Roman ruins and celebrity chefs on your Tuscany holiday

Posted 10 Mar 2017

You know you’re on holiday when you’re enjoying a strong Italian coffee amid the ancient castles of Tuscany’s Niccone Valley. Our Treasures of Tuscany and Umbria tour is packed full of moments just like this. There are plenty of authentic culinary experiences, winding Roman roads and fascinating ruins to bring out everyone’s inner foodie and history buff. Here are some of the more delicious highlights.

Tuscany Treasures

Day two – Cortona to Montone

Your first day in Italy will be spent relaxing and getting used to your e-bike, and after that it’s full steam ahead. Day two will take you cycling to the border between Tuscany and Umbria, where you’ll discover the majestic castles of the Niccone Valley (don’t miss the formidable Sorbello castle). Once you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll be treated to an evening meal in the atmospheric, medieval village of Montone. This luxurious culinary experience will be prepared for you by celebrity chef Giancarlo Polito.

Day three – Montone to Gubbio

Spend the morning learning about the WWII resistance in Pietralunga, before visiting a trattoria to try a traditional worker’s lunch. From this point, we’ll follow the trail of St Francis of Assisi, the Catholic saint, then stop off at the Gubbio Theatre which was constructed from local limestone during the first century AD. It’s the second-largest theatre of the Roman Empire.

Days four and five – Gubbio to Assisi

We’ll cycle along the ancient Roman road to the north, the Via Flaminia, which stretches all the way from Rome to the lush Apennine Mountains. Delicious Italian coffee provides a relaxing break in the morning, while a traditional Umbrian lunch will refuel you in the afternoon. Take the opportunity to sample some rustic, authentic dishes such as strangozzi (spaghetti) with black truffle or pappardelle alla leper (a ragu with wild hare).

Then you’ll have a chance to explore Assisi, the birthplace of St Francis. Because the friar’s followers filled the town with monasteries, churches and shrines, there are charming, old buildings almost everywhere you look – most of which are built from distinctive pink stone. Many contain artwork and Franciscan relics. Don’t miss the Basilica di San Francesco, one of the town’s grandest and oldest churches, whose crypt holds the remains of the man himself.

Tuscany Treasures

Days six and seven – Assisi to Cortona

Begin with a leisurely cycle into the peaceful Assisi Valley, before approaching Cantina Goretti. This is where you can sample the wine of the pope – the Umbrian red, L’Arringatore. The next day you'll be introduced to Lake Trasimeno, a natural paradise awash with white lilies, swaying reeds and a whole host of diverse wildlife. After tasting some local wines – try Sagrantino or Rosso di Montefalco DOC – the last full day of your tour will bring you back to Cortona. On the way, you’ll pass a battlefield dating all the way back to 217 BC.

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