The terraced, seaside villages of the Cinque Terre and western Tuscany offer some of the best hiking and sightseeing in all of Italy. We start this tour with three days near the medieval art city of Lucca, where we explore olive orchards and vineyards. Then we're off for a day of walking in Pisa near the Leaning Tower. We finish with five days of hiking among the villages of the Cinque Terre. This rugged stretch of coast is one of the most picturesque in Europe and combines seafaring with traditional Mediterranean agriculture and food.
Day 1: Tour begins in Lucca, Italy
Highlights: Western Tuscany, Puccini's Caffé de Simo, introductory dinnerArrive this afternoon at our hotel in Lucca, where your tour leaders will greet you and suggest an orientation walk around town. We'll gather for a glass of wine this evening in the historical Caffé De Simo, where Puccini would meet with friends. Dinner tonight is at one of our favorite Tuscan restaurants.
Day 2: Walking in Lucca & Pisa
Highlights: Guided walking tour of Lucca, Leaning Tower of PisaAfter breakfast in our hotel, we'll walk to the top of Lucca's Guinigi Tower for an introduction to this fascinating city. From the tower, you can see the grid pattern of the ancient Roman city plan, the dominance of its late medieval churches, and the great ring of its 17th-century wall, still perfectly preserved and encircling the city. After lunch, we will head to Pisa for an afternoon of walking and sightseeing near the Leaning Tower and the city's other historic sights. Dinner is on your own this evening. Today's walk: 2-4 hours.
Day 3: Hike to Torre del Lago
Highlights: Lake Massaciuccoli, olive orchards and vineyardsWe shuttle into the hills west of Lucca today for a hike through olive orchards and vineyards. We'll reach Lake Massaciuccoli and have lunch together at a local trattoria. In the afternoon we'll visit the famous village of Torre del Lago where Puccini composed most of his operas. Dinner is on your own this evening. Today's hike: 2.5 hours.
Day 4: Entering Italy's Cinque Terre - Monterosso al Mare
Highlights: Cinque Terre hiking, views from Punta del MescoWe shuttle today to the Cinque Terre. Our luggage will go to our hotel in Monterosso al Mare while we go to Levanto and hike from there. It is a three-hour hike through pine forests to Punta del Mesco, where we'll enjoy a sweeping view of the Cinque Terre villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. We'll be in Monterosso this evening and enjoy dinner together. Today's hike: 4 hours.
Day 5: Vernazza & Corniglia
Highlights: Cinque Terre villages of Vernazza and Corniglia, private tasting in local wine cellarWe'll take time to explore Monterosso this morning before heading off for a two-hour hike to Vernazza. After lunch on your own, we continue on to Corniglia. If you are a photographer or painter, you'll want to take time to enjoy these scenic coastal villages. We'll suggest a different route back to our hotel if you want to hike, but most of the group will plan to catch the train back. We have a special event planned before dinner - a visit to a local wine cellar in the heart of town, where we'll sample some of the region's best wines. Dinner is on your own this evening. Today's hike: 3.5 hours.
Day 6: Manarola & Riomaggiore
Highlights: Cinque Terre villages of Manarola and RiomaggioreExplore Monterosso this morning, then we'll catch the train to Corniglia and hike south to Manarola. We'll have lunch together there and continue our hike to the most southern of the Cinque Terre villages, Riomaggiore. You'll know all of the Cinque Terre towns by now, so you can choose which you want to explore further this afternoon. (Maybe some wine tasting in the local wineries?) Your transit pass allows you to get on and off the train at your leisure. Today's hike: 3 hours plus any additional you choose.
Day 7: Hike & Boat Ride along the Italian Riviera
Highlights: Castle of Portovenere, afternoon boat ride, farewell dinnerWe've been working up to this day. We jump the train back to Riomaggiore, where we'll climb the ridge separating the Cinque Terre from La Spezia. We wind through terraced vineyards and pass by churches perched on promontories overlooking the sea. After a 2-hour climb, we reach the ridge; there is a trattoria here for lunch or great spots for a picnic amid the pine trees. Our trail heads south from here, with spectacular views over the Gulf of La Spezia and the Ligurian Sea. By mid-afternoon we'll begin our descent into the castle of Portovenere, a fascinating town at the entrance to the Gulf of La Spezia. Take time to enjoy the village before we catch a boat along the coast back to Monterosso. Tonight, we'll have a grand final dinner together. Today's hike: 5-6 hours.
Day 8: Tour ends in Monterosso al Mare, Italy
Highlights:Our hiking tour through western Tuscany and the Cinque Terre ends after breakfast this morning, but we'll offer suggestions if you want to see more of Italy afoot. And we hope to see you again, perhaps in Greece or some other fascinating place.
HighlightsVillages of the Italian Riviera, Lucca, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Hike coastal cliffs, olive groves and vineyards
Includes"The Usual" plus... 8 days, 7 nights accommodation, 3 dinners with wine, 2 lunches, all breakfasts, & a 3-day train and trail pass
Begin/EndLucca/Monterosso al Mare
Daily Distance2 1/2 to 6 hours daily
What to ExpectHilly terrain which often involves going up and down steps; a challenging final day; some steep drop-offs and steps; well groomed trails
Please call 1-800-685-4565 or e-mail us for the dates for this tour.
Click on the "pins" for details about each day's highlights.
City (on route)
City (not part of route, provided for reference)
Cristina, our formal guide was awesome! And the local guides that were there to assist us were also very good, and quite knowledgeable about the flora of Cinque Terra.
[My favorite experience was ] very hard to isolate. Countryside was so gorgeous, your guides were excellent as was the food and the hotels. Perhaps accomplishing the last day's hike in pretty good condition made us quite happy and proud. We were the oldest members of the group.
Winnipeg, MB Canada
Winnipeg, MB Canada
The guides were excellent tour leaders. I didn't eat breakfast often. The guide in Lucca was one of the best I've experienced ... [ My favorite experience on tour was ] in addition to visiting Lucca, hiking in the Cinque Terre ... I really enjoyed this tour and its leaders ... Your organization is top rate.
Meals were superb - you tried to tell us, but we were still surprised and enormously pleased. That first dinner together in Lucca was a real educational experience - we appreciated having so many traditional foods. Thank you!
Don & Judy M.
Los Alamos, NM
Los Alamos, NM
We found our guides unfailingly cheerful, enthusiastic, and responsive. It would be a pleasure to travel with any or all of them again.
Maureen & Harvey S.