Join us for an unforgettable kayak adventure along the soaring coastline of Cinque Terre, an enclave of five villages perched precariously above the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Also known as the Italian Riviera, this region of Italy boasts not only incredible kayaking but an intricate network of hiking trails between the villages allowing visitors to experience the beauty from both sea level and a bird's eye view. Accessible only by boat or train, the five villages remain untouched by the encroachment of development, which changes the character and charm of such special places. This is a destination that offers an authenticity, a slower pace, yet, provides a diversity of activity that truly sets it apart.
Enjoy five days of paddling from village to village, our lodgings wonderful Inns and hotels with panoramic views of the Mediterranean. A special addition to the trip is an exploration of Porto Venere which was a major trading center throughout Medieval times. Its wide quayside offers a multitude of cafes and quaint shops and, with some careful wandering, you may discover the most delicious pesto to be found anywhere in Italy. We'll leave that discovery to you!
What makes this trip especially interesting is that it offers so much more than just the paddling. The spectacular vistas of the Ligurian Coast are complemented by the food, the wine, and the subtle play of light on the colors of the landscape. These are all qualities that contribute to the essential nature of what Italy has to share. Participate in an authentic Slow Food cooking class, a full day of gustatory comeraderie with hands-on preparation, involved cooking, and the resultant feast by mid afternoon, a fitting culmination to the day's "work".
There is no better way to create a memorable journal of your experience than a photographic record of where you have been and those with whom you have shared your adventure. Our uniquely structured photography workshop lends itself to just that... a process that develops a sense of effective composition rather than technical complication. Our instructor and Tuscan guide, is a noted photographer in the region. His approach is positive and reinforcing and provides you with the opportunity to grow and test your skills whether you are looking through the viewfinder of a high-end DSLR camera or framing your shot on the screen of a point-and-shoot. Photo opportunities abound from ancient Roman baths and hidden Etruscan ruins, to the day to day activity and commerce in the local butcher shop, Macelleria, a place where our group will have a chance to feast on a sampling of meats, cheeses, and wines that will constitute our late day picnic lunch in the field! This will be a "full" day excursion in more ways than one.
So come join us on our maiden voyage to Cinque Terre. "Piano, piano, piano", as the Italians say, "slowly, slowly, slowly" enjoy life, perhaps as it should be.
Cinque Terre Itinerary
Day 0, Friday - depart US (overnight flight)
Day 1, Saturday - Impruneta
After arriving in Florence, transfer to our Inn 30 minutes outside of Florence, settle in to your room, and explore the village as you unwind from your travels. This evening we'll all come together for our "welcome dinner" at the Inn and official kick off to the trip.
Day 2, Sunday - Florence & Impruneta
A day to discover some of the hidden treasures of Tuscany by wandering the country roads past wineries, olive groves, and terra cotta family-run businesses as well as visiting local artisan shops. We are excited to introduce you to our friends from Sagittario, a small family-run olive farm on the outskirts of Impruneta. You'll have a chance to visit their facility and see how the olive oil process works at a small scale operation and then be treated to an authentic family meal with them at their home. Pitch in to gather the vegetables and herbs from the garden, get involved with the chopping, mincing and mixing prep, and enjoy the lively banter that soon begins in the kitchen as the meal is being prepared.. Shortly thereafter, sit down to enjoy the delicious meal, colorful conversation, and gracious hospitality of our friends. A wonderful ending to this day in Tuscany! (B, L, D)
Day 3, Monday - Southern Tuscany
Today we'll experience the magical light, texture, and color of Tuscany as we traverse much of the southern part of the region with noted Tuscan photographer, Duccio Nacci. With Duccio's guidance and coaching we will be able to take the images we see on this Tuscan canvas and create a photographic portrait that reflects our individual vision of what we see. Duccio's instruction is non-technical and based on composition and the relationship between eye, camera, and subject. There will be an immediate improvement in your picture-taking ability, the way you look at a vista, a subject, or a scene and transpose that vision into a picture. We'll visit areas that only a local would know, small country churches, medieval hamlets with unique architecture, traversing dusty little roads, hiking up rolling hills reflecting the shimmering shades of autumn, places where you'll meet the local people. Part of our journey with Duccio will include a visit to the local Macelleria and artisanal brewery. Here we'll taste, (a 2-hour culinary excursion), and collect supplies for a picnic lunch amidst the scenery of the Tuscan hills, a splendid vista opening before us as we wait for the light to be just so. (B, L, D)
Day 4-Day 8, Tuesday-Saturday - Cinque Terre
We'll take the train from Florence to Monterosso (about a 3 hour train ride) where we'll begin the kayak trip along the Italian Riviera. Throughout the 5 days we will travel by kayak from one village to the next, sometimes with side trips to nearby islands, of course depending upon the weather and the group's abilities and desires. Each night we will stay at family-run hotels/Inns and enjoy fresh fish of the sea complemented with local wines, the grapes of which have been harvested right from the surrounding hillside vineyards. There are walking trails between the villages as well and optional hiking trails that offer some great panoramic views from up high. (B,L,D).
Day 9- Saturday, - Lucca/Florence/Impruneta
Departing the Cinque Terre region, we'll make our way back to Impruneta stopping along the way at the walled Medieval city of Lucca, birthplace of Pinnochio. Explore the back alleys and small streets lined with local artisans, cafes, and historic buildings, enjoy a relaxing meal in the heart of the village, a unique circular piazza, or stroll along the wall surrounding the village to see the area in its entirety. Later in the day, we'll return to our Inn in Impruneta, have some time to relax, and then enjoy our final dinner at the Bellavista, recounting tales and stories of the week's adventures.. (B, D)
Day 10 - Sunday, - Depart for US
Please note that this itinerary is subject to change.