Saturday Check in at your chosen airport for your flight to Pisa, where on arrival we will transfer you to the 4 star Hotel Monte Rosa, Chiavari. The coach can only stop about 150 metres from the hotel, but luggage assistance will be provided. You'll have time to relax before dinner in the evening.
Sunday Breakfast and then a Welcome Meeting with your Omega representative who will introduce you to the area, after which the day is at leisure until dinner. Chiavari dates back to the 7th century BC and has traces of a pre-Roman necropolis, and the medieval old town has many historic buildings and colonnaded arcades. The town is mainly pedestrianised with narrow winding streets and boutique style shops. There are beach areas and a promenade, but some beaches are private and therefore subject to a charge.
Monday Santa Margherita, Portofino & Rapallo
We set off after breakfast for our full day excursion by train and boat to Santa Margherita, Portofino & Rapallo. We walk the short distance (around 1/3 of a mile) to the railway station and take the local train to Santa Margherita. This former fishing village has become an elegant resort with grand and ornate hotels, million-dollar yachts and a picture-perfect seaside promenade. From here we take a boat along the coast to Portofino. This iconic fishing village looks like something dreamed up in an art class, with verdant hills cascading down to a jostle of exuberantly-coloured palazzi crowded round a tiny harbour full of boats, and you can easily see why it became famous as a celeb jet-set destination. Legend has it that Portofino inspired the architect of Portmeirion in Wales, the 'Village' used in The Prisoner cult TV series of the 1960s, although the architect always denied it. What is true, believe it or not, is that there is a full-scale replica of Portofino harbour at the Universal Orlando theme park in Florida, and another at Tokyo DisneySea.
We continue by boat to Rapallo, set within the National Park, with its castle, historic centre and promenade. Max Beerbohm and Ezra Pound lived here, Nietzche got his ideas here and Elmore Leonard set a crime caper here. We return to Chiavari by train (you'll need to walk back to the hotel from the station).
Tuesday Pisa & Lucca
Breakfast, then we take the short walk (150m) to the coach stop for our coach excursion to Pisa. We visit the famous walled Piazza dei Miracoli, which is dominated by Pisa's magnificent medieval cathedral and its 12th century campanile bell tower, possibly the world's most famous monument built by Messrs Bodgit and Scarper. The chief miracle is that it's still standing, given that it started leaning even while it was being built, and the higher storeys were angled during later construction to compensate for the tilt, so that if today it was pushed upright it would still look wonky.
From here we travel onto Lucca, dripping with history and famous for its intact Renaissance walls enclosing a cobbled centre in classic Roman grid-iron fashion, with a piazza still in the shape of the original amphitheatre. Lucca is the place where Caesar, Pompey and Crassus met to create their Triumvirate or gang-of-three, at the dawn of the Imperial age. Later, during the Machiavellian city-state era, Lucca rivalled Florence in prosperity and was the regional great power between Genoa to the west and Venice to the east. Dante lived here in exile, Puccini was born here, and the cultural connections remain live and vital. In recent times the Piazza Napoleone has seen live performances by international megastars like Roger Waters, Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana.
Wednesday Breakfast and then the day is at leisure until dinner. If you're in the mood for a trip out of town, Genoa (Genova) is just along the coast and easy to get to by train. It's a beautiful city, historically one of the powerhouses of Italy, birthplace of Christopher Columbus and Paganini, and the town that invented pesto sauce. Walking can be a challenge as it's very steep, with long flights of steps rising from the harbour to the centre of town, but buses are frequent.
Thursday Cinque Terre
Breakfast, then we walk to the railway station for our excursion to Cinque Terre, a quintet of the most photographed villages in the world, where the houses are packed and stacked closely round small harbours, Portofino-style, or else scrambled in disarray onto rocky coastal perches as if escaping from pirates - which in historical fact was often the case. We take the local train to Manarola - probably the oldest of the villages, with a profusion of red, orange and yellow houses shimmering above a turquoise bay. You might like to try a glass of Sciacchetra, Manarola's local wine. Then we travel by boat onto Vernazza, traffic free and perhaps the most unchanged of the villages. You can visit the Church of Santa Margherita d'Antiochia (c. 1318), Doria Castle and the Chapel of Santa Marta on the Via Roma.
We continue by boat to Monterosso, part old town and part new, and the only one of the five to have its own beach and seafront promenade. There's a ruined castle here, also the Church of St John the Baptist (c. 1282) and the Convent of Monterosso, which is noted for artistic treasures including a ceiling by Strozzi and paintings by Cambiaso and Van Dyck. We return to Chiavari by train in time for dinner.
Friday Breakfast and then another day at leisure until dinner.
Saturday Breakfast and then we transfer to Pisa airport for your flight home. The coach can only stop about 150 metres from the hotel (luggage assistance will be provided).