back to Italy


Viareggio Carnival

A celebration to start the beginning of Lent

Join us for a celebration to enjoy the romance and architecture of Tuscany, experience its culture of food and wine to indulge and delight the senses. Sun-drenched hilltop towns and villages from the Apennine Mountains to its characterful coastline. Nestled in the central Tuscan hills, are frescoed churches well worth exploring, and the views from medieval towers and fortresses are not to be missed. The ancient cities of Siena, Pisa and Lucca are all within reach of the Art Nouveau splendour of your resort of Montecatini.

Florence, the region’s capital, is for many the jewel in Tuscany’s crown. Home to several globally important art collections, the city is often held to be the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Among its eye-opening architecture and impressive squares, Florence boasts unmissable landmarks such as its spectacular Duomo and the medieval Ponte Vecchio. We travel by train to Florence for different vistas and allowing extra time in the city.

Carnival in Italy was inspired by the Roman Saturnalia festival. The Italian word for Carnevale, is believed to be derived from the Latin ‘carnem levare’, which means 'take away the meat'. Preparations for carnival takes months of careful planning and intricate work. Floats and models are made by hand using papier-mâché. The giant, intricate designs are often created by local families and businesses featuring characters such as real-life political figureheads, people from fairy tales or spooky fictional figures. Watch the parade from your grandstand seats staying until the sun sets to enjoy the illuminated floats and live music.


  1. Travel to Italy (D, DR)

    Morning: meet your Tour Leader at Heathrow Airport and check-in for your direct flight to Pisa.

    Afternoon: on arrival transfer in less than an hour to your hotel in the spa resort of Montecatini Terme where, in the early afternoon, you will be able to check-in for a seven-night stay. Take time to relax, use the hotels spa facilities or stroll the pleasant surroundings.

    Evening: welcome drinks to toast your carnival companions followed by dinner in the hotel with a drink included.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

  2. Montecatini and Pistoia (B, MC, D, DR)

    Morning: a guided walking tour of your home for the week that in the Victorian era became an important international center for the "Belle Epoque", visited by artists, musicians & composers and the "rich & famous" from all over (Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, & Richard Strauss, just to name a few) though, this area was well known even during the Roman times for its special waters. The architecture is stunning as are the views. We include morning coffee and a tour in the magnificence of the Tettuccio thermal complex.

    Afternoon: free time for lunch follow by a short drive to visit Pistoia known as the “Small Santiago de Compostella” and with our guide stroll down paths full of churches, cloisters, palaces, museums and monuments that revolve around one of the most fascinating Cathedral Piazzas in Italy. We include a tour inside the cathedral.

    Evening: dinner in a local restaurant with an aperitif and drinks in the beautiful surroundings of Montecatini Terme.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, MC = Morning Coffee, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

  3. Viareggio Carnival! (B, L, D, DR)

    Morning: this Tuscan seaside town is synonymous with carnival which was first celebrated in 1873 to party before the start of Lent. Before the parade enjoy a short orientation of this town once frequented by Napoleons sister and dotted with fashionable villas and in particular the boardwalk which showcases delightful Art Nouveau architecture.

    Afternoon: after an included late lunch take your seats safely in your numbered tribune stand-seating and witness the huge hand-made papier-mâché floats shine a glaring light on the world of history, politics and entertainment pass you with live music and an array of colourful costumes and dancers. A chance to enjoy a little excess before the true start of Lent!

    Evening: late evening return to the hotel where we share the days experience over a simple-one course dinner of traditional Italian pizza with a drink.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

  4. Pisa & the Field of Miracles (B, D, DR)

    Morning: drive to Pisa for a guided walking tour where the world-famous Leaning Tower is just one of many noteworthy sights in this compelling city. A Unesco World Heritage site Pisa boasts a thousand-year history and is an artistic treasure trove with outstanding Romanesque and Gothic churches. Our tour includes the Baptistry, the 130 metre long arched Camposanto Monumentale that overlooks the square and the stunning Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.

    Afternoon: free time for lunch and to explore Pisa at your leisure. Maybe wander Borgo Stretto, the heart of medieval Pisa, or walk along the Lungarni River with its colourful restaurants and architecture. On the return journey we make a scenic stop at the lakeside town of Torre del Lago the former home town of the composer Giacomo Puccini.

    Evening: dinner in a local restaurant, a short walk from your hotel, with a drink included.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

  5. Siena with cathedral tour & lunch (B, L, D, DR)

    Morning: drive the Tuscan hills to Siena to take a step back into Medieval Tuscany at one of the regions finest hilltop towns. Our guided tour will take in the Piazza del Campo, the Palazzo Comunale, the Cathedral and the Basilica of San Domenico. You will be able to admire the legacy of the great noble families such as the Piccolomini, Tolomei and Salimbeni, as well as their palaces from the roof of the cathedral as well as tour the baptistry. You will also be able to learn about the great tradition of the Palio of Siena and the stories of pilgrimage and holiness that characterize the city.

    Afternoon: included lunch in a local restaurant followed by free time to wander and explore beautiful Siena.

    Evening: dinner with a drink in the hotel.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

  6. Florence by train (B, D, DR)

    Morning: meet your guide and stroll just a few minutes to Montecatini station and take the train together (train ticket is included) to Florence the capital of Tuscany and the birthplace of the Italian renaissance dominated by the magnificent Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore its most important religious buildings. Your guide will take you on a walking tour showing you Florence where its museums, palaces, and churches house some of the greatest artistic treasures in the world. The most popular and important sites include the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Uffizi gallery, the Bargello, and the Accademia. The churches of Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce are veritable art galleries, and the library of San Lorenzo is a magnificent exhibition of Michelangelo's architectural genius.

    Afternoon: free to take in Florence’s pure magnificence. You may wish to book, in advance on line, a timed entrance for the Uffizi Museum and Gallery or wander at your leisure. Trains run reguarly back to Montecatini and your guide will suggest a time to travel together, but for those wanting longer in Florence they will show you how to get back at a time of your choosing. Based on feedback some guests have wanted to stay later and dine in Florence.

    Evening: dinner with drinks included is provided in the hotel however, some people may wish to stay late and experience more of Florence.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

  7. Lucca & wine tasting (B, D, DR)

    Morning: just a short drive to Lucca for a guided tour to witness its rich ancient history: from the trace of the Roman amphitheatre that can be seen in the shape of the Piazza dell'Anfiteatro to the archeological remains under the 12th century church of Saints Giovanni and Reparata, the first city cathedral, located just around the corner from the present-day cathedral of San Martino, to the various towers and villas from the 12th to 16th centuries.

    Afternoon: after time for lunch depart for a short drive through the Tuscan hills to a traditional winery in a glorious setting for a tasting including the vin Santo dessert wine that is usually paired with pastries.

    Evening: farewell dinner with a drink in the hotel followed by an exclusive concert from our privately arranged string quartet playing the classics by Vivaldi and Puccini.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

  8. Depart for the UK (B)

    After breakfast bid a fond farewell to Montecatini Terme and depart for Pisa Airport for the flight back to the UK.

    Key to symbols: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, AT = Afternoon Tea, D = Dinner, DR = Drink 

Essential Information

Included excursions

  • Guided tour of Pistoia – known as the “Small Santiago de Compostella”
  • Orientation of Viareggio before the parade
  • Guided tour of Pisa and the Field of Miracles
  • Visit of Torre Del Lago former home of Puccini
  • Guided tour of Siena
  • Guided tour of Florence
  • Guided tour of Lucca

Optional excursions

None! – all excursions and extras as listed above and below are included!

Included extras

  • Hotel porterage
  • Personal audio guiding system
  • Walking tour of Montecatini Terme
  • Entrance to Santa Maria della Fontenuova in Monsummano Terme
  • Entrance to the Cathedral and Baptistry in Pisa
  • Entrance to Tettuccio Terme in Montecatini with morning coffee
  • Numbered stalls seating for the Viareggio Carnival parade
  • Wine tasting with local snacks close to Lucca
  • Exclusive classical quartet concert

Included meals & drinks

Meals: a full buffet breakfast each morning, two lunches and all evening meals. Four three-course dinners in the hotel and two evening meals in local restaurants. One in Montecatini, one in the beautiful surroundings of Montecatini. After the carnival due to the late return we join together for a simple meal of traditional Italian Pizza in the hotel.

Drinks: welcome drink. Wine or soft drink and tea or coffee with all evening meals and the two included lunches.

Our team in Italy

Our dedicated ordained McCabe Tour Leader will meet you at Heathrow and travel with you, escort all excursions and lead optional worship on some occasions for the start of Lent and in keeping with the regions visited. On arrival in Italy you will be met by our Tour Manager who will look after all logistics, offer fascinating commentary during journeys and be there for any questions or queries and to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Your journey

The flight is direct to Pisa with British Airways from London Heathrow. Flight upgrades, for that extra comfort and ease through the airport, as well as regional connecting flights from some UK airports can be arranged at a supplement. An overnight stop at Heathrow may be required which we can assist you with. Please enquire at time of booking.

Outbound journey

Flight BA0604 departs Heathrow: 08:05                  arrives Pisa: 11:15

Return journey

Flight BA0605 departs Pisa: 12:30                             arrives Heathrow: 14:00

Length of flight to Pisa: two hours and 30 minutes

Flight times maybe subject to change and are confirmed with your final paperwork.

Your accommodation

Seven nights’ accommodation in the four-star, Hotel Adua in Montecatini in a classic double or twin room based on two sharing. Superior rooms are available for a supplement. Double rooms for sole use are available for a low supplement.

Your hotel

The four-star Adua Wellness & Beauty Hotel Montecatini Terme has 72 rooms and lies 25 minutes' stroll from the Piazza Giuseppe Giusti close to the centre of the resort and Parc des Thermes and its main attractions.

Hotel facilities: a year-round indoor heated pool and seasonal outdoor pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, solarium, gym and a spa and massage centre with treatments available (at extra cost). Complimentary WiFi is available throughout the hotel.

Your standard hotel room:  (195 sq ft) unique and individually decorated double or twin rooms with air-conditioning/ heating with garden or resort views. All rooms have a fridge, safe and flat screen TV with satellite channels. There will be a bathrobe for your use during your stay.

Hotel bathrooms: bath or walk-in shower equipped with a hairdryer, bathrobe, soap, shampoo and shower gel. Ample towels for both bathroom and the hotel pool will be provided.

Upgrade to a superior room - £259.00 per person: (215 sq ft) a more spacious room with additional seating and balcony

Single rooms - please note that single rooms are small doubles, a bit tight for two but comfortable for one.

Your resort - Montecatini Terme

Montecatini Terme is famous for its thermal waters and can be considered one of the finest “spa towns” in Italy. At the turn of the 20th century, the amount of hotels started growing and so did the need to combine the thermal bathing with fun, relaxation and sport. A host of trendy restaurants, theatres and night clubs opened, as well as a casino, and a lot of celebrities began to visit the city. In fact, it was easy to meet people like Giuseppe Verdi, Pietro Mascagni, Ruggero Leoncavallo, Trilussa, Beniamino Gigli and Luigi Pirandello in the city centre and in the thermal parks.

Thermal waters are the treasure of Montecatini. You can both drink the water of the Terme di Montecatini or take spa treatments - from massages to mud baths, saunas to beauty treatments. There are nine thermal centres immersed in the green of the extensive thermal park. In terms of architecture, the spas of Montecatini are a great example of open-air Art Nouveau that are not-to-be-missed. In Montecatini Terme, fountains are true masterpieces, not only within the spas, but also along the streets and in the main squares.

Montecatini Alto is the village with medieval origins, situated on the top of the hill that dominates Montecatini Terme. It can be reached in 10 minutes by the funicular railway, which dates back to the end of the 1800s and is restored to its original splendour.


Practical information

Entry requirements

British Citizen and EU Citizen Passport holders can currently enter Italy freely with no restrictions or other documentation required. Stays within the EU can be up to 90 days (can be spread over multiple visits) within any 180-day period.

Please note your passport must be valid for six months after your return from Italy.

Full details of entry requirements and any required vaccinations will be detailed in your final paperwork 14 days before departure.

For the latest and most up to date travel advice including entry requirements please consult the Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office travel advice website.

Health & wellbeing

For travel within the EU you should ensure that you have the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which is free of charge.  You can apply for the GHIC card by calling 0191 218 1999 or applying on line at…

The level of cover offered by the GHIC card varies by country visited and is only applicable in state-run health facilities. In some countries coverage may just be a partial contribution.

Adequate insurance cover will be required for all hospital emergencies and doctors’ visits.


In Tuscany the average temperature during your stay should be around 13 to 16 degrees centigrade. It is advisable to bring some warm clothes and layers for the days as well as a hat and gloves for early mornings and evenings. Pisa and Viareggio are close to the coast so coastal winds may make temperatures seem cooler. In the hills of Tuscany weather can change rapidly for worse or better and a misty start often leads to a glorious afternoon.  The weather is often difficult to predict so please be prepared.


Dress is casual throughout the holiday. You may wish to take one or two smarter items for the evenings. Warm casual clothing is recommended in the day time with evenings being smart/casual. As the sightseeing visits require a certain amount of walking, we suggest you take a pair of comfortable shoes with a good sole for the cobbled streets.


There is a certain amount of walking (and stairs) involved on a daily basis on this holiday so please make sure you pack comfy footwear for this so that you are prepared. Your Local Guide will keep you updated on a daily basis with what to expect the following day. If you are finding it difficult to keep up then please make sure you tell your Local Guide who can help you to find places to rest and relax and then you can re-join the group at a later stage.

Some streets in towns and villages that you will visit will be cobbled. We suggest you take a pair of comfortable shoes with good grips or trainers. For your guided walking tours in Pisa, Florence and Siena you must be prepared to be on your feet for up to 90 minutes.

The McCabe Educational Trust

The McCabe Educational Trust is an independent registered charity with the aim of helping inspiring people we meet on some of our pilgrimages. As ‘the haves’ encounter the ‘have nots’ the Trust has become a practical tool for one to help the other.

McCabe Pilgrimages invite all travellers to become partners in this work. A £20 voluntary donation to the Trust’s work is added to every pilgrim’s invoice and all money raised in this way is given in full to the projects the Trust supports. This scheme is voluntary and confidential with nobody put under any pressure to participate.

Travel insurance

Ensuring that your holidays are appropriately protected is one of our main priorities. That’s why we have specifically chosen Holiday Extras as our *preferred travel insurance provider to ensure that you are protected before and whilst you are travelling. Holiday Extras offer McCabe Travel guests favourable rates for single trip, multi-trip and annual policies.

For more information or to obtain a quote click below for their website

Or call them on 0800 083 3551 to speak to a friendly advisor.

Please quote AG628 upon calling to receive the best rates

Full financial security

All money paid to McCabe is fully secure. Holidays including flights are covered by our ATOL license from the Civil Aviation Authority, and holidays without flights are protected by our membership of the ABTOT bonding scheme. If a pilgrimage is cancelled, for instance through lack of numbers or for political considerations, McCabe will promptly refund all monies paid.

AITO Quality Statement

McCabe Pilgrimages is a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators. The Association represents Britain’s leading independent tour operators and encourages high standards of quality and service. McCabe abides by the Association’s Code of Conduct and adheres to the AITO Quality Charter.

You can read McCabe reviews on the AITO website here


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