THERE'S still an opportunity to join a 22-day small group tour of Italy's enchanting Tuscany and Umbria in April and May of this year, a holiday that will go beyond the anticipated delights of these regions by getting participants into hidden-away and little-known gems that larger tour groups and their coaches are simply unable to access.
And rather than three weeks of constant packing and unpacking, with this Springtime tour there's a whole week based in historical Montecatini Terme, another on a farm in rural Umbria's picturesque Montefalco region, and a third in the tiny hillside town of Pienza – all stays being in family-owned 3- and 4-star ensuited accommodations with breakfasts daily and most dinners, and with daily touring into surrounding areas.
With full-time Australian tour leaders and local specialist guides, highlights include medieval villages, famed birthplaces including those of St Benedict and St Francis, wineries and art galleries, boutique potteries, and a cathedral whose marble floor took 200 years to complete… and superb dining throughout.
Off the beaten track is also the chance to view the picturesque countryside from a-top a 325m high volcano, delve into ancient caves and the dramatic Etruscan-era Orvieto, explore Cortona made famous in the book and movie Under the Tuscan Sun, see hot springs dating-back to Roman times… and to ride a funicular railway.
This unique 22-day tour begins and ends with pick-up and return to Rome International Airport and is priced from $7,645pp twin-share including family-owned 3- and 4-star ensuited accommodations with breakfasts daily, most dinners and with daily touring into surrounding areas; air travel to Rome is additional.
Details (07) 3396 8652, (07) 3262 6332 or www.carolinasusi.com.au.
 UNDER the Tuscan sun, ancient village in Siena region.