This has got nothing to do with The Chain Gang, but plenty to do with one of my favourite areas which we tour around – Tuscany, in Italy.
My Italian teacher, Valentina, has organised a week in Tuscany, full of activities related to food, culture, wine and just the beauty of the place.
A mishap has left Valentina with 3 places to fill in our small group. I’m going, and I thought if it was the sort of thing that interested me, it might interest other Chain Gangers who fancy a week in Tuscany at short notice (October 8th – 15th). There are 7 of us going at the moment. No Italian needed, but there will be plenty of opportunity to laugh at my Italian.
We’ll be visiting vineyards, learning how to make pasta, visiting Etruscan ruins with a tame archaeologist, Danielle, all sorts of good Tuscan stuff. One huge advantage is that Valentina is new to this game, so it’s ridiculously cheap compared to anything similar. To borrow a bit of betting parlance, lump-on!
On Monday October 8th, we just have to get ourselves to Pisa. We’re spending the first night in Pisa. Our exploration proper starts on Tuesday and finishes back in Pisa for a proper explore the following Monday. From Tuesday we’ll spend the week at a villa in Anghiari near Arrezzo. Have a look at this itinerary, and if you fancy joining me for a week in Tuscany not on a bike, but being shown round Italy by a very lovely lady, get in touch by phone or by email.
In total, the cost is £850 per person excluding flights. Have a look below for more detail about what’s included. I hope some of you will join us, I think it will be a great week. It’s important to know that Valentina is not a tour operator (That’s why she doesn’t know to charge more!), this is a group of friends on a trip together.
Very soon I’ll be writing to you or emailing about our cycling plans for 2013, but until then, thanks for your continued support and we’ll be in touch soon.
Day 1. Monday 8th October.
Get to Pisa. Apart from me the group are all arriving quite late, and we’ll just spend the night at the hotel.
Day 2. Tuesday 9th October
Breakfast in the hotel in Pisa. Leaving the hotel by 11 am to reach ‘La Bottega della Pasta Fresca’ , just outside Pisa, where Andrea Falciani, a pasta chef who has been performing his impressive skills at the Exeter Food and Wine festival for the last few years, will demonstrate how to make fresh pasta and show us around his family factory. We will then enjoy our first Italian meal, a light lunch all based on Andrea’s wonderful pasta creations.
We will travel to our villa ‘La Ceruglia’ in Anghiari, near Arezzo, by minibus.
Dinner at the villa.
Day 3. Wednesday 10th October
Wednesday is market day in Anghiari!
Walk to the town centre, visit to the market to buy some nice fresh food. Back to the villa for lunch to eat what we’ve bought. Relax in the afternoon. Choose to stay in the villa, swim if weather allows or visit the town and museum. Dinner at the restaurant ‘Fattoria La Speranza’.
Day 4. Thur 11th October
Visit to Trequanda (close to Siena). We will spend the day in the enchanted ‘vigneto’ (vineyard) of ‘Fattorie del colle di Donatella Cinelli- Colombini’. The day will include lunch in the restaurant, wine demonstration and tasting. There is also a possibility of using the spa!
Dinner back at the villa.
Day 5. Fri 12th October
Early morning visit to ‘Mulino Grifoni’, an old mill in the mountains, where we will see a milling demonstration and look at some very old stones used for milling that the brothers still conserve. Transfer to La Verna, where we will have time off for lunch in the town. Visit to La Verna monastery, a place of untouched natural beauty, where the old rogue St Francis of Assisi used to rest.
On the way back to Anghiari we’ll visit Caprese Michelangelo. We will visit the house where the artist was born and the museum of contemporary sculptures next to it. We will then walk in the town of Caprese and have dinner in the very scenic restaurant ‘La Buca di Michelangelo’.
Day 6. Sat 13th October
Visit to Arezzo where we will walk through the city and appreciate Piero della Francesca’s artworks, possibly visit one museum or the ‘ Basilica di San Francesco’. Independent lunch in the town centre.
Dinner back in Anghiari at nearby restaurant or Pizzeria
Day 7 Sun 14th October
Visit to Cortona, and independent picnic lunch on the Lago Trasimeno. Stop at Castel Fiorentino. During this trip, Danielle (Valentina’s mate and an archaeologist) will help us to recognize some Etrurian ruins and talk about the history of the place.
On the way back, we will take the turn for Monte San Savino and visit Paolo Bindi in his ‘Bottega di Cuoco’. La bottega is a very special small restaurant, where Paolo will introduce us to the Tuscan food of the area, give us a food demo and then a taste of his special food for dinner.
Day 8 Mon 15th October
Today is our last day in Anghiari. We will have some time off in the morning and get ourselves ready to leave the villa by 12.30. Train from Arezzo to Pisa. We are hoping to have enough time in Pisa to have a walk in the city centre and enjoy a gelato on the square in front of the leaning tower. And then we’ll say goodbye.
- 7 nights accommodation (the first one in hotel in Pisa and the rest at Villa La Ceruglia in Anghiari)
- Mini-bus for transport with driver when required
- Train travel from Pisa to Arezzo and back
- 4 meals in good restaurants with wine on set menus + 2 cooking demonstrations with meal at the end, any extras not included
- 1 wine tasting demonstration
- 7 breakfasts (1 in hotel and 6 at the villa) and one dinner at the villa on day 4 (the first dinner at the villa will be on day 3 and it will be a shared meal, with the goods bought independently at the market in the morning)
- Museum entries for group visits, although we may at the last moment decide to go to more (or less!) museums
- Visit to flour mill