Tauck is offering guests of its small group ‘A Week in… Tuscany and Umbria‘ itinerary the opportunity to hear from acclaimed author Frances Mayes, whose memoir ‘Under the Tuscan Sun‘ was made into the Hollywood film. Mayes will share reflections on her 30 years in Italy with guests on the eight-day itinerary on over a dozen departures in 2023 and 2024, when the tour visits her adopted town of Cortona.
While in Cortona – where the principal events of the book and film adaptation took place – Tauck guests will take a guided walking tour and enjoy lunch of local specialties prepared by a Michelin-starred chef who is also a close friend of Mayes.
Under the Tuscan Sun was a New York Times bestseller for more than two and a half years and became a Touchstone movie starring Diane Lane. It tells the story of Mayes’ purchase and restoration of Bramasole, an abandoned 250-year-old villa. In addition to Under the Tuscan Sun, Mayes has authored or co-authored more than 20 other works, and her books have been translated into more than 50 languages.
The first ‘A Week In… Tuscany and Umbria’ departure featuring an appearance by Mayes took place recently, with her presentation cited by some Tauck guests as among their favourite experiences of their journey. For her part, Mayes thoroughly enjoying the experience as well, saying:
“I was so pleased to welcome Tauck guests to my favorite town, Cortona. We gathered at Il Falconiere, a lovely inn nestled into vineyards, and got to know each other at lunch. And what a lunch, served at a long elegantly-set table and prepared by
Michelin star chef, Silvia Baracchi. The incredible food and her own delicious wines truly spoke of our surroundings. After my remarks, there was plenty of time for questions and conversation. I, and I think most of the guests, had a hard time leaving that special atmosphere!”
Tauck’s ‘A Week In… Tuscany and Umbria’ itinerary (from AU$6,940 per person) begins with a two-night stay in Candeli at Villa La Massa, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World collection. Guests will also enjoy two-night stays at the Park Hotel ai Cappuccini (a former 17 th -century convent) in Gubbio and the ideally-situated Sina Brufani in Perugia before concluding with an overnight stay in Rome at the Hotel Indigo Rome – St. George.
Along the way, guests will enjoy a hands-on cooking class with lunch and wine tasting at the Fonte de’ Medici agriturismo, owned and operated by the Antinori winemaking family. Guests will also enjoy walking tours in medieval Gubbio, Assisi and Perugia, and visit a farm in the Umbrian countryside where they’ll have lunch and learn about the farm’s truffle-hunting dogs. And in Narni, guests will travel underground to explore the hilltop town’s subterranean ruins, revealing connections to the Inquisition and Narni’s earlier Roman heritage.
The tour accommodates an average of 24 guests, and it’s part of a growing collection of small group tours offered by the company.
This year Tauck is boosting the number of land tour departures featuring small groups by 35% over earlier (pre-pandemic) levels. In total, the company will feature small group departures on some 75 land
journeys in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
Frances Mayes is just the latest in a series of fascinating experts and “insiders” who have enthralled guests travelling on Tauck journeys in recent years. Others who either have shared – or continue to share – insights and personal stories with Tauck guests are the award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns; Winston Churchill’s granddaughter and former traveling companion, Celia Sandys; Carolyn Robb , the former royal chef to then-Prince Charles and Lady Diana; Elisabeth von Trapp of The Sound of Music’s von Trapp family and William Lobkowicz.
The “A Week In… Tuscany and Umbria” featuring Frances Mayes will also be offered on the 6, 13 September and 4, 11 October 2023 departures, along with the 6, 13, 20 and 27 May 2024, 2, 11 and 23 September, and 7 October 2024 departures.