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  • The Heart of Italy - Tuscany, Umbria and Latium

    Borgo San Felice

    Borgo San Felice

    Villa di Monte Solare

    Villa di Monte Solare

    Gardens of Ninfa

    Villa d'Este Tivoli

    Fly-drive Tour of The Heart of Italy - Tuscany, Umbria, and Latium

    9 nights and 10 days
    Beginning in Tuscany, amidst the wine-producing Chianti villages, tour the regions that make up the heart of Italy. Travel through the rolling agricultural hills of Umbria, passing the tranquil lakes and brooding mountain peaks, and end this luxury tour in Latium, among the Castelli Romani, just a stone’s throw from the great historic capital.

    Click here to download a pdf with information about some of our suggested Italian touring holidays.

    Travel south from Pisa after your arrival into Tuscany. Spend three nights at the Villa le Barone deep amongst the rolling hills of this rustic region. During the day, explore the quaint Chianti villages, sampling the Chianti wines, and relax under the warmth of the Italian sun. To see more of the Tuscan villages, we recommend you drive out to San Gimignano or Volterra which, together, make an interesting day out. Your hotel is an hour's drive away from Florence, where you can peruse the Uffizi, the Bargello and the Accademia, which has Michelangelo's original 'David' on display. From Tuscany, move on to Umbria, the very heart of Italy. Your second hotel is the Villa di Monte Solare, a beautifully traditional property first built in the 17th century. Begin your exploration of the region with Perugia. At the heart of this city, on a hilltop, is the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo, distinctive because of its original architectural style. To the west of Perugia lies Lake Trasimeno, the fourth largest lake in Italy. Gubbio, a town just over an hour away from the Villa di Monte Solare, is the site of the well-known ‘race of the candles’. The third stop on this touring holiday takes you towards Italy’s capital. Stay in Frascati, at the Park Hotel Villa Grazioli, among the Castelli Romani of the Latium region, and use this glorious wine village as a base for your exploration of historic sites such as Rome and Tivoli. Explore the verdant gardens of Ninfa and Landriana, the former containing rare plants from around the world within medieval walls, the latter bursting with luxuriant flowers set out in an English garden style. Possibly the cultural highlight of your trip, indulge in the significant, yet relaxed atmosphere of Rome, visiting the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Vatican City among many other sites. After a three night stay in Frascati, catch your return flight to the UK from Rome.

    Prices start at £1,445 per person

    This touring holiday includes:
    • 3 nights bed and breakfast in a Classic double room at the Hotel Villa le Barone, in Tuscany
    • 3 nights bed and breakfast in a Classic double room at the Villa di Monte Solare, in Colle San Paolo, Umbria
    • 3 nights bed and breakfast in a Classic double room at the Park Hotel Villa Grazioli, in Frascati, Latium
    • British Airways flights from Heathrow to Pisa and Rome to Heathrow
    • Group B car hire for duration of holiday

    Click the tabs above to view our suggested day-by-day touring itinerary and to find out more about the hotels featured.
    Click here to find out more about how our touring holidays work or click here to download a pdf with information about some of our suggested Italian touring holidays.

    Self-drive Tour of Tuscany, Umbria, and Latium

    Day-by-day Itinerary

    Arrive in Pisa and drive to San Felice in Tuscany, where you will spend three nights

    Your flight will arrive into Pisa, the home of the famous Torre Pendente. Consider spending a few hours in this impressive city before driving south into Tuscany. Your hotel for the next three nights is the Hotel Villa le Barone. Nestled in the rolling hills of Tuscany the hotel is perfectly located for exploring the Chianti region and nearvy Florence.
    Your placement among the Chianti villages sets you in good stead for trying the internationally-renowned Chianti Classico wines in the hotel’s own restaurant, or alongside a meal in a neighbouring village. Tasting opportunities and vineyard tours are available on site upon request, allowing visitors to sample the wines produced on the estate in the rustic wine cellar. To see more of the Tuscan villages, we recommend you drive out to San Gimignano or Volterra which, together, make for an interesting and diverse day out. San Gimignano, on approach, is characterised by the rising towers built in the centre of each of its village squares. These towers are so numerous due to incomplete expansion plans, but still give the village undeniable character and intrigue. Volterra, on the other hand, is built out of volcanic rock, giving its streets a darker, more ominous feel. Volterra retains most of its original fortifications, and is surrounded by deep ravines. 
    San Felice is situated conveniently between the larger towns of Florence and Siena. Visit Florence to dine on the exquisite Florentine steak, perhaps in the Enoteca Pinchiorri, which has two Michelin stars. During your exploration, visit the Duomo and its baptistery and museum. Peruse the Uffizi and Bargello, as well as other museums and galleries. Florence’s monastery and churches house wonderful collections of Florentine paintings. The highlight of your trip into Florence, however, will likely be a visit to the Accademia, which has Michelangelo’s original ‘David’ on display. 
    On your final day at the Villa le Barone, drive into Siena to witness the evidence of its long-standing competition with Florence. The first point of interest is the Piazza del Duomo, originally intended to act as the interior of a vast Duomo extension in response to Florence’s growth. All that remains of these efforts, however, are the large free-standing archway at the entrance to the square, and the beautifully tiled floor. Inside the Duomo’s baptistery lies another of Siena’s great assets: the baptismal font. This font is decorated with intricate relief panels by the likes of Donatello, Ghiberti, and Jacopo della Quercia. For a taste of Sienese art, visit the Palazzo Pubblico, also known for being the tallest secular tower of Medieval Italy. Have lunch in one of the pavement cafes on the semi-circular Piazza del Campo. On the 2nd of July and 16th of August every year, this ‘square’ hosts Siena’s ‘Palio’, second in reputation only to the ‘Palio’ in Asti. This medieval horserace requires a rider from each of Siena’s 17 districts to compete against one another as they trace around the semi-circle. The event is accompanied by huge celebrations and parades. Take the time to appreciate the abundance of olive groves and gardens that occupy nearly half of the space within Siena’s walls, before heading back to the Hotel Villa le Barone to relax. 

    From Panzano, drive south to Colle San Paolo, where you will spend three nights
    Umbria is a region defined by its position, known mostly for being the centre of Italy. Its lush hilly landscape is crowned by small pink-hued villages; a greener Tuscany that favours a different shade of stone. On top of this, Umbria offers its visitors a wealth of stunning artworks that rival those of any other region in Italy. Colle San Paolo is a very small comune near the larger town of Perugia and Lake Trasimeno. 
    Your hotel is the Villa di Monte Solare, a beautiful secluded white-washed villa set amongst the bright verdant fields and vineyards of Umbria. 
    Begin your exploration of Umbria with Perugia. At the heart of this city, on a hilltop, is the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo, distinctive because of its original architectural style. Surrounded by other palazzos and guildhalls, the square in front of it enhances the beauty of the cathedral. Inside, the cathedral surprisingly contains a huge collection of artworks. The Palazzo dei Priori, however, is a gothic 13th century palace that forms Perugia’s main art gallery: the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria. Take a walk along the Via dell’Acquedotto, a converted aqueduct that navigates the whole town, or, through the unnamed Etruscan gateway, enter the Rocca Paolina, a maze of underground tunnels that used to make up the medieval city, but now affords residents and visitors an intriguing and convenient way of getting from one part of the city to another. A favourite attraction in Perugia, however, is the Perugina Chocolate Factory, which offers tours. 
    To the west of Perugia lies Lake Trasimeno, the fourth largest lake in Italy. One of the best places to see the lake may well be the picturesque village of Castiglione del Lago, perched on a western cape. Magione, on the east side of the lake, is the site of the Castle of the Knights of Malta, an impressive building visible for miles around. If you wish to take a more self-guided approach to touring the lake, there are plenty of trails and walks that line the pretty shoreline. In the town of Assisi lies the Basilica di San Francesca, arguably one of Umbria’s finest religious buildings. The basilica is famous perhaps because of its frescoes, reputedly painted by Giotto, and of course, because it houses St Francis’ tomb. 
    Gubbio, a town set just over an hour away from the Villa di Monte Solare, is the site of the well-known ‘race of the candles’. An everyday activity that is worth trying, however, is the Funivia Colle Eletto. This standing cable-car contraption takes you high above the town to the top of the neighbouring mountain. As you disembark, you will notice the basilica which houses the body of St Ubaldo in a glass coffin, though you may simply wish to eat lunch in the café and enjoy the views before heading back down and returning to your hotel. 

    Drive into Latium, and spend three nights in Frascati
    On your way from Colle Dan Paolo to Frascati, stop off in Orvieto and Narni. Orvieto is set on a large raised rock, much like a bluff; this rock is half-hollow, as more than 1200 tunnels wind their way through it. This ancient civilisation has left even a mill and animal enclosures underground that people can tour. Narni is famous for being at the very centre of Italy; a stone, laid into the ground, marks the precise centre point. 
    From here, move on to Frascati in Latium, and the Park Hotel Villa Grazioli. A spectacularly grand manor house, the hotel is captivating even on approach, especially in the evenings. Inside, the noble rooms are lavishly decorated in gold, with prestigious paintings hanging on the walls. Spend the early mornings or late evenings walking through the hanging gardens, or swimming in the pool. But during the day, venture out into the Castelli Romani, and Rome itself to truly experience the brilliance of Latium. Taste the delicate Frascati white wines in one of the many wineries scattered over the hills, go walking in the Alban Hills, or visit the coastal city of Anzio, a famous landing site during World War II. Seek out the local Amaretti biscuits, as well as the Cesanese dry red wine. Frascati has two lovely, but very different gardens: the unusual and colourful Giardini della Landriana, and the Giardino di Ninfa, which has a vast collection of plants from all over the world. The Villa Aldobrandini seems to dominate most of the town, and is by far the most impressive of Frascati’s buildings, originally built for the nephew of the Pope. On the 23rd of June, Frascati hosts the Sagra della Lumaca, an outdoor feast of snails, and in October the Sagra del Vino celebrates the Frascati wines. 
    Spending at least one day in Rome is essential, whether this is while you are staying in Frascati, or before you embark on your return flight, and its wonders need no introduction; the imposing Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Roman Temples, the various Forums dedicated to the emperors, and the Roman Baths all have reputations that precede them. For something a little lesser-known, head to the Church of San Clemente behind the Colosseum. This church was built on top of the first Christian basilica, which was in turn built on top of the Temple of Mithras, which dates back to the time of Augustus. Behind the church lies a perfectly preserved Roman alleyway open for exploration.
    A former garden suburb of Rome, Tivoli is also worth an afternoon’s visit. Hadrian’s Villa, the grandest, quirkiest, and most inventive palace complex ever built in Italy, and arguably Hadrian’s finest work (even over the Pantheon), has a number of interesting secrets just waiting to be discovered. 
    To see more of the Latium settlements, consider visiting the cliff-side Anticoli Corrado, the almost inaccessible Saracinesco, or the medieval citadel of Zagarolo. Palestrina is built on the site of the Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia, the greatest Hellenistic temple in Italy. But, after all of this exploration and discovery, retire each evening to the peaceful comforts of the Park Hotel Villa Grazioli. 

    DAY TEN 
    Return to the UK via Rome.
    To free up more time amongst the Castelli Romani, perhaps use today to explore Rome, before catching a later flight back to the UK.

    Driving times for this touring holiday:
    Pisa to Panzano: 1 hours 35 minutes
    Panzano to Colle San Paolo: 2 hour 10 minutes
    Colle San Paolo to Frascati: 55 minutes
    Frascati to Rome: 40 minutes

    Click the 'Hotel Information' tab to find out more about the hotels featured in this touring itinerary or click here to download a pdf with information about some of our suggested Italian touring holidays.

    Tuscany, Umbria, Latium

    Hotel Information

    These are the charming and characterful hotels that are featured in this touring holiday through the heart of Italy. Alternative hotels are often available - please contact us for more details.

    Hotel Villa le Barone
    Panzano, Tuscany
    The Hotel Villa le Barone is a charming hotel just outside the picturesque village of Panzano in the heart of the Chianti Classico wine producing region, with outstanding views over the vineyards which start right at the hotel and stretch into the distance. It was once the home of the famous Della Robbia family and today is owned by their descendants Count and Countess Aloisi de Larderel. In its transformation from private house to hotel it has retained all its charm and character. The Villa le Barone today consists of four separate houses, in which the bedrooms are located, surrounded by a shady garden with reclining seats and hammocks, terrace and swimming pool. The main villa is built in the style of the region with creamy white walls, terracotta tiles and stone roof, brown wooden shutters and thick stone walls. The ceilings are vaulted inside and in the charming lounge there is an open fire-place (where a log fire burns in cool weather), wooden panelled doors, comfortable chairs and original library of antique books. Flowers or fresh fruit and bottled water are supplied regularly. Some of the rooms enjoy wonderful views of the vineyards and the village of Panzano. The Villa le Barone is a charming and relaxed hotel full of regional flavour.
    Find out more here

    Villa di Monte Solare
    Colle San Paolo, Umbria
    Clients continue to be very impressed by the Villa di Monte Solare; a small privately owned country house run as an hotel of just 25 rooms set in its own grounds of formal gardens, wooded hills, vines and olive groves. Its location is stunning as it sits upon a low hill which affords views of the gently rolling landscape of northern Umbria and across to Lake Trasimeno a few miles away. The hotel Villa di Monte Solare exudes warmth, charm and quality of service and accommodation. It consists of five buildings: the main villa has seven rooms and four renovated stone cottages nearby, the Limonaia, a former lemon house of the estate, the Casa dei Gelsi, a farmhouse, the Olivaia, an ancient olive mill, and the Olivi building adjacent to the Olivaia, houses the other rooms and suites. The rooms in the Villa di Monte Solare are a true delight, with beautiful decorations and antique and original furniture: heavy, wooden and utterly in-keeping with the regional flavour. Floors are terracotta, and there are murals and original fireplaces. The rooms in the four houses offer the same degree of comfort, service and charm with beamed ceilings and terracotta floors. Terracotta pots overflowing with flowers or shrubs are abundant throughout the grounds, where two swimming pools and a clay tennis court are situated. There are two breakfast rooms, and the restaurant, in the main villa, has a refined ambience. Weather permitting, all meals are served in the garden. Umbro-Tuscan cuisine is served and there is an excellent cellar of Umbrian wine. The Villa Monte Solare offers an enticing combination of beautiful natural location and scenery, historic and well-maintained buildings, carefully looked after grounds and pools and a charming welcome. We recommend it very highly. An ideal place in Umbria for long stays in particular or as part of a two centre holiday with other regions.
    Find out more here.

    Park Hotel Villa Grazioli
    Frascati, Latium
    Built by Cardinal Antonio Carafa in the 16th century, the Park Hotel Villa Grazioli occupies a commanding hillside position below the slopes of Monte Tuscolo in over 15,000 square metres of arboreal parkland, overlooking Tivoli, the sea and the ancient city of Rome. Today a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group, this refined establishment offers sumptuous elegance in abundance, with an ornate gallery, beautiful spiral staircase and wood-panelled and frescoed ceilings exuding an air of grandeur and opulence. A veritable museum of 16th- and 17th-century artworks, Park Hotel Villa Grazioli is brim-full of artistic masterpieces by renowned names such as Ciampelli, Carracci and Panninni. The 62 rooms are situated between the main villa and two 18th-century annexes located in the secular park, connected to the main house through two underground tunnels. The Paggeria plays host to Classic rooms which are decorated and furnished in a country style in hues of peach, burnt orange and cream. There are also a number of rooms with terrace overlooking the Hill of Tuscolo. The Limonaia meanwhile offers classically-decorated, garden-facing rooms, whilst Elite rooms are slightly larger and boast wood ceilings. With splendid views over the gardens and towards Rome, the Charme Deluxe rooms and suites are situated in the main building as are the elegant Acquaviva Restaurant, serving a menu of Mediterranean specialities, and the vaulted Eliseo Bar, decorated with reproduction monochromatic stuccos. In summer, the Park Hotel Villa Grazioli's restaurant moves outdoors to the terrace, with wonderful panoramic vistas of the hanging gardens and Rome beyond. There’s an inviting outdoor pool in the grounds, with golfing, water sports and a wellness centre all just a short distance away. The Park Hotel Villa Grazioli offers a complimentary shuttle service to and from Frascati railway station, where direct services run to Rome Termini station, bringing the multitude of treasures of the Eternal City within easy touching distance. All in all, a traditional and historical hotel tranquilly situated amidst the Frascati winelands and Castelli Romani.
    Find out more here.

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