• The Heart of Tuscany

    With Politics & Prose | October 14 - 20, 2018

  • Join Us in the Heart of Tuscany

    $3880, based on single occupancy. There are no single supplements to pay.

    This fall, join a group of like-minded travelers to explore Tuscany and its central hill towns. We’ll stay for the week in Siena, historic rival of Florence, with its spectacular Duomo, winding narrow streets and gracious central Campo, perfect for an evening drink and people-watching. Outside of Siena is Tuscany’s agricultural heart, with its familiar rolling hills studded on the ridges by lines of dark cypresses.

    Because agriculture lies at the heart of Tuscany’s history and culture, we’ll visit a working farm, and we’ll enjoy tastings of some of Tuscany’s most notable products: wines and cheeses. All our travels out of the city will be in comfortable minivans, not a big bus.

    Siena’s city motto is, “Cor magis tibi Seni pandit,” (“Siena opens its heart even wider to you”), and you’ll feel its welcome and walkable scale immediately. We’ll stroll to historic sites from both the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, with many of the facades in the soft yellow-brown color we call “burnt Siena.”

     

    On other days, we’ll visit several of the most characteristic of Tuscany’s hill towns – each quite different in character. From an authentic working farm, we’ll observe San Gimignano’s distinctive skyline of 14 towers. In the city, we’ll have plenty of time to explore its museums, churches, shops – and its most famous gelato.

     

    The drive to Volterra is completely different – and very dramatic. For centuries, the land has been eroding, with landslides, sink holes and even steam rising from the ground, so it now has a wild beauty unlike the rest of Tuscany. Volterra was an Etruscan city (it features the largest Etruscan museum in Italy), but there are also a Roman theater and ruins of Roman baths. It’s also famous for its alabaster.

     

    Pienza is a graceful and harmonious small town – completely rebuilt and designed to humanistic principles by Pope Pius II during the Renaissance. We’ll visit the Pope’s Palace there, as well as taste the varieties of the famous Pecorino cheese the city is known for.

     

    Enjoy Spectacular Views and 4-Star Luxury at Hotel Athena

    In Siena, we’ll stay for the week at the Hotel Athena. Located in a quiet neighborhood right up against the old city walls, it has a terrace with spectacular views of the countryside. And if you’d like to include Florence as well, there’s an optional extension to Florence at the end of the week.

    On many days, you’ll have a choice of which activities interest you most – although you’ll have plenty of free time to do even more. In the mornings, we’ll go in small groups to visit a special site, and then you’ll have the afternoons to explore on your own. But you’ll always have our trip leaders to help you decide what to do and how to do it. And they’re constantly available by phone or text.

    We’ll get together every evening before dinner to talk about our days and some of the books we’ve read. Afterwards, we’ll break into small groups to walk to nearby restaurants. You have a choice about where to eat and who to eat with. You’ll never dine alone unless you choose to.

     

    Fall is a beautiful time to visit Tuscany. The days are usually cool, crisp and sunny, and most of the tourists have headed home. We’ll wander along the narrow streets in every town, letting our imaginations run away with us as we soak in the history…and, of course, savor the food and wine.

     

    Ready to Pack Your Bags?

    Click here to reserve your space.

    Itinerary

    Please note that we may make changes to this itinerary in response to unexpected closings, road conditions, weather or other unforeseen events.

     

    Saturday, October 13

    Depart from home on your overnight flight to Italy. (Airfare not included in the trip price.) We recommend you fly to Florence; you’ll probably have to change planes in Rome, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam or another city, depending on which airline you choose.)

     

    Sunday, October 14

    Arrive in Siena, after your overnight flight from home. (We’ll send you information about how to get from Florence to Siena.)

     

    Afternoon on your own. We suggest you stroll down to the spacious Piazza del Campo – one of the most famous plazas in the world -- for a coffee or an Aperol spritz, that bright orange drink you see so often in Italy. Our hotel is in the pantera (panther) contrada, one of Siena’s famous – and competitive – 17 neighborhoods. It’s full of small shops and restaurants. Or, if you’re up for a longer stroll, walk down to Santuario Catarina, a shrine built at Saint Catherine’s birthplace; she’s a patron saint of both Siena and Italy. In a chapel at San Dominico is the preserved relic of her head.

     

    6pm 

    We meet in the hotel bar for a glass of wine to get to know each other and discuss the week’s activities.

     

    Monday, October 15

    10:15am

    Meet in the lobby to walk over to the Duomo with JoAnn. This enormous complex of religious and artistic masterpieces is defined by the 15th century cathedral with its distinctive black and white stripes on the exterior, and its floor of white line drawings on blackened marble. You’ll have an audioguide to take you through the duomo, and you’ll also be able to visit the Baptistry, the recently discovered Crypt with its magnificent frescoes, and the museum of artworks from the Duomo.

    or

     

    10:15am

    If you’ve already seen the Duomo, walk with Sheila to the Santa Maria Della Scala complex. From the 10th century, it was a hospital for pilgrims on the way to Rome or Santiago Compostela, as well as a home for orphans and foundlings. In the large entrance hall are a series of remarkably preserved frescoes depicting the life and activities of those who lived and worked here. Throughout the complex are an art museum, several ancient chapels and an archeological museum.

     

    Tuesday, October 16

    9:15am

    We all drive to a working farm outside of San Gimignano (on the horizon are beautiful views of the town and its many towers). We’ll tour the farm, which makes its own wines, olive oil, honey, saffron and many other products of Tuscany. We’ll get up close to the famous Chianina cattle, one of the oldest breeds in the world - now an endangered species - as well as to the farm’s rabbits and chickens. Then we’ll relax with a tasting of some of the varieties of wine the farm produces, among them the famous white vernaccia of San Gimingano.

     

    11am

    We’ll drive on to San Gimignano, perhaps the most famous of the Tuscan hill towns. There’s much to see here. If you care to, you can climb up the tallest tower in the town at the Museo Civico. But even if you’re not interested in the climb and its views, the museum features 14th century council meeting rooms and a small art museum. Don’t miss the 11th century Collegiata church with its impressive frescoes.

     

    Of course, there are lots of places to shop in San Gimignano. And the city is famous for its award-winning gelato. Gelateria Dondoli in the Piazza Cisterna is not to be missed for its inventive seasonal flavors.

     

    3:30pm

    Return to Siena.

     

    6:30pm

    Wine and conversation in the hotel bar.

     

     

    Wednesday, October 17

    9:30am

    We depart for our drive to Volterra, enjoying the dramatic landscape on the way. Once there, we set off to explore the town. We’ll begin with a tour of the public rooms of the Palazzo Viti, a private home built by alabaster merchants in the 19th century and still inhabited by the family.

     

    Then, with JoAnn, you can walk to the Piazza Priori, the heart of Volterra, and then on to the Museo Etrusco Guaracci, particularly known for its collection of carved Etruscan funeral urns.

     

    With Sheila, you’ll stroll to the Roman ruins of the outdoor Teatro Romana and baths, then on to the Pinacoteca, a small but exquisite art museum featuring well-restored art by Renaissance and Mannerist Tuscan masters.

     

    While in Volterra, you’ll also have plenty of time to visit the alabaster shops, and the beautiful arts and crafts shops along Via Porta al’Arco.

     

    4pm

    Return to Siena

     

    6:30pm

    Wine and conversation in the hotel bar.

     

     

    Thursday, October 18

    9:30am

    We’ll all walk over for a private tour of a museum (usually closed to the public) of one of Siena’s 17 famous contrade, or neighborhoods. Here they display their awards from winning the Palio, Siena’s celebrated horse race around the Campo, as well as history about the contrada. Afterwards, we’ll stroll to the Sienese Gothic-style Palazzo Publico on Siena’s sunlit Campo. There’s much to see of Siena’s art and history here, but you especially won’t want to miss the two enormous Lorenzetti paintings which depict the differences between of a city ruled by good or bad government.

     

    From there, we’ll scatter for lunch in some of Siena’s most authentic restaurants. That afternoon you might want to spend some time in the Pinacoteca with art from Sienese painters including Simone Martini. Or simply explore the many backstreets of Siena, with exquisite views over the city walls, or seek out the many local artisans who produce ceramics, embroidery and handwoven textiles.

     

    6:30pm

    Wine and conversation in the hotel bar.

    Friday, October 19

    9:00am

    We’ll all drive to Pienza, the ideal Renaissance city according to Pope Pius II’s design. There we’ll visit the Piazza Piccolomini, the pope’s fabulous palace, with its hanging gardens overlooking the Tuscan landscape. Pienza is also known for its wonderful little shops with exquisite hand-made or local products.

     

    Afterwards, we’ll visit an artisanal cheesemaker. After a brief tour of the cheesemaking, we’ll enjoy a light lunch (included) and have a tasting of several pecorino cheeses (with a little glass of wine, of course).

     

     

    3:30pm

    We depart in time to visit the Abazzia di Monte Olivetto Maggiore, still a working Benedictine monastery begun in the 1300s. It’s known for its grand cloister with frescoes of the life of St. Benedict, begun by Luca Signorelli.

     

    6:30pm

    Farewells with wine and conversation in the hotel bar.

     

    Saturday, October 20

    Depart for home. Or on to Florence for the optional extension.

    Optional Extension: Art and Culture of Florence

    October 20 – 23, 2018

    Extend Your Stay at the 4-star Hotel Degli Orafi in Florence

    $1980, based on single occupancy. There are no single supplements to pay.

    Saturday, October 20

    9:30am

    Depart for Florence (we’ll provide transport), to the 4-star Hotel Degli Orafi, located perfectly right on the River Arno and steps from the Uffizi Palace. We’ve selected a particularly nice hotel for our stay in Florence.

     

    2:30pm

    We’ll meet outside the Uffizi Gallery, repository of the most spectacular art treasures of Florence. You’ll have an audioguide so you can move at your own pace.

     

    Sunday, October 21

    9:45am

    We’ll gather for a three-hour walking tour of three of the most distinguished private homes in Florence. We’ll begin at the Palazzo Davanzati, home of a noble family from the 14th century. Filled with an impressive array of furnishing and paintings, it greatly reflects the tastes and lifestyles of such families during this era.

     

    Next, we’ll stroll medieval streets to the Palazzo Vecchio. The building itself was completed in the 1300’s and contains masterpieces by Vasari and Michelangelo, along with beautiful frescoed walls and ceilings throughout. The tour finishes at Palazzo Corsi, once home to a wealthy Florentine silk merchant turned great art collector. It’s still filled with fine objects, paintings, and rare furniture.

     

    You’ll have the afternoon free for your last-minute shopping. Or you can visit the Academia to see Michelangelo’s David, or the Pitti Palace art and costume museums and the enormous Boboli gardens.

     

     

    Monday, October 22

    Many of the major museums are closed today, but it’s a great time to discover some of the lesser-known historical sites. You might want to simply relax in one of Florence’s piazzas, or to do some of the shopping Florence is famous for.

     

    9:45am

    We’ll walk across the Ponte Vecchio for a private tour of the Giardino Torrigani, the largest private garden within city limits in Europe. It began in the 16th century as a botanical garden, and is now a little-known sanctuary of green, flowering plants and sculpture. We’ll have tea afterwards in family salon.

     

    Afterwards, you might want to visit the Tempio Israelitico, Florence’s 19th century synagogue, built in Moorish style, and its small museum of ritual objects. The Gothic church Santa Maria Novella is known for its cloisters and major works of art, including the Tornabuoni Chapel with Ghirlandaio’s fresco cycle on the life of John the Baptist. Or you can visit the Medici Chapels, the enormous tomb sculptures by Michelangelo for the Medici family.

     

    We’ll have dinner together tonight to say farewell.

     

    Tuesday, October 23

    Depart for home.

     

    Details

    The price of the trip is $3880, based on single occupancy. There are no single supplements to pay.

     

    Here’s what’s included:

    - Six nights in a superior room at the Hotel Athena in Siena.

    - Hot ample breakfast buffet every morning, including eggs and meats, cheeses, fruit and an array of breads and juices

    - Wine socials every evening with the trip leaders and a staff member of Politics & Prose

    - Entrance fees for all group excursion activities listed.

    - City maps of Siena and each of the hill towns.

    - All food and wine tastings.

    - On many days, your choice of activities. Trip leaders JoAnn Warren or Sheila Campbell will accompany you and others, or you can set off on your own each day.

    - Restaurant and dining recommendations

    - Personal consultations with JoAnn and Sheila to help you plan your free time.

     

    What’s not included: lunches (except as specified) and dinners, transport to and from the airport, tickets to museums and attractions not specifically mentioned in the itinerary, your flight to Tuscany and back home and anything else not listed under “What’s included.”

     

    For the extension to Florence, the price is $1980. It includes three nights at the 4-star Hotel Degli Orafi in central Florence, breakfast included, and all admission fees to group activities listed in the itinerary, including a Florence museum pass.

     

    How to Register for the Trip

    First, be sure to read all the Frequently Asked Questions and Terms and Conditions. If you have more questions, you can contact:

    Sheila Campbell

    Wild Blue Yonder

    scampbell@wildblueyonder.biz

    301.587.4555

     

    You can reserve your place on the trip with a $550 deposit, payable by check, made out to Wild Blue Yonder (Wild Blue Yonder, 1001 Spring Street, Suite 623, Silver Spring, MD 20910). If you’d rather pay with a credit card via PayPal (there’s a 3% surcharge), let us know (email Sheila at SCampbell@wildblueyonder.biz) and we’ll send you a PayPal invoice.

     

    Ready to Pack Your Bags?

    Click here to reserve your space.

    A Few Frequently Asked Questions

    Q. Who should come on this trip?

    This is the perfect trip to take by yourself; you’ll make new friends and will always have people to do things with if you like. Or come with a friend or spouse or partner. We’ve often had mothers and daughters come together. You can spend time with each other and also have time to pursue your separate interests. The trip is also perfect for any small group that wants to travel together but doesn’t want the hassle of planning it all in advance.

     

    Do note, though, that the hill towns of Tuscany are…well…hilly. Siena in particular has low hills in the center of town. So you must be able to walk on uneven and occasionally steep pavement for at least half a mile. (See the Terms and Conditions for more details on fitness requirements.) That said, most reasonably fit people can easily manage this trip.

     

    Q. Do I have to pay a single supplement?

    No. This trip is priced based on each person having his or her own hotel room.

     

    Q. I’m coming with a spouse or partner and we want to share a room. Do we both have to pay the full rate? 

    For people who share a room, we offer a discount of $150 each. We’ve priced the trip primarily for people to have their own rooms, because Italian hotel rooms just aren’t as large as those in the U.S. But of course you can share a room if you prefer.

     

    Q. How many people will be on the trip?

    The maximum number of people is 18, so you won’t feel like you’re part of a huge group. There’s a 12-person minimum group size. So please don’t buy your plane tickets until we confirm to you that we have reached the minimum group size.

     

    Q. How do I get from the Florence airport to Siena?

    There are several options, and we’ll provide more detail to everyone who’s registered for the trip. The least expensive way is via bus from downtown Florence, a trip that takes about an hour and fifteen minutes. You’d need a taxi to the bus station in Florence, and a taxi from the station to the hotel in Siena.

     

    The Hotel Athena can also arrange for you to be picked up at the Florence airport for a fee (at this writing, about €150). Once we have everyone’s arrival times, we’ll let you know if you’re arriving at the same time as someone else, so you might be able to share this transportation option and save money.

     

    If you’re not using frequent flier miles for your trip, we can advise you on a recommended flight that others might also be using. Please note that we are not a travel agency, so we can’t book your flights for you.

     

    Q. Why do you call this a “trip” and not a “tour”?

    We’ve included the things we like best about group travel, including the convenience of having someone plan daily itineraries. But there are lots of things we dislike about tours, so here’s how this trip is different:

    - You’ll never board a big tour bus.

    - You won’t follow a tour guide, trying to keep up through crowded museums, except for the private tour in the Florence extension.

    - You won’t be seated at long tables for big group meals at “We accept bus tours” restaurants. Instead, we’ll suggest authentic places for you to eat in small groups.

    - You won’t have early morning calls to leave the hotel.

    - There’s almost always a choice of how you’ll spend your days, so you can focus on what interests you most.

    - You’ll pay only for the things you actually do. You won’t be dragged to places you don’t care about.

    - You only unpack and pack once. We’ll use Siena as our base for drives out into countryside.

     

    Q. Tell me about the trip leaders.

    Sheila Campbell of Wild Blue Yonder has been organizing informal groups of travelers for years – often on hiking trips in France, England, Italy and Spain, as well as for Politics & Prose. In her day-to-day work, she’s a group retreat leader who understands how to ensure everyone is involved and having a memorable experience. She lives in Washington, DC, where she was a docent at the National Gallery of Art for many years – but she spends about four months a year in France and Italy.

     

    JoAnn Warren has worked in Italian tourism for many years, and she’s fluent in Italian. She lives part of the year in Tuscany. She’s extremely knowledge about the local customs, history, traditions and…yes…food. She too has been involved with Politics & Prose trips for several years.

     

    Q. Why are we staying in Siena all week instead of Florence?

    Siena is closer in distance to the hill towns we’ll be visiting, so we’ll spend less time driving from place to place. But we also like the size of Siena for a group like ours; you’ll feel like you’ve really gotten to know the neighborhood. And – even though Siena has plenty of tourists – it’s not as crowded with them as Florence is.

     

    If you haven’t been to Florence, or not in a long time, then we’d love to have you on the optional extension to Florence.

     

    Q. What is the Hotel Athena like? 

    Our first impression of the Hotel Athena was the friendliness of the staff – and of course they all speak English. The rooms are spacious for a European hotel, and very well-appointed, with bidets in all the bathrooms. Hair dryers are provided, and every room also has a small fridge.

     

    We particularly like the location, a few blocks out of the busy center of town, in a very quiet neighborhood, but with lots of local restaurants and shops nearby.

     

    There’s an outdoor terrace where, weather permitting, you can sip a late afternoon drink or coffee and enjoy the view over the Tuscan landscape.

     

    The Athena does have some rooms with walk-in showers rather than shower/tub combinations, so please let us know if you require one.

     

    Q. Is there internet access at the hotel? 

    Yes, free wifi comes with your room.

     

    Q. What will the weather be like? 

    It’s impossible to predict accurately these days, but generally October weather in Tuscany is fabulous – cool and sunny during the day, a bit cooler at night. Rain is always a possibility, of course. It may cool off abruptly when the sun goes down, especially since we’ll be in hill towns at a higher altitude.

     

    Q. What to wear? 

    Wear what’s most comfortable, and pack lots of layers. Jeans are acceptable almost anywhere, except for the very nicest restaurants. It’s considered polite to cover your shoulders in many churches, but you probably won’t be going sleeveless in the late fall.

     

    Don’t forget your raincoat or umbrella, just in case. You’ll need a warm jacket and maybe a scarf for evening. Most important: comfortable walking shoes.

     

     Q. Why aren’t lunches and dinners included in the price? 

    Restaurants that accept tour groups are usually the last places we want to eat. And there are just so many delicious choices for meals in Tuscany that we want everyone to be free to eat where and when they want. One day you might eat a sandwich for lunch, sitting out on a piazza; or you might choose to browse the local food markets.

    Alternatively, we often make lunch the biggest meal of the day, maybe even eating at a restaurant that would be too pricey at night. You’ll choose where you’ll eat, and with whom and how much you want to spend.

     

    Q. I don’t speak Italian. Can you help me figure out what to eat? 

    Absolutely. The waiters in most restaurants speak English, and many menus are also translated into English. But we’ll also provide you a list of common menu terms, and let you know how to do things like ask for the check.

     

    Q. Is it safe to walk around by myself at night? 

    Yes. Of course, as in any city, it makes sense to be aware of your surroundings after dark. But in both Siena and Florence it’s usually quite safe to be out on your own or with a friend in the evenings.

     

    The most prevalent crime is pickpocketing, which mostly happens in areas where there are crowds of tourists. Pickpockets are wily, so we recommend that you leave most of your money, credit cards and passport in the safe in your room, just taking with you what you need for one day. A handbag that you can sling over your shoulder and tuck high under your arm (with a good zipper) works better than bags with long straps that dangle below your waist.

     

    Q. Do you require us to buy travel insurance?

    We strongly recommend it. Please read our Terms and Conditions carefully to see our cancellation policy. Also be aware that trip insurance companies are very strict about what they will and won’t reimburse you for, so read their policies closely.

    You’ll want to be insured for both trip cancellation and medical evacuation. Many insurers require you to enroll as soon as you pay your deposit, so don’t wait. There are many websites which offer comparison information about trip insurance.

     

    Q. I’d love to come on this trip, but I already have a favorite hotel in Tuscany. Can I stay there? Because we’ll be doing so much coordination from our hotels, and all our walking and transportation directions start there, we don’t think it’s practical to stay in another hotel. Plus, staying elsewhere would make getting to the evening wine and planning meetings difficult. Of course you can stay somewhere else, but the price of the trip wouldn’t change, so it wouldn’t be a good value.

     

    Q. Some friends are going to be in Tuscany while I’m there. Can they come along with us? Because we want to keep our groups small, we can’t invite your friends to come with us on our daily excursions. But you can bring them to our evening get-togethers. Please give us a day’s notice, and there’s a €10 per person charge for the wine and snacks.

     

    Q. When do I need to sign up by? 

    The sooner you put down your deposit, the better. We’re limiting the size of the group, so it’s best to reserve as soon as you think you’d like to come.

     

    Q. If I want to stay longer than six days, can you arrange that?

    Yes. We can arrange for you to stay on at the hotel at your own cost, although our trip will be over. If you’d like to arrive early, we can also make those reservations for you. We may not be there to greet you if you come early, but it’s okay if you want a day or two on your own before the official trip starts.

    Terms and Conditions

    Please read this information carefully, as payment of a deposit represents your acceptance of the following Terms and Conditions.

     

    Trip Prices

    Trip prices include hotel accommodations on a single or double occupancy basis, breakfast at the hotel, daily transportation as mentioned in the itinerary, entrance fees to museums if with the group as listed in the itinerary, tasting events, evening socials to plan the next day’s activities, and the services of the trip leaders as outlined in the trip description.

        

    Not included in the trip price are entrance fees to museums and other attractions not expressly included; taxis or other forms of city transportation; airfare and airline baggage fees; lunches and dinners; hotel, restaurant or airport tips; costs of passports and visas; personal expenses such as beverages, laundry or room service; internet wifi except as established in the trip description; airport transfers or any other services not specified in the trip description.

        

    Please note that we cannot guarantee any special requests for hotel rooms.

     

     

    Registration and Payment

     

    Changes to Your Reservation

    If you would like to stay on for longer than the official days of the trip, we will make reservations for you at the hotel. We will not charge you for any changes to your reservation outside of 90 days before the trip start date. From 30 – 89 days before the trip start date, if you make any changes to your reservation, a $100 per person administrative fee will apply. Changes are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. If your reservation changes from double occupancy to single occupancy, you will be charged the single occupancy rate.

     

    Final payment for this trip is due June 12, 2018.

     

    Travel Documents

    You are responsible for securing your own passport, valid for at least six months after the completion of your trip.

     

    Health and Medical Issues

    We welcome all travelers, but you must be in good health to participate in our trips. Our trips require a reasonable amount of walking, possibly several hours a day, uphill or on uneven streets or streets without curb cuts. You must be able to climb stairs and board trains and buses on your own. We regret that we cannot provide individual assistance if you require the use of a wheelchair or have other personal needs; in such cases you must be accompanied by a companion who will assist you.

     

    If you are unable to navigate this amount of walking, you will not be able to participate fully in the trip, and we suggest you choose another type of trip. We cannot provide individual alternatives to the planned group activities. If your fitness level does not allow you to keep up with the group and/or travel on public transportation, you will be responsible for planning your own activities and for any additional costs incurred (for instance, but not limited to, personal taxis, train tickets, and entrance fees).

     

    Trip Insurance

    We strongly recommend that you purchase both trip cancellation insurance and traveler’s medical and evacuation insurance for your trip. Should you have to cancel your trip after you have paid in full, we cannot offer refunds other than specified above, because we will have already paid the costs of your trip to our vendors.

     

    Arrival and Departure Dates

    It is your responsibility to make sure you arrive in Siena on the specified trip start date. We cannot refund part of your trip if you arrive late or leave early, unless you have notified us of your different start or end date 90 days before the trip start date.

     

    Responsibility

    The liability of Wild Blue Yonder and Politics & Prose, individually or jointly (referred to hereafter as Trip Planners), is strictly limited. In no event will the Trip Planners be liable for amounts in excess of the amounts payable to the Trip Planners in accordance with the terms hereunder, nor will Trip Planners be liable for any consequential indirect or incidental damages arising from this agreement. Trip Planners purchase accommodations, transportation and other services from independent suppliers not under our control. We serve only as agents for these suppliers in securing trip arrangements, and therefore will not accept responsibility and liability for wrongful, negligent or arbitrary acts or omissions of these independent contractors, their employees, agents or representatives.

     

    Trip Planners are not liable for injury, damage, loss, accident, or delay that may be caused by events not within our control, including but not limited to, without limitation, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, defects of any vehicle, adverse weather conditions, natural disasters or the negligence or default of any third party.

     

    Trip Planners reserve the right to correct errors in advertised prices. We reserve the right to cancel an advertised trip, decline to accept a reservation or remove a person from a trip if it is determined by us to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general well-being of other trip participants. We will make every effort to conduct our trip as planned, but we reserve the right to make itinerary and other changes as necessary. If unforeseen circumstances require us to change a hotel, we will make every effort to select alternative accommodations of the same quality. The forgoing terms and conditions and all aspects of the relationship between Trip Planners and you shall be governed by the laws of the State of Maryland.

    Ready to Pack Your Bags? Here's How to Register.

    Click here to reserve your space today.

    Recommended Reading

    We love to read about the places we’re visiting, and we suspect you do too. Mark LaFramboise, Politics & Prose’s senior book buyer, has selected some books meant to enhance your travel experience.

     

    Although there may be some discussion of books in our evening salons, this is NOT required reading.

     

    Fiction:

    A Room with a View, E. M. Forster

    Innocence, Penelope Fitzgerald

    Restoration, Olaf Olaffson

    The Golden Hour, Margaret Wurtele

    Breathing Room, Susan Elizabeth Phillips

    Cooking with Fernet Branca, James Hamilton-Patterson

    I, Mona Lisa, Jeanne Kalogridis

    Romola, George Eliot

    The Passion of Artemisia, Susan Vreeland

    The Birth of Venus, Sarah Dunant

     

    Nonfiction:

    Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture, Ross King

    Dark Water: Flood and Redemption in Florence – the City of Masterpieces, Robert Clark

    Tuscan Countess: The Life and Extraordinary Times of Matilda of Canossa, Michele K. Spike

    The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall, Christopher Hibbert

    The Stones of Florence by Mary McCarthy

     

    Memoir:

    War in Val D’Orcia: An Italian War Diary, 1943-1944, Iris Origo

    Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of an Italian Life, Frances Mayes

    The Hills of Tuscany: A New Life in an Old Land, Ferenc Máté