More Trails and Tables of Tuscany

In April/May 2013, I will be leading a fabulous trip to Tuscany for the Mazamas, a Portland-based hiking club. It’s a combination of hiking, food and wine, and local culture and history.

To find out more about Mazamas Outings in general, and get the forms you need to apply for the trip, visit the Outings website. To read an article I wrote about hiking in Tuscany, click here. For an example of the way we’ll be eating, click here. For an introduction to our Tuscan guide, click here. And for a light-hearted take on Tuscan Time, click here.

I also put up a Youtube video full of scenes from the 2011 trip. Check it out! I feel so high-tech.

Here’s the 2011 summary I put in the Mazamas’ newsletter:

While known for its medieval villages and magical rollinghill country, Tuscany is also home to some fantastic mountain hiking, a beautifulMediterranean coast, thousands of years of history, and of course some amazingfood and wine.

This outing will take in all these attractions. Start withtwo nights in Florence, to get settled, wander the bustling streets, and admiresome of the world’s finest art, including Michelangelo’s David. Then we’ll headto the Apennine Mountains for two nights, hiking through a forest preserve to a10th Century monastery and eating lunch in the home of a local shepherd. We’llalso picnic at a 1,000-year-old castle and visit another that’s privatelyowned.

From there, it’s out to the coast and the island of Elba for two nights, then into the hill country of Chianti forseveral days of hiking, touring, dining, and visiting not just the charminghilltop villages but also private homes, one where olive oil is made.

The cost of $4,500 to $4,800 (it all depends on trip details,number of people, and the exchange rate) covers everything but airfare and souvenirs. For more information, contact leader Paul Gerald,[email protected].

And here’s a more detailed (proposed) itinerary:

Trails and Tables of Tuscany
Dates: April-May4, 2013

Price: Around $4,500 – $4,800, all inclusive once in Italy (airfare, souvenirs, and a couple of lunches on your own). Price also depends on exchange rate and number of people signing up.

Information: Paul Gerald ([email protected]).

The following is a proposed agenda, hitting the types of activities that we will do during the trip. Many of these will definitely happen, though perhaps not in this order. Others may come up as we go. It’s Italian style to sort of “make it up as you go.”

Our guide is a lifelong Tuscan who is a former official in Tourism and Economic Development. He has led hiking, biking, food/wine tours, and agriculture-focused tours, and much of what we will do is visiting his friends and acquaintances. We will be going to places which, while public, are way off the beaten track and not generally known by non-Italian tourists.

Day 1: Florence.
Arrival in Florence, meet the group at the hotel at 7 p.m.
Dinner in a Florentine Trattoria

Day 2. Florence.
Free for individual activities. Meet at 6 p.m. at the hotel for dinner in a Florentine Trattoria. If you are interested in visiting the Uffizi Gallery, the Academy (to see Michelangelo’s David), or other museums, reservations can be arranged to avoid waiting in long lines.

Day 3. Appennine Mountains
Departure at 8:30 a.m. towards the Appennines, (south east of Florence), a mountain range which crosses a good part of Italy from north to south. Specifically, we will head for Casentinesi National Park. The environment is characterized by mountains, forests, natural parks, charming hilltop medieval villages, castles and towers. We will have a picnic lunch on the green of a 1,000-year-old castle and also make a private visit to a medieval Tower. We will spend the night in a pleasant hotel in town and have dinner in the area.

Day 4. Appennines.
Another day of hiking in the Appenines, we’ll have lunch in the home of a local shepherd family: handmade pasta, fresh cheese from that day’s sheeps milk, and some of their own prosciutto. Later, time to explore local villages. Dinner in town.

Day 5. Transfer to Chianti.
After transferring to the hill country of Chianti, we’ll explore a village or two and possibly take an afternoon hike before settling into our new accommodations for the next several nights. This will likely be a small hotel or agriturismo site near a medieval village, allowing us to explore in town during fre time.

Day 6. In the Florentine Chianti Coutryside.
Another morning hike through vineyards, olive groves, up and down rolling hills … a landscape which has been basically the same since Renaissance times. Picnic lunch on the way. Visit a 14th Century Village. Private dinner at the Villa of a smalll quality-oriented extra virgin olive oil producer. Dinner will be preceeded by a visit to the olive mill and a little education on olive oil.

Day 7. The “Bad Lands” of Brunello.
We will hike through a “moonscape” environment made of interlocking pale clay hummocks, which at this time of year should be “greening up” with young wheat and wildflowers. It will remind many Northwesterners of the eastern Columbia River Gorge. Lunch is in a private medieval wine cellar, a pairing of traditional Sienese dishes and the famous Brunello wine. We will then visit a nearby 12th Century Romanesque Abbey and hopefully get to listen to Gregorian Chants. Dinner at our overnight location — perhaps a cooking lesson from a local chef.

Days 8-9. To the coast, and into the mysterious land of the Etruscans.
Up early for a drive to the beautiful Tuscan coast. Hike through a mysterious “Etruscan” forest (primitive Etruscan tombs to be seen during the hike). Picnic lunch on spectacular rocky cliffs by the sea. We might even swim in the Mediterranean! We will probably spend our nights on the island of Elba.
Day 10. To the Marble District.
Transfer to the Alpi Apuane, aka the Marble District because it is the original home of so many famous sculptures and buildings, including Michelangelo’s David.
Day 11. Hiking in the Marble District
We’ll have another nice hike in the morning, then head back into the heart of Tuscany, perhaps to visit the famous walled village of Volterra.

Day 12. Hiking and Siena.
We will have another countryside hike, with lunch at a private winery. Then a walking tour of magnificent, medieval Siena (images). Back to Florence for packing. Farewell dinner and music in a private home.

Day 13. Departure for Florence airport.