Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

My recent Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip to Italy included 3 nights in Tuscany at the Villa Le Maschere Hotel, and a day spent in Florence.

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

Friends, a wonderful way to see the world is to travel in style with Insight Vacations, which is not your typical touring company. On my recent trip to Rome, Perugia, Florence, Tuscany, and Venice, there was no standing in line, and we traveled the picturesque countryside in a luxury coach–with surprises along the way–on a premium escorted journey through Italy.

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

And what I really love about this travel company is how much I learned and experienced in Italy; the beautiful culture through the eyes of the locals, seeing how they do things, how they live their lives–through food, wine, music, art. It was all about touching  the things I wanted to experience, things I’ve read about for years, in and Insight helped bring them to life for me. What a gift and experience!

Do you know how much I love the golden Tuscan skies?

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

Villa Le Maschere Hotel

When we arrived at the Villa Le Maschere Hotel, a beautiful, charming, relaxing 5-start hotel set in the Tuscan hills of Mugello (about a 45 min drive from Florence), we toured the gorgeous, quiet grounds. Remember we had just come from Rome and Calcata, so we were very excited to see new country.

Arriving at dusk, the sunlight was explicit. Nature, art, water and silence, are the magical backdrop to the 65 bedrooms and suites, with the main building facing the garden with two pools made of stones, in the midst of a romantic park on 18 acres of enriched paths.

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

The Villa is one of the most beautiful late Renaissance country homes in Tuscany, beautifully decorated with paintings on the ceiling with a contemporary interior design.

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

A refurbished modern place (it had a Alice in Wonderland feel), it still had a very old building feel of a “palace.”

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

Spacious rooms

Our rooms were magnificent, spacious, with wonderful facilities, beautiful views, comfortable beds with a chic decor. The bathrooms were spacious, too!

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

All the rooms have a desk, LCD television with satellite channels, air conditioning with remote control, free high speed internet, a personal safe, hairdryer, bathrobes and slippers, and a minibar. The internet was hit and miss for us, depending on how many people were on at the same time. We worked it out, and laughed our way through the fact that we were in Italy, for Pete’s sake (play, don’t work!)

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

The first evening we enjoyed a beautiful reception with champagne, and then dinner to follow. We were so lucky to have the CEO of Insight join us, John Boulding, who added so much flare and personality to the trip!

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

The next morning, breakfast was truly a perfect Italian choice meal. During spring and summer, breakfast is also served on the staircase terrace overlooking the park.

A day in Florence

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence
We departed for Florence in our classy coach, where we met up with a local art historian for a insider’s visit, starting with the Uffizi Gallery.

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

There we enjoyed a private viewing of the Vasari Corridor–the kilometer-long passage spanning the Ponte Vecchio–and housing portraits of famous artists.

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

A stunning view from that private hallway looking down the Arno River.

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

We were able to leisurly walk around the city, and of course we enjoyed espresso and fresh croissants.

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

Lori, Judi {who writes for Porthole Cruise Magazine}, and I had the most delightful lunch at Osteria Ganino. We sat outside in the sunshine and enjoyed about 5 dishes off of the menu because we wanted to try it all! My favorite was the broccoli gnocchi.

The shopping and street artists, and of course my #DailyGelato, made Florence such a special time for me!

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

Our next stop was at the Cathedral, to see the ‘Gates of Paradise’ and a gallery in Signoria Square before admiring Michelangelo’s original statue of David in the Accademia Museum. Again, we had special tickets to get in with no waiting in line, another perk that Insight offers on certain attractions.

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

The famous Il Duomo di Firenze (building began around 1296 and was completed in 1436), we didn’t enter. Because entrance is free, there are very long lines to get inside the building.

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

And so many new friendships were made, which Insight does not take lightly. (I love this picture that I took with my iphone with Judi, Tessa, Lisa, Lori, {me}, and Hannah. All great, new friends!

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

Inisight’s vision is for people to meet people, for friendships to develop for life, opening a whole new world when we introduce new people and places into our lives.

A Tuscan dinner at Rivasud

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

Back at our hotel, we were able to enjoy the property a bit, and then we departed to Rivasud, a local family run restaurant in Barberino di Mugello, to taste more of Tuscany’s famous flavors and family-style cuisine.

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

The chef and his brother served us, and the food kept coming and coming … it was fantastic!

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

The Wellness Center

The next day Lori and I stayed behind while the group enjoyed a lunch at a local vineyard.

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

We wanted to try the spa and enjoy a day of relaxation, each getting a massage, and went on a long walk in the woods. We leisurely took our time, enjoying the beauty around us.

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

The large wellness center offers sauna, Turkish bath, Emotional Shower, relaxation area, Jacuzzi with direct access to the outdoor swimming pools, and treatment rooms where guests can have different types of massages and beauty treatments.

TU35

Cooking classes at Fattoria Dianella

That same day we traveled by coach to Fattoria Dianella– a bed and breakfast and winery located in the hills of Vinci (native town of Leonardo da Vinci).

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

We spent the rest of the day at Villa Dianella, where we toured the underground cellars and set up for a surprise cooking class! Yes, we walked away with a signed certificate as a “Chef in Tuscany.”

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

There we learned how to make our own pasta using semolina flour, egg and a little bit of water. So easy!

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

The secret was in the rolling though, and how thin to make the dough (and not overwork it).

Later we dined together in one large room, enjoying the fruits of our labor. Everything we made in the cooking class we enjoyed for dinner, by the way, and it was all made with the freshest of fresh produce.

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

The menu was this: An antipasto (pappa al pomodoro), then the first course of pasta with meat sauce, and a beef stew prepared by the chef, and then my favorite, deep-fried courgette flowers (contorno), and finally for dessert (dolce), a chocolate cigar cake with melted hot chocolate sauce!

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

Tuscany for me was a treat, probably my most favorite part of the journey. But wait … my Venice recap is yet to come!

Did you know that you can also travel the world with Insight Vacations and visit Britain, Ireland, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Eastern Mediterranean, USA, Canada, India, Nepal, and Bhutan?

Insight Vacations invited me on their Ultimate Italy tour to experience the tour and share my travel experience. Photos shared are a mix of mine plus from the professional photographer Simon Boucher-Harris of Insight Vacations.

Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip: Tuscany, Florence

8 comments

  1. Wow that seems to be quite an amazing experience!!!

  2. OMG, can I pack my bags right now? What an absolutely luxurious trip! I LOVE the cooking and spa parts the best (I think!) Even though I was just in Italy and spent a month in Europe, I’m so ready to go back!

    Great photos and descriptions of the vacation, Sandy! I’m ready!!

  3. Looks like it was the way to go, what a gorgeous trip. A few years ago we did Tuscany with a day in Florence. That area is magical!!

  4. Wow, wow, wow! This look like MY kind of trip. Small group, small locations and local food with beautiful accommodations. I have never heard of Insight, but I will definitely be checking them out. This is one of my favorite parts of the world, and this would be a different way of visiting than I have done before.

  5. Ugh, Italy is just too stunning! I’ve only been to Florence but completely fell in love with the weather, the people, the food and the art. Need to go back for a proper roadtrip or something soon.

    Stunning photos you have here :)

  6. Such a great trip- I am recommending Insight Vacations to everyone– they are such a great tour company, and they make it all so easy to travel!

  7. What an amazing way to experience Italy! :) Italy has been on my travel bucket list since for FOREVER. It looks like Insight Vacations is definitely the way to go when I am finally ready to cross that one off my list.

  8. I have worked for 15+ years with a woman who spends 4 to 6 weeks, 2x per year, in Italy. And I always drool over her photos every time she returns. She helped me put Italy on my bucket list many years ago. Your trip looks like it was beyond fabulous!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *