EXPERIENCE THE ROMANCE OF TRAVEL ON TWO RAILS
Our train-based itineraries provide nostalgic insights into Italy’s culture, people and landscape. Let the train take the strain with Michelangelo!
Gain an insight into a bygone era of Tuscan life.
Enjoy a trip through the unique rolling countryside on a vintage steam train and experience a genuine village festival.
Each week sees a different festival hosted by a different village, each with a specific feature. A vintage train provides the historic means to discover the hidden gems of the hills surrounding Siena.
Day 1 Arrival
Day 2 Montepulciano, Bagno Vignoni and a pecorino cheese tasting in Pienza (approx 50 km/ 30 miles)
The dignified renaissance character of the lovely cityscape of Montepulciano is reflected in the countless exquisite palaces which line the streets. Enjoy the historical flair of the gorgeous Piazza Grande before we continue on to Pienza where we will visit a pecorino cheese producer in order to sample this wonderful cheese. After our sampling we make our way to Bagno Vignoni. Unlike many towns, where a town square dominates the centre, here you will find a large thermal pool. In medieval times and during the Renaissance Bagno Vignoni was a beautiful thermal spa. The picturesque setting of this small spa has attracted many famous artists and film makers ever since.
Day 3 Visit Cortona to enjoy a typical lunch and on to Arezzo (approx 120 km / 70 miles)
We will discover Cortona today, a true gem of a place and one of the most important cities of the ancient Etruscans. We will enjoy a nice lunch of traditional local produce in a restaurant before moving on duly refreshed, to visit Arezzo, where, in particular we will visit the 12th century church of Santa Maria with its impressive bell tower and the Piazza Grande, which is the venue for the famous Joust of the Saracens, an annual medieval contest.
Day 4 Perugia and Assisi (approx 290 km / 180 miles)
The centre of Perugia has hardly changed at all since the Middle Ages. The houses rise up like a crown perched on top of a hill. Perugia has a rich treasure trove of sights throughout the ages, all of which you will discover with a local guide. We then continue on to Assisi, the birthplace of St Francis, whose art and religious sites have charmed visitors from all over the world. We will visit the basilica with its excellent frescoes by Giotto, the Town Square and the churches of St Clare and San Ruffino.
Day 5 Trip on a vintage steam train to the Festival
It should surprise no one that Tuscany is one of Italy’s most popular regions. Its wonderful gently rolling landscape is the perfect backdrop for its ancient traditions, art and culture and a wonderful culinary heritage. Today we will take a trip down memory lane as we board a vintage steam train for a journey into the unique hilly countryside around Siena. We will then pass through the characteristic old villages of the picturesque UNESCO listed Orcia Valley and will steam along the flanks Italy’s second tallest volcano, the 1732m high Monte Amiata. The pleasant train journey is a particular highlight as the gentle rattling motion takes us back in time , as we pass through untouched landscapes. We will leave our vintage mode of transport at one of several quaint train stations where we will give ourselves over to a journey of discovery of the region‘s Carnivals before boarding the train once again to return to Siena.
The exact timetable and destination depends on your chosen departure date. Details of the particular Carnival can be found under the heading Carnivals on the right.
Day 6 Departure
Hotel accomodation in 4* hotel in Chianciano Terme
26.09. - 01.10.2019 Val d'Arbia Village Festival in Buonconvento
Traditionally at the end of every summer Buonconvento hosts a large festival. The whole village celebrates the “SAGRA DELLA VALDARBIA”, a festival which gives thanks for the countryside, the changing of the seasons and its fruitfulness, with the aim of preserving the old ways of doing things and the tastes of yesteryear.
The "Valdarbia Festival" offers the chance to experience a variety of cultural and social events including exhibitions of works of art, congresses, childrens workshops and nightly shows which provide entertainment. In addition to this during the daytime, whilst the Festival is on, the Mezzadria Museum and Museum of Sacred Art are open to the public, free of charge.
This Festival is heaven for those who want to immerse themselves into a world of flavours and rich aromas, and who are seeking inspiration from the wisdom of the old fashioned ways of life, which have so shaped and moulded this incredble part of the world.
10.10. - 15.10.2019 Autumn festival in Abbadia San Salvatore
The rich pot pourri of colours and aromas of a Tuscan Autumn greet you in Abbadia San Salvatore.
The Autumn Festival takes place in the characteristic heart of the old town and a broad range of both culinary and social interactions awaits the visitor. You will be able to sample rich autumnal fruits of the area and typical local products like chestnuts, mushrooms, pork and traditional desserts. A range of exhibitions, folk plays and musical events round off the Festival offering. We will experience a day given over completely to the celebration of the produce of the land, a true Harvest Festival where the intense flavours of the mountains are much in evidence, and where skilled local artisans ply their wares.
More information about ABBADIA SAN SALVATORE: The Abbey of San Salvatore was founded in 743 AD, giving rise to the place name still existing today. Legend has it that the Abbey was built on the exact location where King Rachis of the Longobards saw the Holy Trinity on a Silbertanne. This story is depicted in the church frescoes. Of particular note is the Crypt with 32 individually crafted columns none of which are alike. Interestingly this Abbey was home for nearly 1000 years to the Codex Amiatinus, originally produced in Britain as a gift for the Pope at the start of the 8th Century. It remains to this day one of the oldest surviving versions of the Catholic Bible ever created, and is currently kept in Florence.
In the second half of the 19th Century Mount Amiata mercury was mined for industry. Vermilion was mined and refined to produce mercury. It is possible to visit one of these mines in the "Parco Museo Minerario" Museum which was in operation until 1972. Today you can descend into the tunnels accompanied by a forner miner as guide, who will tell all about the life of a miner and the conditions found underground.
10.10. - 15.10.2019 Mushroom Festival in Castiglione d'Orcia
Come with us to experience the autumnal colours and aromas of the Amiata forests in Vivo d'Orcia.
Vivo d’Orcia, at 930m, is the highest lying village in the whole Amiata region and is surrounded by chestnut groves. The view alone out on to the gently rolling autumnal landscape is worth the trip. Here the traditional mushroom and chestnut festival takes place on the third weekend in October, and this offers a great chance to savour the local produce. The various stalls are filled with tasty locally crafted produce to buy. You will also find displays of mushrooms and you will have the opportunity to have a refreshing walk into the traditional chestnut groves.
On the Sunday there is an entertaining woodcutting competition which takes place in the in the hermitage of the medieval town of Borgo. 2 teams of woodcutters from two separate parts of the town compete against each other. Each team consists of 6 participants and is equpped with 1 tree trunk, 2 saws, a polenta kettle and a table. The aim of this curious event is to cut 6 stumps as stools and to form 6 wooden plates from the trunk, while their 2 remaining colleagues prepare a polenta. The first team to sit at the table and eat is the winner!.
17.10. - 22.10.2019 Olive Oil Festival in Trequanda
The medieval village of Trequanda sits proudly on top of a hill and is visible to visitors from a distance as they arrive from the Chiana Valley. This view has remained unchanged over the centuries. The village can not only count on countless works of art and architecture as evidence of its ancient history but this long history has also shaped their way of life, farming traditions and produce, not least the production of olive oil.
It is the celebration of this liquid gold which is at the forefront of this Festival. On one October weekend there is a range of events between the villages of Trequanda and Castelmuzio dedicated to the production of the extra virgin olive oil which include markets, get togethers and of course all manner of different sorts of produce to sample
The festival begins on Friday in Castelmuzio, a district of Trequanda, with a visit to the local oil mills and continues on until Sunday with many games, shows and street markets to entertain visitors. Sunday sees the climax of the festival with the ceremonial tasting of the season’s new produce. In addition to this, there are countless gastronomic delights on hand in the stalls, and there are many musical interludes and other interesting sideshows to keep everyone entertained.
24.10. - 29.10.2019 Medieval Festival in Montalcino
Enjoy tasty treats whist taking in the medieval atmosphere of Montalcino.
Montalcino hosted its inaugural medieval festival of modern times back in 1958 and was one of the first towns in the area to recognise the potential of festivals to stimulate tourism.
The last weekend in October has become a special annual event, which takes part in the beautiful centre of Montalcino. The full programme of events does not only include the sampling of tasty dishes but also incorporates an archery competition between the four districts making up the town. This event, which incorporates colourful parades in ornate medieval costumes, is accompanied by traditional dance troupes and leans on the enthusiastic support from all the towns people.
The event has become something of an institition for the inhabitants of the Province of Siena and further afield. Crowds of people stream in to the town every year to view the spectacle of the medieval competition and to enjoy the local specialities on offer in the stalls, set up in the shadow of the town’s fortications. There is a huge range of locally sourced food on offer, all accompanied by the Great Red wines of Montalcino. A real treat for the senses!
07.11.2019 - 12.11.2019 Market festival of the White Truffle in San Giovanni d'Asso
The so-called ‘‘White Gold“ of Tuscany, the white truffle, is at the heart of this particular festival. You can find many places where this much prized and rare edible fungus can be found in the unique landscape of the Crete Senesi and in particular in the area of the small town of San Giovanni d’Asso.
A Festival incorporating a large market has been running here annually on the second weekend of November since 1985. A diverse side show incorporating tastings, seminars, musical performances and truffle hunting competitions offers visitors a really interesting and unique day out. Local restaurants, butchers and other suppliers offer a range of fresh and high quality produce, all themed around the truffle. The air is thick with the incomparable essence of the truffle, which wafts through the whole town during the culinary Festival.
Italy’s first Truffle Museum opened in San Giovanni d’Asso in 2007. The exhibition which is located in the town’s old 14th Century fortress, takes visitors on aninteresting and educational journey of discovery about the truffle.