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Combine two days in the delightful walled town of Lucca, with time spent in Tuscany's hidden gem, the beautiful Garfagnana Valley. We've included cycling, canyoning, a zip wire course, stand up paddle boarding and hiking in the beautiful Orecchiella National Park. Enjoy picnics with a view and refuel on delicious Italian cuisine.
Explore Tour Leader
7 nights comfortable hotel
12 - 18
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
The trip starts today in Lucca, an old Roman town with considerable charm, several Romanesque churches and Renaissance architecture, Lucca retains a delightful mix of narrow lanes and easy charm all enclosed within its city walls.
For those arriving on time, our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Lucca at any time. If you would like an airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Pisa International airport (airport code PSA), which is 35km, around 35 minutes' drive from the hotel. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, Lucca is easily explored on foot. Head into the old town, wander around the narrow lanes, stop for a coffee or a bite to eat and browse its local markets.
Hotel San Marco, Lucca (or similar)
After breakfast, we head out with our tour leader into the old town of Lucca to spend the morning exploring the narrow streets and hidden squares. We start the day on foot heading under the fortified old city wall into the old citadel with its narrow cobbled alleyways and open air palazzi. One of Lucca's best known highlights is its remarkably well preserved walls that encircle the historic centre. The ramparts have a wide tree lined path which offer excellent views of the town and surrounding countryside. For the second part on this morning's tour we switch from foot to bikes and cycle around the old town ramparts then head out along the banks of the River Serchio towards Ripfratta, returning to Lucca via quiet rural lanes.
The afternoon is kept free to further explore Lucca, be sure to make a stop at one of the many shops that sell the famous buccellato, a sweet tasting bread with raisins.
Today has been kept free, with various options for exploring further afield from Lucca if desired. You may chose to visit the fabulous Renaissance city of Florence for the day (direct trains run approximately every hour taking 1 hr 15 mins). The city's major sights are all easily reached on foot. You can visit the Duomo with its magnificent pink, white and green marble facade and climb up its red-tiled dome that dominates the skyline of the city for your own bird's-eye view. Or cross the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge and take a stroll along the banks of the River Arno. If you wish to visit the world famous Uffizi Gallery; home to Raphael, Michelangelo, Titian and Leonardo Da Vinci masterpieces it's best to book in advance at https://www.uffizi.it/biglietti.
Frequent trains to Pisa take just 30 minutes and Pisa Central Station station is around 20 minutes on foot from the famous Leaning Tower, alongside the architectural splendours of Pisa Cathedral, the Baptistery and Belltower on the square known as the Miracoli Dei Campo, (Field of Miracles). A trip here could be combined with a cooling dip in the sea at Marina di Pisa, around half an hour on the number 10 bus from the city. As well as a pebbly beach there are plenty of bars, restaurants and you can stroll around the small port. Alternatively the beach resort of Viareggio can be reached by direct trains from Lucca in as little as 20 minutes. Viareggio has some of the best beaches near Lucca although you should be be aware that along much of the beach you will have to pay to access the sand at one of the town's beach clubs. Take the promenade to the edge of town, to find the Spiaggia Libera, the free beach.
After breakfast we bid farewell to Lucca and drive to northern Tuscany's Garfagnana region. Enroute we stop at Bagni di Lucca Canyon Park to take part in a high zip wire course 100 meters above the rapids on suspended cableways above the canyon. The high wire course takes one-and-a-half to two hours with a series of thrilling rides through the canyon. For safety reasons children need to be a minimum of 10 years and over 140cm in height to take part on the zip wire course.
Afterwards we'll take to stand up paddleboards to explore the beautiful waters and nature of the canyon. Our guide will provide full instruction in the use of the boards before setting off and they'll be opportunities to stop and swim along the way. Children under the age of 12 will need to share a paddle board with an adult. Older children may choose to share or take their own board.
We'll enjoy a picnic lunch by the river before driving the short distance to our base for the rest of the week, a family-run hotel on the outskirts of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, situated in the Serchio River Valley. The hotel is surrounded by the magnificent scenery of the Apennines and the Alpi Apuane and features a large pool and sun deck. On arrival we will enjoy a traditional dinner and sample for ourselves some of the food and wine for which this region is justifiably famous.
Hotel Ristorante La Lanterna (or similar)
The morning is free to spend as you wish, relax by the hotel pool or take a stroll around the historic riverside town of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana.Thursday is market day and the town will be lively with stalls selling locally grown produce, clothing and bric-a-brac taking over the streets.
This afternoon we jump in a bus and head to the Selvano River to try our hands at canyoning, an exhilarating activity that lasts around two-and-a half to three hours. We'll slide, jump and abseil our way along a series of pools and channels, accessing a beautiful world inaccessible on foot. Technical expertise is not needed as full instruction is given but you should be reasonably fit and know how to swim to take part. All equipment including wet suits and helmets are provided. Please note this activity is restricted to those aged nine and over.
Today has been left free. You may decide to spend a relaxing day by the pool or meander into town where you can visit the Rocca Ariostesca castle from which the town takes its name, browse the shops and while away time in local cafes.
If you're up for more adventure you can pay a visit to the Selva Del Buffardello Adventure Park, further up the Garfagnana valley in San Romano, your tour leader can assist in arranging transport. Set amongst two and a half hectares of forest in the heart of the Garfagnana, this unique adventure park affords children and adults alike the opportunity to enjoy this woodland setting from the air, with a range of activities suitable for all ages, including swinging beams, suspension bridges, nets, ropes and obstacles. On arrival, you will be kitted out with all the necessary safety equipment with trained instructors on hand to supervise your enjoyment. Please note there are seven courses in total, to climb the full course there is a minimum height requirement of 140cm. There are three courses suitable for children over 100cm; children under 100cm will not be able to take part in this activity. The park also has a number of walks and activities within the forest that do not require leaving the ground.
This morning we'll explore some of the breathtaking views in the Apennine mountain range, driving by bus up into the Orecchiella National Park, an area characterised by beech woods, grasslands and sheer rock faces hanging over narrow gorges, all of which are a natural habitat for birds of prey, wild boar, deer and many other animals. We begin our walk from the visitors centre up to refuge Isera (1200 m) with great views of the Pania del Corfino mountain along the way. We then ascend from Isera following the footpath to the Col of Campaiana at 1500m for around an hour which affords great views of the Appenines before a final short walk up to the peak and summit of the Pania del Corfino at 1600m.
With probably one of the best views of the Garfagnana Valley, we'll enjoy a picnic lunch and then relax before descending back down using the same routing to the visitors' centre. And then it's time for an ice cream before we head back down to our hotel where we can relax and enjoy the pool for the rest of the afternoon.
Departing the Garfagnana this morning we drive to Pisa Galileo Galilei International Airport (PSA) where the tour ends at 10.00 am. The earliest time you should book a flight to depart today is 12.00 pm. For those of you that have a later afternoon or evening flight you may decide to explore Pisa's cultural highlights, Pisa has so much more than just its famous Leaning Tower. The Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles), of which the Tower is but one part, also contains the Baptistery, Duomo and Camposanta, which between them make up a stunning collection of architectural delights.
The airport has luggage storage facilities and a regular, inexpensive light railway, the Pisa Mover that travels into town in a matter of minutes. This is at your own expense and unaccompanied but the leader will be able to assist with information.
April/May and October/November are pleasantly warm. June/September are the hottest months. Showers are common in Autumn.
2 Pin Round
A selection of optional activities are listed below to help you budget for your Family adventure. Whilst the basic tour price you pay before you travel includes a great selection of highlights, we have also built in free time to allow you the flexibility to choose from a carefully selected range of additional excursions and activities or take time to relax, the choice is yours. At certain destinations along the way there may be several options to choose from and it may not be possible to fit all the activities in; your Explore Leader will be able to give advice on which are the most suitable for your family. From Lucca: Train to Florence - Approx €17.00 return Train to Viareggio (the beach) - Approx €8.00 return Train to Pisa - Approx €8.00 return Leaning tower of Pisa €20 per person (book online https://www.opapisa.it/en) Bike hire in Lucca €4.00 per hour Garfagnana Valley: Visit to Buffadello Adventure Park - Adults €20.00, Children 130-140cm €15.00, Children 100-140cm €12.00
July and August are Italy's the hottest months, bring light and comfortable clothing. If travelling in May or October half term go prepared with clothing to suit cooler temperature and showers. A fleece/jacket is recommended for cooler evenings and nights. Light layers work best. You'll need your swimming gear and light rainwear may be needed at any time of year.
Comfortable walking shoes, trainers and sandals. For the canyoning you will need a pair of trainers/walking shoes that you don't mind getting wet or good, secure watersports shoes with a decent grip.
One main piece and a daysack.
A water bottle, sunhat and high factor sunscreen are all essential. You may also wish to bring cycle helmets with you for the biking. A torch is useful in case of powercuts/ emergencies.
In Lucca we stay at a hotel just outside of the city walls, conveniently close to the railway station which offers a good connection to Florence, Pisa and the Coast, which you may wish to access on the free day. In the Garfagnana Valley, our family-owned hotel is based in the heart of this beautiful valley in northern Tuscany. The hotel features a large open air swimming pool and terrace overlooking the Appennino Tosco-Emiliano National Park. The hotel has 30 rooms in total with a mixture of well-appointed twin, double and family rooms. There is an excellent restaurant which serves both regional dishes source from local farms and suppliers and international cuisine. The charming historic town of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana is a twenty minute stroll from the hotel. Special dietary requests: Whilst we can cater for both gluten free and lactose free diets; almost all food is sourced locally. Given the rural location, choice is limited. If there are particular snacks or products you need we advise that the best option is to bring these with you.
An ability to swim is essential for your safe enjoyment of the water based activities on this trip. If you wish to participate in these activities then we insist that you are able to swim.
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Italy: Visas are not required by UK, E.U Nationals, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing required. Tetanus recommended. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.