Tailormade tour Tuscany by car self-drive tour Italy

13 nights/14 days

Burgundy • Lake Annecy • Piemonte • Tuscany • Lake Orta • Lake Lucerne area • Champagne

This self-drive touring holiday with Eurotunnel crossing included is an in-depth visit of Tuscany with 7 nights in the Chianti region between Florence and Siena, with overnight stops en-route included in the Burgundy, Lake Annecy, Piemonte, Lake Orta, in the region of Lake Lucerne and Champagne. A grand tour to Italy in your own car with attractive highlights along the way.
Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £2,880 per person.

Luxury self-drive tailormade touring holiday to Tuscany

Highlights

Eurotunnel crossing from Folkestone to Calais • Burgundy • Lake Annecy • Piemonte • Alba for truffles • Barolo vineyards • Tuscan countryside • Chianti wine road • Visit Siena • Visit San Gimignano • Lake Orta • Lake Lucerne area • Champagne

Day by day

You cross by Eurotunnel from Folkestone to Calais and then drive south-east passing Reims and the Champagne region into the rolling hills of Burgundy. Puligny-Montrachet is set amidst the Montrachet vineyards, some of the most famous in the world. The white wines produced in Montrachet are some of the rarest wines of the Chardonnay grape and considered by connoisseurs to be the best. However, while in Burgundy, be sure to sample the variety of wines produced on the Côte de Beaune and Côte d’Or.

Given that it’s a drive of about 2 hrs 30 mins today, you have the possibility of exploring the Burgundy vineyards, or stopping somewhere en-route, perhaps to visit the Abbey at Cluny or the town of Macon or arriving early at Annecy to rest and explore. The pretty town of Annecy sits where the River Thiou meets the lake. Renowned for its old town, Annecy is a place of winding cobbled streets, narrow canals, and colourful houses. The Chateau d’Annecy is the cultural centre-point of the town, and therefore well worth a visit. Former home to the counts of Geneva, the chateau now houses a museum of regional artefacts, particularly Alpine furniture and art.

From Annecy to Piemonte, the most direct route is through the Mont Blanc tunnel and then motorway south skirting Turin to reach the town of Alba and your overnight stop nearby. Piemonte beckons lovers of wine and food, art and architecture and dramatic, natural landscapes. Aside from sampling the native wines of the Langhe district in nearby Asti, home of the sparkling white Asti Spumante, and the wine-producing villages such as Barolo, home to a full-bodied red, and La Morra, venture out into the picturesque streets of Monforte d’Alba. Explore the elaborately decorative Parrochia Madonna della Neve, with its high blue ceilings and intriguing exterior. Visit the 13th century Palazzo Scarampi, and the beautifully quaint Auditorium Horszowski, which hosts various jazz concerts, theatre productions, and films in the summer months. This auditorium, Greco-Roman in style, also plays the part of the town square.

Today the route takes you south towards the coast at Genoa and along the Ligurian Riviera, skirting well-known resorts such as Portofino and Rapallo, before entering Tuscany and running parallel to the coast, passing the marble quarries at Carrara and the Tuscan coast resorts of Forte dei Marmi and Viareggio. You then turn inland passing Lucca, the spa town of Montecatini and reach Florence before turning south and either taking the fast road to Siena or wind your way through the Chianti villages amid the undulating hills and vineyards between Florence and Siena. You reach your hotel not far from Siena, where you stay for seven nights.

From your base at the heart of the Chianti classic vineyards, you are ideally situated to explore much of Tuscany at leisure in your own car. You could head north along the Chianti wine road through the wine villages of Gaiole, Radda and Greve, stopping here and there to visit the wineries, take pictures, stroll or visit villas and their gardens. Drive to nearby Siena to witness the unfinished aspirations of Siena, long-standing rival of Florence. One of Siena’s most attractive sights is the free-standing archway of the Piazza del Duomo. This arch was intended to be the entrance to the newly expanded Duomo di Siena, but this expansion was never completed. The colourful marble tiles of the piazza are all that was finished of the Duomo’s interior, and now make up the square itself. One of Siena’s real treasures is the baptismal font in the baptistery of the Duomo. Its decorative relief panels were designed by the likes of Donatello, Ghiberti, and Jacopo della Quercia. Walk to the Palazzo Pubblico, the tallest secular tower of medieval Italy and the seat of the city council, to view its collection of Sienese art, and to remark upon its differences to Florentine art. Complete a day of exploration in Siena by climbing the Torre del Mangia for a birds-eye view of the city. Other places of interest nearby include Volterra, a village of particular interest due to its unique brooding atmosphere, accentuated by its towering houses, narrow streets, and deep ravine. San Gimignano, though still only a small village, bears the scars of unfulfilled ambition. Its numerous tall towers rise high above its buildings and delineate the positions of its many village squares. The grand expansion these towers signify was never completed, though the beauty of the village is still undeniable. For quieter days out, consider visiting the hamlet of Monteriggioni, peaceful as it is, and protected by its original exterior walls.

Your self-drive touring holiday takes you into the Lakes region of the Alpine north of Italy. Your destination today is the small and lesser-known, Lake Orta. The essence of Orta San Giulio and the Lago d’Orta has captured the minds of many creative souls, from Friedrich Nietzsche to Robert Browning and Balzac. A very pleasing walkway takes you from the town square around the Orta peninsula and into the Sacro Monte historical park.

From Lake Orta you have a couple of options today. The first is to follow the shore of Lake Maggiore into Switzerland, passing Ascona and Locarno, to the alpine gateway of Bellinzona and then through the Gotthard (tunnel or pass) to Schwyz near Lake Lucerne. Another route is to take the Simplon to Brig and then over the Furka pass to Andermatt (be sure to check that the roads are open). You spend one night in the village of Schwyz, the central square of which has been voted one of the most beautiful in the whole of Switzerland. This is believed to be in part due to the unique Town Hall, with its façade painting depicting the Battle of Morgarten.

The scenic drive from Schwyz to Epernay takes you through the historic heart of Switzerland, and then across the border at Basel. At Mulhouse drive north with the Rhine valley to your east and the Vosges mountains to your west, and then either cross the Vosges to Nancy or take the motorway past Strasbourg, Metz and Verdun to reach Epernay in the Champagne region of France. As this holiday began with famous French wines, so it ends with sparkling French champagne. Nestling between the Aisne and Marne valleys, Epernay and its nearby rival, Reims, are well situated to see the champagne vineyards thrive. If time permits, visit a winery such as Champagne Tribaut. This family run business supplies such prestigious companies as Krug and Taittinger and opens its cellars and vineyards for tours and tastings. Across the Marne valley, however, you will find vineyards that produce wines from Pinot Noir grapes, or south, along the Côte des Blancs the wineries specialise in mineral-rich Chardonnay.

After your night in the Champagne region, drive north to Calais and return to Folkestone on the Eurotunnel.

Holiday price guide Price from £2,880 per person based on two people sharing a double room.

Holiday Code ITSD02

Luxury self-drive tailormade touring holiday to Tuscany

Holiday price guide Price from £2,880 per person based on two people sharing a double room.

Holiday Code ITSD02

Our prices include ● Eurotunnel standard return from Folkestone to Calais for car and passengers
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Classic double room at the Le Montrachet in Puligny-Montrachet, Burgundy
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Park view double room at the Imperial Palace in Annecy
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Superior double room at the Villa d’Amelia at Monforte d'Alba, in Piemonte
● 7 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Classic double room at the Hotel Borgo San Felice, in Tuscany
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Lake view double room at the Hotel San Rocco, on Lake Orta
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Double room at the Hotel Wysses Roessli in Schwyz
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Classic double room at La Briqueterie, Epernay in Champagne
● 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

Additional information Driving times for this holiday
Calais to Puligny-Montrachet 5 hours 30 minutes
Puligny-Montrachet to Annecy 2 hours 30 minutes
Annecy to Benevello 4 hours 5 minutes
Benevello to San Felice 5 hours 10 minutes
San Felice to Orta San Giulio 4 hours 50 minutes
Orta San Giulio to Schwyz 3 hours
Schwyz to Epernay 6 hours
Epernay to Calais 2 hours 50 minutes

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
Burgunday
Le Montrachet

Le Montrachet is a boutique 4-star French auberge in a beautiful natural location. Excellent cuisine and comfortable accommodation make this property a relaxing haven and an excellent spot to explore the Burgundy wine region.

Classic double room

Annecy
L'Imperial Palace

L'Impérial Palace is a 4-star grand hotel in a stunning location overlooking Lake Annecy. The stunning spa and excellent cuisine make it an ideal spot to recuperate after enjoying the pretty town of Annecy and the local region.

Park view double room

Piemonte
Relais Villa d'Amelia

Relais Villa d'Amelia is a 4-star property in a beautiful countryside location. Michelin-starred cuisine, excellent spa and wellness facilities and immaculate gardens afford guests a truly relaxing and restorative retreat.

Superior double room

Tuscany
Borgo San Felice

The Borgo San Felice is a boutique 5-star hotel in Chianti country, ideal for exploring Italian vineyards and authentic Tuscan cuisine. Excellent spa facilities and fine dining restaurants afford guests a truly indulgent experience.

Classic double room

Lake Orta
Hotel San Rocco

Hotel San Rocco is a 4-star boutique hotel in a picturesque location. Delicious cuisine and a fantastic rooftop bar afford guests a truly relaxing and idyllic retreat on the banks of Lake Orta.

Lake view double room

Epernay
Hostellerie La Briqueterie

Hostellerie La Briqueterie is a 5-star boutique hotel, perfectly situated for exploring the wineries of the Champagne region, including some of the most prestigious champagne houses. Delicious cuisine and excellent spa facilities afford guests a truly tranquil experience.

Classic double room

Holiday price guide Price from £2,880 per person based on two people sharing a double room.

Holiday Code ITSD02

Luxury self-drive tailormade touring holiday to Tuscany

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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