Come experience the magic of the Italian countryside and experience Italy from its heart and soul.
Day 1: Arrival
Arrival at Milano airports. Meet & great. Transfer by private coach to your hotel in Milan or surrounding. Time at leisure. Dinner and overnight.
Day 2: MILAN
After a delicious breakfast you will take advantage of your stay in Milan to catch some of the highlights of this intriguing city. Milan was a very wealthy Duchy during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and has many reminders of those powerful days. Your personal guide will begin the tour at the splendid church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where you will get to see the most famous of Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpieces, the Last Supper. Painted as a fresco on the walls of the church's refectory, it was almost lost due to improper painting techniques. After countless restorations, it is carefully protected to preserve it for future generations. Only small groups are allowed to view the masterpiece at one time, therefore we have to book in advance this special tour for you. Once finished admiring this work of art, you will continue into the historical center of Milan to visit the magnificent Duomo, the symbol of Milan and soul of the city. Begun in 1386, the Duomo took several centuries to be finished – and the end result is nothing but spectacular. Constructed entirely in marble from the shores of Lake Maggiore, it is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the world. From Piazza Duomo, you will walk through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II with its posh shops and glassed ceiling to visit the famed Teatro La Scala, where countless opera giants have graced its stage in numerous productions. Continuing along towards Via Mercanti, you will discover a picturesque corner of Medieval Milan and be transported back in time. Finally you will come to one of Milan’s most famous monuments, the Castello Sforzesco. Constructed in 1360 as a defensive fort by Galeazzo Visconti, it now houses several important museums. Included in its many rooms are masterpieces by Mantegna and Cesare da Sesto, as well as Michelangelo’s last work, the unfinished Pieta Rondanini. Your guided tour will take a break at this point, in the center of Milan, to give you the opportunity to spend the rest of the afternoon at your leisure. Milan is the one of the fashion capitals of the world - making it a shopper’s paradise. Stroll along the famed Via Montenapoleone to see the fashion houses of all the great designers. Lunch at the restaurant. Just looking at the window displays is a feast for the eyes! You will meet up again for your first Italian dinner in a beautiful and characteristic restaurant near the Teatro La Scala before retiring for the night back at the hotel.
Day 3: MILAN – LAKE COMO – Lake Maggiore
Breakfast at the hotel before packing your bags and heading out by minivan for a day on lovely Lake Como. You will meet your guide as you board the ferry for a tour of the lake. The shores of Lake Como are studded with gorgeous villas surrounded by magnificent gardens which have inspired painters and poets (and Hollywood superstars, such as George Clooney!) Picturesque towns filled with stone homes perched on the shores enchant with the feeling that time has stood still. During the boat tour, the guide will point out the famous villas along the lake such as Villa D'Este and Villa Erbe (among others). You will disembark for a sojourn in Bellagio, the jewel of Lake Como. After strolling along the tiny alleyways and stairways filled with quaint little shops, you will stop for lunch before boarding the ferry once more for Tremezzo and the Villa Carlotta, famous for its botanical garden. Returning to Como, and back on the minivan, you will make our way to that other magical lake, Lago Maggiore, for dinner and overnight. On request a special choral performance awaits you in the ancient abbey of San Donato in Sesto Calende -a perfect end to a very special day! Your lodging tonight will be in a modern hotel on the shores of beautiful Lago Maggiore.
Day 4: SANTA CATERINA HERMITAGE & BORROMEAN ISLANDS
After breakfast at your hotel, you will set out for a visually stunning day exploring beautiful Lago Maggiore on your private boat. Your first stop will be the ancient hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso perched on a cliff on the eastern shore of the lake. This spectacular monastery boasts frescoes dating back to 300 AD. The buidings and art work have been carefully restored, and it is now both a tourist and religious destination. From here, you will continue onto the gorgeous Borromeo Islands off the coast of Stresa. You first stop will be Isola Bella - so named because it is truly beautiful. The palace and the gardens, dating from the 1600's, are simply magnificent! The gardens are a sight for the senses with white peacocks and exotic plant species filling its 10 terraces. You will break for a special lunch on the neighboring island of Isola Superiore dei Pescatori - an island frozen in time. To work off our meal, you will spend an afternoon strolling the beautiful botanical gardens of Isola Madre where you will see more exotic plant species and birds. Upon return to the mainland, you will end your day with a delightful dinner before bed time at your lakeside lodging.
Day 5: ORTA and VILLA TARANTO
After breakfast, you will pack your bags and begin your journey into Piedmont. Your guide will take you to the exquisite Villa Taranto where you will get your morning walk amidst the rare and unusual gardens. And then it's on to magical Lago d'Orta with its Isola di San Giulio. You will visit this tiny island with its ancient monastery and dine in a unique restaurant before exploring the enormous Romanesque basilica which boasts bas reliefs from the 12th century! Moments of tranquility can be had while taking a stroll along the Via del Silenzio before boarding the ferry back to the historic old center of Orta. You will wander along the cobblestoned alleyways before boarding your minivan for your drive into the heart of Piedmont and its world-renowned Wine Country. Upon arrival at your lodging for the next few nights, you will be greeted with a welcome aperitif as you become acquainted with the location. The Country House is a working vineyard which boasts an award winning restaurant, spa, and lodging facilities. You will experience their delightful restaurant with dinner before settling in for the night.
Day 6: ASTI and ALBA AREA
You will enjoy your breakfast at the Agriturismo before meeting the guide for your trip inside Piedmont’s wine country. Your first stop will be Asti, where you will wander the old town and see the location of the famous Palio d’Asti. Noble palaces, gothic cathedrals, and other architectural delights await us in this antique city. From there, you will find yourselves surrounded by the hills of the Monferrato region of Piedmont where you will visit a winery which produces an excellent DOC wine. You will have the opportunity to taste some of their special wines while enjoying some local delicacies. In the afternoon, you will proceed onto the Via Belbo where you will pay a visit to a winery that produces the famous Spumante wines of this region. The passion and loving care given to the vineyards, with their rolling hills, becomes evident in the production of this delicious dessert wine. This particular winery has been in operation since 1900 and is now being tended by the 3rd generation! Tasting here will include not only the Spumante, but some aromatic olive oils, grappa, and some other local products. A special dinner in a local osteria will end your day before retiring for the night
Day 7: BAROLO AREA
Once more, you will have your breakfast at the Agriturismo before meeting your guide that will take you to La Morra, the starting off point to a day spent in the Langhe region. La Morra sits atop a small hill and is surrounded by miles and miles of vineyards. From the Piazza Castello, in the center of town, you are awarded a gorgeous view of the surrounding countryside. Barolo, the town which has given its name to the famed wine, will be your next stop.
Once again, hills and vineyards grace the panorama from this quaint town. You will stop for some wine tasting before heading to a local farm where you will be treated to a luncheon whose menu will be based on typical Piemontese cuisine. In the afternoon, you will leave for Grinzane Cavour and its magnificent castle. More wine tasting and a gander through the museum dedicated to the gastronomic history of this region, including the famed Tartufo (or truffle). By this time, you will have worked up a healthy appetite which you will satisfy at a local osteria!
Day 8: UNDERGROUND CATHEDRALS & GOAT CHEESE TASTING
After breakfast at the Agriturismo, you will board the private minivan with your guide to visit a goat cheese factory where the delicious Robbiola di Roccaverano DOP is produced. You will have the opportunity to see the factory in operation and learn their techniques in making this special cheese. Today’s lunch will feature “fritto misto alla Piemontese and Torta alla Nocciole” on a working farm. Then in the afternoon, you will proceed to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Canelli with its underground “cathedrals” that house its historic wine cellars. You will learn some of the secrets of wine-making before making your way to a grappa factory to taste Grappa alla Piemontese and the delicious Amaretti (cookies) of Mombaruzzo. Dinner will be at your Agriturismo before falling into bed.
Day 9 : COOKING LESSONS
You begin your last day together with a delicious breakfast at your Agriturismo. You will then spend the morning in a cooking class where you will learn to prepare some traditional dishes of the Piemonte. These delicious dishes will be enjoyed together for your final meal as a group. The afternoon can be spent packing up and relaxing at the Agriturismo or by taking an optional excursion to Pollenzo, where in the historical cellars the “Banca del Vino” is located. This is a centre of storage and refinement for the best wines of Italy. At the same time it is also a museum of Italian wine, offering visitors the chance to discover the oenological heritage and to taste the wines from some of the most prestigious wineries. The Banca del Vino is host to a museum expanding of over two thousand square meters where you can transverse the Italian oenological landscape, stopping, region by region, tasting the wines that represent its history and terroir where in the vicinity. Tonight, the coach will transport the group to the Hotel close Malpensa airport where you will spend your final night. Dinner and overnight
Day 10: Breakfast at the hotel, transfer by private coach to the airport for the trip back home.
Optional, but not included in price
- Afternoon excursions or additional cooking class on Day 9
Not included in the tour will be:
- Travel insurance
- Personal purchases
- Gratuities (optional)