Tuscany: Elaine and friends

IN Friday 30th August OUT Wednesday 4th September: 2019

Dear Elaine and travelling companions

We are most pleased to be able to show you beautiful Tuscany with three days out from Florence where you will be staying in two Junior Suites in our go to Hotel Garabaldi Blu, see below.

We will be pretty unstructured in so far as what and where we are going with the exceptions of showing you 2 or 3 (if you allow us) Winery tastings to give you an overview of the wines of Chianti, Montalcino and San Gimignano. We have chosen relaxed wineries where we know them really well, We can concentrate on the wines and you do not need to make the Visit to the cellars if you do not want to.

Lunches we would like to book for you as we know some super places that go beyond for us and our clients, expect fantastic food and wines not overpriced and very authentic; We will leave you to eat À la carte rather than  arranging set included meals as per Elaines wishes.

We would be thrilled if we could also make some of your dinner or lunch reservations whilst in Florence just to ensure you do not eat badly, not easy to eat badly in Italy but better to be safe.

Katherine your Driver and (non Licensed) guide has been working with us for 7 years and originally hails from Berkley CA, she is an all rounder with 30 years here in Tuscany based in Florence, she knows all the places, be it for uncrowded sights, shopping and just seeing a Tuscany that is becoming rarer to find due to its global fame.

In Italy we have licensed guides and non licensed guides. As you decided to opt for casual Katharine will accompany you in Siena and where ever you want her, but she will not have dates at her fingertips and should not be treated as a instant Enciclopedia of knowledge; What she can do is tell you what life is really like in Italy and all of her experiences and she has naturally loads of insider info and will help you think and feel like a local. Katharine is a very accomplished driver and has been do this for 20 years so you are in safe hands. Van will be equipped with some water for you and you are not limited by time or mileage.

So below we map our how the days could work for you.

We look forward to welcoming you post your Cruise for a delightful stay in what is deservedly  the most important city for renaissance Art and Architecture in the World.

A little more on Florence here.

Florence, the capital of Tuscany, is one of the most delightful and easy cities to enjoy. Its rich history, stunning architecture, and incomparable art masterpieces are within reach of a compact city center.

Florence was first settled by the Romans in 59 BC. The Arno River made it a perfect location for travel and trade. For the first 1000 years of her history, the city was taken over countless times and power kept shifting among tribes in central and Eastern Europe (the Goths, Byzantines, the Lombards). Most of the buildings, bridges, churches, convents, monasteries and cloisters that we admire today come from this period.

Florence was set up as an independent republic in 1115. By about 1350, approximately 35,000 people lived in Florence, the wool trade being the main industry. Although the wealthy noble families held the majority of the power, most of the growth of the city was thanks to the merchants. Power struggles ensued in the history of Florence between the nobles and the middle-class.The merchants eventually formed guilds to represent their groups and gained administrative power. It was the wool guild that asked Michelangelo in 1499, to make a sculpture of the mythological hero, David, which represented the freedom and power that the workers had gained.

In 1348 the Black Death struck, the worst plague in Florence history which killed about half of the population of the city. During this period of hardship, powerful citizens and successful merchants were able to assert their authority more easily, the most important being the wealthy banking family, the Medici’s. The Medici's eventually took control of Florence, marking the beginning of the Renaissance.

During the Renaissance art, literature, music, science, religion, politics, and exploration flourished in Europe, and Florence is generally considered the place where it all began. The House of the Medici used their riches to commission creative geniuses ... names like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli in art; the explorer Amerigo Vespucci; and "the father of modern science", Galileo.

A Dominican monk named Girolamo Savonarola became an influential authority in Florence. Savonarola preached against the Medici and the Pope and criticized lifestyles that encouraged material riches and decadence. In 1497 Savonarola organised the bonfire of the vanities. Objects associated with "looseness", such as cosmetics, erotic writings, and non-biblical artworks were burnt on a bonfire in Piazza della Signoria.

During World War II, Florence was occupied by the German army from 1943 to 1944. The allies eventually drove the Germans from the city. As the Germans were being pushed out, they blew up the bridges connecting downtown Florence to the other side of the river to stop the British troops from following them. The much-beloved Ponte Vecchio was spared from these explosions.

About 400,000 people live in Florence today. Interest in the history and culture of the city remains strong and tourism is the main income-producer. Fabulous shopping opportunities reflect the unique talents of local artisans ... gold and silversmiths, leather producers, papermakers and stunning mosaics in marble and wood.

The hill towns of central Italy hold their crumbling heads proudly above the noisy flood of the 21st century and offer a peaceful taste of what eludes so many tourists. Siena has an easy-to-enjoy Gothic soul: courtyards sport flower-decked wells, churches modestly hoard their art, and alleys dead-end into red-tiled rooftop panoramas. Il Campo, Siena's great central piazza, with its gently tilted floor fanning out from the city hall tower, is Siena's claim to fame.

San Gimignano bristles with towers and bustles with tourists. A thrilling silhouette from a distance, Italy's best-preserved medieval skyline gets better as you approach. With 14 towers still standing (out of an original 72!), it's a fun and easy place to visit. Chianti, just south of Florence, has a hilly terrain ... one of the most beautiful in Tuscany...and Italy, Be amazed by the abundance of silver olive trees and the windy streets surrounded by tall cypress trees and the ancient vines. Of course, when in Italy, the wine of choice is Chianti, Montalcino and all the derivatives of the all pervasive Sangiovese, the etymology being the Blood of Jove the God or Jupiter. Festivals of viniculture and wine were devoted to Jupiter, since grapes were particularly susceptible to adverse weather, Three Roman festivals were connected with viniculture and wine

Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

All Predominantly Sangiovese based. Sangiovese is characterised by red and black cherry characters, along with savoury notes, wild herbs and spice, supported by racy acidity and well-structured tannins.

Chianti Its vineyards yield more than any other Italian DOC, producing 75 million litres (20 million gallons) per year. The first Chianti wine zone was officially demarcated by Grand Duke Cosimo Medici III in 1716, and Barone Ricasoli of Castello di Brolio winery is credited with laying the foundations of the modern Chianti style in the late 19th Century. Classico bottles (when sold in Europe) are adorned with the famous black rooster (gallo nero) seal. Chianti Rufina which next to Classico is regarded as the next highest level.

Then other subregions of Chianti are Colli Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Senesi, Colline Pisane, Montalbano and Montespertoli..Wineries and philosophy the wines of them we like from top to bottom.

  • Fontodi
  • Castello di Volpaia
  • ​Castello Rampolla
  • ​Castello di Monsanto
  • Felsina. NOTE we are tasting here.
  • Marchesi de Frescobaldi
  • Barone Ricasoli
  • Isole e Olena
  • Mazzei Castello di Fonterutoli
  • Querciabella

Brunello di Montalcino They share the top spot with Barolo as one Italy's most famous and prestigious wines. Made from exclusively from Sangiovese grapes The word Brunello translates roughly as 'little dark one', and is the local vernacular name for Sangiovese Grosso. The first recordings early 14th century, but the all-Sangiovese Brunello di Montalcino style we know today did not emerge until the 1870s,Its evolution was due in no small part to the efforts of Ferruccio Biondi-Santi, whose name lives on in one of Montalcino's finest Brunello-producing estates. 1960s, there were at least 11 Brunello producers. It was classed as Italy's first DOCG in July 1980, alongside Barolo. Today there are almost 220 winemakers.

Fortunately the climate in Montalcino is one of the warmest and driest in Tuscany, so achieving ripeness is rarely a problem for Brunello's vignerons. We will visit wineries in both the North(best) and South, but it should be noted that Many wineries have plots all over the place. In good years the Sangiovese Grosso grapes ripen up to a week earlier than those in nearby Chianti and Montepulciano. Brunello must be made from 100% Sangiovese and aged for at least four years (five for riserva wines). Two of these years must be spent in oak, and the wine must be bottled at least four months prior to commercial release.

Wineries making great wines.

  • Donatella Cinelli Colombini. We will be tasting here or at Capanna
  • Fattoria Poggio di Sotto
  • Casanova di Neri
  • Valdicava
  • Il Marroneto
  • Cerbaiona di Diego Molinari
  • Salvioni Cerbaiola
  • Uccelliera
  • Mastrojanni
  • Cappanna. We will be tasting here or Donatella Cinelli Colombini
  • Il Poggione
  • Talenti
  • Il Paradiso di Manfredi

The View from your Room in Garabaldi Blu The View from your Room in Garabaldi Blu

Table of contents


Hotel: Garabaldi Blu. Florence Tuscany

Location Location Location and this hotel has it in spades. We have been working with this locally owned chain Why the best since we started in Florence in 2011. All their hotels are extremely well run, staff well trained and the rooms tend towards the larger in Florence and they will always try to adapt to the needs of our clients be that early check ins, upgrades and the likes. This is a hotel that takes in 3 different buildings and it come sometimes feel a little confusing about where you actually are. There are some very quirky superhero full size models which add to this curious mix.
The refit conducted in this property has been done by the owner and the style is modern refined with style. Think parquet floors, Brazilian woods cooling blues and white linens. All the hotels with the exception of Villa Cora enjoy this melding of modern and traditional. The Santa Maria Square is one of Florences most iconic and we suggest a frontage room. All other services are as you would expect at this 4 star hotel.

Hotel Garibaldi Blu Website

TripAdvisor Comments

TOUR DAY BY DAY:Tuscany: Elaine and Friends.



Mini Van with Air conditioning.

Full damage cover.


We have not included any meals, Breakfast at Garabaldi Blu which is great is included.

We will be making suggestions and reservations throughout your time in Florence.

On the Days out with us we will choose the restaurants that we work with and you will will eat A la Carte.

DAY 01:Friday 30th August:  Transfer  in / Sleep Garbaldi

Please Note we do not yet know your form of Transfer in, If it is by Train then you are in luck.
Its a five minute walk all flat and very easy

Check into Garbaldi Blu, If we can have copies of your Passports that will make check in even easier.

NOTE: we will make suggestions and reservations throughout your time in Florence, Being Height of season we should discuss that as and when you are ready and it would be good to know all your likes, dislikes, Allergies etc.

Sleep Garbaldi Blu

(No Meals included)

DAY 02:Saturday 31st August: Sightseeing Florence by Yourselves


Sightseeing Florence by Yourselves

Lunch and Dinner suggestions and reservations made.

Sleep Garbaldi Blu


DAY 03Sunday 1st September : Sightseeing Chianti and  San Gimignano and Beyond

A Full Day in the Countryside of Tuscany.

Pick up time as you prefer.

We will drive through some of the most beautiful countryside in Italy.

Passing through , stopping as you wish.

Greve in Chianti.

Seeing Panzano, the very heart of the top winemaking in this zone.

Stopping for a coffee, Cheese wine where ever we want.

Castellina in Chianti.

We are going to take you to Lunch at La Cantinetta di Rignana, at the end of a very long and dusty road, hidden and away from the crowds this is a total gem of Restaurant.

Website: La Cantinetta di Rignana

Post Lunch we cross over the Raccordo Autostradale Firenze – Siena, the Road that cuts two very distinct regions and connects Florence to Siena.

Now we visit one of Tuscanys most Iconic and fascinating of Villages San Gimignano.

Katharine will accompany you and you can enjoy as much time as you like here.

Our Final stop today will be a tasting of the wines of Cappella Sant’Andrea.

Website: Cappella Sant Andrea

Return to Florence.

Sleep Garbaldi Blu


DAY 04: Monday 2nd September
Sightseeing Monteriggioni, Siena and Felsina Winery


A Full Day in the Countryside of Tuscany.

Pick up time as you prefer.

We will drive through some of the most beautiful countryside in Italy.

Transfer to Monteriggioni.

Sightseeing with Katharine in the Fortified Borgo of Monteriggioni.

Transfer to Siena.

Accompanied Visit to Siena.

Lunch reserved at Compagnia Dei Vinattieri.

Website: Vinattieri

After Lunch and a final look at Siena we drive to Felsina to make a tasting (I decided to make just the tasting and not the visit, but you let me know if would like to see their cellar).

Website: Felsina

Return to Florence.

Sleep Garbaldi Blu


DAY 05: Tuesday 3rd September
Sightseeing Montalcino / Pienza / Montepulciano


A Full Day in the Countryside of Tuscany.

Pick up time 9.00 AM.

Transfer to Montalcino.

Visit and Tasting at Capanna Winery.

Website: Capanna Montalcino

Lunch Reservation at Boccon Di Vino with Amazing views over the vine laden northern valley.

Website: Boccon di Vino

Post Lunch we invite you to visit the gorgeous Sant’Antimo Abbey an important stop on the Pilgrims Via Francigena.

From there it would be impossible not to to take the beautiful trip into the Val O’rcia to Pienza, dubbed the perfectly formed town surrounded by the clay hills and suggestive Cypress trees.

Time and willing we could continue to visit to Certona – Sarteano – Montepulciano and the gorgeous Borgo Monticchiello.

Return to Florence.

Final farewell Dinner reserved at Enoteca Pitti Gola.

Sleep Garbaldi Blu


DAY 06: Wednesday 4th September
Check out /  Rome / Departure OUT


Check out of Garabaldi Blu.

Departure to Rome by yourselves.

If you have not already booked your Roman Hotel please let us know as we have some great places and relationships with some hotels.
Please see these links and let us know if we can advise.

Rome Hotels Lodges Resorts

Rome Restaurants

END of Services

Inclusions and Exclusions and Costs for Elaine and Friends


  • Junior Suite with Double Occupancy
  • Expert Bilingual Guiding
  • Licensed and Insured Driver
  • Fiat Talento or Similar Transport with Air Conditioning
  • Bottled Water in the Transport
  • Premium Tasting at Tenuta Cappella Sant’Andrea
  • Premium Tasting at Felsina Winery
  • Private visit and premium Tasting at Capanna Winery
  • Booking of Restaurants throughout your stay


  • Florence City Tax is 4,80€ per person per night and needs to be paid directly to the Hotel
  • Personal expenses & other costs not included in the itinerary
  • Activities not included in the itinerary that may attract costs
  • Note Lunches are not included


HOTEL: Price Per Person : 675 Euros Per Person

TOURS: Price Per Person : 780 Euros Per Person

Please Note: We require a Deposit 20% to Guarantee these services.

We accept Credit Cards or Bank transfers to our Business Bank Account. Also Note these costs are covered in the price of the tour.


Florence Restaurants

Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina. ​Our choice for wine and food in Florence. This really tiny but perfectly formed Enoteca is run by husband and wife team Edoardo and Shannon. ​Incredible back vintages of Sangiovese that anywhere in the world would be hard to find. They are highly interested in small wineries like us and its a perfect fit, Booking is essential and use our name it will help, the food is not secondary​. Ask for Outside tables, use our name. We love it. Piazza Pitti 16, 50125. Open 7 days a week.​ Pitti Gola e Cantina

Trattoria Cibreo
, ristorante Cibreo, Caffè and private club-theater Teatro del Sale. The whole corner of this happening little crossroads is the brainchild of Fabio Picchi, in our mind the best value and entertaining meal in Florence. The Trattoria is what is is, simple, quick unpretentious. Tables outside is the place to be but unable to book them. The Food is pretty similar in the Restaurant, just better service. The Teatro is a buffet and be sure to find out what spectacular is happening. Teatro del Sale, Cibreo

Il Palagio.
 at The Four Seasons Hotel. Without doubt the​ most elegant restaurant in Florence​ and the food, wine, service and setting are luxurious. Chef Vito Mollica’s heart beats in the southern region of Basilicata, refined by a maestro, tempered by global experience. Il Palagio

Frescobaldi Wine Bar & Restaurant.
 ​​​A classic restaurant of Florence, Exceptional wines of which we like virtually all of the wines of this great house.Just off the famed Piazza Signoria they have both a formal dining a superb wine bar with an excellent and not overpriced shorter menu.
Via dei Magazzini, 2-4 R, 50122 Dei Frescobaldi

Da Vinci.
​by Enrico Panaroa​t​ Eataly. A delightful chef, devoted to ingredients, especially first-rate fish and seafood, which is difficult to find in Florence. His modern cuisine is intelligent, well executed, with a menu offering many surprises. ​ Remember this is inside Eataly which may not be to everyones tastes. Ristorante Da Vinci 

Leggenda dei Frati.
 Husband and wife team features contemporary Tuscan cuisine paired with world-class contemporary art and a well-chosen wine list. The location, in Villa Bardini with its museum upstairs, is amazing – terrace dining, spectacular city views during the day and after dinner private visits with the chef. Run by husband and wife Filippo and Ombretta leggenda dei frati

 Outside Porta Romana, is two-room trattoria, and serves the city’s best spaghetti alla carrettiera (spicy tomato sauce) and arista (roast pork loin). Via Senese 89r. Tripadvisor Ruggero

Angiolino or 13 Gobbi. 
Looking for a Florentine steak and other Tuscan classics with an interesting glass of wine? Choose either Angiolino or 13 Gobbi, two restaurants ​from the successful restaurateurs. Enrico and Janice Verrecchia.

Enoteca Pinchiorri. 
3 stars some clients delighted others less so, Massive expectations can be the problem. Via Ghibellina, 87, 50122. Enoteca Pinchiorri

​Trattoria/​Lighter Snacks

L’Antico Noè Restaurant. This is a simple Osteria (casual restaurant), which is big on classic dishes in an informal and relaxed setting, Famed for their beefs and grill. Tucked away just off Piazza San Pier Maggiore. Volta di San Piero, 6/8/r.  ​l Antico Noe

Ino. Very ​close to the Uffizi, makes the city’s best panini, stuffed with well-chosen fillings. They also sell a fine selection of quality Italian foods, perfect for culinary souvenirs. Ino firenze

inside the San Lorenzo strong on classic Florentine stapes​ like lampredotto and stracotto. ​There are also a few lunchtime options with seating across the way at marble tables.​ A melting pot of workers and academics and students. Tripadvisor Da Nerbon

The Mercato Centrale
(open from 10 AM to midnight) is upstairs from the morning-only San Lorenzo market. It’s an Italian take on a food court, a series of specialty stands with quality offerings. Romualdo’s pizza​ is especially well known and loved.​ Mercato Centrale

for gastronomic pizza (using a cooked base for quality, sometimes creative toppings) made with long-rising dough and impeccable ingredients. There’s a nice selection of craft beers. Berbere Pizza

​Ice Cream

La Sorbettiera, just outside the tourist zone, has a limited selection of delicious flavors like lemon-sage, ultra-chocolate catrame (tar, for its deep color) and Madagascar vanilla and outdoor seating. Piazza Torquato Tasso 11. La Sorbettiera

specializes in gastronomic gelato, with fine innovative (Parmigiano, mozzarella, cocktail-inspired) and classic (rich custard, super-dark chocolate) flavors, in a small central shop with the other having seats and more flavors.​ ​ Carapina

 ​Two ​Sicilians Antonio and Loredana Lisciandro run this Ode to their Islands icecream traditions: Citrus, lemon, hazelnut and pistachio gelato, and make the very best granite in town.​​ Via Ricasoli 60/r Tripadvisor Carabe

Florence, Tuscany


Florence is the capital of both the region of Tuscany and the province of Florence. It is one of the most famous cultural cities of Europe because it is the cradle of the Renaissance.

The Duomo (cathedral) of Florence is the third largest Christian church, which the Florentines started building in the 1200s. At that time the dome was the largest ever built. In front of the Duomo you can find the Battistero di San Giovanni (baptistery) where all Florentines were baptized until modern times.

Other important and popular sights are:

– Galleria degli Uffizi, one of the most important art galleries in the world. It has a collection of paintings from mainly Italian painters of the Late Medieval Period and from the Renaissance till the Baroque.

– Museo del Bargello, located in the Palazzo del Bargello. The emphasis of the collection is on sculptures.

– Galleria dell’Accademia. This museum is famous because of the sculptures of Michelangelo. The famous sculpture of David can be found in a special room (Tribune) in this museum.

– Basilica di Santa Maria Novella. Here you can find the Holy Trinity, a fresco by the painter Masaccio.

– Basilica di Santa Croce, one of the most important churches of Florence and is considered to be one of the most beautiful Gothic basilicas of Italy. It is also the biggest Franciscan church of the world.

Siena, Tuscany


Siena is the capital of the province Siena and is located on top of a hill. Its historic centre has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The Cattedrale di Santa Maria is the cathedral of Siena. It has the shape of a Latin cross and was designed and completed between 1214 and 1263. The whole floor of the cathedral is covered by a marble mosaic floor, however only for a period of six to ten weeks it can be seen completely. Apart from those few weeks the floor is covered and only a few parts can be seen.

Piazza del Campo is a shell-shaped square in the historic centre of Siena. It is seen as one of the greatest medieval squares of Europe. On the Piazza del Campo you can find the Palazzo Pubblico with its tower called Torre del Mangia, which gives you a good view over Siena. The Palazzo Pubblico was built in 1297-1310. It is the city hall of Siena and is also a museum (Museo Civico).

In Siena there is a special event called the Palio delle Contrade. With this event all 17 city neighbourhoods have one participant who tries to be the fastest to go around the Piazza del Campo three times on horseback. This race is held twice per year. On the 2nd of July there is the Palio di Provenzano which is considered to be for the inhabitants of Siena and on the 16th of August there is the Palio dell’Assunta for the tourists.

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