A few weeks ago I escorted a small group of lady solo travellers. We had met a few times before our trip in person at an Italian restaurant and online, this meant we were able to get to know each other before our trip.
We flew from Manchester to Pisa, where we were met by our tour host Tony. He took us to our hotel in Montecatini by private bus. Some ladies shared rooms whilst others preferred to have their own room. Buffet Breakfast and waiter served evening meals with wine were included at the hotel. They served delicious 4 course evening meal- typically Tuscan fare salad or soup, pasta, choice of meat/fish course and desert. The family owned/run hotel was comfortable and friendly and in a great location.
Our included trips were to Florence,Pisa,Lucca and a Montecatini with a visit to the stunning Tettucio spa. All included local guides and free time for shopping, sightseeing and of course delicious gelato ! Some of the group took a cookery class in Lucca whilst others went to the seaside resort of Viareggio
Travel in Italy was by train, being based in Montecatini gave us great rail links, good value and much more comfy than British trains (and reliable)!
Lucca is a stunning walled town, very little car traffic ( watch out for bikes) lots of artisan shops, cafes, historical interest sites, restaurants, Puccini’s house and lots of churches and towers. We had a lovely time wandering through the narrow streets, something stunning around every corner. Some ladies walked /cycled the walls ( approx 4km)Fabulous gelato (ice cream shops) and we all bought lovely things (bags and scarves in my case!)
At the cookery school we made biscotti, pasta and apple cakes, then we ate what we had made. We all really enjoyed having a go and realised how much hard work goes into hand rolling pasta!
Pisa– Much lovelier than I expected, the tower is in a green area with the Doumo and Baptistry next door. A pizza for lunch with glass of red less than a tenner and only steps from the tower!
Florence – We went on a Saturday and it was very busy, you need to book in advance or be prepared for long queues. We were suprosed to see hen and stag groups enjoying themselves in the main squares
We had a guided tour which clocked up 20,000 steps! We saw all the main sights but need to go back and spend more time there if wanting to go in museums/galleries etc. Beautiful shops- did I mention how fab the bags are ?!
Montecatini Terme -This is where we were based for the week
Lots of shops , a lovely park, fabulous cake and gelato shops, bars& restaurants but not very touristy – no Irish bar in sight!
Tettucio spa – UNESCO world heritage sight. Stunning building and we were lucky to be able to attend an opera concert there.
Montecatini Alto- Less than 5 minutes from our hotel, the funicular railway takes you up to the top for stunning views, churches, towers, little shops and restaurants
Shopping – bags, shoes and other leather goods. Clothing, scarves, art items and food products. Lots of locally produced items
Cost of living- better value than expected. Local currency is Euro, cards widely accepted
Don’t forget to validate your train ticket before you get on the train (machines at the station)
Safety- as with all main cities pickpockets are around, we didn’t feel unsafe at any point and some ladies spent time alone at various places.
“Really enjoyed my trip to Tuscany with a group organised by Wendy. Definitely a good option for anyone who wants to travel but not on their own. As well as the travel arrangements, Wendy had arranged for a host who was familiar with the region to take us to Florence, Pisa and Lucca. Great memories and new friends made” (CS May ’22)
“This was my first ever organised group trip, and from start to finish, was wonderful! Wendy made everything so easy and nothing was too much trouble. From the initial information and booking, to the final drop off, Wendy looked after everyone with humour, knowledge, professionalism and the perfect amount of overview. Wendy ensured that everyone knew exactly what they needed to take and do, when and where. I will certainly never bother with the hassle of trying to organise my own holidays in future!! Thank you so much for everything Wendy, you’re amazing!!” (SC May’22)
My next escorted trip is to Dubrovnik in September (fully booked) If you’d like to find out about future trips sign up here