-Arrive in Rome, private transfer to hotel.
-We will meet you at the airport and show you to our private shuttle that will transport you directly to the hotel. We suggest flying into Rome FCO airport on a morning flight if possible. This will give you a few hours to settle in and relax before our activities begin.
-That evening we will convene for a welcome dinner at one of Rome’s well-known restaurants that’s within walking distance of the hotel. We will meet everyone there and prepare for our adventure together!
-Breakfast at the hotel.
-Meet at 9:00 for our private transfer to Montepulciano (2.5 hours). Check in at Albergho Duomo Montepulciano Hotel (or hotel of equal quality, depending on availability), located in the heart of the historical center - 15 feet from the main square.
-We will have an authentic Italian lunch at Osteria del Conte with typical local cuisine, followed by time for a much needed walk or nap.
-Around three o’clock, we will visit one of the few ancient wine cellars left in the historical center – Cantina Contucci.
-There we will participate in the Music, Art and Vino Nobile tour. We will begin with a classical concert in the Sala delle Feste. We will then go underground to visit the six-hundred year old wine cellars, home to the famous Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. We will finish the tour with a wine tasting accompanied by typical local food such as Pienza pecorino, hand-crafted jam, regional panzanella (a dish of homemade bread, ripened tomatoes, and local spices), and “Cantucci” - authentic Tuscan biscotti to paired with Vin Santo Contucci dessert wine.
-That evening you will have time to relax and explore the enchanting medieval town of Montepulciano on your own.
-Breakfast at the hotel. Meet around 9:30 for a day trip to Siena (1 hour). Siena needs no introduction as it’s the jewel of Tuscany. It is renowned throughout the world for its history and beautiful architecture. You will have the day free to explore as you wish.
-Visit the Piazza del Campo, home to the annual Palio horse racing competition, or climb to the top of Torre Mangia to catch a breathtaking view of the countryside rolling right up to the city walls. The center is also rich with museums such as Santa Maria della Scala and the Museo Civico. If people-watching is more your style, sit at a café along the square and enjoy a cappuccino and ricciarello (a local soft almond-based cookie with hints of vanilla and honey). If lunch is calling you, make sure not to miss the pumpkin-stuffed ravioli.
-Return to Montepulciano around 5:30 ready to rest your legs and share your daily adventures over a leisurely wine dinner at La Briciola Restaurant. The owner, Andrea Matteini who is a certified sommelier, will provide us an incomparable Tuscan wine tasting dinner in which he has carefully crafted each plate to be paired with a unique wine.
*This excursion is optional, to be indicated on your registration form. If you prefer to spend the day on your own in Montepulciano, you are welcome to do so! Professional guides are available upon request at an additional cost for both Siena and Montepulciano. If you wish to stay in Montepulciano, know there are a variety of activities at your disposal. Cooking classes and gastronomy and art tours are available. You could also travel to the natural hot springs of Tuscany . I will be happy to provide further information and coordinate any activities you wish!
-Breakfast at the hotel. Meet around 10:00 for an extraordinary and luxurious Wine Lovers Tour through Montepulciano. We will explore three vineyards accompanied by a certified sommelier guide. We will see how the famous Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is made from vine to bottle.
-Lunch will be served in one of the wineries accompanied by an extensive tasting and pairing of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wines.
-We will return to the hotel around 4:00 where you will have the evening free. Dinner for the brave on your own!
-Breakfast at the hotel followed by check out. Meet around 9:30 and depart to discover Le Marche! Le Marche was defined in 2005 as “The New Tuscany” by New York Times collaborator Christopher Soloman. It was also classified among the Top 5 Places to Retire Abroad by the American Association of Retired Persons. Thanks to the Papal State, Le Marche remained isolated for centuries, and this left an enormous hereditary of castles, churches, and monasteries ranging from the Byzantine to Gothic periods and leading all the way up to Roman ruins, such as la Domus del Mito.
-It was the renaissance, however, that left its biggest historical and cultural gift – the city of Urbino. Federico da Montefeltro created and designed the city with passion, intelligence and a supreme understanding of culture that led it to become an architectural influence throughout the rest of Europe. “Unesco world heritage” hailed Urbino for its monumental qualities and historical center. Words cannot do it justice. It is simply a city you must experience!
-Urbino is simply breathtaking! This city on the hill will be our first stop in Le Marche, which is renowned for its monumental architechture and historical center representing the zenith of the Renaissance. Urbino is home to such historical sites as The Ducal Palace, as well as the childhood home of famous artist Rafaello.
- The afternoon will be dedicated to free time to explore the city. We will meet again in the evening for a traditional Marchigiana dinner at Le Tre Piante Restaurant - amazing view included!
-Breakfast in Urbino.
-Meet around 10:00 for a day trip to Cartoceto – the city of oil (35 minutes). We will visit one of most famous oil and cheese producers, Vittorio Beltrami. There we will have a tasting of the infamous DOP Extra Virgin Olive Oil. You have not tasted olive oil until you have tasted the rich, spicy, almost green-tinted Extra Virgin Oil of Cartoceto. This is the only DOP Extra Virgin Olive Oil made in the region of Le Marche, and is exported all over the world. This producer has also earned the nickname “The Einstein of Cheese” from the famous chef Lidia Mattichio Bastianich for his passion and creativity in his craft. Mr. Beltrami supplies some of the most influential restaurants worldwide, including Alain Ducasse in Paris and Harrods Georgian Restaurant in London. He is famous for his pecorino di fossa, a sheep’s milk cheese matured underground, as well as his Caprino cheeses traditionally made from unpasteurized goat’s milk, and a wide assortment of specialty aged cheese.
-We will taste the rare and famous pecorino/formaggio di fossa, or “dipped cheese.” The cheese is wrapped in grape leaves and then buried in a deep, stone well (called a fossa) for 90 days before it is ready to be consumed. We can guarantee you have had no other cheese like it! Our trip will go on to discover the wine of another expert and pioneer in organic wines – Mr. Giordano Galiardi. We will enjoy a tasting of his organic and local products.
-That evening we will travel down the road to the coastal city of Fano for a must-experience traditional fish dinner. At a restaurant situated on the shore, we will taste the traditional dish “Brodetto” – an amazing assortment of fresh fish cooked in a rich broth. The dinner will be paired with Bianchello del Metauro and Verdicchio, two wines made from grapes indigenous to Le Marche, and whose minerality and flavor exhault every plate of fish.
-Breakfast and free morning in Urbino.
-Meet around 11:00 to visit the Terracruda Winery (20 minutes). Does the name sound familiar? This is the producer I represent in Texas whose wines can be found in several stores in the DFW area, Oregon and California. There is a good chance we met at one of these tastings! Terracruda is one of the best examples of wine making that is both connected to the territory and encapsulates the identity of a region.
-We will start with a tasting of white wines in a beautiful new tasting room overlooking the vineyard. This will be followed by a pause for lunch comprised of special local products. We will then begin our round of red tastings. Afterward you will get the unique experience of participating in the wine making process. This can mean pulling grapes in the vineyard or learning about the fermentation process, all depending on where the harvest is at come October. We will then return to Urbino where you will have a free evening and dinner on your own.
-This day is one of my personal favorites. Breakfast in Urbino.
-Meet around 10:00 for a day trip to my nearby hometown of Sant’Angelo in Vado (30 minutes). Sant’Angelo in Vado is famous for its production of the elusive White truffle (the precious Ipogeo mushroom that has inspired artists and great chefs all around the world), and its annual National Festival of White Precious Truffle of Marche.
-Once a year the town airs out its old wine cellars and turns these secret rooms into repurposed wine bars. Float from one wine cellar, or cantina, to the next, enjoying the variety of local and national wines paired with savory truffle-based delicacies. Each cantina has its own theme – from traditional (eat and drink at long, wooden picnic tables), to indulgent (buy the cantina mug, and enjoy free refills the rest of the weekend), to extreme (these cantina have been known to pack in DJ’s, dance floors, and motorcycles into the limited 100 sq.ft. space).
-Revel in the town’s festivities, ranging from street artists, to market booths, to live music. Buy roasted chestnuts on the corner or crostini with liver pate and truffle shavings from the local butcher. There is something for everyone at the National Festival of White Precious Truffle of Marche and a reason why it has put Sant’Angelo in Vado on the map! The day will leave you free to explore, but I will be there at all times to recommend restaurants, wine cellars, activities and anything else you need.
-Breakfast in Urbino. Return to Sant’Angelo in Vado to better discover its deeply hidden treasures of truffles, Vino Santo and history. For the truffles, we will meet a professional Truffle hunter will take us on our own truffle hunt through the surrounding woods with his trained dog (the real secret to finding truffles). He will explain the conditions of weather and soil necessary to produce the famous truffles, and tricks of the trade for finding them first.
-We will then take any truffles found to the local agriturismo, Caicardo, where they will cook with them to make you a traditional Marchigiano lunch. Caicardo is a lovely family-fun place which implements the best local cooking traditions with only food and wine products made by them, including their own unforgettable Vino Santo.
-After lunch we will visit another Vino Santo producer who has a unique specialty. At La Montata’s we can taste the only smoked passito in the world!
-The only remaining treasure to discover is the history. We will visit the famous Domus del Mito (Domus of the Myth), and archeological Roman villa dating to the 1 century B.C. The Domus del Mito is one of the greatest discoveries in Central Italy in the last fifty years and has been baptized as “Domus of the Myth” because of its large collection of mosaics representing classic mythological figures.
-Free evening in Urbino.
-Breakfast in Urbino. Meet around 10:00 for a day trip to “Apecchio Beer City” to visit thier world-famous brewery. That’s right, Italy is also home to this hidden gem that sells beer all over the world (including Dallas!) and has consistently won gold medal at the Chicago Beer Festival year after year.
-We will start our morning with a visit to the town’s travelling market. We will then tour the brewery, with tasting included, and find out how this small town has gotten such a big name.
-Once your stomachs start rumbling, we will head up to the incomparable local agriturismo La Tavola Marche for lunch. This agriturismo is a 300 year old farmhouse that transports you back in time. Embracing the slow food movement, owners Ashley and Jason (Yes! An American couple who cook like the best Italians and speak English too!) will provide a unique feast based around local cuisine.
-Breakfast in Urbino and hotel checkout.
-Private transfer back to Rome. You will have a free afternoon in Rome to visit the sites of your choice.
-We will join together again that night for a farewell dinner and to say arrivederci…At least until our next adventure!
-Departure with private transfer to Rome Fiumicino Airport.
*Please bear in mind that this itinerary is made one year in advance, so details may change due to hotel availability, weather and unforeseen circumstances. Any substitutions will be made with a property of equivalent interest and value.