November 18, 2010
Walk like an Italian! Study history, culture and landscape on a 10-day walking tour of Liguria and Toscana regions of Italy

Walk like an Italian with Lees-McRae students and faculty as they embark on a 10-day journey to Italy in fall 2011. Study history, culture and landscape on a walking tour through the beautiful regions of Liguria and Toscana in Italy.

The route follows ancient footpaths, country lanes, farm roads and wilderness trails, passing through villages, vineyards, forests and mountain ranges. Guided by New Zealand-based Tamarillo Expeditions, five distinct environments will be explored on the trip including urban, coastal, alpine, rural and island environments.

Upon arrival in Italy, the trip will begin in Parma with a bicycle and walking tour of the streets, piazzas and public gardens with an introduction to Italian language, culture, art history and culinary traditions. The region surrounding Parma produces excellent wine and fresh produce, and is particularly well-known as the origin of prosciutto di Parma ham, parmigiano reggiano cheese, and Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine. The city holds some of Italy's most precious art in its galleries, museums and churches.

Next, travelers will drive to Portovenere where they will walk to the village of Riomaggiore through a remote and spectacular section of the Cinque Terre National Park. The steep hillsides of the Cinque Terre rise steeply out of the Mediterranean, and are crowded with terraced vineyards and olive groves. Travelers will have the next day to explore the villages and coastline on foot, by boat or by train.

The next day takes the group on a drive to the Alpi Apuane mountains where they will enjoy a picnic lunch and a trek along an alpine trail to stay overnight in a mountain inn. The trek through the spectacular alpine landscape, past huge marble rock-faces, through forests and meadows and along rocky ridges will end in the remote mountain village of Pruno, with dinner at its one and only restaurant.

Another trek in the Alpi Apuane mountains will take hikers on a challenging course through the forest to the summit of Monte Forato, a peak offering view across the Italian peninsula and out across the Tyrhennian Sea, ending in another evening in Pruno.

On the seventh day, after a walk along an ancient pilgrims' trail to one of the oldest operational chestnut mills in the region, travelers will drive to the picturesque region of central Tuscany. For two days, the group will be able to explore the rolling hills and countryside, staying in the spectacular medieval hill-town of Volterra where rustic farmhouses and elegant villas, old churches and abandoned castles adorn the hillsides.

Travelers will explore the Etruscan culture and art history of the area with opportunities for tasting the region's finest wine, cheese, salami and olive oils. The following day begins with breakfast in Volterra, followed by a drive to the coast and ferry ride to Elba Island, the final destination on the walking tour of Italy.

Elba Island, a small, rugged island lying ten kilometers off the coast of mainland Italy has beautiful beaches, picturesque villages and a mountainous interior. Travelers will walk through forested hills to the fishing village of Marciana Marina where they will stay at the Hotel Gabbiano Azzurro for two nights. On the final day of the trip, a walk through coastal forest ends at a great swimming beach before returning by ferry to mainland for a flight back to the US.

Travel will take place during fall break 2011, October 6-18. Cost for students is $2760 plus airfare from the US to London. The trip is open to Lees-McRae alumni. Pricing for alumni will be available soon. For more information, contact Global Community Center Director Scott Crawford at

For full details of the trip, visit and click on "Walk like an Italian."

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