• NORTHERN ITALY AND SWITZERLAND: ...

NORTHERN ITALY AND SWITZERLAND: LAKES & MOUNTAINS.en

          

DAY 1:  VENICE AIRPORT

Arrival in Venice airport. Meet & greeting.  Transfer by private boat to the hotel. Accommodation and lunch at your own. In the afternoon time at leisure and dinner at your own. Overnight at the hotel.

 

DAY 2:  VENICE

Breakfast at your hotel. Meet your English-speaking guide and visit Piazza San Marco, with its famous St. Mark’s Basilica, a superb example of the Romanesque-Byzantine style that was built in 10th century, the Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale), and the ancient seat of the main government departments. Will follow the “Ponte dei Sospiri”, the bridge that leads to the New and Old Prisons, where Giacomo Casanova was kept prisoner and Rialto Bridge: completed in the 16TH century, this stone bridge on wood piling once was the only link between the two banks of the Grand Canal. All major architects of that time participated at its realisation: Michelangelo, Palladio, and Sansovino. Lunch on your own and afternoon at leisure. Dinner at your own. Overnight at the hotel.

 

DAY 3: VERONA

Breakfast at your hotel. By private boat, you will reach Piazzale Roma where you will find you rent a car ( or private drive).  Departure to Verona. At the arrival stop to visit the “Love’s city”. The tour starts with a panoramic walk along the river Adige and up the hills overlooking Verona... On the way, some of the most beautiful monuments of Verona can be seen: the Roman Bridge, the Roman Theatre and the monumental 16th century walls and gates. A  relaxing walk through Verona squares and monuments: Piazza delle Erbe (the old Roman centre and now Market Square), Piazza dei Signori (the political centre in middle age Verona), and finally Piazza Bra with the Arena, the Roman amphitheatre. Of course, Juliet's house and Romeo's house are part of the tour. Accommodation at your hotel, lunch, afternoon and dinner at your own, overnight.

 

DAY 4:   BERGAMO - COMO

Breakfast at your hotel. Departure by private car to Como. Along the way stop in Bergamo. Meet your English-speaking guide and visit the Upper Town, the historical center and its important monuments: Piazza Vecchia (Old Square), the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Colleoni Chapel, S. Alessandro Cathedral and the Fortress. Lunch at your own. In the afternoon departure e towards Como. At the arrival meet English-speaking guide and visit the town that gives the name to the lake. From ancient tradition, Romans have founded it, it is currently the vital centre of the territory, where history, art and beauty live together.  Your  itinerary starts from Piazza Duomo and its Cathedral, the Palazzo del Broletto and Piazza Verdi, whose monuments are linked to different historical epochs (the medieval walls, the neo-classical theatre and the House of Fascio). The tours goes on along Via Vittorio Emanuele to reach the Basilica of S. Fedele, where in the square are preserved many elements of its past. Accommodation at the hotel. Dinner on your own and overnight.

 

DAY 5:  COOKING CLASS – WINE TASTING IN VALTELLINA

Breakfast at your hotel.  In the morning departure by private car to the Valtellina Valley, a wonderful land, full of contrasts, where the green of the vegetation mix up with the white of the snowy alpine peaks. First stop in a beautiful farm, which is located in the splendid setting of the bottom of the valley - where the Orobie Alps meet the Retiche Alps, at just one-step from Lake Como.

 

You can choose:

1) Cooking and cheese classes begin at 10.00 a.m. , are generally about 2 to 3 hours long and include the preparation of a typical meal, which you enjoy with the Valtellina wine at the end of the lesson, visit to the farm and cheese laboratory in the dairy.

 

2)  Tasting of fresh dairy products and cheeses DOP. In a beautiful natural setting, the farm organizes for the guests a special tasting with cheeses produced in the dairy.

Three Valtellina wines are served and explained by the sommelier.

In the afternoon, the tour goes on towards Sondrio.  A difficult land for wine, but thanks to the art of the local winemakers give a superb and surprising product. The vineyards cover 40 km of the Rethic side of Valtellina and give origin to the largest Italian terrace area. The   prevalent   grapes   here   is Nebbiolo (Chiavennasca) and the most famous and rare product is Sforzato, a great wine obtained after a long wither of the grapes, generally until January. Losing a 40% of weight, the grapes get a higher sugar and tannic concentration, giving as a result a long lasting, elegant and harmonic wine. Stop in a traditional cellar to visit and tasting a very good red wine. At the end way back to the Hotel in Como.  Dinner at your own and overnight.  

 

DAY 6: COMO LAKE

Buffet breakfast. Meet the guide, embarkation and departure by boat for a cruise. The lake banks in Como are bordered by several villas of 18th century surrounded by marvellous gardens that are witnesses of the charm of the area during the centuries influencing painters and poets. Picturesque little stoned towns on the banks of the lake, where time seems has stopped to run. During the navigation, the guide will show the most suggestive points of the lake: Villa Olmo, Villa d’Este, Villa Balbianello, (owned by FAI, Italian Fund for Environment). Tour will go on by boat to Bellagio with the imposing Villa Serbelloni, lying in the highest part of the hill. Lunch at your own. In the afternoon, stroll through the little streets and suggestive steps where there are interesting shops. Departure by boat toward Tremezzo to visit Villa Carlotta and its famous botanical garden. Then back by boat to the hotel. Dinner at your own and overnight at the hotel.

 

DAY 7: MENDRISIO - LUGANO

Buffet breakfast. Departure to Mendrisio, not far from Lugano, where you will find FOXTOWN outlet, one of the biggest in Europe. In this retail space, the most famous international companies offer their products direct at factory prices, with discounts from 30% to 70%.  Fox Town offers 160 exclusive Stores, 250 brands at factory prices, a casino, 7 restaurants and bars.  The high level of quality and gracious hospitality make them unique shopping experience, like that in the most exclusive stores - but at much lower prices. Lunch at your own. Continue to Lugano. Accommodation to the hotel, dinner at your own, overnight.

 

DAY 8: LUGANO - LUCERNA – BERNA - LUGANO (558 Km)

Buffet breakfast. Departure to Luzern (journey time 2 hrs.). At the arrival time at leisure to discover the historical center of this marvelous town: the Lion Monument, the Musegg Towers and Walls, the Jesuit Church, the Old Town with the Town Hall, historic fountains, squares and houses, the Jesuit Church and the wooden Chapel Bridge, symbol of Luzern. Lunch at your own.  In the afternoon departure towards Bern (journey time one hrs. and 10 minutes). Time at leisure for a city tour of the   capital of Switzerland. The old town of Bern with the beautiful Clock Tower has been entered in the list of UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Sites and thanks to its 6 kilometers of arcades - the locals refer to them as 'Lauben' - boasts one of the longest weather-sheltered shopping promenades in Europe.  Back to the hotel in Lugano. Dinner at your own and overnight.

 

DAY 9: LUGANO – MONTE GENEROSO

Buffet breakfast. Morning at leisure to visit the town that lying on the banks of the homonymous lake. The pedestrian area, very suggestive, preserves the historical center rich of marvelous buildings such as the Cathedral of S. Lorenzo and the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, whose interiors preserve the most famous renaissance fresco in the Switzerland, a Luini masterpiece. On the banks of the lake, the park of the town, Parco Ciani, considered one of the most beautiful in the Switzerland. Along the paths, there are many rare and exotic plants. Lunch at your own. In the afternoon departure by train to the Monte Generoso which is the mountain in the Canton of Ticino with the best views. The top can be reached by means of a convenient little cogwheel railway, which departs from Capolago, on Lake Lugano, at 274 MT above sea level. The 1704 MT summit is reached after travelling for 40 minutes through an unspoiled landscape. Arrival at the top of the Monte Generoso and beginning of the guided excursion in this corner of heaven. From the top, an enchanting panorama can be enjoyed. The view takes all the lakes in the region (Lugano, Como, Varese and Maggiore), also the city of Lugano, the Po Valley region with Milan and from the Apennines right over to the Alpine chain, from Gran Paradiso to Monte Rosa, from the Matterhorn to the Jungfrau and the Gotthard massif to the Bernina group of mountains. Back by train to Capolago and by private car back to the hotel. Dinner at your own and overnight.

 

DAY 10: LOCARNO - ASCONA – LAKE MAGGIORE

Buffet breakfast. In the morning departure to Locarno, famous city for its climate and the International Film Festival that is held in August. Very interesting to see the Viscounts Castle, the Romanesque Church of San Vittorio and the Piazza Grande, one of the wider squares in the Switzerland. Continue toward Ascona (3 km from Locarno). Nestled in a wonderful and sunny bay of the Lake Maggiore, it is considered one of the most exclusive vacation resort of the Switzerland and the “door to the Mediterranean” by the Nordic populations. The famous New Orleans Jazz Festival takes place in June. Visit of the Parish Church of SS. Pietro e Paolo (16th century) and of the Casa Serodine with its marvelous baroque façade. Lunch on your own. In the afternoon, proceed towards Stresa along the Piedmont shore of Lake Maggiore. On the way, you can stop to the Sacred Mountain of Ghiffa, a devotional overlooking the Lake Maggiore. It is one of the nine Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy, included in UNESCO World Heritage list. Accommodation at the hotel on Piedmont shore. Dinner at your own and overnight.

 

DAY 11: BORROMEAN ISLANDS

Buffet breakfast. Full day dedicated to the excursion to the three Borromean Islands. Meet the English-speaking guide and embarkation on the private boat to Isola Bella. Visit the baroque palace of the '600 and charming Italian garden, which made the island famous in the world. At the end, the tour goes on to the Isola Pescatori (Fisherman Island). It is occupied almost entirely by an antique, rustic, village, from the tortuous and narrow lanes and preserves the flavor of old age. Lunch at typical restaurant on your own. In the afternoon departure to Isola Madre, the largest of the Borromean Islands. Its gardens, where all manner of peacocks, parrots and pheasants roam freely, are full of rare plants and exotic flowers, helping to create the charm of a tropical land. Go back to Stresa by boat and return to the hotel. Dinner at your own and overnight.

 

DAY 12: ANGERA CASTLE – SANTA CATERINA HERMITAGE

Buffet breakfast. Departure to Leggiuno on the Lombard shore to Lake Maggiore. Visit the Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso, an ancient and suggestive religious complex overhanging the lake. It preserves important painting proof of year 300. At the end departure to Angera and visit the Rocca Borromea, the only medieval castle in the Lake.   It rises on a spur of rock that has always dominated the southern part of Lake Maggiore. Some rooms house the Doll and Children’s Clothes Museum. This is the most important collection of its kind in Europe; more than 1.000 pieces are displayed from the beginning of 19th and 20th century. Lunch at your own. In the afternoon continue to Milan. Accommodation at the hotel, time at leisure. Dinner at your own and overnight

 

DAY 13:  MILAN

Buffet breakfast. Morning at leisure to visit downtown Milan. You itinerary can start from the Duomo, symbol and soul of Milan and   the most important symbol of the “Flowered Gothic Art.  Strolling through Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, it is possible to reach the square where rises one of the most famous opera houses in the world: the Theatre alla Scala, a neoclassical structure designed.   The visit goes on in via Mercanti, sole surviving route proof of the medieval town, to discover one of the most suggestive and picturesque corner of the old Milan. Then the tour gets to Castello Sforzesco, one of the most important buildings in Milan; Galeazzo II Visconti erected it as a defensive fortress during 1360 and 1370. The Castle hosts the rich Pinacoteca, with masterpieces by Mantegna and Cesare da Sesto, and the Ancient Art Museum of the Castle, that includes sculptures such as the Pietà Rondanini, the last piece by Michelangelo. Lunch at your own. In the afternoon time at leisure to dedicate to other activities, such as taking a lift to the cathedral's roof to scan the city from above. Visit the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan's most outstanding museum recognized as one of the major art collections in the world. Dinner at your own and overnight at the hotel.

 

DAY 14:  MILAN 

Buffet breakfast. In the morning, discover other historical “jewels” in Milan: the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, dedicated to Milan's patron saint, representing a typical example of Romanesque architecture of the first centuries after 1000 AD. Not so far from the Basilica there is Palazzo Litta, the most monumental baroque style palace in town. Visit of Sant’Eustorgio, very ancient church of early Christian origin edified around year 300 and rebuilt in 11th century by Dominicans. From behind the main altar the splendid Cappella Portinari can be reached. It is a testimonial of the early Tuscan Renaissance, with 15th century frescoes by Vincenzo Foppa. The tour continues towards Porta Ticinese, the access gate of the town in the past. Together with Porta Nuova, it represents the sole surviving proof of the medieval gates in town. Farther on, one of the most picturesque corner in town: the sixteen columns standing in front of the basilica of San Lorenzo, the most important Roman remains in Milan. Lunch at your own. In the afternoon, you can visit the marvellous church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. The great value of the church is in the convent where, between 1495 and 1497, Leonardo da Vinci painted the Last Supper, his most famous and largest work (booking in advance obligatory). Dinner at your own and overnight at the hotel.

 

DAY 15 : AT  LEISURE

Buffet breakfast. Day at leisure for shopping in the fashion district of Milan, the so-called 'Quadrilatero'. In these streets and their environs you can find the greatest concentration of famous fashion designers outlets, both Italian and foreign. At the end of the day, we suggest a dinner in a typical restaurant at Navigli (the canal district in Milan). Overnight at your hotel.

 

DAY 16: DEPARTURE

Buffet breakfast. Transfer to Malpensa airport; drop off the car and back to home.

 

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