Day 0 - Monday, October 28, 2013
When traveling to Italy from the United States, plan on arriving the next day. As you make your travel arrangements, this is a time to consider traveling in advance of, or just after, the tour to explore another area of Italy or Europe on your own time.
Day 1 – Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Benvenuti in Toscana! Welcome to beautiful Tuscany and Agriturismo Valleverde.
Arrive at the Florence International AirportA eroporto di Firenze "Amerigo Vespucci Airportin Tuscany, Italy where a Harvest Italia travel specialist will greet you and escort you to Agriturismo Valleverde in San Giovanni Valdarno, about 40-mins. southwest of the airport. You will have the choice of two pick-up times: 12 noon and 3:00 p.m.
The tour begins with time to settle into your apartments at Agriturismo Valleverde where we will be spending the week getting acquainted with the sights, culture and incredible landscapes that the Tuscany region offers
Daniela Posfortunato, the proprietor of Valleverde, will welcome guests and gladly give a tour of the property. A welcome snack (beverages, panini, and sweets) will await you after your long journey in the dining area of the main house. You can take time to explore the extensive Valleverde property that is surrounded by lush green hillsides, vineyards, olive groves, cypress trees, rose gardens and wide spaces of meadow, or just take time to relax. You’re on Italian time now, no need to rush.
At 7:00 p.m. Harvest Italia tour guests are invited to enjoy a sumptuous welcome dinner prepared by the Valleverde restaurant staff. Valleverde is personally managed by its owners and the farm produces homemade products such as olive oil, wine, jams, and assorted vegetables. Our meal will include seasonal fare and assorted local wines. Dinner will give us the chance to become acquainted and discuss the itinerary for the week.
Meals – light lunch and dinner
Day 2 – Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Olive picking at Casa Falcioni
Buon giorno! Each day of the tour begins with an Italian-style gourmet breakfast buffet featuring Valleverde’s specialty products, homemade bread, croissants, pastries and biscotti and the classic “torta di nonna” and "ciambellone" cakes, jams, ham, pecorino cheese, honey, yogurt, cereals, coffee, milk, tea and juice.
After breakfast we will be transported by minivan over to the exquisite Casa Falcioni property nestled in the nearby medieval town of Cavriglia for a full day of olive picking. At Casa Falcioni, guests will be greeted by Silvano and Tanya Falcioni, the proprietors of the olive farm. An overview of the olive picking process, olive rakes and gloves will be provided. A warm lunch (included) featuring seasonal, hearty autumn fare (pasta/lasagna/salad/bread and Chianti wine) will be served on the premises.
In the late afternoon we will head over to the town of Montevarchi to the IperCoop an Italian style supermarket and department store. (Think Target meets Costco Italian style). There you can stock up on groceries, browse for clothing or enjoy homemade gelato and more.
Following, we’ll head back to Agriturismo Valleverde. We’ll be ordering in pizza from Pizza Doc, a local take-out only pizzeria in downtown Cavriglia that offers hands-down some of the best pizza ever. Guests will also have the option to dine with us in the Valleverde communal eating area or in their apartment.
Meals – breakfast and lunch
Day 3 – Thursday, October 31, 2013
Olive picking, The Ricasoli Olive Press and the Medieval town of San Giovanni Valdarno
Following breakfast, we will head back to Casa Falcioni for a morning of olive picking. The Falcioni’s will provide us with another superb traditional Tuscan lunch, wine inclusive.
After lunch we will visit the nearby Ricasoli Olive Press in Montevarchi where you will have the opportunity to see your self- picked olives pressed into beautiful, fragrant, and delicious extra virgin olive oil. The Falcioni’s will accompany us to explain the olive oil making process and the requirements for obtaining the high quality extra virgin olive oil label. This promises to be an especially memorable occasion knowing that you were involved in the collection process. As a thank you gift, the Falcioni’s will provide each guest with a complimentary 375 ml bottle of your self-picked olive oil.
In the late afternoon we’ll drive over to San Giovanni Valdarno, a charming medieval village in Tuscany, famous for its art heritage including the Palazzo d’Arnolfo, a mayoral palace that anchors the quaint piazza (central square). You will have time to stroll, sightsee, visit the one-of-a kind local boutiques, or simply relax over a cappuccino. At 7:30 we will walk over to Ristorante Osteria dell'Angelo, a charming ristorante (restaurant) situated
Meals – breakfast and lunch
Day 4 – Friday, November 1, 2013
Terranuova Braccolini market, Chianti wine tasting and cooking demo
After breakfast we head out for another full day. We begin by visiting the town of Terranuova Braccolini to enjoy the weekly, bustling, outdoor farmers market. Here you will find stall after stall of fresh, seasonable produce, meats, cheeses, breads and sweets beautifully displayed; intermingled with stalls of leather goods, clothing items, and pretty much everything in between. The mercati (markets) are an integral part of Italian life and offer a chance to mingle with the locals and pick up incredible bargains for quality, handmade goods. We will eat lunch at local favorite, Al Solito Posto.
Following lunch, we drive to the lovely Poggi del Chianti estate and vineyards located in the hills of Cavriglia where Chianti, one of Italy’s most famous red wines, is produced. Proprietor, Mirko Monnani, will take us on a personal tour of the wine cellar and inform us about the Chianti wine making process. There will be ample time to taste a selection of the Chianti varietal wines produced on the estate.
In the late afternoon we’ve arranged for a cooking demonstration (location TBD) that will rely on fresh harvest ingredients found in the nearby shops and farmers markets, and of course, Tuscan olive oil. A local chef will prepare a harvest-inspired dinner featuring the infamous Tuscan ribolita -- a hearty stew consisting primarily of bread, cabbage, and Tuscan cannellini beans -- fresh pasta and focaccia bread and local wines. Guests will have the chance to prepare their own cantucci, a traditional almond biscotti (biscuit), perfect for dipping in vinsanto or a cappuccino.
Following dinner we head back to Agriturismo Valleverde.
Meals – breakfast, dinner
Day 5 – Saturday, November 2, 2013
Firenze – the crown jewel of the Renaissance
Following breakfast, we will depart to the historic center of Firenze (Florence), considered one of the most important cities in Italy and one of the crown jewels of the Renaissance. You will have the full day to explore and wander at your leisure. Firenze is a small city and is a veritable feast for the eyes. There is history at every turn and it is home to several of Italy’s best museums and landmarks —The Uffizi Gallery, The Academia (home to Michelangelo’s David), The Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio which crosses over the picturesque Arno River. Florence is also a shopper’s paradise. There are gorgeous high fashion (alta moda) shops selling luxury goods, department stores and the bustling outdoor markets selling everything from souvenirs to quality leather items. The city also boasts many of the finest restaurants and gelato in the country. The city center is best traveled on foot and allows you to easily reach all the significant points of interest.
Spirit of Italy will provide guests with a suggested itinerary so that you can navigate on your own as well as offer tour and restaurant suggestions to optimize your sightseeing and dining experience. Round trip transport is provided.
After a long day, we will head back to Agriturismo Valleverde to enjoy another home cooked Tuscan meal on the premises.
Meals – breakfast, dinner
Day 6 – Sunday, November 3, 2013
Fiera Antiquaria di Arezzo and Cortona
After breakfast, we head out early to the Tuscan city of Arezzo. Arezzo is an important small medieval Tuscan city steeped in history and provides the chance to see extraordinary monuments and art. Famous names such as Piero della Francesca, Giorgio Vasari, and Beato Angelico lived here and have made great artistic contributions.
We will spend the morning visiting one of the most prominent and longest running antique markets in Italy, the Fiera Antiquaria di Arezzo. In progress since 1968, more than 500 exhibitors come from all over Italy on the first weekend of the month offering a wide range of goods from valuable antique furniture, jewelry, books and prints, and works of art to inexpensive curios and knick knacks. Tourists are welcome and bargaining is an acceptable practice. This delightful event takes place in the Piazza Grande in the historical center of town where Roberto Benigni’s Academy Award-winning film, “Life is Beautiful” was shot. The market spills out and winds its way into the narrow streets and alleys of the city amidst restaurants and beautiful shops. This is a town where strolling and people watching takes on real meaning. For lunch we will dine at the Trattoria Il Saraceno, a family run restaurant since 1946 that serves traditional Tuscan specialties in a quaint and inviting atmosphere.
In the afternoon, we will drive through the countryside in the province of Arezzo to see views of the countryside and Lake Trasimeno. We’ll make a stop in Cortona, one of the oldest towns in Tuscany surrounded by Etruscan walls, around 3000 years old; a town made famous by Francis Mayes in her book Under the Tuscan Sun.
We’ll return to Agriturismo Valleverde where you will have the option to dine in your apartment or join us at the Papposileno Enoteca, wine bar and arts center.
Meals – breakfast
Day 7 – Monday, November 4, 2013
Siena, Designer Factory Shopping Outlets
On the last full day of the Harvest Italia tour, guests will have several options. Transport will be provided to Siena, considered one of the best presevered medieval cities in Italy, boasting some of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals and main squares (Piazza del Campo). Although much smaller than Florence, the city has been the center of art and culture for centuries. Along the drive to and from Siena, guests will experience the lush landscape of the surrounding Tuscan hill towns.
Italian fashion is synonymous with quality, style and elegance and some guests may opt for some retail therapy. Tuscany is home to many Italian designer factory outlet stores conveniently located just minutes away from Agriturismo Valleverde including Prada and D&G. The Mall outlet center, also nearby, hosts 27 outlet stores including Ermenegildo Zegna, Fendi, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Tod's, Valentino, and more. There are also numerous quality leather shoe and apparel outlets in the area.
You may, of course, decide to stay-put and spend the day at Agriturismo Valleverde relaxing, reading, journal writing, hiking the lush countryside surrounding the property, or decide to do nothing at all.
Guests will be on their own for lunch. In the early evening you have the option to dine in your apartment or join us for a farewell dinner (restaurant to be determined) and reflect on the experiences we enjoyed during the week and the new friendships made.
Meal - breakfast
Day 8 – Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Guests departure - Arrivederci
After breakfast, transportation will be provided to the Florence Airport or central train station.
Meal - breakfast
Note: Harvest Italia 2013 is presented by Spirit of Italy Tours, a newly established tour company specializing in boutique tours to Italy. Please visit our sister site, iTravlescapes.net, a full-service internet travel agency, www.itravelscapes.net where you can book your airline reservations, and much more.
Harvest Italia 2013 – Itinerary