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Day 1 Join tour Florence. Arrive Florence and meet our Tour Leader. The large bustling city of Florence, situated on the River Arno, can be a little overwhelming at first, but no visit to Tuscany would be complete without spending some time here. A short bus journey takes us to our campsite on a hill overlooking the city. Day 2. In Florence. This morning we embark on a guided waling tour of Florence, taking in the Academia to see Michelangelo’s David, the Duomo and Pizazza della Signoria. The afternoon is left free for personal exploration. Day 3. Bus to Volterra. We have time to explore Florence further this morning and a good starting point is the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest and most famous bridge in Florence and the only one which was not demolished during the German retreat of 1944. The present construction dates back to 1345 and is now cluttered with goldsmiths’ shops. The religious center of the city is, of course, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore with is giant dome or ‘duomo’. It tool 14 years to build and dominates the city skyline. Close by are other artistic wonders, including the Bapistry, the East door, which was called the Gate of Paradise by Michelangelo, and Giott’s famous bell tower. In the afternoon we travel by local bus to Volterra. Day 4 & 5. Walks in the Volterra region. The landscape around Volterra is typically Tuscan and ideal for initial ‘warm up’ walks. We spend a morning walking in the outskirts of Volterra, visiting Wtruscan tombs, passing small farms and vineyards and also visiting the nearby cliffs at ‘La Balze’. The afternoon is free to explore Volterra. This medieval walled town was the northernmost of the twelve cities of the Etruscan Confederation, and commands an imposing position, perched at 550m on a spur of land, high above the Era and Cecina rivers. For 500 years prior to the 14th century it was on of the most important cities in Italy and this is reflected by the many fine buildings of that era. They include the 13th century Plazzo dei Priori, the oldest seat of government in Tuscany, and the Museo Etrusco Guamacci, where we can see superb examples of Etruscan sarcophagi. There are fine old streets to stroll along, wonderful views of the surrounding country and, of course, plenty of coffee shops, restaurants and ice cream shops. We shall also spend a full day exploring the local area on foot. Setting off from the campsite, we follow an old Roman road close to Mt Voltario, then we walk through open countryside. We return to Volterra by local bus. Day 6. Walk to San Gimignano via Castelvecchio. Our morning’s walk takes us through forests of oak and passes the scattered vineyards of the area to reach the ruins of the settlement of Castelvecchio. During the afternoon, we continue to our camp near San Gimignano. The approach is greeted by the majestic sight of the thirteen towers of this medieval town. Day 7. In San Gimignano. The Etruscans were well known for building their towns on hilltops and San Gimignano is perhaps the best preserved of all their settlements. It is most famous for its medieval towers and for its churches and public building, containing many marvels of Medieval and Renaissance art. Once an independent city state, run as a dictatorship, it is famous locally for the dry white wine ‘Vermaccia di San Gimignano’, literally meaning ‘local to this place’. The hills around the town offer picturesque villages and ruins to explore, together with fine views back to the towers of the city. Today is left free for personal exploration or an optional walk around the area. Day 8. Walk to Casale. We break camp and walk through vineyards to the hilltop town of Colle de Val d’Elsa. From here we travel by local bus to near Collatto and then walk up to our campsite at Casale. This remote vineyard is dedicated to growing classic Tuscan vines in the traditional way, to produce organic wines. Tastings are possible and, of course, a few bottles may be bough either to drink here with the evening meal or even to take home. Day 9. In Casale. Today we have some more time for personal exploration of the local area on foot. You may choose to take a walk around the area of the vineyard to explore some of the most beautiful countryside in Tuscany or simply relax under the oak trees. Day 10. Walk to Sovicille. Here the land is higher and mainly forested, with Monte Maggio reaching almost 670m. Once again there are ancient ruins to be discovered en route, whilst occasionally wild boar may be spotted as we wander through the woods. Day 11. In Sovicille. Sovicille is a pleasant village at the edge of the Merse river valley. Today you have the choice of another walk in the area, or the chance to explore the village or the wooded and olive clad landscape on your own. Day 12. Bus to Siena. Early this morning we take a bus to Siena, where we meet our guide and take a waling tour as an introduction to this fascinating town. The center of this city is traffic-free, making it ideal to wander around on foot, soaking up the many intriguing sights. The focal point is the Piazza del Campo, a semi-circular area surrounding by ancient buildings, and overlooked by the 100m bell tower (Torre del Mangia). Enjoying the view here with a coffee or a glass of beer is a good way of spending a few hours – though you’ll find the prices drop considerably if you wander along the back streets. The Piazza is also used for a horse race twice a year – the famous Palio, when horses and their riders hurtle dangerously around the square to the delight of the crowds. The Duomo, the Pinacoteca gallery, and many other fine buildings and sights will provide more entertainment during the rest of our stay here. At the end of the day, we take a bus to the outskirts of Siena to reach our campsite on a hill overlooking the city. Day 13. In Siena. Those who wish to may take an optional day walk through the vineyards and farms to the north of Siena or alternatively take an excursion by train to Pisa to see the famous Leaning Tower. Day 14. Train to Florence. We travel by to Florence and then the remainder of the day is free for last-minute sightseeing or shopping. Tuscany is perhaps one of the best-known regions of Italy with the cities of Florence and Siena attracting visitors from around the world. Besides being famous for its art and culture, Tuscany has much to offer the more down to earth appetite: most of Italy’s better wines and many of its fine dishes come from this area. Between the cities, however, lie vast areas ideally suited to our type of exploration. The countryside is a patchwork of vineyards, olive groves and forests of oak and chestnut. The land is undulating rather than mountainous. Trails and farm tracks, virtually unused except by local farmers, link rural villages and provide us with picturesque walks between the ancient towns.