternoon, with time perhaps for a spa treatment or a swim in the hotel’s pool. arriving in time to relax and enjoy the hotel’s spa treatments or a swim in the hotel’s pool. Dinner is taken at the hotel.

Today a local guide accompanies you on your visit to Lucca and the baroque gardens of Villa Pfanner. There is free time in Lucca for a bite to eat for lunch, under your own steam, and then in the afternoon, from 2.30 you visit nearby Villa Grabau and the gardens of the Villa Oliva. Your guide will stay with you for these visits. Villa Grabau is renowed for its English-style parkland which abounds in rare trees, planted initially in the 16th century when the villa was built and added to over the years. Villa Oliva enjoys views over the countryside near Lucca from its position on a hillside. Its gardens descend the hill and there are numerous waterfalls and fountains. You should be back at your hotel by 17.30 hrs to rest and relax before dinner at 20.00 hrs.

Your guide accompanies you to two splendid gardens in the Lucca area again today. The Parco Villa Reale is an extensive garden and parkland with numerous linked water features, a Moorish garden, a lemon garden, a green theatre and a camellia walk. Lunch is included at a local trattoria in between visits. Villa Torrigiani is very pretty, formal and ornate and houses a baroque garden with nymphaeum, grottoes, water games and flowers. You return to the hotel by about 17.15 hrs, again for time to freshen up and enjoy an aperitif before dinner at 20.00 hrs.

A leisurely breakfast with time to relax before checking out late morning. Free time to explore the village and use the hotel grounds, or even take a taxi, under your own steam, back into Lucca for final sightseeing or shopping, before you leave for the BA605 departing from Pisa at 18.05 hrs.

This holiday was excellent and very enjoyable and the arrangements all went well. A real Tuscan experience.
Mr C, June 2018

From about 17 May 2020 £2,690 4 June 2020 £2,790 6 September 2020 £2,790

Holiday Code SGGT05

Luxury garden tour of Tuscany for small groups of up to 14 people

You depart from London Heathrow on the BA604 at 08.25 arriving at 11.45 hrs at Pisa. You are met by your driver and then transferred to your hotel for the first three nights, the Villa le Barone at Panzano near Greve in Chianti. There is time to unpack and explore the hotel and its grounds as well as the country tracks nearby before dinner at 19.30 hrs.

Today combines visits to Villa Poggio Torselli and Villa Villamaggio, both of which date from the 15th century, with guided tours at both gardens. In the morning you visit Villa Poggio Torselli, renowned for its spectacular flowering plants including Indian giant hibiscus and a golden crown of 120 secular lemon trees. There will be free time for lunch between taken in the pretty village of Greve in Chianti (at own expense but suggestions will be made by the local guide) and then a visit with a wine tasting at Villa Vignamaggio in the afternoon. Villa Vignamaggio was the home of the Gherardini family and Lisa Gherardini who is said to be the subject of da Vinci’s Monna Lisa. Return to the hotel Villa le Barone in the late afternoon, in good time for dinner which will be at 19.30 hrs.

You visit two gardens today. Your first visit in the morning is at Villa di Geggiano, which dates from the 15th century and is now a national monument, resplendent with ancient cypress, sculpted boxwood as well as lemon trees. There is free time in Siena for lunch (at own expense). The afternoon’s visit is at Badia di Coltibuono, a former abbey, where the gardens follow the design of the monks’ hortus conclusus. Today there is still a domestic quality to the garden with its pots of lavender, potted olive trees, clumps of hydrangea, and a vine-covered pergola. There is also a formality dating from the early 20th Century with its box parterre and magnolia grandiflora. This is a garden for all seasons. You should arrive back at the hotel at about 17.30 hrs in time to rest and change before dinner at the hotel at 19.30 hrs.

You leave Greve this morning for your second stay of the tour, at the Bagni di Pisa near Lucca. En route we have included a visit of the gardens of Villa Garzoni, dating from 1652 and famous for the balustraded terraces, symmetrical staircases and water cascades, which make the most of the hillside location. Lunch is included at the Ristorante Garzoni. You arrive at the Bagni di Pisa mid to late afternoon, with time perhaps for a spa treatment or a swim in the hotel’s pool. arriving in time to relax and enjoy the hotel’s spa treatments or a swim in the hotel’s pool. Dinner is taken at the hotel.

Today a local guide accompanies you on your visit to Lucca and the baroque gardens of Villa Pfanner. There is free time in Lucca for a bite to eat for lunch, under your own steam, and then in the afternoon, from 2.30 you visit nearby Villa Grabau and the gardens of the Villa Oliva. Your guide will stay with you for these visits. Villa Grabau is renowed for its English-style parkland which abounds in rare trees, planted initially in the 16th century when the villa was built and added to over the years. Villa Oliva enjoys views over the countryside near Lucca from its position on a hillside. Its gardens descend the hill and there are numerous waterfalls and fountains. You should be back at your hotel by 17.30 hrs to rest and relax before dinner at 20.00 hrs.

Your guide accompanies you to two splendid gardens in the Lucca area again today. The Parco Villa Reale is an extensive garden and parkland with numerous linked water features, a Moorish garden, a lemon garden, a green theatre and a camellia walk. Lunch is included at a local trattoria in between visits. Villa Torrigiani is very pretty, formal and ornate and houses a baroque garden with nymphaeum, grottoes, water games and flowers. You return to the hotel by about 17.15 hrs, again for time to freshen up and enjoy an aperitif before dinner at 20.00 hrs.

A leisurely breakfast with time to relax before checking out late morning. Free time to explore the village and use the hotel grounds, or even take a taxi, under your own steam, back into Lucca for final sightseeing or shopping, before you leave for the BA605 departing from Pisa at 18.05 hrs.

From about 17 May 2020 £2,690 4 June 2020 £2,790 6 September 2020 £2,790

Holiday Code SGGT05

Our prices include ● Scheduled flights with British Airways London Heathrow to Pisa return, in Euro traveller
● Transportation from Pisa airport and back to Pisa airport in a small 16 seater coach for maximum 14 people with one piece of luggage per person, English speaking driver/escort
● Entrance tickets to the gardens mentioned with guided visits as mentioned
● Three nights’ dinner, bed and breakfast at the Villa le Barone in Classic double or twin rooms
● Three nights’ dinner, bed and breakfast at the Hotel Bagni di Pisa in Comfort double or twin rooms
● Two lunches per person in local trattorias
● 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 not mentioned
● 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

Additional information Single supplement for use of double per person: £440 in May, £500 in June and £530 in September
Deposit payment £400 per person

Luxury garden tour of Tuscany for small groups of up to 14 people

Expressions Holidays includes these hotels in this small group touring holiday.
Hotels included in this tour
Villa Le Barone

Villa le Barone is an enchanting 4-star hotel in a beautiful rural location in the Chianti countryside. Exquisite gardens, delicious cuisine and excellent wine, alongside authentic, comfortable accommodation, afford guests an intimate, relaxing taste of Tuscany.

Classic double room

Bagni di Pisa

The Bagni di Pisa is a 5-star, boutique hotel with an exquisite spa heritage. The decadent interiors and tranquil pool, gardens and surroundings and gourmet dining facilities afford guests a truly indulgent Tuscan experience.

Comfort double room

From about 17 May 2020 £2,690 4 June 2020 £2,790 6 September 2020 £2,790

Holiday Code SGGT05

Luxury garden tour of Tuscany for small groups of up to 14 people

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.

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