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Italy CPT Updated Banner 2022
CGEE partners with Castello Sonnino International, a historical farm and winery that produces quality wines, olive oils and antique grains. Castello Sonnino sits on 150 hectares, in the heart of Montespertoli, the smallest Chianti sub-region just 20 kilometers southwest of Florence, Italy. Montespertoli is a small village within walking distance from the Castle with approximately 14,000 inhabitants, offering a farmer’s market, shops and restaurants and surrounded by rich grapevines, olive groves, and forests. Castello Sonnino dates back to the 17th century with a medieval tower from the 13th century and has been inhabited by noble Florentine families throughout its history. Today a portion of it has been transformed into an example of sustainable development for researchers, educators and students committed to preserving the environment and cultural heritage. 

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Popular themes in Italy include (but are not limited to):

* Agriculture and Sustainable Development
* Architecture and landscape architecture
* Arts and Culture
* Art history
* Biodiversity
* Business
* Craftsmanship
* Cuisine 
* Edible plants
* Enology: the science of winemaking
* Environment and Ecotourism
* Fashion
* Food security
* Food Sovereignty and Sustainability
* History
* Marketing
* Olive Oil Production
* Politics
* Religion and Faith
* Slow Food Movement
Montespertoli:  CGEE’s partner organization, Castello Sonnino International,  is located in the beautiful village of Montespertoli, which is about 35 miles from Florence.  Montespertoli is one of Tuscany’s renowned wine capitals. But beyond the views, vines and historic estates, the charm of this medieval town lies in the low-key glimpse of the Tuscan life it provides, with the butcher, baker, farmers’ market and gelateria just a few paces apart along Via Roma. The entire center’s narrow streets and squares are easily visited on foot.    
Florence: Located in Central Italy and the capital of the Tuscany region, Florence is considered to have been the birthplace of the Renaissance, and the narrow, cobbled streets and elegant 15th and 16th century palaces still reflect the memory of that era. The city features world-class art, unforgettable architecture, and gourmet Tuscan cuisine that includes produce sourced locally, seasonally, and sustainably. It’s no surprise that this city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and rated a ‘Top 10 City’ to travel to in 2022.

Pisa: While this city might be most well-known for its leaning tower, it is a city in Central Italy with a long history. Ancient Romans often referred to Pisa as an “old city,” and while there is speculation about the origins of this city, in 180 BC it became a Roman city under Roman law. With the Arno River winding through the city and emptying into the Ligurian Sea, Pisa was an important maritime city that maintained trade relations with other Mediterranean civilizations. This trade helped finance much of the city’s architecture that still stands today, including the torre pendente de Pisa (the Leaning Tower of Pisa), as well as many other works of art and architecture located with the tower in the Piazza dei Miracoli, the “Square of Miracles.” If you make it up to the top of the tower, you might get to witness an unforgettable view of the city, Arno River, surrounding mountains, and sea in the distance. 

Siena: One of the most important cities in medieval Europe, Siena continues to uphold certain traditions and customs from its medieval past. One of these traditions is the Palio, perhaps the one of the world’s most well-known horse races–where bareback riders race on cobblestones. Another preserved tradition is their ward-centric culture in which each ward (contrada) is represented by an animal and mascot and has its own boundary and identity. Lastly, the historic medieval center is also UNESCO World Heritage Site.  

San Gimignano: Known as the “the town of beautiful towers,” this small, medieval-walled hilltop town in north-central Italy has unique and unforgettable architecture that tells a story from the past. Fourteen of the 72 towers still remain, and the walls of the town contain several well-preserved buildings of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. It’s no surprise then that the “Historic Centre of San Gimignano” is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. San Gimignano is also known for saffron and its wine which comes from an ancient variety of grape that is grown on the hillsides of the area. 

Lucca: Located in Central Italy in Tuscany, this city is known as a “Città d’arte” (arts town), due to its historic center that boasts buildings and monuments from as early as the second half of the 1st century A.D. (Piazza dell’Anfiteatro). Additionally, various world-renowned composers such as Giacomo Puccini, Alfredo Catalini, and Luigi Boccherini were born in Lucca. The city is surrounded by walls built during the Renaissance that are completely intact and have been made into walking and biking paths. Like many other sites in Tuscany, there is pride in participating in the slow food movement, and Lucca’s dishes are supplied with fresh produce from nearby Garfagnana. 
Certaldo is a well preserved Medieval walled town, about 20 miles southwest of Florence. It’s quaint and charming and offers beautifully preserved Medieval architecture and a relaxed atmosphere. It also has unbeatable views from the top of Casa Boccaccio, the home of Giovanni Boccaccio, a renowned writer, poet, and scholar from the Renaissance era. Certaldo has been an important spot since the early Middle Ages due to its proximity to the Via Francigena, an ancient road that runs from Rome to Canterbury, crossing Switzerland and France. The town developed around the main street, via Boccaccio, which still today is the heart of the community.
Rome: About an hour and a half from Florence by train, Rome is the capital city of Italy. Located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, it is the country's most populated city.  According to legend, Rome was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus in 753 BCE. The city is located on the banks of the river Tiber and was founded on top of seven hills and was the center of power for the Roman Empire.  It is also generally considered to be the "cradle of Western civilization and Christian Culture” and the center for the Catholic Church. Essentially, the city of Rome is one giant museum and the complete historic city center is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Assisi:  A hill town in central Italy’s Umbria region, Assisi is the birthplace of St. Francis (1181–1226), one of Italy’s patron saints. The Basilica of St. Francis is a massive, 2-level church, consecrated in 1253. Its 13th-century frescoes portraying the life of St. Francis have been attributed to Giotto and Cimabue, among others.

Perugia:  The capital of the Umbria region, Perugia is about 2 hours southeast of Florence. The history of Perugia goes back to the Etruscan period; Perugia was one of the main Etruscan cities.  The city is known for its defensive walls around the historic center and the medieval Priori Palace exhibits regional art from the 13th century onward. Looking onto Piazza IV Novembre, the Gothic cathedral houses beautiful Renaissance paintings and frescoes.

Volterra:  About an hour and a half drive west of Florence, this hilltop town in the Tuscany region of Italy comes with similar characteristics that define Tuscany without the crowds and busy tourism. Its history is believed to date back to 8th century BC as an important Etruscan center, but Volterra also includes substantial structures from the Roman and Medieval periods, including the Roman Theatre of Volterra which is over 2,000 years old. Up on the hilltops of this town, you can also enjoy breathtaking views of the rolling hills and vineyards of the Tuscan countryside.
Pienza: Pienza is a city in the Val d’Orcia region of Tuscany, about an hour and a half south of Florence. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is considered the touchstone of Renaissance urbanism. Formerly the village Corsignana, it was renamed and redesigned to embody the Humanist vision of the “ideal city.” It was built in honor of and at the command of the most famous of all its inhabitants in history, Pope Pius II (1405-1464; reigned as Pope starting in 1458). In Pienza, the architecture blends into the landscape beautifully and the town offers amazing views over the Orcia Valley.
Bologna:  Bologna is the lively, historic capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, in northern Italy. Its Piazza Maggiore is a sprawling plaza lined with arched colonnades, cafes and medieval and Renaissance structures such as City Hall, the Fountain of Neptune and the Basilica di San Petronio. 
Venice: The capital of northern Italy’s Veneto region, Venice is built on more than 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. It has no roads, just canals – including the Grand Canal thoroughfare – lined with Renaissance and Gothic palaces. The central square, Piazza San Marco, contains St. Mark’s Basilica, which is tiled with Byzantine mosaics, and the Campanile bell tower offering views of the city’s red roofs.

Naples: Naples is the regional capital of Campania and the third-largest city of Italy, after Rome and Milan. The city is full of history, art, architecture, delicious food and spectacular views.  But it’s the wood-fired pizza that really brings the crowds. Naples’ historic center (a UNESCO World Heritage site) offers plenty of attractions between pizzeria stops, including the Chiesa di San Gregorio Armeno, a 16th-century Baroque masterpiece, and the Duomo, a Roman Catholic cathedral that broke ground in the 13th century. Visitors can end the day as locals do, taking a walk as the sun sets over the Bay of Naples.
Cinque Terre:  Cinque Terre is a string of centuries-old seaside villages on the rugged Italian Riviera coastline. In each of the 5 towns, colorful houses and vineyards cling to steep terraces, harbors are filled with fishing boats and trattorias turn out seafood specialties along with the Liguria region’s famous sauce, pesto. The Sentiero Azzurro cliffside hiking trail links the villages and offers sweeping sea vistas. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Need some ideas of what you can do? View our sample programs that show possibilities in different themes! Use a sample program as a building block and then customize from there to fit your organization's needs.

Sample Programs:
Interfaith Eating and the Ethics of Food
An Exploration of the Arts and Culture in Tuscany
Climate Change and Biodiversity
The Art of Sustainable Living: A Culinary Journey

Costs will be unique to the programming activities you choose for your program, the number of participants, the length of the program, etc.

The prices below represent the typical per person cost for an 10-day/9-night program in the Tuscany region of Italy. Prices can decrease when costs can be shared among a larger group of participants. These prices include two free leaders, some meals, and do not include the cost of airfare.

Destination 15 Participants 20 Participants 25 Participants
Italy / Tuscany Region $3300 $2950 $2850
This estimate is only an approximation based on other programming we have done in Tuscany, Italy.  After you have submitted your application and we have worked out an itinerary specific to you, the program cost and payment instructions will be sent. Group scholarships are also available on a limited basis.
Questions about Italy custom programming? Contact Peggy Johnson at: 


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