Ben arrivati! Welcome to Italy, welcome to Milan!

After settling down at the hotel, we will gather for our first dinner, served at a nearby restaurant - a time to sample the local food, meet your fellow travelers and talk about the next day’s program.
For those arriving early in the day, there will be time to explore Milan.

Bellagio, the Beautiful, Pearl of the Lake

After breakfast we will drive to Bergamo for a visit to "Cittá Alta", the historic upper part of the city, where we will join our private guide for a two hour tour. We will have lunch in a traditional restaurant at the end of the guided tour.
The first days of the tour proceed at a gentle pace to help you shake off the jet lag. After the visit to Bergamo we head to the hotel in Bellagio, where you can settle in, unpack and rest.
For those who want to stretch their legs, we will take a stroll through the picturesque and lovely stepped cobbled streets of Bellagio and along its lakeside promenade.
Our first dinner will be served at the hotel restaurant overlooking the lake.

BERGAMO

Bergamo, located 25 miles from Milano is the second most visited city in Lombardy. We will focus our visit on the upper part of the city in the historic center also known as Bergamo Alta, surrounded by Venetian walls built in the 16th century. Some of the sites we will visit are the Piazza Vecchia (Old Square), the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (Church of Saint Mary Major), the Cappella Colleoni (Colleoni Chapel), and the Torre Civica (the Civic Tower). Bergamo

BELLAGIO

Although there are many villas throughout Lake Como, we chose to stay in Bellagio since the most beautiful ones are located in this area.  Bellagio also offers an abundance of trees and flowers, and a superbly mild climate, which is why Bellagio in the local dialect means beautiful and is called the Pearl of the Lake. Bellagio aereal view One of the many treasures we will find close by is the Basilica di San Giacomo, (Basilica of Saint James), a fine example of Roman - Lombard architecture. Inside we will view mosaics from the early 10th century, a Deposition of Christ by the Perugino School, an archaic cross from the 12th century, a beautiful triptych by the 15th century Italian painter Foppa, and the Buried Christ, a polychrome wooden sculpture of the Spanish-Baroque school.

Visiting Villa del Balbianello

We will have breakfast at the hotel and then walk to the pier and board a ferry that will bring us to the west side of the lake.
Upon landing, we will take a 30-minute walk along the lakeside to arrive at Villa del Balbianello.
Lunch will be served at a local restaurant overlooking the lake. Enjoy the breeze of the lake while sailing back to Bellagio for a leisurely afternoon.
You’ll have time for shopping, exploring the village, visiting the Basilica of San Giacomo, or simply relaxing in front of the lake.
Dinner will be served in a restaurant owned by a family who are fishermen by day and creative cooks by night.

VILLA DEL BALBIANELLO

del Balbianello is located on a small peninsula overlooking Lake Como. It was built in 1787 on the site of a Franciscan monastery. In 1796, Giuseppe Visconti bought the villa and made improvements to the panoramic terraced garden, which is dominated by the elegant loggia, the true gem and masterpiece of the Villa. By the first part of the 20th century, the Villa had fallen into a state of neglect. After some time, an American businessman bought it, bringing the gardens back to life and renovating the buildings. Villa Balbianello In 1974, it was purchased by Guido Monzino, an explorer and entrepreneur who decorated the Villa with a collection of artifacts from his expeditions. The villa was used as a location for several movies, including  A Month by the Lake (1995) and Casino Royale (2006).

Day of Beautiful Views

We will enjoy breakfast at the hotel, then sail by ferry to the small village of Varenna. From the ferry station, we will stroll the scenic and romantic “Lovers’ Walk” that runs along the edge of the lake leading to the historic center.
For lunch we will go to the top of the hill that overlooks Varenna where we’ll find the remains of Vezio Castle with its breathtaking panoramic views of Lake Como.
The afternoon will begin with a visit to a winery in Valchiavenna, a valley in the Alps, north of Lake Como.
Later on you'll enjoy some free time in the town of Chiavenna.
Afterwards, we will taste some of the traditional local food, like bresaola, gnocchetti, pizzoccheri (buckwheat pasta) and enjoy local wines for dinner.
A ferry in Cadenabbia will take us back to our hotel in Bellagio.

VARENNA

Varenna, founded in 769 by fishermen, is a picturesque village located in the center of the eastern shore of the lake, overlooking Bellagio. The narrow alleys paved with stone and the old fishermen’s houses make Varenna another of the Lake’s gems. Varenna

CASTELLO DI VEZIO

This castle was built in the late 11th century and then restored several times in the following centuries. In the late 19th century, remains of tombs from the Iron Age, as well as weapons and armor, were found in the area. It currently houses gardens and is a bird-of-prey breeding, nursing and training center. Vezio Castle

VALCHIAVENNA

Chiavenna, the center of the Alpine Valchiavenna region, is famous for its beautiful historical center and the characteristic crotti, also called grottos, typical natural cavities of the mountainous regions of the Alps. Valchiavenna Inside the crotti, between the cracks of the rocks, blows a cold air current, locally called Sorèl. Because of these natural features, grottos have been and are still commonly used to preserve foods, bresaola and cheese in particular, but also wines. In many cases, taverns offering local delicacies have been added to these crotti.

Visiting Villa Carlotta

After breakfast at the hotel, we will walk to the pier to board a ferry that takes us to the entrance of the Villa Carlotta. We will visit the delightful botanical garden and art museum, and enjoy lunch at the villa grounds.
After returning to Bellagio, you will have time to relax and enjoy some free time before dinner is served.

VILLA CARLOTTA

Villa Carlotta, located in Tremezzo facing the Bellagio peninsula, was built at the end of the 17th century. It is famous for its magnificent 20-acre botanical garden, sculptures and fountains. In 1801, Giovanni Battista Sommariva bought the villa and, thanks to his efforts, the villa attained its highest point of splendor, becoming a museum filled with works of art. The Last Kiss of Romeo and Juliet and Eros and Psyche are two of the many masterpieces that are part of its extraordinary collection.Villa Carlotta The villa was eventually sold to the Princess of Nassau who gave it as a wedding present to her daughter, Carlotta, after whom the villa is named.

Travel to Langhe

Enjoy your last early breakfast in Bellagio and get ready to depart for Langhe at 9:00 a.m.
The first stop will be Vigevano where, before lunch, you can enjoy the beautiful Piazza Ducale or visit the Leonardo da Vinci Museum.
Our next stop will be the Certosa di Pavia, where we will visit the monastery, and then continue our trip to Piedmont.
We will check into our hotel where we’ll settle in for the next six nights. During dinner we will review the next day’s schedule.

VIGEVANO

The charming little town of Vigevano is a favorite of Italians living in the surrounding area. Its Piazza Ducale is considered the model Renaissance piazza, and conductor Arturo Toscanini said that it is “a symphony with four walls.” The grand piazza is surrounded by magnificent arcades with intricate frescoes on its façades, a 17th century cathedral, a famous Bramante tower, and also the Royal Palace of the Sforza. Vigevano is also renowned for shoemaking.Vigevano

CERTOSA DI PAVIA

One of Italy’s largest monasteries, the Certosa di Pavia was built from 1396-1495 and is a masterpiece of the Lombard Renaissance. The best architects, sculptors and painters of the time worked on the monastery for a span of almost two centuries. A portion of the paneled painting, Madonna and Saints by Perugino, and other famous painted masterpieces by Bergognone, Guercino and Giovanni Battista Crespi can be viewed here. Equally important is its collection of stained glass windows, decorative sculptures, the marble altar frontals, the wooden choir stalls, and the notable high altar from the late 16th century.Certosa di Pavia

The Cheesemaking Day

After an early breakfast, we will drive to a farm where dairy women - Anna and her daughter Roberta - will be waiting for us to start the production of Murazzano cheese.
For lunch we will taste the cheese, along with other local products and homemade dishes prepared by Anna and Roberta, who are also excellent cooks.
On the way back to the hotel we will make a stop at the Castello di Grinzane to enjoy the view.
Our day will end with a cooking class led by chef Ileana Brero or, if you prefer, you may relax before dinner.

IL MURAZZANO

Murazzano is a cheese made either from sheep’s milk or from a mixture of sheep’s and no more than 40% cow’s milk. It has been given Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status under European Union regulations. There is proof that the Murazzano cheese has been made since the Roman period.Cascina Raflazz The cheese is soft with an edible, thin rind and can be white, light ivory or straw colored. Its aroma is fresh and delicate and its flavor is sweet and palatable. At Anna and Roberta’s farm, it is made exclusively from raw milk, without milk enzymes or additives and this preserves the traditional flavor.

CASTELLO DI GRINZANE CAVOUR

Another World Heritage Site, the Castello di Grinzane Cavour was built in the 13th century. It is famous for being the 19th century residence of Italy’s first Prime Minister, Conte di Cavour, who was a central figure in the unification of Italy.Grinzane Castle Today the castle houses an ethnological museum, which also displays original furniture from the 19th century.

The WWF Oasis

Today will start with a wonderful buffet breakfast. Afterwards we will take a 30-minute drive to get to Gianni and Cristina's farm, a WWF oasis. We will have an outdoor lunch while enjoying the outstanding views and are welcome to explore the farm, stretch our legs, and breathe in the beauty of this serene landscape.
Our next stop is the town of Canelli, for a wine tasting in the magnificent and impressive Underground Wine Cathedrals.
A 20-minute drive will take us back to the hotel with time to relax before dinner at Stefano's favorite restaurant.

LA FATTORIA DI GIANNI E CRISTINA

The family farm is a designated World Wildlife Fund. It contains 21 species of wild orchids and several types of native butterflies. It also has a vineyard and wine cellar. Forteto della Luja The Loazzolo Passito di Moscato, an excellent sweet wine, is produced here with grapes from a handful of small vineyards surrounded by the woods of the Langa Astigiana. For many years the efforts of this family farm have been aimed at achieving and enhancing a quality wine-growing tradition that fully respects the great cultural and naturalistic patrimony that the country seeks to preserve.

CANELLI

Canelli Underground Wine Cathedral Canelli, a town settled among vineyards, is a UNESCO World Heritage and truly remarkable for its “underground cathedrals”, which extend for 8 miles below the city and are dug out from several levels in the hills, creating a striking masterpiece of engineering and architecture.

The Land of the Barolo Wine

After breakfast we will start our tour of the town of Barolo, with a stop in the town of La Morra for a view of the magical Barolo valley.
In Barolo we will decide the activities for the rest of the morning. You could participate in all or choose some of the following options:

  • Visit the Wine Museum in Castello Falletti.
  • Tour the Corkscrew Museum.
  • Stroll through the streets and shop in the local stores.
  • Rest on a bench at the piazza, sipping a glass of wine or enjoying a gelato.
Lunch will be served at Fontanafredda Winery after a visit to their cellar and a wine tasting.
For dinner we will serve the gnocchi that Stefano and chef Ileana Brero will teach you how to make.

BAROLO

Barolo Barolo is a scenic small town surrounded by spectacular countryside, known mainly for its wine. It is part of the largest Nebbiolo grape-growing region in Langhe, the grapes from the region are used to make Barolo wine. It is the namesake city for the “king of wines and the wine of kings.” One of its main sites is Castello Falletti, which houses a wine museum and an enoteca. The Castello was built in the 10th century as a protection against Huns.

FONTANAFREDDA

Fontanafredda Winery The Fontanafredda was registered to the King of Sardinia in 1858. The story goes that the king had fallen hopelessly in love with a commoner and daughter of a drum major in the king’s service and gave the land to her, making her Countess a year later. Today it serves as a hunting lodge, vineyard and wine cellar.

The Unforgettable Dinner

We will enjoy breakfast at the hotel and then head off to the pretty town of Alba where you can take advantage of the excellent shopping options, explore the San Lorenzo Cathedral, or simply stroll among the beautiful buildings and enjoy the sights.
We will have lunch in Neive, a small village close to our hotel.
After lunch we will return to the hotel and have time for packing and relaxing before going to Castello di Guarene for a guided tour and our memorable dinner.

ALBA

Alba is considered the capital of the UNESCO World Heritage region of Langhe. There are few destinations more enticing for gourmet travelers than Alba, a picturesque town that is renowned world-wide for its succulent white truffles, and the well-known Dolcetto d’Alba wine. Alba The International White Truffle Fair in Alba is one of the main Langhe events held in Autumn that draw many people interested in unique culinary experiences. Worth seeing are the Alba Cathedral, which is dedicated to Saint Lawrence, and the Church of St. Dominic, one of the few examples of Primitive Gothic architecture in Piedmont and just recently restored.

CASTELLO DI GUARENE

Guarene Castle Guarene Castle was built in the 18th century. This castle was the fantastically ambitious project of a local nobleman who was an accomplished, although amateur, architect and high profile aristocrat. Preserved as it was in its heyday, with all its works of art intact, it is now also home to a top-class hotel and restaurant.

The Hazelnut Farm

We will begin with breakfast at the hotel, followed by a tour and lunch with local dishes and artisanal hazelnut products at the Cascina Barroero hazelnut farm.
After lunch, on the way back to the hotel, we will visit the castle of Serralunga d’Alba.
After a wine tasting lead by Elisa Brero, we will dine together in the beautiful wine cellar.

CASCINA BARROERO

Hazelnuts in Cascina Barroero are not only grown but also transformed into confectionery products. The scrap parts, the inedible shells and skins covering the fruit, are used as fuel for stoves and/or as bedding for chicken coops.Cascina Barroero The Barroeros define themselves as a farming family of confectioners and produce cakes, biscuits, jams, flour and hazelnut paste for ice cream, all with superb flavors.

CASTELLO DI SERRALUNGA D'ALBA

Castello di Serralunga D'AlbaThe Serralunga d’Alba Castle was originally a fortified tower overlooking the village of Serralunga in the 12th century. This castle, one of the best preserved, is unique in Italy for its architectural structure, which resembles a castle keep, and was used more to control local crop production than as a military castle. The manor, purchased by the state in 1949 and deemed a cultural heritage site, is the perfect place to admire the spectacular view.

Traveling Through the Padana Valley

After our last breakfast in Langhe and with the luggage loaded on the van, we will travel today to a new location for the third phase of our tour, Sirmione in Lake Garda. On the way to Sirmione, we will break the three-hour drive with a lunch and visit to Cremona.
Dinner will be served at the Sirmione Hotel followed by a walk with gelato.

CREMONA

Cremona is the birthplace of the Stradivarius and many other one-of-a-kind string instruments. To this day, the art of violin-making that follows the Cremonese method which takes longer and is more difficult than other methods, hasn’t changed for centuries and artisans can still make a living from it. Cremona is a center of excellence for tasty cuisine in Northern Italy, with a strong influence from Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna, and is famous for Mostarda di Cremona, a spiced fruit preserve. Cremona

SIRMIONE

Sirmione is a city built along a narrow peninsula extending into Lake Garda, making it feel like an island. From the 1st century BC, Sirmione became a holiday destination for rich families, due in part to the natural thermal springs and spas. The main historical landmark is the Grottoes of Catullus (Grotte di Catullo), the ruins of a remarkable Roman villa dating from around 150 AD, named after Gaius Valerius Catullus, a poet of the Roman Empire. The beautiful 13th century Scaliger Castle (Rocca Scaligera) sits grandly in the center of town, which is one of the best surviving examples of medieval port fortifications in the world. Sirmione

A Day of Abundance

Breakfast at the hotel and then a walk to visit the Grotte di Catullo.
We will drive to Mantova for lunch sampling some of the most popular dishes of this renowned gastronomical area.
In the afternoon we will meet with our private tour guide for an exploration walk around the historic center.
In the mid-afternoon, we will visit Borghetto on the river Mincio followed by a dinner in a scenic riverfront restaurant.

GROTTE DI CATULLO

The Grottoes of Catullus is an archeological site with ruins of a Roman villa, built at the beginning of the Christian era on the peninsula of Sirmione In the 15th century the villa was ascribed to the poet Catullus but after some scholarly research, at present, there are no safe elements to locate the house of Catullus. The term, however, remained and even today is used to identify the archaeological site. Grottoes of Catullus

MANTUA

The locals refer to Mantua as La Bella Addormentata, a sleeping beauty that hasn't changed since the middle ages. The keys to this metaphor are the lakes surrounding the city on three sides, and a remarkable artificial fortification created nearly 1,000 years ago that effectively closed Mantua from the world. Rich in historical significance, Mantua was designated in 2007 to be a UNESCO World Heritage.Mantova In 2016, Mantua became the Italian Capital of Culture, and in 2017 the European Capital of Gastronomy. It's an award that's well deserved, given Mantua’s history and reputation for producing some of the most acclaimed cuisine not just in Italy, but in the world.

BORGHETTO SUL MINCIO

This lovely small town is among the most beautiful in Italy. Buildings with water mills are characteristic in Borghetto. The town church is flanked by its bell tower that contains a bell dating from the year 1381, one of the oldest in the area.Borghetto sul Mincio

The Romantic Verona

After breakfast we will drive to Lazise in the Lake Garda area, followed by a visit and lunch at a local winery.
In the afternoon, after a tour in the historic center of Verona, we will take some time off for shopping.
Our grand farewell dinner will be inside a deconsecrated church of the Romanesque period.

LAZISE

Lazise is a charming town located on the east shore of Lake Garda and is one of its most important touristic centers, thanks to its natural sites, nice shops and restaurants, the Castello Scaligero (not visitable), the medieval walls, the old town center - with picturesque squares and narrow alleys, and the harbor that is set in the city center.Lazise

VERONA

Verona was an important Roman town and for over 2000 years, an affluent commerce location. It is rich in well-preserved Roman buildings and architectural sites, the grandest of which is the Roman amphitheater known as the Arena, built around AD 30, now famous for its open air summer opera series and extraordinary acoustics. The historic center is comprised of narrow streets lined with handsome palazzi. There are plenty of churches, many of them rivaling the beauty of the churches in Venice.VeronaThe largest and most famous piazza is Piazza delle Erbe, home to fresh produce markets and lined with some exquisite buildings. The smaller and quieter Piazza dei Signori is known as Piazza Dante by locals because it contains a statue of Dante Alighieri.

Arrivederci! See you soon!

After breakfast the tour ends, with a ride to the Milan Linate Airport, your last chance to exchange email addresses with new friends. For those who are not ready to fly back home, you can take a taxi from the Linate airport to your next destination: hotels, train station or the Milan Malpensa Airport.

Tornate Presto!
Come back soon! We are designing new, enchanting Italian tours.

Remember that following your first tour, you will receive a $200 credit for future trips with Tour With Us!
TWU, Tour With Us, Travel With Us, The Way To Travel.