DRIVING DAY TOUR hills, villas and gardens of Florence - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

This full day tour, with Paolo (see his biography below) lasts about 8 hours and focuses on the hills of Florence, scattered with private historic villas, castles and gardens, some of which will be opened for you by their owners.

Paolo will pick you up at your villa in the morning. The first stop is Settignano, a small hill town where it is rare to see tourists. It is now one of the most beautiful areas on the outskirts of Florence. Its history is tied to the Renaissance stonecutters among which a few became world renowned artists: Michelangelo, Desiderio, Rossellino, Ammannati. The views of Florence you will enjoy from the stonewalled streets are breathtaking. Some of the old roads were once the paths Michelangelo walked daily to the grey-stone quarries as a young child. Brunelleschi came up the quarries to chose the stone for its Duomo. We will visit a villa garden considered among the most beautiful examples of Italian gardens in a private home.

Lunch will be in a family run local trattoria with local residents having lunch next to you and not the usual tourists.
A short drive to Fiesole with its magnificent view over the city of Florence will inspire us like it did inspire the work of the stonecutters who made Florence. Da Vinci came here and found the perfect steep hill from which he experimented its prototype for the flying machine. The Medici family chose this area for one of their country villas in the 15th century. The town of Fiesole’s main square offers local ceramics, handcrafts shops and a small archeological site with Etruscan and Roman collections in the museum.

Paolo is very courteous and speaks English. He has worked in tourism in Italy for 23 years, driving his own tour groups for the past 10 years. He and Alessandra (she gives our guests walking tours in Florence) are friends of ours. They live in a beautiful country house that was once property of Michelangelo, and they are both enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge and contracts with the culture and people of Tuscany. Paolo loves to help his clients experience the authentic places that would be impossible to discover without his many many personal contacts. He is especially proud of his spotless luxury Mercedez touring van, with leather seats -- this is very comfortable and not the typical touring van. The van seats 7 guests. For larger groups, he'll arrange a second van.

Price: 150euros/person (minimum 4 guests, entrance fees and lunch not included)




We are a group of 8 adults who enjoy cooking and drinking wine. What a perfect match to Villa Aquilea! The cooking class and pizza night with James were highlights at the villa, and "Butterfly" restaurant was spectacular! We enjoyed other culinary finds on our day trips in the area. The view from the villa is the best in Tuscany!

- Cindy B, Rochester Minnesota, guest 2010

My husband and I visited the Villa last August and I still can't believe the vivid memories of the house, flowers, the pool and the wonderful people in the surrounding town of Lucca. I can actually say to friends that I cooked an Italian meal in Tuscany. We visited Florence and Pisa during the day and then cmae back to this beautiful place in the evening. We watched the movie Under the Tuscan Sun while visiting and then looked around and it was not a movie it was real. We would recommend the experience to anyone.

- Bob and Edna P, Palatine, Illinois, guests 2009