Trip Type : Small Group Tour
Leaning Tower of Pisa-Italy-1056568-_1920_p

Cinque Terre, Carrara and Medieval Hill Towns

Road Scholar Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
4.6 . Excellent
89%
Travel Style: You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level: Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
12 days
From: $ 3,199 $ 267 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights

  • Discover how inhabitants carved vineyard terraces along the steep mountainside in the Cinque Terre
  • Walk scenic paths with breathtaking vistas of the mountains that plunge into the Mediterranean sea
  • Consider the experiences of Romantic English poets who lived near and were inspired by the bay of Lerici

Short Description

Explore the Cinque Terre — the Italian Riviera’s colorful villages carved above the Mediterranean Sea — and learn about medieval life, Michelangelo and the history of nearby Lerici.

Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
Trip Type Small Group Tour
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value - 3 star
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City Pisa, Italy
End City Pisa, Italy

Trip Includes

  • 10 nights of accommodations
  • 5 expert-led lectures
  • 15 expert-led field trips
  • An experienced Group Leader
  • Customary gratuities throughout the program
  • Road Scholar Assurance Plan
  • Taxes

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Itinerary

Day 1

In Transit to Program

In Flight

Day 2

Meals: Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme

Arrive Pisa, Neighborhood Walk, Welcome Reception

Activity note: Hotel check in 3:00 p.m.

Lunch: At the hotel, we will have a buffet lunch with a variety of salads, cheeses, fresh fruit, and focaccia bread plus a glass of local white or red wine; water included, other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We’ll then check in to the hotel. After you get your room, take some time to freshen up then meet back in the hotel lobby at 4:00 p.m. for an orientation walk with our Group Leader in the neighborhood to identify ATMs, pharmacies, stores, restaurants, etc. Walking in and around the seaside town of Lerici, we’ll have spectacular views of the castle from the outside courtyard. Our short walk will circle back to the hotel where we will gather for a welcome drink.

Dinner: At a restaurant in town, we’ll have a plated set meal; water included, other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day tomorrow.

Day 3

Orientation, Walk to San Terenzo, Welcome to Liguria

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles. The pedestrian-only path to the castle is all uphill with steps and uneven stone pavement.

Breakfast: In the hotel’s 6th-floor breakfast room, the buffet offers choices such as an egg dish, waffles, cold cuts, cheeses, cereals, yogurt, fruit, croissant, focaccia, pastries, jam, milk, juice, coffee, tea, water. Enjoy the view of the marina and castle.

Morning: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Transportation during the program will be via motorcoach unless specified otherwise. Breakfasts will be buffets. Other included meals will be primarily plated and served from a set regional menu with water included and other beverages available for purchase. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Next, we’ll go on a walking field trip with our Group Leader in and around Lerici including the massive castle that dates from 1241. The castle is perched on a bay that is part of the Golfo della Spezia (Gulf of La Spezia), also known as the Golfo Poeti (Gulf of Poets) for the writers and poets who have found this a treasured spot for centuries, including Dante, Petrarch, Byron, and Shelley. We will explore areas of the castle and enjoy beautiful views of the bay before returning to the hotel.

Lunch: We will walk along the seaside promenade to a restaurant in San Terenzo and have a plated meal with an assortment of seafood and vegetable antipasti, a pasta dish, glass of wine, and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Back at the hotel, a local expert will provide an introduction to the region of Liguria, discussing its geography, history as a maritime power, role in the World War II Resistance Movement, and UNESCO World Heritage sites. From the UNESCO inscription: “The Ligurian coast between Cinque Terre and Portovenere is a cultural landscape of great scenic and cultural value. The layout and disposition of the small towns and the shaping of the surrounding landscape, overcoming the disadvantages of a steep, uneven terrain, encapsulate the continuous history of human settlement in this region over the past millennium.”

Dinner: At a pizzeria on the waterfront in Lerici, we’ll enjoy a variety of pizzas; choice of soft drink, beer, wine, and water; other beverages available for purchase. In addition to pizza “classica” there are local favorites that have won awards at the World Pizza Championships.

Evening: At leisure.

Day 4

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme

Culinary Tradition in Liguria

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll gather for a presentation by a local expert on culinary traditions of Liguria and Lunigiana — the northwest corner of Tuscany — areas known for their fruity olive oil, aromatic herbs, seafood, and wine. We’ll than take a short walk to the dock for our boat ride across the Bay of Lerici to Portovenere.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Free Time.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated set meal featuring regional dishes including savory meat and vegetables; a glass of wine and water included, other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to take a walk in town and stop for a hot beverage or gelato.

Day 5

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme

Boat Excursion to the Cinque Terre

Activity note: Getting on/off boat. Boat ride to Monterosso 1.5 hours. Walking in the villages up to 2 miles over stone pavement, inclines and unavoidable steps. Boat ride from Monterosso to Vernazza 1/4 hour; return ride from Vernazza to Lerici 1.5 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Transportation to La Spezia where we board a chartered passenger motorboat. First stop is Portovenere where we meet the local guide who leads the stroll along the tightly stacked houses, colorful and tall, that were constructed in a row as an impenetrable fortress. The expert-led walk continues to the marina and to the 12th century chapel set on the promontory that juts out into the sea. The rocky Byron Grotto is dedicated to Lord Byron who once swam the waters of Portovenere. The heart of Portovenere is closed to traffic and has a mix of shops, art galleries and cafés.

Lunch: On board the boat. Plates of sandwiches, salads, focaccia, and fruit will be served family style. Water and soft drinks included. Wine and beer are not served on board.

Afternoon: We set out on the open sea to the Cinque Terre, marveling at the sight of the rocky coast and terraced vineyards of the five villages. In case of inclement weather or dangerous sea conditions, the group leader will make every effort to switch the date of the boat excursion. We will dock at the quaint village of Vernazza and Monterosso, the northernmost village. A local expert will lead a walking field trip as we explore the beachfront and inner narrow streets lined with colorful houses and shops. Boat back to Lerici late afternoon.

Dinner: On your own.

Evening: At leisure. You might enjoy a walk along the seafront.

Day 6

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme

Pontremoli, Fosdinovo, Ancient Monoliths, Winery

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. The drive to Pontremoli is 30 miles, 1/2 hour. Walking up to 3 miles in the traffic-free town and to the museum.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll gather for a classroom session with a local expert to learn how the traditions of booksellers and pilgrim routes in Lunigiana that date back to the Middle Ages are still flourishing today. After a break, we’ll board a motorcoach and ride to Pontremoli in Lunigiana. We will start our exploration of Pontremoli with a walking field trip along the traffic-free country lane. Our local expert will provide some historical background on the town, apparent in its medieval bridges, baroque residences, and elegant coffee shops. Our walk will end at the edge of town with a stunning panorama of the surrounding countryside. A local expert will lead our exploration of the 11th-century Castle of Piagnaro that houses the recently renovated Museum of Statue Stele, prehistoric monoliths of human figures found in the area.

Lunch: At Antica Trattoria Pelliccia in Pontremoli, we’ll have a plated set meal featuring local specialties; a glass of wine and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will continue our exploration of Pontremoli with a walking field trip along the traffic-free, cobblestoned streets. Our local expert will provide some historical background on the town, apparent in its medieval bridges, baroque residences, and elegant coffee shops. Our walk will end at the edge of town with a stunning panorama of the surrounding countryside. Moving on down towards the coast, we will arrive at a winery in the low hills above Luni. The winery includes a small museum we’ll explore to see tools used in tending the vineyards, harvesting, pressing, ageing, and bottling the final product.

Dinner: At the winery, we’ll have a family-style meal of tasty local products with Lunigiana wines; water included, other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure.

Day 7

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme

Medieval Castle, Cooking Demonstration

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. The drive to the agriturismo in Licciana Nardi is 24 miles, 40 minutes along winding hilly country roads. Drive to Castiglione del Terziere is 13 miles and takes 30 minutes over winding back roads. Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day over uneven sidewalks paved with cobblestones. Unavoidable steps to access and stairs within the medieval castle. Coach ride back to the hotel is 24 miles, 45 minutes.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will set out for the Lunigiana hills for a cooking demonstration and visit of an agriturismo. What is an agriturismo? These are typically independently-owned farms that offer accommodations and meals as an adjunct to farming. The food is farm fresh! The working farm Montagna Verde is set in 1500 acres of reserve at the foot of the Apennine Mountain range. Our hosts welcome us with a a cooking demonstration and then a walking visit of the medieval hamlet of Apella where we peek into the chestnut-drying rooms.

Lunch: At the agriturismo, we’ll have a plated set meal of farm to table dishes; local wine and water included. Some of the dishes we will sample are chestnut flour gnocchi and a flan of ancient grains.

Afternoon: Our excursion continues by coach to a medieval castle Castiglione del Terziere where the current owner leads the visit of the residence/fortress set within a hamlet once dominated by the Malaspina family Coach back to the hotel in Lerici.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions for everything from small plates at a wine bar to a full-course dinner at a trattoria or restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

Day 8

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme

Poets of the Gulf, Tellaro

Activity note: Getting on/off a public bus. Walking up to 4 miles, including 2 miles along a paved road with light vehicular traffic, gradual incline of 300 ft., and unavoidable steps.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll be joined by a local expert who will lead a classroom session on English poets and writers who lived around the Gulf of La Spezia and for whom the natural harbor is called the “Gulf of Poets.” After a short break, we’ll board a public bus and ride to Tellaro, a colorful village at the eastern end of the Gulf of La Spezia. Tellaro is designated as one of the “Borghi più belli d’Italia” (most beautiful villages in Italy). We’ll take a leisurely stroll with our local expert along the narrow paved path that winds down to the marina and the small church dedicated to St. George. One of the colorful local legends is that in 1660, a giant octopus saved the village from marauding Saracen pirates by ringing the church bell to warn the people.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Tellaro, we’ll have a plated set meal featuring authentic pasta al pesto made from local olive oil and fragrant Ligurian basil; a traditional glass of white wine and water are included, other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Our local expert will walk back with us along the paved road that connects Tellaro and Lerici. There are no sidewalks but the traffic is light and pedestrian-friendly. The walk takes about an hour including stops to enjoy panoramic vistas of the sea below. Those who prefer may return by public bus.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

Day 9

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme

Cinque Terre Winery, Scenic Vineyard Walk

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach and train. The 1 hour drive to the vineyard is 25 miles along narrow winding country roads. Walking up to 4 miles; steep inclines, uneven pavement and gravel path. From motorcoach drop-off point, elective short walk on narrow, uneven path to terraced vineyard; single file, no railings, benches available for those who opt out of the optional walk in the vineyards which loops back to the starting point. Train ride takes 15 minutes; coach ride to Lerici 40 minutes.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We’ll board a motorcoach and ride up into the hills above the Gulf of La Spezia and begin our walk in the Volastra hillside. During our walk, we’ll visit the Cinque Terre Cooperative winery and experience first-hand the terraced vineyards and local wine products. Yes, we’ll taste wines! Re-boarding the motorcoach, we’ll ride the short distance to Manarola, one of the five villages of the Cinque Terre.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like in Manarola among the focaccerias, cafés, and trattorias.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll explore the village of Manarola with our local expert and walk along a scenic path with vistas of the village perched on the mountain that drops into the sea. Our walk will take us to the marina and promenade around the promontory for excellent photo opportunities of the colorful village before we head to the train station. Boarding the public train in Manarola, we’ll ride a short distance to another village of the Cinque Terre and learn how terraces were built by the local population. We’ll then take the train to La Spezia and transfer to the motorcoach for the ride back to Lerici.

Dinner: At a local restaurant specializing in seafood, we’ll have a plated set meal featuring seafood dishes; glass of wine and water included, other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to take a stroll along Lerici's seafront promenade right outside the hotel.

Day 10

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Shelley e delle Palme

Life in Italy Today, Free Time

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: With a local expert, we’ll learn about institutions and traditions that prevail in Italy today. Among the topics we’ll discuss are the education system, health care, and the role of the family, plus Q&A.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity to see and do what interests you most.

Dinner: At a restaurant on Lerici seafront, we’ll have a plated set meal featuring seafood dishes; glass of wine and water included, other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Day 11

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Bologna

Carrara Marble Quarries, Transfer to Pisa

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. The drive from Lerici to the marble quarries is 18 miles, 1 hour along steep, winding narrow road. Drive from Carrara to Pisa is 45 miles, 40 minutes on highway. Walking up to 2 miles total and standing at field trip sites; dirt path at quarry, slight incline. Walk from the hotel to Leaning Tower in Pisa 1 mile; city sidewalks, mostly flat, some uneven stone pavers.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: A local expert will give us a classroom presentation on Michelangelo and Carrara marble. The artist — who considered himself primarily a sculptor rather than a painter — traveled to the quarries of Carrara dozens of times during his lifetime to select the blocks of characteristic white marble he wanted. After checking out of the hotel, we’ll board a motorcoach for the ride to Carrara at the foot of the Apuan Alps. We’ll visit a sculptors' workshop (work schedules permitting). With a local expert, we’ll ride on to the still active marble quarries and learn the fascinating technique of modern stone excavation. In recent years, nearly a million tons of marble have been removed annually, resulting in a battle between environmentalists and companies that extract the stone.

Lunch: At a wine bar/restaurant in the heart of Carrara, we’ll have a set meal featuring a variety of antipasti served family style including the thick tomato soup known in Tuscany as pappa al pomodoro; glass of wine and water included, other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: A local expert will lead a walk through Carrara’s main square where we will see historic as well as modern marble monuments. We’ll then board the motorcoach for late afternoon check-in at our hotel in Pisa. After some time to freshen up, we’ll walk to the Piazza dei Miracoli where the white marble of the Cathedral, Baptistery, and Leaning Tower contrast with the manicured green lawns of the square.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated set meal; glass of wine and water included, other beverages available for purchase. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner as we drink a toast and bid arrivederci Italia.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

Day 12

Meals: Breakfast

Program Concludes

Activity note: Hotel check out 11:00 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. For those with early morning departures, the hotel will prepare a bag breakfast with a roll or pastry, fruit, and juice. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!

Availability

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Price From $ 3,199
Price Per Day: $ 267 per day
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  • Single Supplement (Single Occupancy): $ 700

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38 Road Scholar Travel Reviews & Ratings

89%
4.6 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 31
Great 3
Average 1
Disappointing 1
Terrible 2
Value
4.6
Guide
4.7
Activities
4.6
Lodging
4.5
Transportation
4.5
Meals
4.4

Cinque Terre, Carrara and Medieval Hill Towns

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Company Reviews

Old Cuba is fantastic and should be seen before it's spoiled by capitalism.

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation5.0
Meals3.0
This was my wife's and my first trip with Road Scholar. At the time (April, 2012), it was not possible for Americans to directly visit Cuba. You had to do it with a cultural/educational group, often associated with a university. Or, you could fly to Canada, Mexico, or Europe first and then get a flight to Cuba from there (while risking a ~$10,000 fine from the US Government). We opted for the legal route with Road Scholar.

It was a fantastic trip! We had a small-ish group of about 20 people and a wonderful guide, José Luis (who, like most Cubans, had never been off the island).
The trip began in Miami where we had an orientation and spent the night. Then we flew to Havana and stayed in the Hotel Nacional for four nights. It doesn't get more historic -- or fun -- than the Nacional:
https://vimeo.com/41612444

While in Havana, we enjoyed great history/culture lectures from experts, toured various parts of Havana (including Hemmingway's home in the hills nearby), and, on our own, had the opportunity to have dinner at a paladar -- a restaurant inside someone's home.

The Cuban people are friendly but the infrastructure of their country is in shambles. It's been a long time since Russia's deep pockets left the island (1991), and you see poverty everywhere. But not the begging-in-the-street kind. Cuba provides universal health care, education (including room and board all the way through grad/med school!), food staples, and a very modest income (~$30/month) to everyone. Most people add to that income by working on the side.

After Havana, we traveled to Cienfuegos. From there we saw the infamous Bay Of Pigs, but also the wonderful Benny Moré Art School where we learned of the fantastic support for the arts by the Cuban government. Children are identified in grade school as having artistic talent and then funneled into magnet schools like Benny Moré to study art for their entire scholastic career!

Don't go to Cuba for the food. It's edible (and won't make you sick) but rather boring. You mainly get the "three amigos": fish, pork, or chicken, along with rice and/or black beans. But the aged rum is superb and so are the cigars!

Probably my favorite thing on the island, though, was the music -- whether on the street or in a more formal setting:
https://vimeo.com/43273083

Cuba is fantastic. Go enjoy it!
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Best trip I ever took!

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Loved the variety of different hotels, the expertise of the individual tour guides, the meals and especially the beautiful countryside. All 17 of us on the t rip got to know each other well, thanks to the kindness, the personality and the organizational skill of Mark, our tour director. Keep up the good work!
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Sunrise, Sunset, Learning Photography

5.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation5.0
Meals4.0
Road Scholar offers many tours starting in Utah. The one I took focused of photography of the National Parks in Utah, with a professional photographer traveling with us. The schedule was set up such that we would get "the golden light" at each of the parks. Those not familiar with the term must know that the best light occurs at either sunrise or sunset, when the impact of the sun on objects is diffused by having to travel through the earth's atmosphere on a diagonal rather than vertically.

As such, you can now expect that sleep will be an issue as you will get to bed late and rise early. But the territory is beautiful at all times, and more so illuminated by the golden light.

In order to maximize your sleeping ability, the tour is only offered in the spring and the fall. Doing this in the winter would be pretty cold and require special equipment to traverse the snow. Doing it in the summer would basically mean no sleep as the daylight is so long.

A great learning experience in beautiful territory.
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Thank you Road Scholar

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Thank you Road Scholar Staff for planning a wonderful introduction to Cuba today. My previous knowledge was from people who felt they had to leave Cuba more than fifty years ago. I learned from qualified professors, tour guides and from talking to Cuban people from different parts of Cuba who work in different kinds of jobs. I could see how the Cuban people have come together to meet the challenges of the past and to prepare for a brighter future.
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Thank you Road Scholar!

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Road Scholar tours are the best bang for your buck

Fabulous!

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
This is a fabulous program for young and old. The instructors are great with kids and adults. The activities are very well organized and varied. My grandson is already making plans for next year.

Details

Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Group Size:

Small Group - 24 max

Accomodations

Hotel Shelley e delle Palme - 9 nights  Lerici

The hotel is located in the center of the small town, on the waterfront overlooking the castle and bay of Lerici. All rooms have a terrace with view of the bay. Roof top breakfast room, lounge and bar on ground floor. Across the street from the hotel you can use the steps of a dock to have a refreshing swim. A sandy public beach is a short walk from the hotel.

Hotel Bologna - 1 night  Pisa

Centrally located in old Pisa 500 yards from train station and 3/4 mile from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Typical Tuscan palazzo with balcony to enjoy breakfast or happy hour. On a parallel street of Corso Italia, Pisa's main pedestrian shopping district that leads to the Arno River from the train station. Finely appointed lobby and rooms.

Trip ID#:

roadscholar-968

Meals Included:

10 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches and 7 Dinners

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