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Treasures of Tuscany with Southwark Cathedral

Join pilgrims from Southwark Cathedral and across the Diocese, on this combination of walking, worship and sightseeing to enjoy the religious history and architecture of Tuscany. 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 Florence, Siena, Pisa and Lucca are all within reach of the Art Nouveau splendour of your resort of Montecatini.

The path of the Via Francigena and San Jacopo (Way of St. James) are important routes connecting Canterbury and Rome. In Tuscany it takes you through the unspoiled landscape, taking in historical and artistic beauty along the way offering the chance to experience the countryside as pilgrims have for over 1,000 years. Visit ruined abbeys, medieval towns and villages and see the best of the Italian countryside, home to a wealth of bird and animal life. Look out for badgers foraging in fields, herons and otters by streams, and golden eagles soaring overhead.

Montecatini your home for the week, in the Victorian era became an important international centre 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 Roman times for its special waters.

Itinerary

  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 be met by your local Tour Manager and 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 of Montecatini Terme. Your Tour Manager will give you a short orientation on arrival.

    Evening: short worship and welcome drinks 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. Florence (B, D, DR)

    Morning: drive just over an hour to Florence, spending the day in the Tuscan capital and the birthplace of the Italian renaissance dominated by the magnificent Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore, its most important religious building. On arrival enjoy a guided walking tour showing you where its museums, palaces and churches house some of the greatest artistic treasures in the world. The most popular sights include the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Uffizi Gallery, the Bargello and the Academia. The churches of Sant Maria Novella and Santa Croce are veritable art galleries, and the library of San Lorenzo is a magnificent exhibition of Michelangelo’s architectural genius. We also visit the Museum of Santa Reparata, one of the most respected and venerated saints in Florence.

    Afternoon:  free to explore Florence at your leisure before returning to the hotel in the late afternoon. Should you wish to stay for the evening in Florence, and enjoy longer in the city, trains run regularly to Montecatini until late at night and our guide will explain times and platforms.

    Evening: dinner in the hotel with a drink included.

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

  3. Siena (B, D, DR)

    Morning: drive the Tuscan hills to Siena to one of the regions finest hilltop towns. Our guided tour among the footsteps of the saints of Siena including Santa Caterina, will take in the Piazza del Campo, the Palazzo Comunale, the Cathedral and the Basilica of San Domenico. 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 .

    Evening: dinner in the hotel with  a drink included.

  4. Lucca (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. We tour the first city cathedral, which contains the “Volto Santo”, a large wooden crucifix, kept in a splendid polygonal chapel built in 1484 by Matteo Civitali. We include worship in the San Pietro Somaldi church.

    Afternoon: after time for lunch we enjoy free time in Lucca and on the return journey visit the Convent of the Passionist Nuns, built by divine will through the voice of a young woman tried by pain, poverty and incomprehension, whose heart burns with an intense and profound love for Jesus. Her name is Gemma Galgani. protagonist of extraordinary mystical phenomena.

    Evening: dinner in a local restaurant in Montecatini with drinks  included.

  5. Walking - On the Trail of St. James - Pistoia and Monsummano Terme (B, L, D, DR)

    Walking distance 12Km , Elevation 400metres. Guests not wishing to walk could visit Serravilee Pistoiese with the group and return by bus or taxi (at own  cost circa €20) to Montecatini .

    Morning: you will depart by coach for the village of Serraville Pistoese with its cute old center with towers jutting upward, red tile roofs, old streets and churches. From the town walk down the rolling hills of Tuscany blanketed with olive groves and vineyards. The church of San Michele Arcangelo has a beautiful tryptych of the Madonna with Child Enthroned With Saints. There are impressive fresco fragments from the 1300s in the Oratorio di San Rocco. But the primary veneration is reserved for their patron saint, St. Louis of Toulouse.

    Afternoon:  we rest over an included lunch in the hills of Pistoia, tasting sheep cheese, honey products, local oils and produce. We then continue to Pistoia downtown and visit the cathedral of San Jacopo where the relics of the saint are preserved and the San Bartolo Abbey.  After we visit Monsummano Terme to worship at the  Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Fontenuova built by Florence’ famous Medici family.

    Evening:  dinner in the hotel with a drink included.

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

  6. 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.  Later, we include a visit to the magnificent abbey Certosa di Calci situated in a picturesque and peaceful valley.

    Evening: dinner in the hotel with a drink included.

  7. Walking - Pescia to Montecatini (B, L, D, DR)

    Walking distance 11Km , Elevation 400metres.

    Guests not wishing to walk could join the group by train for the visit of Pescia and return by train to Montecatini for a free afternoon.

    Morning: we take the train to Pescia a small medieval town  with a Cathedral that houses the preserved body of Saint Allucio, one of the most important medieval pilgrims in the region. After, visit of the Church of San Francesco which contains one of the most famous paintings of the early thirteenth century in Italy: the reredos with St. Francis and stories of his life made by Bonaventura Berlinghieri. Continue to the small town of Uzzano with its churches overlooking the valley and on to Buggiano Castle with its beautiful secret gardens.

    Afternoon:  stop for an included lunch before continuing through the local scenery to Montecatini.

    Evening: farewell dinner in an atmospheric local restaurant with a drink included.

    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. Bid fareweell to your Tour Manager at Pisa Airport and your Tour Leader after landing in the UK.

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

  9. Combining walking and city sightseeing

    Walking days

    On your three walking days you will walk up to 12 kilometres on pathways that range from gravel tracks to paved routes. A few short sections may be on grass or dirt and there will be mild undulations and just one or two very short steep sections. The difference in elevation on any one day is just 400 metres. Trainers or walking boots will be needed and you may find hiking poles useful.

    For guests not wishing to walk - you can join the start of these days as there will be a short coach journey to the starting point with sightseeing or a short guided tour. As the group set off to walk you can then make your own way back to Montecatini and enjoy the resort and hotel facilities. From Serravalle and Pescia there is a regular bus and train service to Montecatini. From Padule a taxi journey of 20 minutes would be needed. Our Tour Manager and trekking guide will be able to assist with transport arrangements. You may find that others pilgrims may do the same and you can share the costs. Please note that no alternative arrangements would be made to replace included lunches should you not participate in this day.

    Excursions

    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 without the need to sit down and be able to manage two to three flights of stairs.

Essential Information

Included excursions

  • Guided tour of Florence with entrance to the Baptistry and Museum of Santa Reparata
  • Guided tour of Siena with entrance to the cathedral complex
  • Guided tour of Lucca
  • Entrance to the Santa Gemma Convent
  • Guided walk on the Way of St. James from Pistoia to Monsummano Terme
  • Guided tour of Pisa and the Field of Miracles
  • Entrance to the Cathedral and Baptistry in Pisa
  • Entrance and worship in Santa Maria della Fontenuova in Monsummano Terme
  • Entrance to Certosa Monumentale di Calci
  • Train ride to Pescia
  • Guided walk from Pescia to Montecatini
  • Guided tour of Pistoia – known as the “Small Santiago de Compostella”

Optional excursions

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

Included extras

  • Hotel Porterage
  • Personal audio guiding system
  • All hotel, restaurant, driver and guide gratuities
  • Services of a pilgrim trekking guide on three days

Included meals & drinks

Meals: a full buffet breakfast each morning, three lunches and all evening meals. Five three-course dinners in the hotel and two evening meals in local atmospheric restaurants. One in the beautiful surroundings of Montecatini Alto reached by funicular and the other just a short walk from your hotel. On the three walking days lunches will be in local restaurants along the walking routes.

Drinks: welcome and farewell drinks. Wine or soft drink and tea or coffee with all evening meals and all three 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 in the hotel, along the walking routes and some sights visited.

On arrival in Italy you will be met by our Tour Manager who will stay with you, look after all logistics, offer fascinating commentary during journeys and be there for any questions or queries and to ensure that everything runs smoothly. On the three days walking the pilgrimage trails you will have an official trekking guide who knows all points of interest and faith on these routes.

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.

Flight departs Heathrow: 08:05

Flight returns: 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 double or twin room based on two sharing. A limited number of smaller double rooms for sole use are available for a low supplement. These rooms are smaller doubles that are cosy for two but comfortable for single occupancy.

Your hotel

MONTECATINI TERME: HOTEL ADUA (4*) 

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 hotel room: 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.

*Double rooms for single use - A limited number of smaller double rooms for sole use are available for a low supplement. These rooms are smaller doubles that are cosy for two but comfortable for single occupancy.

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 three 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.

www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

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…

www.nhs.uk/ghic

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.

Climate

In Tuscany the average minimum and maximum temperatures during your stay should be as below. It is advisable to bring layers as mornings and evenings can be considerably cooler. Pisa is 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.

April - 11-21 degrees  - Average number of days with rainfall - six

September- 14- 24 degrees  - Average number of days with rainfall - nine

Clothing

Dress is casual throughout the holiday. You may wish to take one or two smarter items for the evenings. Cool casual clothing with layers is recommended in the day time and a couple of warmer items for early mornings and evenings. Dress for dinner 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. For walking days, trainers or boots will be suitable and you may find hiking poles useful.

Mobility

Walking days

On your three walking days you will walk up to 12 kilometres on pathways that range from gravel tracks to paved routes. A few short sections may be on grass or dirt and there will be mild undulations and just one or two very short steep sections. The difference in elevation on any one day is just 400 metres. Trainers or walking boots will be needed and you may find hiking poles useful.

For guests not wishing to walk - you can join the start of these days as there will be a short coach journey to the starting point with sightseeing or a short guided tour. As the group set off to walk you can then make your own way back to Montecatini and enjoy the resort and hotel facilities. From Serravalle and Pescia there is a regular bus and train service to Montecatini. From Padule a taxi journey of 20 minutes would be needed. Our Tour Manager and trekking guide will be able to assist with transport arrangements. You may find that others pilgrims may do the same and you can share the costs. Please note that no alternative arrangements would be made to replace included lunches should you not participate in this day.

Excursions

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 without the need to sit down and be able to manage two to three flights of stairs.

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

https://www.holidayextras.com/travel-insurance

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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Dates

Our Programme Tour Leader Tour Dates Availability
Treasures of Tuscany with Southwark Cathedral 8 Day Tuscany Departing From Heathrow Prices from £1999 pp Canon Michael Rawson 10/05/2024 for 8 days

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