Treasures of Tuscany 2013

On Saturday 8th June around 40 U3A members and friends set off by coach, mid morning from Upholland, to journey to Leeds Bradford Airport for our 14:05 flight to Pisa. If we’d gone from Manchester, it would have necessitated being up at the crack of dawn. Amiable Agnes, our cheery courier, accompanied us throughout the journey and subsequent holiday.

We stayed in Montecatinii Terme, a charming thermal spa town. The hotel (Francia & Quirinale) was first class. It occupied a pretty central position. The swimming pool was used extensively for chilling out. Food at the hotel was plentiful and varied, and the complimentary wine flowed freely.

On Sunday most of us visited Montecatini Alto by funicular. This small elegant village had great character. We got some rain here but it didn’t dampen our spirits.

Monday saw us journey to picturesque Pisa, which is certainly a mecca for tourists. A heavy shower of rain stopped just after lunch, and was never seen again for the rest of the holiday. In the afternoon we visited lovely Lucca. Here people, either shopped, visited some of the many churches, walked the town walls or sampled the local food and drink.

Tuesday was a free day to relax, walk about or take the train to nearby resorts.

Wednesday was our Florentine day. Florence, the capital of Tuscany, and the leading light in the Italian Renaissance, had so much of interest to offer. In the evening, some of our party attended a concert of famous operatic arias and duets.

On Thursday we visited San Gimignano, a medieval mini Manhattan (lots of towers) in the province of Siena. In the afternoon we visited a local vineyard and tasted several wines including Chianti Classico.

Friday was another free day – to wander or laze at will. In the evening, many went to a concert to commemorate the bicentenary of Verdi. In the interval, a glass of sparkling wine and nibbles were enjoyed.

On Saturday, our penultimate day, the morning was free. In the afternoon we visited a vineyard in Montecarlo (not the one in Monaco), for a tasty Tuscan buffet with various samples of wine.

After an early breakfast on Sunday, we left the hotel for our 11:50 flight from Pisa to Manchester, arriving back at Upholland mid afternoon.

A good time was had by all. Mike Crickett certainly made a great success of the “Italian Job”, aided and abetted by Discovery Travel.

Agnes Walker

My thank to all those who contibuted Montecatini Pictures