Tailormade tour Tuscany and Umbria tour by rail and car Italy

9 nights /10 days

Florence • Chianti • Umbria

This touring holiday to Tuscany and Umbria by rail with the use of a hire-car to explore offers you two complementary regions of the heart of Italy as well as an enjoyable drive in between places. You also have one night in Florence after arriving on the overnight sleeper from Paris to Milan. There are short drives in between all places, giving you time to explore in a leisurely fashion, stopping off in cultural gems such as Arezzo or Cortona. There is time to drive along the Chianti route and visit Lake Trasimeno.
Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from £2,610 per person.

Tuscany and Umbria luxury rail-drive tailor-made touring holiday


Florence • Visit the Uffizi • Visit the Chapel of the Magi in Palazzo Medici Riccardi • Chianti wine route • Visit Arezzo

Day by day

You begin your rail touring holiday to Tuscany and Umbria by travelling out on a morning Eurostar from London to Paris. In Paris you change stations and take the TGV to Zurich arriving early evening. There is time to explore the old town and the Limmatquai this evening.

This morning there is a comfortable departure from Zurich for Milan. The train speeds you south passing Lake Zug and Lake Lucerne before crossing through the Alps to reach Milan. Here you change trains for Florence. Upon arrival in Florence you are met and transferred to you hotel by private car. You spend one night in Florence.

Linger perhaps to spend the morning in Florence, before collecting your hire-car from a central Florence location and embarking on your tour into the Tuscan countryside, reaching your hotel in the afternoon when you can check-in. Your base in the countryside is in the Chianti region only about 40 kms from Florence but is an ideal location to allow for much exploration of Tuscany.

You have the next two days at your leisure to explore Tuscany. From your hotel you could travel south along the Chianti wine route, stopping off in the wine villages along the way, for example Greve, Radda and Gaiole. The countryside delights with its mix of fields and orchards, olive groves, vineyards and forested hills. There are villas and gardens to visit, as well as the picturesque, fortified town of San Gimignano and Tuscany’s rival city, Siena.

The distance today is about 140 kms by the most direct route. However, to make the most of your time we would recommend driving south-east to the small city of Arezzo. 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. Continue south through the rolling hills to the hilltop town of Cortona, rich in Etruscan history with substantial displays of Etruscan artefacts in the museum. Cortona to your destination is about an hour’s drive and the route takes you along the shores of Lake Trasimeno. Hills clad in olive trees encircle about half of the lake, and dotted here and there are ancient, small towns and castles, many in ruins.

From your base in the Umbrian countryside, a noteworthy circular excursion for a day (or split it into two days) is to visit the nearby cathedral and university city of Perugia. At the heart of this city, on a hilltop, is the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo, distinctive because of its original architectural style. Inside, the cathedral contains a huge collection of works of art. The Palazzo dei Priori, however, is a gothic 13th century palace that holds Perugia’s main art gallery: the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria. Take a walk along the Via dell’Acquedotto, a converted aqueduct that navigates through the whole town, or, through the unnamed Etruscan gateway, enter the Rocca Paolina, a maze of underground tunnels that used to make up the mediaeval city, but now affords residents and visitors an intriguing and convenient way of getting from one part of the city to another. A favourite attraction in Perugia is the Perugina chocolate factory, which offers tours. To the south of Perugia is the wine-village of Torgiano. There is a wine museum, and you can visit the famous Lungarotti winery. From here you can follow the course of the River Tiber as it curls its way south towards Rome, and visit the hilltop town of Todi, rich in mediaeval architecture. The main sights are the 11th century cathedral, the Palazzo del Popolo, the Palazzo del Capitano, and the Palazzo dei Priori. There are other small mediaeval and Renaissance churches and the town is surrounded still by three concentric walls: one Etruscan, one Roman and one mediaeval. From Todi back to your hotel is about 50 minutes by car.

Today means a drive back to Florence, a journey of about two hours mainly on the autostrada, to return your hire-car before boarding the high-speed train to Milan and on to Turin. Turin is a delightful city with magnificent architecture and a wealth of excellent restaurants.

The departure for Paris leaves just after 07.30 hrs this morning, so it's an early start, but an enjoyable route crossing from Turin into France under the shadow of the Alps. The journey time to Paris on this direct service is 5 hrs and 40 minutes meaning that you reach Paris in time for lunch and either a few hours in the French capital before taking the Eurostar back to London or a late afternoon arrival back into London.

Special offers for this holiday>

Thank-you again for planning this for us. You truly gave us the perfect holiday experience.
Mrs E, June 2019

Holiday price guide From £2,610 per person based on two people sharing a double room including second class rail travel. First class supplement from £570 per person.

Holiday Code ITRD03

Tuscany and Umbria luxury rail-drive tailor-made touring holiday

Special offers for this holiday>

Thank-you again for planning this for us. You truly gave us the perfect holiday experience.
Mrs E, June 2019

Holiday price guide From £2,610 per person based on two people sharing a double room including second class rail travel. First class supplement from £570 per person.

Holiday Code ITRD03

Our prices include ● Second-class travel on all trains, with standard class on Eurostar (first and standard premier can be booked at a supplement)
● Hire of a Group B car from day 3 to 9
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Standard room at the Hotel Europe or the Hotel St Gotthard, Zurich
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Classic executive room at the Hotel Brunelleschi, in Florence or the Bernini Palace, Florence
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Classic room at Villa le Barone, in Chianti
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Premiere superior room at Hotel le Tre Vaselle, in Umbria
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Classic room at the Grand Hotel Sitea, Turin
● 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

Additional information This rail holiday can be arranged throughout the year, subject to the opening dates of the hotels. Timings can vary depending on the month and day of the week.

Tuscany and Umbria luxury rail-drive tailor-made touring holiday

Hotels included in this tour
Romantik Hotel Europe

The Romantik Hotel Europe in Zurich is a charming, boutique, family-run hotel with 39 rooms just two minutes’ walk from the shores of Lake Zurich and by the Opera House.

Classic room

Hotel St Gotthard

Hotel St Gotthard is a sophisticated 4-star hotel in an excellent central location. Haute cuisine and stylish, comfortable accommodation make this an excellent spot to recuperate after enjoying the cultural delights of Zurich.

Comfort room

Hotel Brunelleschi

The Hotel Brunelleschi is a luxury 4-star hotel, steeped in the history of Florence and yet offering contemporary comforts. The hotel is in the heart of the city just a few minutes' walk from the Duomo. Two restaurants (one with two Michelin stars) are on-site.

Classic executive double room

Hotel Bernini Palace

The Bernini Palace is an elegant, historic 5-star hotel in the heart of Florence. Sumptuous interiors and delicious cuisine make this hotel the perfect base from which to relax after exploring the wonders of the city.

Classic double room

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 room

Hotel Le Tre Vaselle

Hotel le Tre Vaselle is a 5-star boutique hotel in a beautiful rural location. Wine and gastronomy are at the centre of a stay here. It is superbly located to visit local wineries, and the hotel's spa offers wine-centred treatments.

Premier superior double room

Grand Hotel Sitea

Grand Hotel Sitea is a 5-star classic hotel in the heart of Turin. The gourmet cuisine and stylish, comfortable accommodation make it an ideal spot to recuperate after a day enjoying the city's historical and cultural sites.

Classic room

Special offers

Call to make your booking and save an extra £50 per adult Call us instead of emailing us when you are thinking of booking a holiday and save an extra £50 per adult (in addition to any special offers that might be available). We want to talk to you to discuss your requirements and a phone call is usually the best way for you to define what you want enabling us to respond more accurately. We want to talk to you and you save an extra £50 per adult.

Thank-you again for planning this for us. You truly gave us the perfect holiday experience.
Mrs E, June 2019

Holiday price guide From £2,610 per person based on two people sharing a double room including second class rail travel. First class supplement from £570 per person.

Holiday Code ITRD03

Tuscany and Umbria luxury rail-drive tailor-made touring holiday

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.

Tuscany and Umbria luxury rail-drive tailor-made touring holiday

Highlights of Umbria

Shop for ceramics in Gubbio, truffles and cooked meats from Norcia. Dramatic landscapes of the Monte Sibillini and one of Europe's highest waterfalls called the Cascate delle Marmore near Terni. One of Italy's beauty spots is the Fonti del Clitunno south of Trevi. See carpentry and woodworking in Todi. Visit the wine museum in Torgiano. Forests of holm oak near Spoleto. Antique fair in April and a national craft fair in August and September in Todi.

Cultural highlights of Umbria

A mixture of religious and secular art and architecture makes Umbria fascinating. The cities of Perugia and Assisi are great centres but the smaller towns of Gubbio, Todi, Spoleto and Spello are also of outstanding interest. Highlights of the region include the Fontana Maggiore in the Piazza IV Novembre in Perugia. Perugia`s Galleria Nazionale containing works by Perugino and Pinturicchio. Gattapone`s Palazzo dei Consoli in Gubbio and his Ponte delle Torri in Spoleto. The `Adoration of the Magi` by Perugino in the church of the Madonna della Lacrime in Trevi. Frescoes by Matteo da Gualdo in the Pinacoteca of Gualdo Tadino. `San Sebastiano` by Luca Signorelli in the Pinacoteca at Citta di Castello. Frescoes by Giotto and Lorenzetti in the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi.

Festivals in Umbria

Perugia has a jazz festival in the summer and the Sagra Musicale music festival held in its churches in September. Orvieto holds concerts in August and has a firework display on the 15th. Spoleto`s Festival of the Two Worlds, a world-class cultural event, takes place June and July. Spello holds its Infiorata in June when the streets are decked with flowers. Foligno holds jousting in September during its Giostra della Quintane.

Gastronomy in Umbria

Umbria's gastronomy is very much a product of its earth and waters: Mushrooms and truffles flavour many dishes, Game and wild boar, Trevi produces black celery, olive oil and black truffles, Pecorino cheese from Torgiano, Todi offers Panzanella, dried bread soaked and marinated in sliced tomato, basil, onion and olive oil, Sweet macheroni with walnuts, Salami and sausages are a regional speciality, Trout from the rivers and perch from Lake Trasimeno, Strangozzi and Bici are local pasta, often flavoured with porcini and truffles. Umbria produces some high quality robust red wines near Torgiano (Rubesco produced by Lungarotti for example) and Orvieto is known for its white wine.

Tuscany and Umbria luxury rail-drive tailor-made touring holiday

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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