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Italy Organised Trips

Cruise the Aeolian Islands – Lipari & Vulcano

The UNESCO-protected Aeolian Islands rise out of cobalt-blue seas, and on this day trip we’ll discover two of the main islands’ lush vegetation and traditional Mediterranean architecture. A motorboat will whisk you off to Lipari’s historical centre to visit the Archaeological Park and the Cathedral. There will be free time to explore at leisure, before you jump back on board and sail past the Faraglioni and Horse’s Cave rock formations to Vulcano. This volcanic island has a dramatic landscape and there’s the chance to bathe in the mineral-rich mud baths. The return journey takes us back along the coast to take in the Papa Giovanni Rock as the final part of our scenic experience.

• Departing on Thursday from Taormina
• Operates year round
• Group experience

Good to know
Lunch, mud bath entrance fees and transfers are not included – guests will make their own way to the Taormina Bus Terminal. The mud baths are not recommended for children or pregnant women. Approx. €5pp eco-tax to be paid on board the boat.

Duration:

Full day

Start time: 7am

Cruise to Villa Balbianello

Afternoons don’t come much more picturesque than cruising across Lake Como to a beautiful 18th-Century villa. On the tip of the Lavedo promontory, Villa Balbianello sits in the most spectacular spot on the lake. It now belongs to FAI (the Italian equivalent of the National Trust) and has beautiful fragrant gardens. Explore the lavishly furnished interiors and see the collection of pre-Columbian objects, Chinese porcelain and terracottas, reverse-glass paintings, tapestries and carpets that belonged to previous owner Count Guido Monzino – a keen explorer who climbed Mount Everest in 1973. If you think the villa looks familiar, it might be because it starred in Casino Royale and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.

• Departing Sunday from Lake Como hotels
• Operates April - October
• Group experience

Duration:

Half day

Start time: 2.45pm
End time: 6pm

Explore Siena & San Galgano (self drive experience)

Step back in time to the Middle Ages on an exploration of Siena, whose historic centre is described by UNESCO as the “embodiment of a medieval city”. Start with a guided stroll through its characterful narrow streets, admiring the city’s architectural landmarks and hidden treasures, and hearing tales of the people who helped to shape it. You’ll learn about the Palio, the world’s oldest horse race, in which Siena’s 17 districts compete passionately for victory, and visit the small museum of one of these 17 contradas. Offering a complete change of pace, the next destination is an organic farm in the Sienese countryside, where they specialise in rare breeds; it’s a charming place for a fresher-than-fresh light lunch of Tuscan food. From here, the route leads to the abbey of San Galgano, a romantic roofless Gothic ruin set in a picturesque landscape, and the hermitage of Montesiepi, places of beauty and legend.

• Departs Monday to Friday
• Meet your guide in Siena
• Operates Year round
• Group experience

Good to know
Please advise of any food intolerances or special dietary requirements when booking. Wear suitable footwear as the path from San Galgano to Montesiepi can be muddy.

Duration:

Full day

Start time: 10am
End time: 6pm

Hike The Cinque Terre (self drive excursion)

The five picturesque fishing villages that make up the Cinque Terre, now part of a National Park, are rightly a must-see for many visitors to this part of Italy. On this four-hour experience, you’ll be able to sample the area’s impressive scenery, taking in stunning views of the sea, cliffs and steeply sloping fields along the way. The adventure begins with a short train ride to the picture-perfect village of Manarola, whose paved alleyways lead steeply down from an atmospheric church to the bustling harbour. A bus ride away is Volastra, where you’ll join the narrow footpath that winds through a dramatic coastal landscape of terraced vineyards and olive groves, interspersed with forest. After about an hour and a half, you descend to the long-established village of Corniglia, perched on a promontory overlooking the ocean. The journey ends here with a well-earned lunch at a typical local bistro featuring several local wines.

• Daily departures
• Meet your guide at La Spezia central train station
• Operates Year round
• Group experience

Good to know
The walk is not suitable for people with reduced mobility. The National Park regulations require visitors to have suitable footwear, such as trekking or sports shoes; sandals and open shoes are not allowed.

Duration:

Half day

Start time: 9am
End time: 1pm

Historical Montalcino And The Music Of Brunello Wine (Self Drive)

The medieval hilltop town of Montalcino is the home of Brunello wine and one of the highlights of the stunning UNESCO-listed Val d’Orcia. For this two-part adventure, you’ll begin by exploring its steep stone-paved lanes on foot with an expert local guide, discovering a wealth of palazzos, piazzas and churches, not to mention the ancient fortress that dominates the skyline. Art lovers will particularly appreciate the 600-year-old frescoes in the church of Sant’Agostino, one of the town’s cultural gems. From here, you’ll make the 15-minute drive to a nearby wine estate to learn all about the area’s famous reds as well as an innovative project exploring whether classical music helps the vines grow better. Weather permitting, you’ll visit the section of vineyard where Mozart’s music fills the air, before heading to the ancient cellars to follow the wine-making process from start to finish. Naturally, there’s a tasting at the end of the estate’s red wines and extra-virgin olive oil, accompanied by bread, Tuscan salamis and locally made pecorino cheese.

• Daily departures
• Meet your guide in Montalcino
• Operates Year round
• Group experience

Good to know
The trip is only available as a self-drive option.

Duration:

Half day

Start time: 9.30am
End time: 12.30pm

In the Footsteps of the Godfather

This is the ultimate Sicilian experience for movie buffs; follow in the footsteps of Marlon Brando and Al Pacino to the movie locations made famous by Francis Ford Coppola’s epic movie The Godfather. Plus, a private car and driver means you’ll have the freedom to choose how long you spend in each traditional Sicilian town. In Savoca, you can drink coffee in Bar Vitelli: the same bar where Michael Corleone asked Apollonia to marry him, then wander through the narrow streets to the church of Santa Lucia, where their wedding scene was filmed. While you’re here, it’s worth also visiting the Monastero dei Cappuccini to see the crypt that houses mummified bodies of Savoca’s monks and nobles. In the village of Forza d’Agrò, visit the beautiful little Basilica of Saint Peter and Paul. Within the narrow alleyways of this medieval centre, all is quiet and time seems to stand still. This is precisely the atmosphere that inspired Francis Ford Coppola to shoot some of the scenes for his iconic movie here, as daily life continues behind closed doors.

• Departing daily
• Operates year round
• Private experience

Good to know
Entrance fees are not included. You’ll have a private car and driver for a maximum of eight hours.

Duration:

Half day, am or pm

Mount Etna & The Crater Zones

Explore Europe’s highest volcano on a trekking and train ride adventure through beautiful valleys up to the craters. Mount Etna stands 3350 metres high and has been a designated UNESCO World Heritage site since 2013. We’ll trek to the stunning Alcantara Gorges, carved by the Alcantra River, stopping for a scenic short rest before boarding the ‘Circumetnea’: a traditional narrow-gauge train that runs around the foot of the volcano and up to Adrano. We’ll then head to Rifugio Sapienza, the guardhouse at the base of Mount Etna located 1900 metres above sea level, to head off on a soft trek to see the most recent lava flows and the now-extinct impressive Silvestri craters. After time for lunch, you can take the cable car up to 2,500 meters and continue by Jeep to the authorized crater zones at 3,000 meters with the assistance of licensed Italian Alpine Club guides. You’ll be rewarded with views out over the summit craters.

• Departing on Wednesday from Taormina
• Operates year round
• Group experience

Good to know
Lunch and transfers are not included – trekkers will make their own way to the Taormina Bus Terminal. We recommend bringing warm clothing and suitable shoes. This soft trek may be too challenging for younger children.

Duration:

Full day

Start time: 7am

Mount Etna Soft Trek

Add a touch of adventure to your Sicily holiday with a scenic walk up part of towering Mount Etna. Etna is Europe’s highest volcano, standing 3350 metres high, and it has been a designated UNESCO World Heritage site since 2013. Your trek will begin at Rifugio Sapienza, the guardhouse at the base of Mount Etna located 1900 metres above sea level. From here, you’ll head off on a soft trek to see the most recent lava flows and the now-extinct impressive Silvestri craters.

• Departing Monday and Friday from Taormina
• Departs year round
• Group experience

Good to know
Transfers are not included – trekkers will make their own way to the Taormina Bus Terminal. We recommend bringing warm clothing and suitable shoes. This soft trek may be too challenging for younger children.

Duration:

Half day

Start time: 8.30am

Pizza Making Class

Sicily has a pizza style all of its own; even if you’ve made pizza before, you’ll be in for a treat at this pizza-making class. First, you’ll learn the secret of how to make a great pizza sauce before creating ideas for fun toppings and baking your pizzas to perfection. Enjoy your pizza with a Bruschetta mix, washed down with a glass of delicious local wine.

• Departing daily from Port Messina Arch
• Operates year round
• Group experience

Good to know
Transfers are not included – guests will make their own way to the Port Messina Arch.

Duration:

Half day

Start time: 10.30am

Private Cruise Around the Villas of Lake Como

Channel your inner A-list celeb and glide across Lake Como on a private boat trip showcasing the most exclusive villas. Lake Como is known for its lavish villas and this idyllic private cruise will introduce you to a few of our favourites. Impressive Villa Balbianello has immaculate gardens and a stylish terrace with a breathtaking lake backdrop; it’s no wonder it was chosen to star in Casino Royale and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Then there’s Villa Cassinella, a wow-factor private estate with towering cypress trees and a secluded, romantic setting. We’ll also sail past Comacina Island: the lake’s only island, home to a charming little white church and a fascinating history.

• Departing daily from Lake Como hotels
• Operates year round
• Private experience

Good to know
You’ll have your private boat for one hour.

Duration:

1 hour

Private Mount Etna Soft Trek

Explore Europe’s highest volcano on this private guided trekking and train ride adventure up towering Mount Etna. Mount Etna stands 3350 metres high and has been a designated UNESCO World Heritage site since 2013. We’ll trek to the stunning Alcantara Gorges, carved by the Alcantra River, stopping for a scenic short rest before boarding the ‘Circumetnea’: a traditional narrow-gauge train that runs around the foot of the volcano and up to Adrano. We’ll then head to Rifugio Sapienza, the guardhouse at the base of Mount Etna located 1900 metres above sea level, to head off on a soft trek to see the most recent lava flows and the now-extinct impressive Silvestri craters. Lunch and wine tasting at a winery will give you the extra energy to take the cable car up to 2,500 meters. Continue by Jeep to the authorized crater zones at 3,000 meters where, with the assistance of licensed Italian Alpine Club guides, you can gaze out over the summit craters.

• Departing daily
• Operates year round
• Private experience

Good to know
We strongly recommend warm clothing and suitable shoes.

Duration:

Full day

Start time: 9am

Snorkelling & Underwater Biowatching

Discover Sicily’s vibrant underwater world and learn how to protect its precious ecosystem on this innovative snorkelling adventure. Head out on a short relaxing cruise with a guide who will tell you about the secrets of the sea, then don your snorkel and mask to see the beautiful underwater world and vibrant marine life. There’s also the chance to do some underwater biowatching – an emerging form of ecology tourism that will enhance your snorkelling time and give you an insight into the precious ecosystem. With the help of waterproof cards and an instruction manual, you’ll be able to identify various marine organisms and creatures to give a clearer picture of Sicily’s marine reserves.

• Departing daily
• Operates year round
• Group experience

Good to know
Children over 5 are welcome to join this experience.

Duration:

2 hours in the morning or afternoon

St Moritz & Bernina Express

There’s something particularly charming about travelling by train. The Bernina Express is Switzerland’s ultimate scenic train – despite its ‘express’ name, it leisurely navigates mountain twists and tunnels. Your adventure begins with a drive along northern Lake Como to Tirano, where’ll we stop for coffee before crossing into Switzerland to board the Bernina Express train for the most scenic part of its route. Our one-hour train journey from Poschiavo to Diavolezza takes in the sights of the White Lake and the Black Lake, as well as breathtaking glaciers. We’ll continue by road to the iconic ski resort of St Moritz on the southern side of the Alps where highlights include crystal clear mountain lakes. There will be free time to wander around the beautiful town of Chiavenna before returning to Lake Como.

• Departing Monday and Wednesday from Lake Como hotels
• Operates April - October
• Group experience

Good to know
You’ll need to bring your passport as this experience crosses the border into Switzerland.

Duration:

Full day

Start time: 7.35am
End time: 7pm

Syracuse in a Day

The city of Syracuse showcases Sicily’s timeless beauty – prepare to feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you explore some astounding historical sights. This ancient Greek colony was once the largest city of the ancient world and today it is thoroughly deserving of its UNESCO World Heritage status. We’ll take you to archaeological areas dating back to the 5th Century BC, including the Greek Theatre, the Roman Amphitheatre, the Altar of Hieron II and the Latomies of Paradise with the Ear of Dionysius. Then we’ll head to the historical centre: the small island of Ortigia, where sights such as the Temple of Apollo, the Cathedral and the Fountain of Arethusa with its famous papyrus plant await.

• Departing on Saturday from Taormina
• Operates year round
• Group experience

Good to know
Lunch and transfers are not included – guests will make their own way to the Taormina Bus Terminal. Entrance fees are at extra cost (free for EU citizens under 18 with proof of ID).

Duration:

Full day

Start time: 8am

The Alabaster Art of Tuscany

The walled mountaintop town of Volterra has a spectacular location and a history that dates back more than 2,800 years. On this half-day trip, you’ll take in some of its most celebrated spots and hidden gems, especially those related to the art of alabaster carving for which the town has been famous since Etruscan times. You’ll stop at workshops to see how this soft, pale and translucent local stone is turned into decorative pieces, from ornate statues to minimalist bowls, and feast your eyes on the ornate interior of Palazzo Viti, a historic house lavishly refurbished by a wealthy alabaster dealer in the 19th century. There’s a feast of another kind to round off the visit: a restorative pause at a typical winery, where you’ll have the chance to taste three different wines along with some typical Tuscan delicacies.

• Daily departures
• Meet your guide in Volterra
• Operates Year round
• Group experience

Good to know
Please advise of any food intolerances or request vegetarian options when booking.

Duration:

Half day

Start time: 10am
End time: 2pm

The Gardens Of Lucca

The charming medieval city of Lucca is known for its imposing ancient walls and atmospheric narrow lanes, but it also has some enchanting outdoor spaces. On this guided walk, you’ll discover its much-loved Botanical Garden, founded in 1820, a real natural treasure that’s home to rare medicinal plants and flowers, spectacular trees including a 200-year-old cedar of Lebanon, and a small pond with an ancient legend attached to it. You’ll walk along the top of the city wall, whose ramparts are broad enough to be fringed with centuries-old trees, before heading via a maze of galleries and alleyways to the magnificent Palazzo Pfanner. This former private residence - a popular location for movie makers - has a fabulous garden filled with citrus trees, statues and more. You’ll finish at the appropriately named Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, where you’ll be offered a glass of wine and local-style snacks in a typical Lucchese bistro.

• Departs Monday to Friday
• Meet your guide in Lucca
• Operates Year round
• Group experience

Good to know
The walk takes place whatever the weather, so dress appropriately.

Duration:

Half day

Start time: 3.30pm
End time: 6.30pm

The Knives Of Scarperia (self drive excursion)

Scarperia is officially one of Italy’s most beautiful villages, and with its scenic hilltop setting and immaculately preserved medieval architecture, it’s hard to disagree with this verdict. Adding to the “step back in time” atmosphere is its long history as a centre of the ancient craft of knife making, which you’ll have a chance to try for yourself. Starting with a stroll through its evocative streets and alleyways, you arrive at the workshop of one of Scarperia’s long-established makers where you’ll watch a master craftsman at work using traditional techniques and have a go yourself. (Hint: it’s not as easy as they make it look.) Afterwards, you’ll stop at the museum in the Palazzo dei Vicari, with its distinctive bell tower designed by Brunelleschi in 1445, and take an exhilarating walk along the battlements, which make a memorable location for a concluding drink and food tasting looking out over the countryside.

• Daily departures
• Meet your guide in Scarperia
• Operates Year round
• Group experience

Good to know
The trip is suitable for couples, honeymooners and groups.

Duration:

Half day

Start time: 10am
End time: 1pm

Truffle Hunting In San Miniato (self drive excursion)

Truffles have been regarded as a delicacy in Tuscany since Roman times, and the art of finding them comes with its own ancient traditions. On this gourmet adventure, you’ll head to San Miniato to meet a passionate local truffle hunter, who learned the secrets of these subterranean fungi from his grandfather. You’ll accompany him and his truffle dog to a peaceful nearby wood for a walk in search of this “diamond of nature”, where you’ll learn about the various types, how and where they grow, when to harvest them and some of the many legends and stories about them from the past. Lunch, served in the hunter’s house and featuring homemade dishes based around fresh truffles and suitable wine pairings, continues your gastronomic education in a thoroughly enjoyable way. It’s the perfect indulgent prelude to a few hours strolling around San Miniato’s historical centre with its well-preserved medieval buildings.

• Daily departures
• Meet your guide in San Miniato
• Operates Year round
• Group experience

Good to know
In case of bad weather, the visit to the wood will be replaced with a cooking lesson.

Duration:

Full day

Start time: 10am
End time: 3pm

Tuscan Cooking Class (self drive experience)

Learning how to cook some of Tuscany’s regional specialities is a fun way to discover both the local ingredients that influenced it and the area’s rich history. This half-day session takes place in the memorable setting of a 300-year-old wine estate in rolling countryside not far from San Gimignano. After meeting your teacher for the morning, you’ll head to the kitchen garden to harvest the vegetables you’ll be using, before setting to work in the outdoor kitchen, trying not to let the stunning views of vineyards and countryside distract you. The four-course menu includes handmade pasta with a typical sauce, a hearty Tuscan meat dish and something sweet to finish, with clear instructions so you’ll be able to recreate them at home. To end, you’ll sit down to a convivial al fresco lunch of your own making, accompanied by a glass or two of some of the estate’s delicious wines.

• Daily departures
• Meet at a winery outside San Gimignano
• Operates Year round
• Group experience

Good to know
Please mention any food intolerances when booking; vegetarian or gluten-free options can be arranged on request.

Duration:

Half day

Start time: 10am
End time: 1.30pm

Wine Tasting in the Cellars of Valtellina

Slow the pace with a laid-back day of architecture admiring and wine tasting. We’ll take you to Piona Abbey, which sits at the top of the Olgiasca peninsula on the Lecco bank of Lake Como. The abbey is a typical example of Comacina Art, with its exposed square stone, and is a rare jewel of Lombard Romanesque architecture. You’ll have time to explore this peaceful site – still enjoyed by the Cistercian monks who live there today – and take in the panoramic views of the lake and west coast. Valtellina is home to more than 850 hectares of vineyards and we’ll visit one of the oldest cellars: a natural fridge (‘crotto’) in a cavity between the mountain rocks. We’ll finish the day with four wine tastings accompanied by local produce.

• Departing Thursday from Lake Como hotels
• Operates May – September
• Group experience

Duration:

Full day

Start time: 9.15am
End time: 3.30pm