Gardens of Tuscany walking tour
Gardens, both famous and hidden, classical and modern, are the true heart of Tuscany. With a perfect combination of walking and exploring, art historian, landscape gardener, author and long term Tuscan resident, Paul Blanchard, will unlock the secrets of Italy's most beautiful and celebrated region.
The concept of Tuscany automatically conjures up a vision of the Renaissance towns surrounded by gentle hills, crowned with little towns and villages, that grace the paintings of Simone Martini, Piero della Francesca and Leonardo da Vinci. There is, however, another Tuscany, often concealed behind high walls and iron gates: the landscape of the Tuscan garden, a small paradise where the spontaneity of nature is persuaded to embrace the order and symmetry of reason - our two week tour is dedicated to this Tuscany.
The tour will be led by Paul Blanchard, art historian, landscape designer and author of the Blue Guides to Northern and to Southern Italy. A New Yorker who has married and lived in Tuscany since 1980, Paul will use his extensive knowledge and excellent contacts to give you an extraordinary introduction to Italy’s most beautiful and celebrated region.
The tour will include guided visits to some of the finest historical gardens in Italy. Tuscany, however, remains a place of innovation and we will also visit several modern gardens, speak with farmers and landowners practicing cutting-edge conservation techniques, and peruse nature reserves famous for their wildlife and their habitats. Along the way, we’ll find time to visit one of Italy’s finest vineyards near Bolgheri, the charming village by the Tyrhennian Sea that is home to the ‘Supertuscan’ reds.
The walks on the Tuscany gardening tour have been selected to reveal the region’s incomparable natural beauty as well as its unique historic and artistic heritage. They are walks and not hikes! The walks range from 6 to 16 kms and follow well-marked trails, mostly unsealed country roads over undulating hills. in some cases it is possible to shorten the walk or to opt out and join the walkers afterwards.
For the Tuscany gardening tour, we have sought out the most delightful places the region has to offer including: an elegant hotel on the ‘left bank’ of the Arno River (a short walk from the Ponte Vecchio), a magnificent 16th-century estate set in parklands outside Lucca, a beautifully restored ‘borgo’ surrounded by olive groves by the sea, and finishing in an early modern farmhouse designed by British garden architect Cecil Pinsent and enjoying one of the most famous views in Italy.
Food must be a highlight of any visit to Italy – the history and character of each region is best captured in its unique cuisine, which has evolved over centuries and is based on fresh, local, seasonal ingredients. All the restaurants we will visit on the Tuscany gardening tour have been chosen to introduce you to the finest regional cuisine, from the sophisticated ‘ristoranti’ of the bigger towns to the simpler home-cooking of the country ‘trattorie’. We’ll also enjoy a number of picnics during the tour.
The tour leader
Paul designed and leads the spring garden tours in Tuscany and Piedmont. Paul is an art historian, author (including the Blue Guides to Piedmont, Northern Italy and Southern Italy and the Art/Shop/Eat series for Venice, Milan and Florence, among other things) and is a long term resident of Tuscany. He is an active visual artist and has taught painting, drawing and the history of Modern art at the European study centres of several American universities. In recent years he has become increasingly involved with landscape design, developing large-scale projects in Tuscany and the Dolomites. He has designed and led walking tours in Italy since 1994. He is also a very nice guy! He lives with his family in Fiesole in the hills above Florence.
"Paul Blanchard was superb, such a fun, informative caring man..... passionate about his subject and fantastic on imparting his knowledge...what an amazing trip we had!" S and G Richards, Gardens of Tuscany.
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Gardens of Tuscany 2018
4 May to 16 May, 2018
Two places are still available for the 2018 tour.
Tour Size7 to 15
Single supplement $850 (double room for single use)
- 12 nights’ accommodation (see the itinerary for details) in boutique hotels
- All breakfast, and all lunches and dinners listed in the itinerary
- All transfers during the tours and all paid admissions during the tour
- All taxes and service charges at the hotels and restaurants as well as all gratuities during the tour
- Services of two full-time professional tour guides.
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We experienced one of the best guided (if not the best) tours of Tuscany. The guide Paul Blanchard was superb: such a fun, informative and caring man, passionate about his subject and fantastic on imparting his knowledge. What an amazing trip we had!
– S and JR