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European Trip - From Constance to Florence
Thursday 18 June 2009 - Sunday 28 June 2009
Dress: Please see event instructions

A palace and castle crawl across the Alps

This visit involves a leisurely crossing of the Alps using a little known but spectacular pass and visiting a number of private palaces and castles. It has, inevitably, been put together at very short notice, but all save one of our hosts and hostesses have confirmed that they will receive us.

The trip will deliberately NOT visit sights or buildings usually open to the public, so please do not expect the conventional tourist attractions to feature. Instead we shall be given a very personal welcome into strictly private residences, some of which will never have had a coach party before! In all cases our hosts and hostesses have offered to provide refreshments to us entirely at their own expense.

The visit will commence at Zurich on the 18th June. The visit will last 10 nights, and we shall have the benefit of an excellent Austrian coach and driver for the duration. The departure airport will be Pisa.

The provisional itinerary is as follows:

Day One

Fly to Zurich, where we shall be met by the Master and Clerk.

Visit to the private but world-famous art collection of the Buhler family.

Drive by private coach (1.5 hours to Lindau, Bavaria, where we spend the first three nights at the 5* Hotel Bayerischerhof on Lake Constance. The hotel is on the lakeside overlooking the stunning harbour of Lindau, itself a spectacular former free Imperial City. Dinner at the hotel.

Day Two

A late morning start. Drive to the Principality of Liechtenstein, where we shall have lunch at the historic inn, 'Die Lowe', at Schellenberg, on a hill-top overlooking the Rhine valley and Churfirsten Alps. Visit the capital, Vaduz, including, it is hoped (and subject to the kind permission of the Hereditary Prince of Liechtenstein), the courtyard and treasure vaults of the Castle. These are never open to the public, and the vaults contain an amazing art collection. On the way home visit the Jewish Cemetery and Museum of Hohenems. The Princely State of Hohenems, which was independent until 1836, was the first in Europe to grant full emancipation and trading rights to the Jewish community.

Dinner at a mountain restaurant near Dornbirn overlooking Lake Constance.

Day Three

A morning private guided tour of the lovely little city of Lindau.

Afternoon at leisure, with ample shopping opportunities, or possibly a cruise on a lake steamer.

In the evening a dinner in our honour hosted by Their Illustrious Highnesses The Hereditary Count and Countess Franz-Clements Waldburg-Zeil-Hohenems in the Rittersaal of the Palace of Hohenems, their private residence just across the border in Vorarlberg. The Palace is the finest renaissance building north of the Alps, being built in the 18th century by the then Count and his wife, the daughter of a Medici and sister of Prince Carlo Borromeo, (as in the Borromean islands in Lake Maggiore) In the room adjoining the hall was found in the 18th century the scrolls of the Ring of the Nibelungen. There will be other guests for dinner, including, it is hoped, Their Royal Highnesses The Hereditary Duke and Duchess of Wurttemberg and members of other neighbouring Princely Families.

Day Four

Drive via the Reschen Pass to the South Tyrol, the German-speaking province given to Italy by the Treaty of Versailles. This is a fairytale landscape of more than three hundred castles, and is still the seat of most of the ancient Austrian noble families. Visit Schloss Churburg, seat of Count and Countess von Trapp. We shall be received by the Count and Countess and shown around by them. They have also generously offered refreshments. The Churburg is perched romantically on the side of a mountain and contains the world's largest arms collection.

Continue to the luxurious and idiosyncratic Hotel Emmy (superior 4*) at Vols-am-Schlern, near Bozen for three nights. This is spectacularly situated above the Eisack Gorge in the middle of pastures with the Dolomites as a backdrop. It is truly unforgettable.

Dinner at the hotel.

Day Five

A private visit to Burg Karneid, a mediaeval fortress perched on top of a pinnacle of rock above the Eggental. Formerly the home of the Lichtenstein family, it is now the seat of Count and Countess Christof Malaise, who will show us around personally and entertain us.

After lunch we move to Schloss Spauer, seat of Count and Countess von Spauer. This castle, with its extraordinary collection of Gothic rooms, is never open to the public, but the Count and Countess will show us around and also provide refreshments.

Dinner at the hotel.

Day Six

Morning at leisure to stroll around the village or walk through the wildflower meadows. The hotel has a panoramic terrace, a superb spa, and of course, a swimming pool. At noon drive to Schloss Manincor on the Kalterersee lake. Lunch and a wine-tasting with Count and Countess Michael von Goess-Enzenberg, who own the greatest vineyard on the South Tyrol Weinstrasse. (Indigenous grapes include the Terlaner and Traminer grapes!) There will also be a viewing of the famous wine-cellars.

En route home, visit Schloss Terlan, seat of the Count and Countess of Meran, great-great-nephew and niece of the Emperor Franz-Josef. We will be shown round the castle and its world-famous garden, and then entertained to tea.

Dinner at the hotel.

Day Seven

Continue to Florence, to a hotel which still has to be confirmed for four nights.

Days Eight to Ten

During the three full days we shall visit the private palaces of the Coda-Nunciati and other families in and near Florence. In all cases the families will show us around their strictly private palazzos which are not visited by tourists. At the Antinoris, we shall have a wine-tasting at their famous vineyard and the Marchesa Alvira Antinori will show us around their summer palace.

A visit will also be made to the Vasari Corridor, which links the Uffizzi and Pitti Palaces, crossing the Ponte Vecchio. This was built as an escape route for the Medici family and is only rarely opened. It contains an amazing collection of paintings.

There will be a further visit to the Palazzo Corsini and its private gardens, where Her Highness Princess Corsini will welcome us. She will also host us for dinner one evening.

On another evening we shall drive up to Fiesole to the palazzo of Countess Ricabotti, who will entertain us for cocktails on the terrace with its magnificent view over Florence.

The precise order of these various visits will firm up in the spring.

Day Eleven

Depart for Pisa Airport.

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