Last Autumn, we rented the Villa Cetinale, one of the most famous villas in Italy - a dreamy 17th century palazzo in a fold of hills just south of Siena. It didn’t disappoint, and we have had many requests to hire it again.
Lord Lambton purchased the villa in 1977 and it is now owned and run by his son and daughter-in-law who refreshed the decor and now let the entire villa, complete with thirteen bedrooms, pool and its world-famous garden. This is an unmissable opportunity to stay at this absurdly beautiful villa. Do check it out at https://www.villacetinale.com/privaterental
On this trip, we are going to visit the hidden gems of Tuscany and Romana - those lovely towns (Ravenna, Fiesole, Volterra, Monterrigioni) which elude most visitors but are still magical in spite of (or because of) their absence.
We will start the trip in Bologna staying at Hotel Al Cappello Rosso, near the Piazza Maggiore, for two nights from where we will explore glorious Byzantine Ravenna. Then, we will have Villa Cetinale to ourselves for four nights. Limited to 21 guests.
Thursday, 31st October -arrival in Bologna
Check in at our hotel. Then, afternoon mini-tour of the city’s highlights including the Basilica di San Petronio, the Two Towers, the university and Santo Stefano before dinner at nearby Trattoria da Leonida.
Friday, 1st November – Ravenna
A guided tour of this extraordinary city which is often overlooked due to its proximity to Venice. It boasts the greatest collection of mosaics in Christendom, with heavy Byzantine influence. Click here for James Pembroke’s article about the city. Guided tour of the most prominent churches followed by lunch at the gloriously fin de siècle Trattoria Al Gallo. Afternoon of shopping and exploring in Bologna. Dinner at Grassilli.
Saturday, 2nd November – Fiesole
We set off for Villa Cetinale stopping at Fiesole for a morning tour of the city led by Harry. Founded by the Etruscans in the 6th century BC, Fiesole has magnificent views of its upstart rival, Florence. It remained important under the Romans, whose ruined walls, baths and theatre survive. After Caesar’s foundation of Florence, the two places co-existed for centuries until Fiesole’s eclipse in the 12th century. We’ll visit the cathedral, the Roman theatre and take in the view of Florence from the hill of San Francesco. Lunch in Fiesole before driving on to Villa Cetinale. Talk by Harry Mount. Dinner at Cetinale.
Sunday 3rd November – Villa Cetinale and the Abbey di Monte Oliveto Maggiore
A day at the villa with a morning tour of the villa and grounds followed by lunch. At 5pm we will depart for the abbey to hear the Gregorian chant sung by the monks at vespers before dinner at nearby La Torre.
Monday, 4th November – Monteriggioni
‘One of the most remarkable sights in Tuscany’ according to the Blue Guide. Dante wrote of its 13th century walls surrounded by towers, and they are still there. Just 50 people live in this tiny medieval masterpiece. Lunch at Osteria Antico Travaglio in the main square. Dinner at Cetinale.
Tuesday, 5th November – San Gimignano and Volterra
Morning tour of Volterra, one of the most important Etruscan cities, including the Duomo and Palazzo dei Priori, followed by lunch at Bel Soggiorno, which has fabulous views of the hills around San Gimignano. In the afternoon, we will have a tour of the city and its 14 towers.
Wednesday, 6th November – depart
Depart for Pisa airport
HOW TO BOOK: Call 01225 427311 or please email Katherine at firstname.lastname@example.org. Price per person: £3,495 which includes all meals, wine with meals, transport and entrances. You need to book and pay for your own flights. Single supplement £500. A non-refundable deposit of £750 will be required, with the full balance due on 1st July 2024.