page 1
page 2
page 3
page 4
page 5
page 6
page 7
page 8
page 9
page 10
page 11
page 12
page 13
page 14
page 15
page 16
page 17
page 18
page 19
page 20
page 21
page 22
page 23
page 24
page 25
page 26
page 27
page 28
page 29
page 30
page 31
page 32
page 33
page 34
page 35
page 36
page 37
page 38
page 39
page 40
page 41
page 42
page 43
page 44
page 45
page 46
page 47
page 48
page 49
page 50
page 51
page 52
page 53
page 54
page 55
page 56
page 57
page 58
page 59
page 60
page 61
page 62
page 63
page 64
page 65
page 66
page 67
page 68
page 69
page 70
page 71
page 72
page 73
page 74
page 75
page 76
page 77
page 78
page 79
page 80
page 81
page 82
page 83
page 84
page 85
page 86
page 87
page 88
page 89
page 90
page 91
page 92
page 93
page 94
page 95
page 96
page 97
page 98
page 99
page 100
page 101
page 102
page 103
page 104
page 105
page 106
page 107
page 108
page 109
page 110
page 111
page 112
page 113
page 114
page 115
page 116
page 117
page 118
page 119
page 120
page 121
page 122
page 123
page 124
page 125
page 126
page 127
page 128
page 129
page 130
page 131
page 132
page 133
page 134
page 135
page 136
page 137
page 138
page 139
page 140
page 141
page 142
page 143
page 144
page 145
page 146
page 147
page 148
page 149
page 150
page 151
page 152
page 153
page 154
page 155
page 156
page 157
page 158
page 159
page 160
page 161
page 162
page 163
page 164
page 165
page 166
page 167
page 168
page 169
page 170
page 171
page 172
page 173
page 174
page 175
page 176
page 177
page 178
page 179
page 180
page 181
page 182
page 183
page 184
page 185
page 186
page 187
page 188
page 189
page 190
page 191
page 192
page 193
page 194
page 195
page 196
page 197
page 198
page 199
page 200
page 201
page 202
page 203
page 204
page 205
page 206
page 207
page 208
page 209
page 210
page 211
page 212
page 213
page 214
page 215
page 216
page 217
page 218
page 219
page 220
page 221
page 222
page 223
page 224
page 225
page 226
page 227
page 228
page 229
page 230
page 231
page 232
page 233
page 234
page 235
page 236
page 237
page 238
page 239
page 240
page 241
page 242
page 243
page 244
page 245
page 246
page 247
page 248
page 249
page 250
page 251
page 252
page 253
page 254
page 255
page 256
page 257
page 258
page 259
page 260
page 261
page 262
page 263
page 264
page 265
page 266
page 267
page 268
page 269
page 270
page 271
page 272
page 273
page 274
page 275
page 276
page 277
page 278
page 279
page 280
page 281
page 282
page 283
page 284
page 285
page 286
page 287
page 288
page 289
page 290
page 291
page 292

Tuscany is, in so many ways, the veryessence of Italy. The name aloneconjures up the vivid images sobeloved of painters: those rollinglandscapes outlined by dark cypress treesand enlivened by vibrant splashes of redpoppies, the whole bathed in thatwonderful light seemingly peculiar to Italy.Olive groves, vineyards and magnificenthill-top towns nestle alongside some of themost famous artistic and cultural treasuresin Europe. The modern Italian languagewas born here from the famous works ofDante and Boccaccio, whilst the regionalso witnessed the birth of the greatRenaissance period. The centre of it allwas Florence, where important works of art testify to the genius of the likes ofLeonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.Tuscany is also home to such othercultural gems as the medieval cities ofSiena and Pisa and the smaller SanGimignano. This fascinating and uniquetour will enable us to combine some ofthese wonders with the rich natural history of the region.We begin our holiday with a flight to Pisa,from where we will head south-westtowards the coastal strip and inland hills ofMaremma, our base for the next fivenights. En route we will stop at thestunning little medieval town of SanGimignano. Perched on a hill, with itsfamous towers silhouetted against the sky,it resists all efforts to bring it into themodern world. The hills and coastline ofour destination are protected within theRegional Park of Maremma, which claimsto be the last virgin coastal landscape onthe Italian peninsula. Stunning countrysidecombines coastal marshland, cliffs andpristine sandy beaches backed by standsof Umbrella Pines, Mediterranean maquisand forested hills. Herds of the region'scelebrated white cattle and wild Maremmahorses graze amongst picturesque farms,pastureland and olive groves. The flora istypically Mediterranean and speciesinclude Narrow-leaved and Grey Cistus,Strawberry Tree, Tree Medick and a varietyof heathers, whilst on the sandy beachesCatchfly (Silene littorea), Crucianellamaritimaand Chamomile (Anthemismaritimus) are found. Such varied habitatssupport a wide selection of birds, includingsuch species as Purple Heron, YelkouanShearwater, Short-toed Eagle, Montagu'sHarrier, Peregrine Falcon, Scops Owl,Stone Curlew, Great-spotted Cuckoo,Roller, Hoopoe, Subalpine and DartfordWarbler and Zitting Cisticola. Travelling through rolling hills, scatteredwith small medieval towns and castles, wewill visit a variety of fine sites for flora andfauna during our stay in the region. Thesewill include WWF reserves at Orbetello,Bosco di Patanella and Bosco Rocconi.Orbetello Lagoon is a Ramsar Site, onaccount of its strategic importance duringbird migration, and at the time of our visitsuch species as Greater Flamingo, GlossyIbis, Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, GreatWhite Egret, Whiskered Tern, GoldenOriole and Great Reed Warbler may all beseen. The reserves also hold numerousbutterflies, amongst them Swallowtail,Scarce Swallowtail, Southern Festoon (athreatened species in Tuscany), Two-tailedPasha and a variety of coppers, blues,fritillaries and skippers, whilst such orchidsas Pink Butterfly, Bog, Yellow Ophrys,Ophrys saratoiand Monkey Orchid arefound here. Surrounded by crystal clearwaters, the main attraction of picturesqueGiglio Island is its colony of Audouin'sGulls, one of the rarest gull species in theworld and a Mediterranean endemic. Herewe will also hope to see Cory's andYelkouan Shearwater, Peregrine Falconand Blue Rock Thrush. Mouflon, theendemic butterfly Elban Heath and manyplant species, such as Linaria caprariaandthe Sea Lavender Limonium sommierianum(both endemics of the Tuscan archipelago)also occur on the island.The botanists in our party will relish timespent on the Argentario promontory, anarea second only to the GarganoPeninsula when it comes to abundance oforchids within Italy. Some 42 species havebeen recorded here, amongst which areYellow Ophrys, Ophrys saratoi, Small-flowered Tongue, Naked Man, Green-winged, Pink Butterfly, Dense-flowered,Man and Monkey Orchids. We will alsohope to find flowering gladioli, Asphodelusaestivus,Anemone hortensisand Star ofBethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum)amongst other species. Next we will travel to the National Park ofForeste Casentinesi, stopping en route toexplore Siena, one of the greatestmedieval towns in Europe and a treasure-house of Gothic architecture and artmasterpieces. Casentino is an area of firand beech forests in which we will bebased for our final two nights. Here we will search for woodland wildlife and, whilst Wolves do occur in the forest, they are elusive and rarely seen. Our tourconcludes with a short visit to Florence(flight times permitting), where we willwander over the shop-lined Ponte Vecchio and soak in the sights of themagnificent buildings dominated by thebreathtaking dome of the great cathedral.One of the most beautiful and famouscities in the world, Cradle of theRenaissance and home of the Medici,Florence is overwhelming. TUSCANY TYRRHENIAN SEA PISA FLORENCE SAN GIMIGNANO CASENTINOSIENA GROSSETO RISPESCIA GIGLIO ORBETELLO ISLAND REGIONAL PARK OF MAREMMA ELBA 86Call now or visit your free Trip ItineraryOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Pisa; transfer toMaremma.Day 2/5A daily programme ofnatural history walksfrom our base atMaremma.Day 6/7Siena and Casentino.Day 8Florence, then flyLondon.AccommodationComfortable hotels with privatefacilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingDay walks only. Grade A/B.FocusPlants, birds and butterflies, plusthe chance to enjoy a little of Italy'sfine cuisine, Renaissance art andarchitecture. LeaderPaul Harmes. Single room supplement£160.ExtensionsExtra nights in Florence or Pisaarranged on request.Web quick search: ITA09Tuscany in SpringAn 8-day exploration of the natural history and cultural treasures of Tuscany.Thursday 2nd May - Thursday 9th May Cost: £1,395The Duomo, FlorenceLarge CopperAudouin's Gull

Stretching the length of Italy, theApennine Mountains provide arefuge for much of Italy's mostinteresting natural history. Ancient forestsand flower-filled meadows are abuzz withinsect-life and birds, whilst mammalsinclude healthy populations of both BrownBear and Wolf. Although typically elusiveand rarely seen, our groups in each of thelast four years have enjoyed wonderfulsightings of Brown Bear, with Wolf alsoseen in 2008 and 2010. We hope forsimilar success in 2012! This is very mucha working rural landscape of rolling hillsand traditional sheep farming, madespecial by its wealth of atmosphericmedieval villages, traditional cuisine andaromatic local wines, all of which combineto make this holiday a well-rounded andenjoyable Italian experience. Set in the heart of the Apennines is theAbruzzo National Park, established by royaldecree in 1923 and today protecting an areaof 400 square kilometres. This park is thefocus of our single-centre holiday, duringwhich we will be based in a comfortable,family-run hotel, set in a quiet location at theedge of the large village of Pescasseroli, inthe foothills of the Apennines. Delicious andwholesome Italian cuisine, a garden which ishome to Redstarts, Firecrests, CollaredFlycatchers and Red Squirrels, and thenearby and interesting medieval quarter addfurther to the attractions of this village base,from which we will set out each day -sometimes walking straight out from thegarden into the surrounding countryside -to enjoy a series of natural history walksamongst the delightful valleys and peaks ofthis pleasant rural region, exploring themeadows, majestic old beech forests andhigh alpine pastures (usually within a 20-kilometre radius of our hotel). Our aim is notto focus too intently on any particular wildlifeaspect but rather to enjoy the wealth of localflora, birdlife, butterflies and mammals,including Chamois and perhaps even aglimpse of an endemic Marsican BrownBear or Apennine Wolf for which the park isrenowned. The area's geology is calcareousand this feature, together with the widerange of habitats and altitudes (from 700 to2,200 metres) within the park, are the mainreasons for the outstanding flora, whichincludes a large variety of bellflowers,saxifrages and orchids. We will also providetime to soak in the region's atmosphere,enjoying the culture and history found inabundance in the Apennine villages, andperhaps sampling and slipping home someof the delicious, locally produced honey,truffles and cheeses for which the area isjustly renowned.At the Camosciara, a dramatic dolomiticamphitheatre, we will search for such plantsas Swallow-wort, Glaucous Spurge, KidneyVetch, Spiny Restharrow, Nice Milkwort andthe rare and beautiful Lady's Slipper Orchid.Nearby, amongst the forests and clearingsof this area, we will listen for Firecrests,Coal Tits, Serins, Crossbills and, with luck,the elusive Black Woodpecker. Towards thetop of the Camosciara, the views of thesurrounding mountains are quitespectacular and, as well as a wealth offlowers here, we will also enjoy theabundance of butterflies that they attract (ifthe sun is out!). Golden Eagles regularlynest nearby and we will keep an eye out forthem and other mountain birds. On another day we will focus on the ValFondillo, ascending a trail throughpastures and small wetlands whereAdenostyles glabraand such orchids asMan, Toothed, Lady, Early Spider andHeath Spotted may be found. Later, as wereach the forest, we may come acrossMezereon, Martagon Lily and StinkingHellebore beneath ancient and statelyBeech trees. Birdwatching here is alsogood, with Redstarts, all of the region's sixspecies of Woodpecker (Green, Black, White-backed, Lesser, Middle and GreatSpotted) and Western Bonelli's Warblerchoosing to breed in these forests. The Vallone Pesco di Lordo, which risesgently through meadows andbeechwoods, will occupy another of ourdays. A range of butterflies are to beenjoyed here, while plants may includesuch woodland species as Coralroot(Cardamine bulbifera), Herb Paris (Parisquadrifolia) and the prized endemicMarsican Iris (Iris marsica). Later we willretrace our steps and travel to the'landslip', north of Pescasseroli. Althoughthe landslide occurred several years ago,the soil has not been cleared from theroad and remains a feature of the area.Here we will revisit a meadow which wescan for Bears at dawn and dusk, this timefocusing on the rich variety of orchidspecies it holds, including Lady, Burnt,Toothed, Fragrant and a form of EarlyPurple Orchid. Amongst the highlights each day will bethe selection of a scenic spot at which tobreak our walk with a leisurely anddelicious lunch made from local produce.This will be a time to relax amongst anabundance of Apennine flowers andattendant butterflies, to scan the slopesaround us for Red Deer, Chamois,Peregrine, Golden Eagle, Chough andAlpine Chough - perhaps even aMarsican Brown Bear! - and to reflect onthe many charms of this attractive regionof rural Italy.The Apennines: Italy'sAbruzzo National ParkAn 8-day natural history holiday looking at the alpine and Mediterranean plants, birds and butterflies of theAbruzzo National Park, in the central Apennines, home of the endemic Marsican Brown Bear and Apennine Wolf.Thursday 23rd May - Thursday 30th May Cost: £1,295Thursday 30th May - Thursday 6th June Cost: £1,295Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationABRUZZO NATIONAL PARK PESCARA FROM/TOROMEPESCASSEROLI ADRIATIC SEA ITALY Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Rome and transferto Pescasseroli.Day 2/7Wildlife walks in theAbruzzo National Parkfrom Pescasseroli.Day 8Transfer to Rome and flyLondon. AccommodationA single-centre holiday based in acomfortable, family-run hotel; allrooms have private facilities. FoodAll included in the price.GradingGrade B. All walks are optional daywalks, some of them on quite steepand rocky terrain.FocusPlants, birds, mammals andbutterflies. LeadersJessica Turner (botanist) and LeeMorgan (ornithologist).Single room supplement£160.ExtensionsExtra nights in Rome, forsightseeing, available on request.Web quick search: ITA0687Abruzzo National ParkSouthern FestoonHeath Spotted Orchid