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Premium Golden Week in Florence and Italian Riviera - For Women Only
time 10 Days / 8 Nights

Florence (4 nights), Santa Margherita Ligure (4)

Exclusive Small Group Tour Led by Author Susan Van Allen —14 guests maximum

Join Susan Van Allen, author of 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go, for a Premium Golden Week in two extraordinary locations, Florence and the Italian Riviera. This 8-night adventure is custom-designed for women to enjoy Italian pleasures to the max. We'll stay in luxury hotels, dine in top traditional restaurants, meet locals in artisan shops, enjoy a cooking class and ceramic painting workshop, and discover a range of beautiful places: the treasures of art and architecture in Florence, enchanting coastal villages of the Italian Riviera, including chic Portofino, and the stunning Cinque Terre.

This is a Gift of La Dolce Vita=the Sweet Life, custom-designed and led by Susan so that women can fully experience Italy's rejuvenating pleasures.

inclusionAt a Glance
  • Saturday - Depart USA - Andiamo!
  • Sunday - Welcome to Your Golden Week
  • Monday - Taste Tuscany
  • Tuesday - Discover Florence and Its Treasures
  • Wednesday - Be a Florentine Artisan/Marvel at Masterpieces
  • Thursday - La Dolce Vita in Florence / Welcome to Santa Margherita Ligure
  • Friday - Full day in Extraordinary Cinque Terre
  • Saturday - Delights of Artisan Lace in Santa Margherita Ligure / Discover Delicious Rapallo & Chic Portofino
  • Sunday - Experience Magical San Fruttuoso / Sunset in Camogli
  • Monday - Arrivederci!
dates Itinerary
Click on the plus sign for full day description.

Board your overnight flight and you're off to your exciting Premium Golden Week in Florence and Italian Riviera! 
*Flights are not included in the price of this package.  We are happy to arrange them for you.

Benvenuta! You’ll be met by our driver at the Florence airport or train station, then transported to your home for the week: the Plaza Hotel Lucchesi. It’s a luxurious, historical property from 1860, set right on the Arno, close to the Ponte Vecchio bridge and Piazza Santa Croce, and a short walk to the Piazza Duomo.
In the evening we’ll gather for an aperitivo to toast the week ahead, savoring our first tastes of Tuscany’s beloved wine. I’ll give you tips about keeping a travel journal, so you can create a treasured souvenir of your week through journaling. We’ll dine nearby, enjoying specialties of this harvest season, the first of many memorable meals.

Meals Included: D

Buongiorno! Wake up and smell the caffe. An abundant buffet breakfast awaits in the riverside dining room...get used to such elegance for the rest of the week.
Then we’re off for a culinary adventure to immerse ourselves in the delicious flavors of Tuscany. An expert chef will lead us through a local market, followed by a hands-on cooking class to learn Florentine specialties, including pasta-making. We’ll have a leisurely lunch from the fruits of our labors.
In the evening, you can stroll through the historic center at twilight and have dinner on your own, with my recommendations of delicious choices.

Meals Included: B, L

After a lovely breakfast, we’ll go deeper into exploring the range of treasures that abound in Florence. In the morning, we’ll follow our entertaining local guide on a walk through the historic center, stopping at the Piazza Signoria and Piazza Duomo to admire the amazing architecture, enjoying a caffe in the Piazza Repubblica, and then we’ll land at the first Florentine Basilica, that glorifies its feminine inspiration: Santa Maria Novella. Highlights inside include gorgeous Renaissance fresco cycles in the Tornabuoni and Spanish Chapels. We’ll end our tour at the Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy, a wonderland of beauty products that was founded by the basilica’s Dominican monks over 400 years ago.
There will be free time for lunch and shopping on your own, before we meet in the late afternoon for a visit to the Accademia Gallery to stand awestruck before one of the world’s greatest sculptures: Michelangelo’s David.
The evening is on your own, to enjoy an optional journal writing workshop, perhaps a sunset aperitivo on the hotel’s divine rooftop, and dinner with my recommendations.

Meals Included: B

Ceramic making has been a tradition in Florence since Renaissance days. This morning we’ll enjoy a hands-on experience of this craft at Sbigoli Terrecotte, a family run shop that’s been turning out masterpieces since 1857. An artisan will lead us in learning the basics of ceramic painting, and each of us will create a piece to take home for a precious souvenir.

There will be a break for shopping, sight-seeing, and lunch at your leisure.

This afternoon we’ll visit one of the world's most famous museums: the Uffizi Gallery. We’ll be guided through splendid rooms, focusing on masterpieces that glorify females—by such greats as Giotto, Botticelli, and da Vinci, and take a leisurely break at the terrace caffe, with its magnificent view.

Tonight, a fortifying Florentine meal may fit the bill. Those who wish to join me for a Dutch treat dinner may come along to one of my favorite trattorias, where the specialty is bistecca=beefsteak, exquisitely done in lively surroundings.

Meals Included: B

This morning is yours to experience the wonders of Florence, according to your desires. I’ll be on hand to recommend sights, museums, and shops you may want to visit, as well as places for you to have a delicious lunch on your own.

After lunch, we’ll depart Florence and head through the stunning countryside to Santa Margherita Ligure.

We’ll arrive in Santa Margherita Ligure in the late afternoon and check into the Hotel Continentale. The views from your room’s balcony will take your breath away: sparkling harbor, elegant palm trees, and wonderful town. You’ll have time to get settled, have a sunset cocktail, and then we’ll enjoy a delicious dinner of Ligurian specialties at the hotel’s restaurant.

Meals Included: B, D

The extraordinary stretch of coastline called the Cinque Terre (meaning Five Lands), is comprised of five colorful fishing villages that cling to the rugged coastline, surrounded by vineyards and terraced gardens. With our guide, we’ll have an insider’s experience of these unique villages, traveling by train and/or ferries to see such wonders as the Gothic Church of Santa Margherita in Vernazza and the Capuchin Monastery in Monterosso, stopping along the way to take in breathtaking views. There will be free time to wander the enchanting pathways of the villages with our guidance, for shopping, a caffe break, and lunch on your own.
After this exhilarating day, we’ll transfer back to Santa Margherita Ligure, where you can enjoy the sunset and a relaxing dinner at the hotel or harbor.

Meals Included: B

This morning we’ll have a walk through the town of Santa Margherita Ligure, with a stop at the artisan workshop of a local signora who continues a tradition of lacemaking that began here hundreds of years ago. The delicate art of lacemaking matches the beauty of this town, and you’ll also have time on your own to enjoy its stunning baroque church, caffes, and shopping in its lovely boutiques.
From here we’ll be transported by private driver to the seaside resort town of Rapallo, a destination that was beloved by poets Yeats and Ezra Pound. You’ll have time to admire its 16th century castle, stroll through the historic center with its enticing shops, and have lunch on your own.
After lunch, we’ll ferry to chic Portofino, “The Pearl of the Italian Riviera”, that’s a choice yacht stop for jetsetters.  You’ll enjoy discovering beautiful terraced gardens, legendary boutiques, and perhaps take a break at one of the bars that line its picture-perfect harbor.
We’ll return to Santa Margherita Ligure by ferry, where the evening is at your leisure, to enjoy dinner at a range of restaurants—from lively pizzerias to chic upscale restaurants.

Meals Included: B

This morning is free for you to experience Santa Margherita Ligure according to your desires. You may opt for a swim at the hotel’s private beach and lunch on the terrace, a spa treatment, journal writing workshop, shopping in town, or visiting the elegantly decorated Villa Durazzo and its surrounding gardens.
In the afternoon, we’ll take a short ferry ride to one of the most magical spots on the Ligurian coastline: San Fruttuoso. This secluded bay can only be reached by boat or hiking. The setting is dreamlike: sparkling turquoise waters and a stunning 10th century Abbey which we’ll tour with our guide.
We’ll continue by boat to the village of Camogli, that got its name from case delle mogli=house of wives”, as it was a fishing village named for the women who managed things here while their husbands were away at sea. The soul of Camogli from days gone by remains—the harbor is full of fishing boats, there are little shops where Liguria’s best focaccia is fresh-baked, and artisan workshops. Camogli is ideal to visit at sunset, so we’ll settle in at a traditional seaside restaurant, to enjoy our Farewell Dinner with a marvelous view.

After dinner, we’ll be transported by private driver back to Santa Margherita Ligure.
*In case of bad sea/weather, the visit to San Fruttuoso bay will be replaced with a visit to the villas and gardens of Santa Margherita Ligure village.
Meals included: B, D

Our driver will transport you to the Genoa airport or train station, where you’ll depart with Golden Memories of our week together...

Meals Included: B