Join international artist, Kathy Rennell Forbes for watercolor journaling in Tuscany and Le Marche, Italy with international nonprofit, Go Eat Give. Soak in and paint picturesque scenery, farm life and historic villages. Be inspired to capture rolling hills, Medieval buildings, and olive harvests in your travel journal and photos. Receive individual art instruction, taste authentic food, meet local artists, and volunteer at the farm.
Dates: Oct 31 – Nov 7, 2015
Cost: $3,790 per person. Non refundable deposit $250 due upon registration. Double occupancy only.
Optional Add-on: 3 days exploring art and culture in Florence $999 per person, Nov 7-10. Includes airport transfer; Accommodation in three star hotel with breakfast; Private tours and entrances to museums; Hands-on fresco painting class with professor of art history/fresco painting; Full day private walking tour with art historian. Single occupancy available for Florence option for additional fees.
This trip is SOLD OUT. To inquire about a future trip or book a group tour to Italy, contact email@example.com or 678-744-8306.
Day by Day Itinerary:
Getting there: The trip begin and ends in Florence, Italy.
Oct 31, Saturday – Florence to Montestigliano
Meet at the Santa Maria Novella main train station in Florence (Firenze), from where you will be transferred to Montestigliano by van. During the 2 hour drive, you will see the interiors of Tuscany, wineries of Chianti and Super Tuscan. Montestigliano, is a privately-owned farm estate spread over 2,475 acres. Cypress avenues, olive groves, fig trees and rolling hills spread out before your eyes. Here, there are no tourist attractions, long lines or chaotic restaurants. Each morning, a home chef comes to the villa with a basket of supplies picked fresh from the neighboring farms and prepares authentic Italian meals, which we often eat with some of the family members residing at the estate. The farmers who once lived and worked here formerly occupied each of the 11 homes with their families. Since then, these homes have been converted into villas that are rented out on a weekly basis.
Check in to one of your magnificent 17th-century Tuscan farmhouses restored with modern day amenities. Free time to relax and journal.
Dinner at Montestigliano.
Nov 1, Sunday – Olive Oil Tasting and Olive Harvesting
- Breakfast at your villa.
- Guided tour of the olive groves, demonstration on olive oil harvesting and olive oil tasting with Massimo Donati, the farmer in the family.
- Bruschetta and salads for lunch outside in the main courtyard.
- Volunteer olive harvesting and Free time to paint.
- Dinner at the farm.
Nov 2, Monday – Montestigliano and Siena
- Morning painting (colors are beautiful as the sun is coming up).
- Light Breakfast at the Villa.
- Lunch at Montestigliano.
- Stroll in Siena pointing out areas of interest and history. Free time to paint.
- Barbeque Italian-style dinner at Montestigliano’s farm.
Nov 3, Tuesday
- Breakfast at the farm.
- Transfer to spot for painting.
- Lunch at La Bottega di Stigliano, a new market stocked with indigenous products. We will visit with local producers and hear about their history and struggles to renew the availability of these local products.
- Painting or free afternoon to relax. Possible spot: Spannocchia: a special farm where the famous Cinta Senesi pigs are bred and raised. This particular breed of pig was most likely bred since Roman times but it has been written about since the early Middle Ages. The meat is known for its tenderness and is often used in special Italian salami.
- Dinner at Montestigliano/Pipistrelli.
Nov 4, Wednesday – Mercatello sul Metauro
- Departure from Villa Pipistrelli to Mercatello sul Metauro for Palazzo Donati. The 2.5 hour drive will take you through countryside hidden in the enchanted upper valley of the River Metauro, an area waiting to be discovered, away from the classic tourist routes of neighboring Tuscany and Umbria.
- Stop in Arezzo to visit the Piero della Francesca Frescos in San Francesco. Light snack (not included) in the pretty centre of Arezzo.
- Arrival at Palazzo Donati. Check in and settle at the property.
- Tour of Mercatello. Many visitors to Italy have enjoyed the wonders of Tuscany, but relatively few have discovered and experienced the unique charms of neighboring Le Marche. Le Marche is the region in east-central Italy nestled between Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, and Umbria. Our destination is the bustling village of Mercatello sul Metauro, located at the foot of the Tuscan-Umbrian- Apennine mountains, only a couple of hours east of Florence. Luisa Donati invites you to share some time with her at Palazzo Donati, her family’s home, which dates to the 1600s. Situated on the main square of Mercatello sul Metauro, Palazzo Donati is a private home upgraded with modern amenities. Luisa opens the doors to her family’s Palazzo and invites you to enter the peace and authenticity of a by-gone time. You’ll discover and experience a way of life which preserves the grace and culture of the Renaissance, in a small town largely undiscovered by tourists.
- Officially founded in 1235 with the construction of walls surrounding the hamlet, the town originally included residents living in seven castles spread throughout the region. Since the 12th century, Mercatello has been an important spiritual center, thanks to its history of monasticism, the birth of its patron saint Veronica Giuliani (1660-1727) and of the Blessed Margherita della Metola (1287-1320). In the great era of the Italian Renaissance, the village was part of the Duchy of Urbino. The duke Federico of Montefeltro, celebrated patron of the arts and sciences, built his summer residence here..
- Dinner at Il Girone dei Golosi, a local restaurant, featuring local food artfully prepared.
Nov 5, Thursday – Urbino
- Breakfast at Franchino’s, a local bar.
- Paint the landscape of Piero della Francesca.
- Lunch in Urbania at La pieve del Colle.
- Walk through the Urbino Palace and some independent walking through Urbino.
- Special dinner at Palazzo Donati with the Accademia del Padlot, an association of 9 local men dedicated to food and wine tasting. This group of men rarely prepares food for outside groups, preferring to cook for themselves and their close family and friends. This is an incredible evening filled with great food and laughter.
Nov 6, Friday – All about Truffles
- Breakfast at Franchino.
- Truffle hunting demonstration. We will follow a local hunter and his pretty dog and we will learn all about his dog training and his adventures to find its Majesty, the white truffle.
- Light lunch at Palazzo Donati.
- FREE time to paint along the river Metauro.
- Dinner with truffles at local restaurant in Mercatello.
Nov 7, Saturday – Arrivederci or Florence
- 9:30 am Departure from Mercatello by van; Arrival in Florence around 12 noon. Drop off at airport
- Add on travelers, check in to hotel in Florence.
- Art history walking tour of Florence with guide.
An early sampling-dinner along the Arno River, with a beautiful view of the river and the old bridge.
- Guided tour of Piazza Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio & Uffizi gallery.
- Free time for lunch.
- Stroll in Bardini Gardens.
Hands-on fresco painting workshop with an artisan.
- Tour at the famous Central food market, Medici Chapels & Duomo complex.
- Free time for lunch near the Church of S. Croce.
Continue to extending stay in Florence or to your onward destination.
Optional activity – look-out point above Florence at Piazzale Michelangelo & Church of S. Miniato al Monte
Nov 10, Tuesday- Arrivederci
- Check out & transfer to airport.
Off the Beaten Path in Italy’s Small Towns by Sucheta Rawal for The Huffington Post