A Better Way to Travel

Welcome to Hub & Spoke, a boutique tour company providing exclusive small group European travel experiences.

The Hub & Spoke Way

Our trips follow 4 guidelines:

1. Hub & Spoke

A proven travel methodology with a twist. Ditch the whistle-stop tours and immerse yourself fully in a new country & culture.

2. Small Groups

Groups of ~12 like-minded travelers allow you to explore destinations that are off-limits to larger tours.

3. Authentic Connections

Meet, talk, and dine with genuine locals, often in their own homes and at their preferred pace.

4. Tested Experiences

We vet & hand-select every guide and every stop ourselves, in-person, ensuring only the best.

ITALY | Tuscany 2020

We're Asher & Melissa

Asher Lewis and Melissa Lewis Noonan are a brother-sister team committed to providing you a better way to experience the world.

First and foremost lifelong learners, we've combined our love for travel & hosting alongside our own unique gifts to bring you Hub & Spoke.

We invite you to join us on one of our 2020 trips and experience exclusive itineraries you won't find anywhere else. Years in the making and months of planning have gone into designing your next unforgettable adventure.

Melissa

Melissa has an undergraduate degree from Centre College and a Juris Doctorate from St. Mary's University, San Antonio, TX. A member of the Texas Bar, Melissa is also a licensed Texas real estate broker.

She planned her first family trip to Charleston, S.C. in third grade and hasn't looked back since! From high school church choir tours, participation in study abroad programs, leading college alumni groups on foreign excursions, to home-school educating her children abroad, Melissa has an infectious passion and enthusiasm to share the world with others.

Asher

Asher is a graduate of Texas A&M University (Gig 'em Aggies!) and a software consultant for companies across the U.S.

He is a modern-day Renaissance guy who's as comfortable entertaining with a guitar as he is solving a difficult logistics challenge. A collector and connoisseur at heart, Asher has a passion that spans many interests including fine watches, bourbon, and wine. He's an easy conversationalist who loves discussing and sharing his newest discoveries. Need help selecting travel gear? He's happy to oblige!

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2020 ITALY | Tuscany

Available Dates

October 5-12, 2020 (waiting list only)
October 15-22, 2020 (waiting list only)

$3,685 USD pp includes 7-Nights accommodations & all land travel.

Overview

Ciao and welcome to ITALY | Tuscany 2020! We invite you to join us as we immerse ourselves in the heart of the wine region Chianti, and explore various cities & towns throughout the Tuscan hillsides.

Our accommodations include seven nights in an exclusive villa situated between Siena and Florence. With commanding views of Chianti, this secluded winery estate was in ruins for hundreds of years, and has been recently restored into a modern retreat.

A few highlights of the trip include expert-led VIP private tours of well-known cities Florence and Siena, four private wine tastings from very diverse wineries & vineyards, an exquisite candlelight dinner inside a wine cellar that once served as a WWII bunker, and an unforgettable hands-on cooking class where you'll create a four-course masterpiece from scratch.

We will, of course, provide plenty of free time for you to explore independently, and nestle in at the villa with nothing but a glass of wine and a picturesque view.

Years in the making and months of planning have gone into designing an unforgettable 7-Night Tuscan adventure. We'd love to host you on this journey.

Melissa & Asher

Day 01

After rendezvousing at the Florence train station, we’ll take the city’s new tram system to reach our two vans. We’ll make one very special stop at the Florence American Cemetery – seventy serene, sobering acres that rest the remains of 4,000 US soldiers who died fighting in Italy during WWII.

A 40-minute drive from there takes us to our home base for the week. The villa’s estate occupies one of the most privileged locations in Chianti, and strikes the perfect balance of refined luxury and countryside living. You’ll have the remainder of the evening to settle into your spacious and private apartment, acquaint yourself with other guests, and soak up the majestic view.

A welcome aperitivo (traditional Italian pre-meal drinks) and simple dinner at the villa will set you up for a good night’s sleep.

Day 02

Our day begins in the tiny town of Pienza, widely known as The First Ideal Renaissance City. Nestled along the winding Tuscan roads, it’s the perfect place to stroll charming streets (including Via Dell Amore, the street of love!), enjoy a breathtaking panorama of the Val d’Orcia region, and of course, sample extraordinary cheeses – Pienza is, after all, the city of cacio (cheese)!

Join the group for optional lunch reservations at a quaint trattoria (our favorite ristorante in Pienza!) or grab lunch at your leisure from one of our recommended spots.

After lunch, we’ll head 45 minutes southeast through the town of Montalcino. A private wine tasting awaits you at one of the world’s best Brunello di Montalcino makers – five different wines including a vertical of 3 Brunello vintages hand-selected in consultation with our personal US-based wine expert.

The evening concludes with dinner back at the villa.

Day 03

We’ll get an early start this morning and head to Florence, the Cradle of the Renaissance. After parking and a tram ride to downtown, our friend & Florence expert Molly will lead us on a deep dive walking tour into the history, art, and architecture of Florence. This includes Michelangelo’s masterpiece David in the Galleria dell’Accademia, a close-up exterior view of Brunelleschi’s iconic cathedral dome, a look at Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria, as well as some unexpected surprises.

You’ll enjoy lunch and some time to stroll & shop on your own, with plenty of recommendations from our guide Molly.

After lunch, you will have the opportunity to explore on your own, or join Molly for an optional afternoon tour of Florence artisans in the Oltrarno district located across the famed Ponte Vecchio bridge on the Arno River.

Tonight, you will be treated to a truly special & unique dinner at our villa’s winery located near the town of Poggibonsi. We will enjoy four traditional Italian courses and a full wine tasting.

Day 04

Slow down, escape to the countryside, and live a day as a local – preparing homemade Tuscan food and enjoying a glass that never empties with an unforgettable hands-on cooking class.

We will meet our host near neighboring town (and hidden gem!) Colle di Val D’Elsa, where you’ll learn honest traditional recipes, all reproducible at home for family & friends. Beginners and experts alike will learn Tuscan secrets while cooking a meal completely from scratch – including appetizers, fresh pasta, main course, side dish and dessert. Then we’ll sit together and enjoy our masterpiece family-style.

After lunch, we’ll continue il Dolce Far Niente (the restful life) back at the villa (or a spontaneous trip to Castellina & Radda for those with boundless energy).

A light dinner will be served at the villa to end the evening.

Day 05

The longest “spoke” of our trip, we’ll drive 1.5 hours to Pisa. It’s time to mark this world-famous site off your bucket list and have a little fun along the way. Be sure to take that quintessential photograph of you supporting the Torre Pendente (Leaning Tower).

Then we press on to visit lovely Lucca. We will get a brief introductory tour of this unique city with a local friend & tour guide, and then you are free to explore. Take time to experience the top of the 3+ mile medieval city walls with an optional bicycle rental, or just enjoy strolling, shopping, and lunch on your own.

Fancy a wine tasting while you are in Lucca? We would be happy to help facilitate a visit to an unassuming enoteca that has hidden block-long subterranean wine caves ripe for exploration.

If you haven’t fallen in love with Tuscany yet, you will in Lucca.

Enjoy a relaxed 4-course dinner this evening back at the villa.

Day 06

You’ve never entered a city quite the way you will enter Siena! We will travel up 5 escalators to the top of the hill where the lovely town of Siena is perched. After a quick stop for a spot of refreshment in a famous century-old bar and pasticceria, we'll meet our local guide and Siena native, Stella, in Piazza del Campo. She will introduce us to the city of the famed Palio horse race, and will guide us in our visit to the 13th-century cathedral known for its beautiful facade adorned with symbolic black & white marble stripes.

After traversing the hills of Siena, we'll travel 45 minutes to a mid-sized fattoria (farm) just outside the city of San Gimignano. There, we'll enjoy a multi-course family-style lunch accompanied by three types of wine -- all produced and bottled onsite. From the terrace of our farm restaurant, you will enjoy unforgettable views of San Gimignano, known for its numerous surviving medieval towers. These towers have given “San Gim” the nickname Manhattan of Tuscany!

A brief drive home leaves the remainder of the day to rest and relax at our villa. A light dinner will be served to balance our lunchtime feast.

Day 07

The winding Chianti roads lead us to a boutique family-owned winery just outside Panzano. This twenty-acre farm sits on the Conca d’Oro (The Golden Bowl), a fertile area with excellent exposure and its own micro-climate. The owner will provide a brief tour through his vineyards and cellar, sharing the truly unique processes and varieties produced onsite by this hardworking family operation.

We will cap off our visit with a generous tasting and an authentic cucina chiantigiana lunch homemade by our host’s octogenarian mother, Anna. She and her husband were tenant farmers on this land for years and were able to purchase it in the early 1980s. Their son now carries on the legacy, and as a tribute to the his parents' dedication, family photos adorn each wine label.

We'll continue our day with a stop in Greve, where you will have a chance to explore and shop the interesting triangular shaped piazza. Don't miss the “temple of wine”, the largest wine enoteca in Tuscany featuring over 1000 wines -- with 100+ available for tasting using an innovative enomatic system.

On our way back to our villa, we will make one more stop at the granddaddy of Italian wineries, Antinori nel Chianti. Tracing its history back 26 generations to the 1300s, the Antinori name is known the world over. You’ll enjoy a stroll through the modern edifice that houses their business operations and marvel at the famous corkscrew staircase rising through the entire structure. We will cap it all off with a visit to their wine shop replete with designer products -- and for those who are interested, a casual tasting of a few Antinori wines.

After all the indulgences of the day, we will have a low key, casual evening with a light dinner enjoying our hillside villa.

Available Dates

Interested in an optional 3-Night Rome Tour extension?
October 12-15, 2020

Participants in the ITALY | Tuscany Experience may choose to add an optional extension to their trip: a fast-paced, memorable 3-Night Rome Extension. Sites will include The Vatican, St. Peters Basilica, Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and Forum.

These dates fall between the two Tuscany experiences. Interested? Select "Yes" when prompted in your registration form and we will send you details!

Details

What's Included

Seven (7) nights accommodation [double occupancy] in a spacious apartment that includes your own private bedroom, bathroom, kitchen/kitchenette, and living area.
Single occupancy carries an additional fee. Triple/quad occupancy discounts may be possible, as several guest apartments have 2 bedrooms / 2 baths and can be shared. Ask us directly for details.
Transportation during the week:
Local van transportation & all parking to/from daily destinations.Any necessary tram/train tickets.
Seven (7) “Italian continental” breakfasts.
Examples of what may be served include meats & cheeses, yogurts, granola/cereals, fresh fruits, breads & pastries, juice, coffee/espresso, and tea. Espresso makers are also available in each apartment.
Three (3) lunches:
One (1) elite hands-on cooking class with lunch and wine.Two (2) traditional Italian four-course winery lunches with wine tastings.
Seven (7) dinners:
One (1) arrival dinner with aperitivos (pre-meal drinks).One (1) formal four-course winery dinner with wine tastings.Two (2) handmade four-course dinners prepared & hosted by our villa.Three (3) casual buffet-style dinners (on days with heavy lunches).Snacks & Water available between meals.
Expert-guided private VIP tours of Florence (3-4 hours), Siena (3-4 hours), and Lucca (1-2 hours).

All museum tickets & admissions on guided tours.

All gratuities.

Personalized support from Melissa & Asher.

Detailed itinerary, pre-trip notes & relevant reading material, and travel guidelines.

Travel planning advice for pre/post-trip stays.

You are responsible for airfare and transportation to and from the initial designated meeting point, passport fees, meals other than those described above, personal items, single-occupancy supplement, and any additional lodging nights. Unscheduled (and often spontaneous) optional activities may also be offered at an additional cost, such as: tour extensions in lieu of free time, bike rentals, meal reservations not described above, stops at shops, additional wine & liquor purchases, etc.

The 3-Night Rome extension is available only to Tuscany participants at an additional cost, and requires separate registration.

Please note that the villa provides bed linens and towels for a week’s stay. We do not provide daily housekeeping or linen changes. If desired, you may request these additional services onsite directly with the villa management office. Requests made directly to the villa may incur a cost.

Itinerary

The order of days listed in the itinerary may change for any given tour, based on the availability of our preferred guides and exclusive experiences.

Payment

A deposit of $700 USD per person is due upon booking. Final balance of $2,985 USD per person is due no later than 120 days prior to tour commencement. Payment methods include Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. Installments may be arranged directly with Hub & Spoke.

Registration deposit and final balance are non-refundable. Travel insurance is strongly recommended, and should include Trip Cancellation, Emergency Medical Evacuation, Baggage, and Accident and Medical Insurance. Travel insurance options can be found at insuremytrip.com.

Pricing may be adjusted in the future due to currency fluctuations. Your price is only guaranteed at the time of your deposit.

Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer

Hub & Spoke LLC and its owners/employees do not own or operate any entity which provides, or is to provide, goods or services to any Hub & Spoke tour, including accommodations, vehicles, meals, activities, or other services. Because Hub & Spoke does not exercise any control over the personnel, equipment, or operations of these suppliers, Hub & Spoke is not liable for any negligent or willful act or failure to act of any such third person, or of any other third party.

Hub & Spoke is not responsible for losses, injury, damages or expenses of any kind due to illness, weather, strikes, hostilities, wars, terrorist acts, acts of nature, local laws or other such causes.

Hub & Spoke is not responsible for any baggage or personal effects of any individual participating in any Hub & Spoke tour.

If, in the unlikely event that Hub & Spoke must cancel a tour, the entire amount paid will be refunded within fourteen days of cancellation. Hub & Spoke has no additional obligations, including costs or fees related to the issuance and/or cancellation of airline tickets or other travel reservations. This includes delays, cancellations, and any non-refundable expenses.

Individual travelers are responsible for purchasing a travel insurance policy, if desired, that will cover certain trip cancellations and interruptions, emergency medical evacuation, loss of luggage or personal effects, and other coverage. Hub & Spoke strongly encourages individual travelers to purchase travel insurance.

Ready to Go?

Hold your spot and we'll be in touch!

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Rome Extension

October 12-15, 2020

4 Days / 3 Nights. $1,200 USD pp

Our optional 3-Night Rome Extension is only offered to those attending our ITALY | Tuscany 2020 experience. We've prepared a fantastic value-added journey to Rome's must-sees.

With dates situated between (and available to) attendees of both tour dates, we have limited spots. Feel free to reach out if you're interested!

Melissa & Asher

Our Hotel

We have chosen a lovely small, boutique hotel housed in a recently restored 19th-century palazzo. The hotel is located in what we consider the best and most central location in Rome. It’s charming and not a standardized American hotel chain, so each room is different in exact size, shape, and decor. You’ll enjoy the neighborhood as it is full of coffee bars, restaurants and even a morning open-air market full of colorful fruits, veggies and flowers.

Day 01 [Oct 12]

Welcome to the Eternal City!

You may rendezvous with our group at Florence Santa Maria Novella train station or at Rome Termini train station.

If you are arriving in Rome on this day, we can help you facilitate a van transfer directly to the hotel from the airport. If traveling from Florence, you will travel with us via a modern high-speed train in the reserved first-class Club Executive cabin to Rome’s Termini train station.

From the train station in Rome, we will travel to our luxury hotel via private van service, and then gather in the late afternoon for a brief introductory tour of our immediate neighborhood: The Campo de’ Fiori area.

You'll then have time to explore the neighborhood and enjoy dinner on your own. You’ll want lots of good rest this evening for tomorrow's early morning visit to the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica.

Day 02 [Oct 13]

We are up bright and early to be among the first into the Vatican Museums (with special early morning access!).

Before the sun rises, we will meet our guide Chiara for a VIP tour of the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica. An early start helps us to miss most of the huge, body-to-body crowds usually present in the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.

We will be back to the hotel in time for lunch on your own. After lunch, perhaps you’ll need to fortify yourself with a gelato?! You can also use this downtime to do some shopping and exploring on your own.

We will meet back at the hotel in the late afternoon for a walking tour. Our route will take us to Piazza Navona, a famous square on the site of a stadium that was built in the 1st century AD; the awe-inspiring Pantheon completed in A.D. 126 as a Roman temple; the Spanish Steps; and the Trevi Fountain (make sure to throw your coins into the fountain to guarantee your return to Rome--it has always worked for us!).

We will cap off our evening enjoying dinner together at a trattoria where “Mama Paola” will serve a multi-course dinner full of Roman specialties.

Day 03 [Oct 14]

Lace up your walking shoes this morning; we’ve got lots of ground to cover! Today we will take a closer look at Ancient Rome. We'll travel together to visit the icon of the era, the Colosseum, with our friend and guide Chiara. She will then lead us to Piazza Campidoglio, one of Rome's most beautiful squares, designed in the sixteenth century by Michelangelo and laid out between two summits of the Capitoline Hill.

From here, we'll soak in a panoramic view of the Forum and more insights into what life was like for Ancient Romans. We will continue on foot past the Theatre of Marcello, a large open-air theater completed in the first century B.C.

Stop for lunch in the world’s oldest Jewish Ghetto, an area that was a walled-off section of the city for over 300 years. Today this beautiful area commands some of the highest property prices in central Rome and is renowned for its culinary specialties.

Chiara will remain on-hand to point out a few of her favorite restaurants (there are a variety of nice sidewalk cafes, as well as casual pizza and sandwich shops). It’s the perfect spot for lunch on your own.

After lunch, you are within a hop, skip and jump on foot back to our hotel. You’ll have several hours before we meet to head back out to Palazzo Valentini, a large palace that is home to the provincial offices of Rome. Hiding underneath the building, several lavish ancient Roman homes were discovered and have now been thoroughly studied. These excavations have been turned into an amazing multimedia experience that you won’t soon forget!

Dinner will be on your own this evening, but feel free to join in on any reservations that we may make at one of our favorite Roman restaurants!

Day 04 [Oct 15]

We’ve had a whirlwind, immersive experience in Rome covering all the major highlights. After the provided breakfast at the hotel, some of our group will depart for the airport or onto further travel. Others will travel with us to Florence to begin their fantastic week in Tuscany.

What's Included

Three (3) Nights Stay at boutique hotel in the heart of Rome.

One-way First Class train ticket between Rome/Florence or Florence/Rome (depending on which Tuscany week you attend)

3 Breakfasts and 1 Dinner.

Private guides and entrance fees to all indicated sites.

Transfers from the train station to the hotel and other transfers with the group between sites. Airport transfers are not included.

Itinerary

The order of days listed in the itinerary may change for any given tour, based on the availability of our preferred guides and exclusive experiences.

Payment

A deposit of $300 USD per person is due upon booking. Final balance of $900 USD per person is due no later than 120 days prior to tour commencement. Payment methods include Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. Installments may be arranged directly with Hub & Spoke.

Registration deposit and final balance are non-refundable. Travel insurance is strongly recommended, and should include Trip Cancellation, Emergency Medical Evacuation, Baggage, and Accident and Medical Insurance. Travel insurance options can be found at insuremytrip.com.

Pricing may be adjusted in the future due to currency fluctuations. Your price is only guaranteed at the time of your deposit.

Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer

Hub & Spoke LLC and its owners/employees do not own or operate any entity which provides, or is to provide, goods or services to any Hub & Spoke tour, including accommodations, vehicles, meals, activities, or other services. Because Hub & Spoke does not exercise any control over the personnel, equipment, or operations of these suppliers, Hub & Spoke is not liable for any negligent or willful act or failure to act of any such third person, or of any other third party.

Hub & Spoke is not responsible for losses, injury, damages or expenses of any kind due to illness, weather, strikes, hostilities, wars, terrorist acts, acts of nature, local laws or other such causes.

Hub & Spoke is not responsible for any baggage or personal effects of any individual participating in any Hub & Spoke tour.

If, in the unlikely event that Hub & Spoke must cancel a tour, the entire amount paid will be refunded within fourteen days of cancellation. Hub & Spoke has no additional obligations, including costs or fees related to the issuance and/or cancellation of airline tickets or other travel reservations. This includes delays, cancellations, and any non-refundable expenses.

Individual travelers are responsible for purchasing a travel insurance policy, if desired, that will cover certain trip cancellations and interruptions, emergency medical evacuation, loss of luggage or personal effects, and other coverage. Hub & Spoke strongly encourages individual travelers to purchase travel insurance.

Ready to Go?

Hold your spot and we'll be in touch!

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