Creative World Travel
Founded 1974
Specialists in Leisurely Escorted Tours to Europe

Heart of Italy

View from the hilltown of Cortona in Tuscany of Lake Trasimeno in Umbria
©2010 Photo by Michael Reed

Leisurely Escorted Tour to
Tuscany, Umbria and Rome

A Creative World Travel "No Rush" Escorted Tour

No early morning wake-up calls.
No all-day bus rides.
Structured and guided,
but with free time to enjoy as you please.

Day-by-Day Itinerary - Page 3


Via Nazionale in the Historic Center of Cortona
©2012 Photo by Michael Reed

The medieval city of Cortona, set high on a hill overlooking Lake Trasimeno, is the setting for Under the Tuscan Sun . We visit Cortona to see where Francis Mayes was inspired to write her best-seller, now a box-office hit movie.
  Cortona was one of the 12 cities of the Etruscan Confederation, then a Roman city, and finally the southern gateway to the Mediciís Florence. This splendid Tuscan town therefore harmoniously combines Etruscan, Roman, Renaissance and some modern architectural elements.
  Its strategic location, at the crossroad of Tuscany, Umbria and the roads to Rome, made it an ideal trading hub all through centuries.

  Lago Trasimeno, near the border of Tuscany and Umbria, is the largest lake in the Italian peninsula and the fourth largest in Italy as a whole. Its banks are dotted with resorts.
  We stop in Passignano, a famous tourist center and marina on the northern shore of Trasimeno, whose origins can be traced back to the Etruscan and Roman period.
  The heart of the old quarters are still surrounded by the medieval town walls, with intriguing alleys which run along 15th-century houses, raising from the shores of the lake to the towers above.
  There are three islands in the lake: Maggiore and Minore close to the northern shore, and Polvese in the southeast corner.

The Battle of Lake Trasimeno

  In 217 BC, Hannibal Barca and his Cathaginian army all but annihilated the forces of Roman Consul Flaminius in an ambush along the banks of Lake Trasimeno.
  In the early morning of June 24, 217 BC, under a thick layer of fog, the best part of the Roman Army was already stationed in the plains. Hannibal had positioned his light cavalry and the Celts at the entrance to the valley to block any possible Roman retreat.
  The Libyans and Iberians protected his camp. The Balearics and Asiati closed the way to the hill of Montigeto. Hannibal gave orders that they should all attack at the same time. The battle continued for three hours, and 15,000 Roman soldiers who sought escape in the waters of the lake were killed.

Patti Reed and Susan Kerr in Passignano
Lake Trasimeno
November 9, 2005


Umbria has a rich history, distinctive regional cuisine, and beautiful rural countryside. The foods of Umbria are known worldwide: Spigadoro pasta, Perugina chocolate , Pecorino cheese and prosciutto from Norcia.
  Le Tre Vaselle, a traditional 18th-century hotel in the midst of the Umbrian wine-growing region, is steeped in local tradition. This sturdy provincial villa is composed of thick plastered walls covered with antique etchings on wine-related themes.
  Rustic beam ceilings and burnished terra-cotta floors topped with Oriental rugs set a warm tone, and fireplaces, antique furniture and plush seating add to the charm.
  A wine museum, winery and vineyard views are among the unique offerings nearby.

Deruta Ceramics

  The nearby village of Deruta is famed for its exquisite hand-painted ceramics. We will stop at the workshop of master craftsman Francesco Sberna.

Perugia ~ Capital of Umbria
  Perugia, famous for its chocolate, is one of Italy's most fascinating and historic towns with its Etruscan, Roman, Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
  Perugia is the capital city of the region of Umbria and of the province of Perugia. It was founded by the Umbrians in the prehistoric epoch. The Etruscans arrived between the 6th and 5th century B.C.
  One of the main tourist attractions of the medieval old town is the Fontana Maggiore (Great Fountain) in the central Piazza IV Noviembre. An impressive work of art, the upper stone basin consists of 24 red marble panels separated by 24 marble statues, carved by the famous sculptor Nicola Pisano (sometimes called "the father of modern plastic art") and his son, Giovanni.
  The Galleria Nazionale dell' Umbria is one of the finest museums in Italy, with works by native son Pietro Vannunci, called il Perugino .

Assisi , birthplace of the Franciscan and Benedictine orders, is remarkable for its beauty and spirituality. Ideally placed on the rise to Mount Subasio, this purple-fringed Umbrian hill town retains a mystical air.
  Friars in brown habits and belts of knotted rope and nuns in their traditional habits wander the serene streets.
  Making a pilgrimage here is one of the highlights of a visit to Umbria.

The Miracle of the Spring
by Giotto

St. Francis of Assisi

  St. Francis put this town on the map. He founded the Franciscan order and shares honors with St. Catherine of Siena as the patron saint of Italy.
  The Basilica of San Francesco , one of Italy's foremost monuments, was built between 1228 and 1253 AD. The short period of its construction, rare for a church of this size, is often explained as a measure of the great love that the people of the time had for St. Francis.
  By the mid 1400's pilgrims were flocking to Assisi from all parts of Europe and today the walled medieval town and its grand basilica are among the most visited of Christian shrines.
  The Basilica contains the famous frescoes of Giotto, Cimabue and Lorenzetti.

  Most visitors also appreciate and enjoy the many artist workshops and craft shops in Assisi.

The "Porziuncola"

  St. Francis was especially fond of a small chapel in the Umbrian plain below Assisi, dedicated to St. Mary of the Angels, and popularly known as the "Porziuncola" , or small portion. It was the property of the Benedictine monastery of Monte Subasio. This was Francis's favorite place, and home for many years.
  We visit that chapel, now housed inside the massive Patriarchal Basilica in the town of Santa Maria degli Angeli .
  It was in the little chapel of St. Mary of the Angels that Saint Clare received her habit.
  The Chapel of the Transitus marks the spot where Francis died during the night of October 3, 1226.

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