Russ and Elke's European Travel

It's not only what you see, it's how you see it

Russ and Elke's European Travel is a small company run by husband and wife team Russ and Elke Beck, a professional travel agent.

Over the years we have experienced some fantastic places, people, food and wine.  Out of our love for travel developed the idea to create very exclusive, intimate and interesting itineraries and let our clients experience, taste, smell, touch and hear what has given us so much joy in our travels. 

Bella Toscana Tour Itinerary


  • Day 1 - Arrival and transfer to your beautiful accommodations 
  • Day 2 - Panzano and Brolio
  • Day 3 - Volterra and San Gimignano 
  • Day 4 - Monteriggioni  and  Siena 
  • Day 5 - Pienza and  Montepulciano 
  • Day 6 - Lucca 
  • Day 7 - Chianti Tour and Tasting 
  • Day 8 - Florence 
  • Day 9 - Greve in Chianti
  • Day 10 - Departure

A continental breakfast and multi-course lunch or dinner will be included every day

The itinerary is subject to change to accommodate the needs of our guests.  The itinerary and events may be modified due to weather conditions or other factors that may be outside the control of the tour operators.

Gorgeous Tuscany

Day 1 -  Arrival

Your Tuscan accommodations are located in the vine covered hills of Chianti. Not only is this one of the most beautiful areas in the whole region, but it is the epicenter of the Chianti Classico wine making DOCG.  We fell in love with it the moment we arrived and can't wait to share this wine paradise with you...

Our welcome dinner will be provided by our friend Filipo at his amazing hilltop restaurant overlooking the steep vineyards and featuring these fantastic wines.  Our charming and attentive host will create a menu for tonight that will both satisfy and set the stage for the days to come.


Day 2 -  Volterra

Known for its alabaster craftsmanship, dating back to the Etruscans, this Tuscan hill town is home to an amazing array of small shops to purchase these wonderful, translucent, labor intensive pieces of art.

Volterra visitors can find traces and evidence of every historical period, Etruscan, Roman and Renaissance. Today its medieval roots are well preserved within the 12th century town walls, narrow streets, palaces and churches.


San Gimignano

- and  San Gimignano

Lunch this day will be at a charming farm with an amazing view of the San Gimignano skyline. At this farm on the hill of the laurel trees all of the food is made from the produce of the farm.  From the pasta to the wine, it is is all hyper local.

This walled city in the Siena province has about a dozen well preserved tower houses.  The historic center of San Gimignano is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Much to our delight you can also find the best gelato shop in Tuscany in that square. Don’t worry you can’t miss it and will know it when you see the line. 


Day 3 - Monteriggioni

Monteriggioni on a round hill, 14km northwest of Siena, was originally built as a fortress against the Florentines. It is famous for the intact defensive structure that held up against repeated attacks in the 11th century. Its 10 meter high walls and 14 towers are very imposing and can be seen for miles around. 

Your lunch in Monteriggioni will showcase a small restaurant frequented by working class locals. Though not Michelin starred this local haunt has some of the best homemade pasta and the absolute best boar ragu we have ever tasted.


A Contrade in Siena

 - and  Siena

Siena, like other Tuscan hill towns was first settled by the Etruscans.  The heart of the city, the famous Piazza Del Campo, dates back to the 13th century. It’s also the place where the bareback horse race, Il Palio, takes place twice a year. This much anticipated event draws massive crowds and is a fierce competition between the different Contrade (neighborhood associations). Even when the race isn’t taking place, wandering the city streets, one can admire the colors, banners and lamps of the different Contrade and feel the deep loyalty of its members. The winners of the Palio celebrate for weeks with typical Italian emotional exuberance and gusto.  You will learn this and more during  your tour of this beautiful town.

If dining on food cooked by an eccentric chef in a space built over the top of ancient Etruscan tombs is on your bucket list than you are in luck for dinner tonight.

The Mad Butcher - Dario

Day 4 - Panzano and Brolio

After a relaxing morning we will visit Panzano for lunch with the Mad Butcher who has been known to recite Quotes from ‘The Divine Comedy’ or break out into song while going about his daily chores. The unassuming store holds many a treasure and you will be treated to a once in a lifetime experience.  


Castello di Brolio

After lunch we will work our way to Castello di Brolio.  Located on a hill a few kilometers from Gaiole in Chianti is a very impressive and commanding castle, still occupied by Barone Ricasole and his family. It has been in their family since 1141 and been destroyed many times over the centuries. Reconstructions were always done in the style of that particular time, leading to the current hodge-podge of different building styles that somehow work together and make for an even more remarkable testament to time.

From the Renaissance gardens with typical geometric shaped bushes to the ‘Fairytale” woods and an absolutely breathtaking view over the Chianti region, visitors will feel hard pressed to be more amazed.

Yet the Ricasole family also produces some of the best Chianti’s in the region. As a matter of fact the late baron Bettino Ricasole was the first to standardize the recipe for Chianti Classico wine.  

Dinner this evening will be with our friend Massimo in an antico borgo that is decaying through the ages in the most beautiful manner possible.  

The Papal Seal in Pienze

Day 5 - Pienza

Once elected, Pope Pius II decided to transform his childhood home into a symbol of the Italian Renaissance. He renamed the village from Corsignano to Pienza and had it totally rebuild by a Florentine architect. In only 3 years, a group of amazing and harmonious buildings were realized: the Cathedral, the Papal or Piccolomini Palace, the Town Hall, and the lovely central square. The views are some of the most beautiful in all of Tuscany. Come along and stroll on the ‘Via Amore’ and experience it’s magic.

Outside of Pienza we will visit our second farm for lunch.  This rustic retreat produces some of the best examples of the pecorino di Pienza as evidenced by their stocking fine cheese store shelves as far away as Hong Kong and London.


The Church of the Traveler in Montepulciano

- and Montepulciano

Montepulciano is built on a narrow, sloping limestone ridge and is the biggest hill town in Southern Tuscany. The roads are narrow and steep, so good walking shoes and maybe a visit or two to the gym before the tour will make this an unforgettable experience.

For even better views we will climb the tower of the Palazzo Comunale (town hall) overlooking the towns impressive Piazza Grande and the surrounding 15th century buildings.  Montepulciano is home to the great Vino Nobile, one of our personal favorites. So all your exercising will be rewarded with a visit to the oldest and only wine cellar remaining in town and, of course, a marvelous tasting experience.



Day 6 - Lucca

Russ and Elke’s wonderful friend Antonella will take you on a tour of this ancient city surrounded by fortified walls over 30 meters thick.  During your tour you will learn about Lucca’s ancient Roman past and how it survived through medieval times into the modern era.  Antonella really brings this city to life.

This evening you will cook dinner for the group during your private cooking class.  During this class you will learn to prepare and cook delicious Tuscan delicacies.

Magnificent views from the Castello

Day 7 - Chianti Tour and Tasting

We will visit and tour a magical vineyard and Castello.  During the tour you will learn both the history of the castle and also how they produce their world class wine.  Following the tour  we will enjoy a light lunch and wine pairing.  

A relaxing afternoon poolside at the villa will prepare you for the excitement of the day ahead...


Day 8 - Florence

Marvel at the majesty of the Duomo with Brunelleschi's miraculous dome soaring 375 feet into the air, see Michelangelo's master works and get lost in the bustle of the sensational open air leather market at San Lorenzo.  This city will take your breath away over and over again.  Our guide for the day, Francesca, will impress you with her knowledge and love for the city she calls home.

A visit to one of the top restaurants in Florence will round out our day before a late train home.

The magic of sunset in Greve

Day 9 - Greve in Chianti

Today we will engage in some light activities close to home and perhaps stop to pick up some of those souvenirs you may have forgotten. In the evening we will visit our favorite restaurant, located up a winding narrow road on a steep hill that seems to ascend to heaven (which in all actually it does, food heaven!)...

Day 10 - Departure

By this point in the tour you will have convinced yourself that purchasing a home in Tuscany is both a feasible and fiscally responsible idea however, reality sets in and it is actually time to go home.  

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