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This golden late-summer tour has been carefully designed to include some of the most beautiful and exclusive gardens of Southern Tuscany. We visit some Renaissance gardens dating back to the in the 15th century as well as important gardens of the early 20th century including La Foce, designed by Cecil Pinsent for Iris Origo, arguably Pinsent’s best garden set in the dramatic landscape of the d’Orcia Valley. This tour includes opportunities to taste local specialities and special invitations to dine in private villas with the owners. We are accommodated for four nights at the luxurious 5-star Grand Hotel Continental in the historic heart of Siena, just a short walk from Piazza del Campo and the magnificent Duomo cathedral with fine dining included in the hotel’s own gourmet Ristorante Sapordivino.
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Depart London Heathrow for a morning flight to Pisa Galileo Airport. Journey through the Chianti region of Tuscany stopping at Badia a Coltibuono to visit the formal garden and to taste their organic wines and enjoy a light lunch. Then journeying on to Siena we receive a warm welcome at The Grand Hotel Continental in the heart of the old city, with time to settle in before dining together at the Ristorante Sapordivino, the hotel’s acclaimed gourmet restaurant.
Start the day visiting the gardens of Villa Vico Bello, owned by the Chigi family since the 1500’s, before travelling south to the Val d'Orcia, a beautiful and miraculously intact valley in Southern Tuscany. In the heart of this beautiful region, we discover the gardens of La Foce where we are invited to lunch and a special guided tour with the owner, Benedetta Origo. When Antonio and Iris Origo bought the estate of La Foce in 1923, they engaged the English architect Cecil Pinsent to restructure the main buildings and create a garden to enhance the Renaissance house and expand the spectacular view over the valley. Perfect harmony between buildings, garden and nature helps La Foce stand out as one of Pinsent’s best works. Return to Siena for a free evening.
We are privileged today to be accompanied by Antonella Piredda, an official guide to Siena as well as an accredited cheese and olive oil taster and wine aficionado. Antonella will accompany us on her tour of Secret Siena that opens the doors to the city’s hidden or forgotten treasures and masterpieces. This is followed by free time to find lunch, continue exploring or enjoy the proximity of our luxurious hotel. Later, in the afternoon we travel out of Siena to meet Count Bianchi Bandinelli of Villa di Geggiano where we are invited to an early evening meal together in the villa and the opportunity to view the beautiful 18th century frescoes representing the twelve months of the year created by Austrian artist, Ignazio Moder and have time to stroll around the garden to enjoy the famous green theatre and walls decorated with vases and monkey grotteschi. Return to the Grand Continental Hotel in the evening.
La Ferriera is a garden designed, created, and loved by Contessa Giuppi Pietromarchi, who discovered the romantic villa more than fifty years ago when looking for an Italian home for her wandering diplomatic family. The family restored the house and Giuppi created the garden on the site of a 15th century foundry, including many plants collected on her extensive travels. We are invited to lunch with her, before visiting Il Giardino dei Tarocchi, a fantastical sculpture garden designed by Nikki de Saint-Phalle, inspired partly by the Parco Güel of Antonio Gaudi. Return to Siena to dine in La Corte di Sapordivino at the hotel.
Leaving Siena we drive to the most celebrated of the Antinori family wineries: a contemporary, cathedral-like structure set within the vine-clad hillside and offering breath-taking views of the soft rolling Tuscan hills scattered with olive groves and historic churches. A seasonal lunch, accompanied by a selection of Antinori wines will be served in the stunning rooftop restaurant. Return to Pisa Galileo Airport. Check in for British Airways flight BA0613, departing at 17:00 and arriving at London Heathrow Airport at 18:20.