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Tuscany & Northern Italy~From the Alps to the Adriatic

September 18-October 1, 2013
Faculty: Stephen Cushman, Robert C. Taylor Professor of English at U.Va.

Price: $4,395 per person, double occupancy, land only
$5,452 per person, double occupancy, air inclusive from New York

A limited number of Single accomodations are availavble for a supplement of $695

Registration is Open

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Buon Giorno! Charming, elegant and delicious, Italy awaits you in this spectacular journey from the magnificent Lake District to Tuscany. Along the way you'll experience the breathtaking beauty of Northern Italy and Lake Maggiore; sophisticated, fashionable Milan; the Cinque Terre; jet-set Portofino; architecturally rich Pisa; tasty Chianti; medieval Siena; and, ah! Tuscany, with its sublime art treasures, splendid churches, and romantic vistas. We'll end this incredible trip in Venice, city of drama and doges, canals, and gondolas.

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Program Highlights

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12 Breakfasts, 9 dinners

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Name -Stephen Cushman, Robert C. Taylor Professor of English at U.Va.

Stephen Cushman is the Robert C. Taylor Professor of English at U.Va., where he has taught since 1982. With a B.A. from Cornell and a Ph.D. from Yale, he has brought to the English Department his commitment to American literature, modern Literature, poetry, literature and the environment, and the American Civil War. His teaching has been honored with an All-University Teaching Award and the first Mayo Distinguished Teaching Professorship. A poet as well as a scholar, he has published eight books, most recently Riffraff, a volume of poems (LSU, 2011), and the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (Princeton, 2012), for which he served as general editor. Steve and his wife Sandra have two sons, Sam and Simon. He has enjoyed five trips with Cavalier Travels (Ireland twice; safari in Tanzania; D-Day and Normandy; Burma; and Around the World by Private Jet). He is very glad to have the opportunity to visit Italy.

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Day 1 -- Wednesday, September 18
Depart the U.S. for Milan, Italy
Depart the U.S. late today on your flight bound for Milan.

Day 2 -- Thursday, September 19
Arrive Milan/Transfer to Stresa
You'll arrive in Milan late this morning and transfer by motorcoach to the international resort of Stresa on beautiful Lake Maggiore. More than 40 miles long at its longest and 6 miles wide at its widest, the lake sits on the Italian-Swiss border and is a touch of paradise surrounded by green hills and gracious villas. There's time to relax and settle in before joining your Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director and fellow travelers at tonight's welcome dinner at our hotel.

Day 3 -- Friday, September 20
This morning we visit Villa Taranto, home to one of Europe's most beautiful botanical gardens. Scottish Captain Neil McEacharn donated this land to the Italian state in 1931, and it opened to the public in 1952. We'll admire the ornamental fountains, sculptures, and waterfalls that are accented by a diverse array of flora. After returning to the hotel, there's time to relax before a late afternoon cruise to Isola Bella, the beautiful Borromean island set in the middle of Lake Maggiore. Fully occupied by 17th-century Palazzo Borromeo and its extravagantly landscaped gardens, the islands offers lovely views of the lake and surrounding mountains. We take a guided tour of the palazzo and see some of the priceless works of art, including tapestries, furniture, statues, paintings, and stuccoes, that are on display inside. We also walk through the palazzo's garden before dining here together.

Day 4 -- Saturday, September 21
We depart this morning for Milan, a fascinating blend of contemporary and classic, as we see for ourselves. Highlights of our touring here include 14th-century Castello Sforzesco, a fortified castle that once hosted such luminaries as da Vinci and Bramante. Today the castle houses several museums, including the Museum of Antique Art, Museum of Musical Instruments, and the Picture Gallery with works of Renaissance and 17th-century Italian, Dutch, and French artists. The castle also is home to the unfinished last work of Michelangelo: the heart-breaking "Rondanini Pietà," on which he worked until six days before his death. We also take a guided walk past the celebrated La Scala opera house, and the awe-inspiring Duomo, the world's largest Gothic cathedral, dating to 1386 and boasting some 135 spires. Then we're free for lunch and to explore on your own before returning to Stresa late this afternoon. Dinner tonight is on your own.

Day 5 -- Sunday, September 22
Stresa/Santa Margherita
This morning we leave Stresa and travel south to the narrow crescent-shaped coastal plain of Italy's Liguria region. Stretching from San Remo in the west to Cinque Terre at its eastern reaches, Liguria is wedged between steep mountains and the Tyrrhenian Sea, with the Gulf of Genoa at its center and the city of Genoa as its capital. Our destination is the resort of Santa Margherita on the 110-mile Riveria Levante, the eastern coast from Genoa to La Spezia. Passing beautiful scenery along the way, we reach this pleasant, relaxed town this afternoon and dine at our hotel tonight. Later, you may wish to take a stroll along the popular seaside promenade.

Day 6 -- Monday, September 23
Santa Margherita/Portovenere/Cinque Terre
We depart this morning for nearby Portovenere, a port town harkening to medieval times, with its cluster of colorful column-shaped houses facing the Ligurian Sea, their backs to the surrounding mountains. We enjoy a brief walking tour of the Old Town, including a visit to the Church of St. Lorenzo. Then we board a boat for a cruise along the rugged coastline from Portovenere to the Cinque Terre (Five Lands), the five cliff-clinging villages seemingly carved from the Apuane Alps, whose high ridges jut over the sea. Originally medieval fishing villages, the Cinque Terre were inaccessible by land for centuries; even today, no road connects all five. We stop first in the scenic village of Vernazza, noted for its harborfront piazza (plaza), Renaissance campanile (bell tower), and labyrinthine steps that wind through the town, then continue on to Monterosso, where you have time for lunch and to explore on your own. We return to our hotel late this afternoon and dine together tonight.

Day 7 -- Tuesday, September 24
Santa Margherita/Portofino
Today's highlight is our excursion by ferry to nearby Portofino, the renowned port where the rich and sometimes famous enjoy la dolce vita by land, by sea, and aboard yacht after ever-larger yacht. Your time here is free to explore and eat lunch on your own; perhaps to shop in the chic boutiques or simply people-watch from a seat at a comfortable outdoor café. This multi-colored village boasts a jet-set reputation that far exceeds its size; still, with its seaside setting, olive groves, and palm and cypress trees it's one of Italy's prettiest spots. We return to Santa Margherita early afternoon and the remainder of the day is at leisure. For dinner on your own tonight, you may want to sample some of the local seafood specialties for which the region is renowned.

Day 8 -- Wednesday, September 25
Santa Margherita/Pisa/Tuscany
We leave Liguria this morning, traveling south to Pisa and one of the most recognized buildings in the Western world. However, the recently shored-up Leaning Tower is not the only treasure in this architecturally rich city. This morning's guided walking tour includes the unusual 11th-century Duomo, distinguished by its four layers of open-air arches, three bronze doors, and the polygonal pulpit supported by pillars and columnar statues symbolizing the Virtues. Of course, no trip to Pisa would be complete without visiting the Leaning Tower, a campanile built in fits and starts between 1173 and 1350. Designed to be vertical, the tower started to lean during its initial construction, but never fell. In 1934 cement was injected into the base, but in time the problem only worsened: the tower was supposedly floating on a base of waterlogged clay, leaning more than 14 feet from the perpendicular. In 1990 the Italian government suspended visits inside, and after heated debate about corrective techniques, proceeded with soil extraction – which by all accounts did the trick. The Leaning Tower still leans, but safely so, and it reopened to the public in 2001. After negotiating the 293 steps to and from the bell tower (if you wish), you're free to relax over lunch on your own here before we continue our journey. Late afternoon we reach our country villa in the heart of Tuscany. Dinner tonight is at our country villa.

Day 9 -- Thursday, September 26
Today we discover Florence, city of Renaissance artists and thinkers, filled with sublime art treasures and splendid churches. Since buses are not allowed in the historic center, we will be dropped off a short distance from where we begin our morning walking tour, which includes the Galleria dell'Academia, home of Michelangelo's masterpiece "The David;" the soaring Duomo, whose dome was the masterwork of Brunelleschi; and Piazza della Signoria, one of Italy's most beautiful squares, surrounding the Fountain of Neptune. This afternoon is free for lunch and to discover more Florentine delights on your own. Among the possibilities: Giotto's Bell Tower, considered the most beautiful campanile in Europe; the Baptistry, the oldest structure in Florence; the Medici Chapels, housing the Michelangelo-designed New Sacristy; the Ponte Vecchio, the 14th-century bridge lined with jewelry shops; or visiting any number of shops selling leather goods, Florentine papers, clothing, and so much more. Late this afternoon we return to our country villa, where we dine tonight.

Day 10 -- Friday, September 27

Tuscany/Siena/Castellina in Chianti
Today we visit the walled city of Siena, whose ochre-colored buildings and ancient ramparts vividly evoke the city’s medieval past.  Fan-shaped Piazza del Campo is one of Europe’s greatest public squares; its Duomo, with pillars of black and white marble, is one of Italy’s finest, with masterpieces by Donatello and Michelangelo.  We pay an inside visit to the Duomo, also known as the Siena Cathedral, which was built in the 12th century in the Romanesque style then transformed in the 13th century to one of the finest examples of Italian Gothic.  It boasts a lantern atop the dome by Bernini, a Carrara marble pulpit, and an inlaid mosaic floor considered among the finest anywhere.  We continue on our guided walking tour then you have free time for lunch and to explore on your own – the town is packed with museums, churches, and monuments. Then we head back to our country villa via the village of Castellina in Chianti, where we visit a local winery for a tour and tasting; only in this region is authentic Chianti Classico produced.  Dinner tonight is at our country villa.  (Please note that in Siena we must leave the bus outside the historic city center and walk into town then walk back to the bus later.)

Day 11 -- Saturday, September 28

Tuscany/Volterra/San Gimignano
We encounter classic Tuscany today as we visit Volterra, one of the region’s lesser-known hill towns set in a dramatic landscape high on a bluff some 1,800 feet above the valley below and surrounded by soft rolling hills and lush woodlands.  A fortress-like town, Volterra was a center of Etruscan art and commerce from the 9th century BCE through the 4th century.  On our walking tour here we explore the maze of medieval alleys and see some of the white alabaster carvings for which the city is renowned.  After free time for lunch on your own, we continue on to the classic hill town of San Gimignano, “of the beautiful towers” – a reference to the 13 remaining bell towers dating to the 11th century; originally 72 towers stood guard here.  Still, the skyline and historic center of this UNESCO World Heritage site look much as they did in medieval times.  We enjoy a brief walking tour of this town known for its churches and museums that house masterpieces of 14th-and 15th-century art; and for its smart shops and art galleries. We return to our country villa where we dine tonight.  (Please note that as in Siena, in San Gimignano we must leave the bus outside the historic city center and walk up considerable hills into town then walk to meet the bus again later.)

Day 12 -- Sunday, September 29
We bid farewell to Tuscany this morning as we set off for Venice, city of drama and doges, canals, and gondolas. We arrive in Venice early this afternoon, with the remainder of the day and evening free to begin discovering this wondrous, timeless city on your own.

Day 13 -- Monday, September 30
This morning's informal walk reveals a host of Venetian delights: Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square), with its fantastic Basilica; the romantic Bridge of Sighs; the Rialto district with its bustling market. The afternoon is at leisure to enjoy this timeless city as you wish. This evening we gather for a farewell dinner to bid "arrivederci" to Italy and to our fellow travelers.

Day 14 -- Tuesday, October 1
Depart Venice for U.S.
We depart early this morning for the airport and our connecting flights to the United States.

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Program Fees

$4,395 per person, double occupancy, land only. A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $695 per person, double occupancy rates.

Price includes:

Does not include:

$5,452 per person, double occupancy, air inclusive from New York including airline taxes & departure fees.

$5,799 per person, double occupancy, air inclusive from Washington Dulles including airline taxes & departure fees.

Other Gateway Cities Available.

In addition to the inclusions noted in the land-only pricing, air-inclusive price includes:

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How To Register

Ready to register? The best way to do this is by phone so that we can ensure we are meeting all of your needs. Please call us at 866-765-2646. Or, e-mail with your contact information and the best time to reach you.

A deposit of $500 per person is required to reserve your spot. Final invoicing will be done approximately 3 months prior to departure. Final payment is due 95 days prior to departure.

Deposits can be made via MasterCard, Visa, or American Express, or by check made out to “Odysseys Unlimited, Inc.”

Early registration is encouraged as space is limited.

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General Terms & Conditions

Please read this information carefully, as a payment of a $500 deposit per person represents your acceptance of the following Terms and Conditions.

Payment Schedule: A deposit of $500 per person confirms your reservation. The balance of your invoice is due 95 days (June 15, 2013) before departure.

Not Included in Tour Price: Airfare if purchasing a Land Only package; costs of passports and visas; airport, port, and departure taxes, which will be listed as separate items on your invoice and are subject to change; personal expenses such as beverages, laundry, room service, and meals not specified; excess baggage fees; communication charges; gratuities to your Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director, which are at your discretion (suggested gratuity for your Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director: $10-$15 per day per traveler); optional sightseeing; and travel protection insurance. Additional baggage fees may apply and are subject to change at any time. You should confirm directly with your airline prior to departure.

Cancellation and Refunds: If you must cancel your trip, the effective date of cancellation will be upon our receipt of your written notification. Refunds for cancellations are subject to the following per person charges: Cancel 95 days or more before departure: $200 charge; Cancel 94-65 days before departure: 25% of tour price; Cancel 64-45 days before departure: 50% of tour price; Cancel 44-30 days before departure: 75% of tour price; Cancel 29-0 days before departure: No refund. If a guest makes any changes within 94 and 30 days prior to departure to either their departure city and/or the optional post-tour extension, Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. will apply a $100 per person administrative fee, in addition to any fees or penalties imposed by third parties. No changes are allowed within 30 days of departure.
Upon reservation you must provide your full legal name as it appears on your passport, your date of birth and gender. In the event an airline ticket is issued with incorrect information you have provided, you will be responsible for charges associated with the ticket’s reissue.

Responsibility: The liability of the University of Virginia, as sponsor, and Odysseys Unlimited, Inc., as tour operator, is strictly limited. The University of Virginia and Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. purchase transportation, hotel accommodations, restaurant and other services from independent suppliers not under our control. We serve only as agents for these suppliers in securing tour arrangements, and therefore will not accept responsibility for wrongful, negligent, or arbitrary acts or omissions of these independent contractors, their employees, agents, servants or representatives. The University of Virginia and Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. are not liable for injury, damage, loss, accident, or delay that may be caused by events not within our control, including without limitation, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, the defect of any vehicle, or the negligence or default of any third party. All coupons, receipts, and tickets issued are subject to the terms and conditions specified by the air carriers, cruise line, and other independent suppliers. We will make every effort to operate our tours as planned, but we reserve the right to make itinerary changes as necessary. If unforeseen circumstances require us to change a hotel, we will select alternative accommodations of the same or better quality. If you choose to make your own air arrangements, Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. shall not have any liability for any loss resulting from cancellation of this tour or changes in this tour.

Health and Medical Issues: We request that you be in good health to participate in an Odysseys Unlimited tour. There is a considerable amount of walking, and you must be able to get on and off motorcoaches and boats on your own. If you require the use of a wheelchair or have other personal needs, you must be accompanied by a companion who will assist you. We reserve the right to remove anyone whose physical or mental condition, in our opinion, compromises the operation of the tour or detracts from the enjoyment or safety of the other passengers. In that event, Odysseys Unlimited and the University of Virginia assume no financial responsibility for any unused portion of the tour.

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