A Taste of Central Italy (recap of our October 2016 trip)

Italy October 2016 Collage

A visit to the mid-section of Italy provides a mix of what is among the best of Italy – quaint medieval towns, beautiful landscapes, some coastal serenity, fantastic specialties like wine, cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, amazing meals and warm welcoming locals. This was our experience during Europe Your Own Way’s organized tour this past October when, in just 6 days, we explored areas of Tuscany, Umbria and Le Marche taking in the culture and meandering our way from Florence and through San Gimignano, Siena, Chianti, Montepulciano, Perugia, Servigliano and Civitanova Marche. If this sounds like something you might enjoy, contact me for details about the next trip scheduled for May 2017!

Why to go:  If you’ve always wanted to go to Italy or if you’ve been dying to get back, now’s the time because the flights are more affordable now than they have been in a long time!  And if you’re flying in and out of Toronto, the fares are even better!

When to go:  I suspected that we would have nice, comfortable weather, September/October and May being the best times for visiting the region.  However, an additional benefit of our timing was that we happened to be there right in the middle of the grape harvest.  What a great opportunity to see this part of the process. Our May visit won’t provide that element but the weather and natural beauty of the landscape will be equally enjoyable.

How to go:  Half of the group arrived in Florence a few days early to take advantage of sight-seeing (and shopping) in Florence.  Arriving/departing from Rome is also an option if the flights are a better deal.  There are frequent trains between the 2 cities and the ride is only about 1 ½ hours.  We all met at a designated time and place in Florence on that Sunday and off we went for the start of our adventure.

Where to go:  The October trip included lots of sight-seeing and tasting stops (wine, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, etc).  We also experienced fantastic lunches at a few wineries with wine pairings at each course and an amazing afternoon of cooking instruction in Le Marche region.  We finished the week on the Adriatic coast before heading back to Florence.  Our May trip will be ending in Rome for an opportunity to visit the “eternal city” which is always a highlight for me.

Potential optional detours:

  • A hike through the Cinque Terre before the organized portion starts. This area was the focus of a previous “spotlight” and is not to be missed!  A few of us will be doing this hike in May.
  • A visit to the Montefalco wine region of Umbria instead of Assisi and Gubbio. A few travelers chose this option in October and loved the experience!
  • More time exploring Siena for those not as interested in visiting the Chianti wineries.
  • Arrive a few days early and soak up the culture in Florence and/or stay a few days longer to fall in love with Rome (and make sure to throw a few coins in the Trevi Fountain to ensure a return visit some day).