A Taste of Italy and Switzerland Itinerary

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Total Trip:

12 Days
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Countries Visited:

Italy, Switzerland
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Places Visited:

Gruyeres, Alba, Serralunga d’Alba, La Morra, Montreux, Vevey, Turin
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Departure Dates:

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The Swiss Alps and Northern Italy become your culinary playground that features shimmering glacial peaks, piercing mountains, landscapes flushed with vineyards, and forests ripe with white truffles. Your personalized gastronomic tour of Switzerland and Italy embraces the similarities and celebrates the differences of historic ingredients and traditional recipes. Whether indulging in fondue or sampling Barolo wine, crafting decadent chocolate truffles or making exceptional raclette cheese, you

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Day 1

Montreux – Travel to Montreux for a Welcome Dinner

Montreux captivates visitors with remarkable walks along the lakeshore and gorgeous 19th-century architecture reflecting the artistic charm accentuated by the natural beauty. The 13th-century fortress hosts a maze of courtyards and towers decorated with period furniture and lavish artwork reflecting a fairytale ambiance. Medieval frescoes from the 14th century depict the Old Testament, John the Baptist, and figures from the New Testament. Your flight lands at Geneva International Airport, where you board a luxury car for a scenic ride around the shores of Lake Geneva. The pristine waters encompass a surface area of 224 square miles. Chateaux Chillon stands on the banks of the lake recalling the proud words Lord Byron who immortalized the fortress in the narrative poem The Prisoner of Chillon. At dinner, you settle into the beauty of Switzerland and the charms of Montreux found in the decadent aroma of melted raclette cheese and chocolate.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

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Day 2

Montreux – Chocolate, Bread Baking Class, and Fondue Tour

In the morning, the aroma of rich chocolate and refreshing coffee drifts through the doors of the popular cafes in the historic city center. Homemade sweets accompany gourmet coffee drinks and buttery pastries. Your guide greets you at the hotel after breakfast eager to introduce you to the remarkable flavors of Switzerland and Montreux, both known and inexperienced. The sunlight washes over the cobalt, glassy waters of Lake Geneva. You have a sensational view of the French and Swiss Alps piercing the skyline. You travel into the highlands at Pays d’en Haut overlooking two verdant valleys and home to Maison Cailler, a sensational Swiss chocolaterie.

The history of the establishment dates back to 1819 making it the oldest chocolate factory in Switzerland. Your guide takes you on a fantastic tour of the grounds to learn about the origins of chocolate in the depths of South and Central America, its journey to Europe, and the evolution of the variety of flavors ranging from fresh cocoa to the elaborate concoctions mixing in Alpine milk. The aroma of sugar and roasting chocolate beans fills the factory. In the tasting room, you sample one of the 300,000 wrapped chocolates leaving the complex daily, finding a sumptuous citrus note with hints of berries.

You return to Montreux for a cooking class immersing you in the flavors of Swiss cuisine. Your instructor guides you through the process of crafting bread following a 200-year-old tradition of using a wood-fired oven. You find the secrets to kneading the dough and allowing it time to rise before taking shape. While the bread cooks, your instructor provides more insight into the splendid flavors and fantastic history of Gruyere cheese. The slightly salty flavor changes with age revealing a more earthy, assertive note when aged over five months. You temper the cheese with butter, shallots, and wine for a perfect creation of Gruyere fondue.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 3

Montreux – Cheese-Making Class and Gruyeres Village Tour

The flavor of the Gruyere fondue lingers in your thoughts at breakfast before you venture to the birthplace of the cheese in the town of Gruyere. Cows graze on the lush grass of the Alpine slopes. Dairy farmers continue using time-honored tools and methods to reproduce the customary flavors that have captivated cheese-lovers for centuries. You follow the process with the cheesemaker learning they mix fresh milk from the day with milk leftover from the previous evening before cutting the curds. The cheesemaker uses cheesecloth to separate the curds from the whey, then presses the hot curds into round forms.

The process celebrates tradition and reveals the strength of Gruyere, which is the most popular exported Swiss cheese. You notice the sweet, nutty flavor of the younger Gruyere when you sample a creamy, delectable piece. The village is perched on a craggy hill surrounded by the snowcapped peaks of the Fribourg pre-Alps. The castle overlooking the steep slopes recalls the medieval history giving way to a blend of fragrant wild herbs and buttery fondue. A footpath waves around the fortress for impeccable views of the landscape while the interior galleries contain period furniture and tapestries from the 11th to the 16th centuries.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 4

Montreux – Make Farmstead Goat Cheese and Raclette

In the quiet of the Alpine morning, you travel to Valais located in a remote corner of Southern Switzerland. The majestic landscape encompasses terraced vineyards and the glinting ice of the more than 14-mile long Aletsch Glacier. The slopes lead down to the Rhone Valley and up to a view of the unfathomable 14,692-foot peak of the Matterhorn. Farmers tend to the agricultural paradise cultivating fruit orchards, nut groves, and fantastic herbs, as well as a variety of goat cheeses. You meet a local farmer located on the mountainside perfect for producing fragrant herbs emanating the aromas of black licorice, yarrow, and wild garlic.

The natural herbs have both medicinal and culinary properties used traditionally across Switzerland and the upper-highlands. You sample the Mullein, a plant that can grow approximately four feet tall with yellow flowers and long stalks. Its velvety texture tickles your fingers as you touch the spine. It is often used to cure ear infections and lung ailments. The herbs growing around the open landscape provide the goats with their distinctive flavor of herbaceous milk feeding into the specialty cheese made in the area. Sitting with the farmer, you learn the precise ingredients necessary for making goat’s milk raclette cheese, from using the proper amount of milk and butter, to accentuating the nuanced characteristics of the cheese’s local ingredients.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 5

Montreux – Chocolate Truffles and Wine Tasting at a Vineyard

After breakfast, you board a boat and set sail on the stoic waters of Lake Geneva bound for the quiet Old Town of Vevey. The central square and promenade overlook the waters reflecting the sunlight and surrounding Alpine peaks. The charming white walls of the Villa Le Lac reflect the fantastic design of architect Le Corbusier who designed the structure in 1923 with a modernist style. Nestlé’s headquarters are now a museum dedicated to nutrition and all things edible located inside the historic structure hosting the business since 1814.

You notice the giant fork sculpture rising out of the water in view of the lakeside mansion. Once inside Vevey, you quickly understand the food heritage and delicious culture of town deriving from a history of inventing the first chocolate bar in 1819 and celebrating the invention of milk chocolate in 1875. Terraced vineyards climb up the surrounding slopes away from the lakeshore, and you enter a selection of chocolateries representing the sensational layers of flavor and quality for which Swiss chocolate is known.

The herbaceous and slightly bitter aroma of dark chocolate fills the kitchen. Your instructor teaches you the art of mixing cream, butter, and dark chocolate together to form a mix. You make a batch with rum or Grand Marnier, rolling the mixture between your palms and coating them with nuts, coconut shavings, or cocoa powder before storing them in the refrigerator. The You bite into a premade batch crafted by the master chocolatier noticing the firm but delicate texture giving way to a gentle orange flavor with hints of coffee.

Continue to one of the wineries contributing to the more than 1,976 acres of vineyards located on the terraced hillsides overlooking Lake Geneva. The ideation of terracing the slopes in Switzerland dates back to the 13th century when monk erected stone walls to ease the burden of planting vines. You learn about the heritage of the terraces and ease into the grand panoramic views on the vineyards from the comforts of a tasting room. You find the aromas of almond and honey swirling upwards from the pale-yellow hues of wine featured in your glass of Grand Cru.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 6

Turin – Welcome Dinner at a Gorgeous Villa near Turin

At breakfast, you sample the traditional flavors of a Swiss breakfast indulging in the simple tastes of fresh bread topped with marmalade or honey accompanied by cheese, cereal, and rich coffee. You say farewell to the beauty of the Alps and the decadent flavors of the cuisine you have tasted thus far before boarding the train bound for Turin, the capital of Piedmont. The majesty of the Northern Italian regional cuisine stems from shared ingredients and recipes along the common borders with France and Switzerland, as well as imaginative cuisine embracing the quintessential gastronomic traditions of Northern Italy.

The region hosts the birthplace of the popular Slow Food Movement, delicacies like the fabled white truffle, and the international treat, Nutella. Tree-lined streets decorate the city of Turn and the Italian Alps garnish the skyline. Elegant palaces and sophisticated squares give way to art nouveau cafes and lavish palaces, as well as the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts outside of Egypt in the renowned Museo Egizio. You settle into the comforts of your luxurious hotel located inside a stunning villa on the outskirts of the city. Your introduction to the Italian cuisine begins at dinner with a delicious plate of agnolotti, a fresh, egg pasta stuffed with meat.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 7

Turin – Medieval Villages and Barolo Vineyards in Piedmont

At breakfast, the dining room fills with the traditional aromas of fresh espresso and freshly baked cornetti—Italian croissants. You leave the villa behind for the day bound for the charming municipality of Serralunga d’Alba. The cobbled village lanes lead to the central 14th-century castle sitting atop Serralunga hill and dominating the skyline. The vineyards sloping down the undulating landscape produce some of the most famous wines of Italy using the Nebbiolo varietal to produce fantastic Barolo wines. The village dates back to the 13th century during the local reign of the Falletti family.

A cylindrical tower represents the most innovating characteristic of the demanding medieval fortress while cellars are hidden in the porous landscape around the village protect and age the coveted wines. You wander through the vines with your guide learning about the unique properties of the region supporting the specific features of the wine. The Nebbiolo grape produces elegant aromas suggesting the wine possesses a lighter body with a tannic structure. Your guide pours a glass of the Barolo produced at the winery. The scent of red fruits and aromas of fragrant violets emanate from the glass. The velvety texture finishes with spiced flavors and a hint of vanilla.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 8

Turin – Organic Farm and Cooking Lesson in the Countryside

In the morning, you uncover a fascinating 19th century stone farmhouse hidden in the countryside. The gorgeous rustic rooms contain terracotta floors and historic stone-walls within the rolling hills of Piedmont. The owners host an organic farm and vineyard cultivating locally sourced, seasonal produce with vibrant flavors accentuated by the quality nutrients of the soil. Traverse the vineyard and enter into the hazelnut groves noticing the sweet, nutty note scent in the air. Large zucchini grows in the garden alongside fresh bell peppers.

You enter the kitchen of the family-run estate finding a selection of produce taken from the garden. Your guide becomes your instructor as you learn to make the traditional dish tajarin, a fresh, egg-pasta made into ribbon-like strands and topped with a hearty ragu or butter and sage sauce. At the end of the meal, your instructor pours a sample of the homemade passito wine, which is made from Moscato grapes and known for possessing a nutty, caramel flavor.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 9

Turin – Cheeses and Underground Wine Experiences

Travel to the gorgeous hilly region of Monferrato occupying fertile landscape known for supporting celebrated vineyards, captivating restaurants, and enchanting castles. Clusters of rooftops shimmering with orange tiles interrupt the mixture of verdant fields and rows of vineyards. The town of Casale Monferrato overlooks the banks of the Po River from atop the comfort of a steep slope. The ancient fortified walls continue to wrap around the old city with cobbled lanes leading to notable palaces and stunning fortress dating back to the 11th century.

A Jewish synagogue in town dates back to the 16th century boasting an elegantly decorated interior reflecting the importance of the community in the greater municipality. The aroma of cookies drifts out of the pasticcerie. You reach a dairy farm producing 13 types of cheeses and a selection of yogurts crafted from goat’s milk. The specialty cheeses crafted in the region include Castelmagno, a cheese whose producing is safeguarded by the Protected Designation of Origin status. The crumbly, dense, and grainy texture contains a sharp flavor growing spicier with age.

You continue to the town of Canelli in the Asti province to explore the fascinating underground “Wine Cathedrals.” The town is located in a small valley nestled between the steep slopes rich in vineyards. The castle dates back to the 11th century with the underground cellars reflecting a fascinating history beginning in the 19th century. The unique feature of storing the wines in massive underground networks helps produce red and sparkling wines. Millions of bottles ferment in the eight miles of cellars located beneath the town in a climate stable between 54 degrees and 57 degrees Fahrenheit.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 10

Turin – Chocolates in the Piedmontese Capital

Turin has developed a sweet and lavish center stemming from the opulent décor of Reggia di Venaria Reale--a spectacular royal residence built with complex baroque style in the 17th century. The center enraptures you in its history of chocolate making acting as the heart of the European chocolate trade in the 17th century. Hot chocolate, chocolate houses, and chocolate spreads brought visitors from around the Old World eager to sample the unique flavors discovered in the depths of the Americas.

The tour begins at Stratta, one of the oldest shops situated inside the luxury arcade close to the celebrate Museo Egizio. The store has made and sold fine chocolates since 1836, drawing in customers with tantalizing window displays and the promise of enrapturing flavors based on informed seasonal recommendations. The truffles look divine, and you sample the Giandujotto, a chocolate shaped similar to an upturned boat and infused with the elegant flavor of hazelnut. The traditional flavor combination inspiring Nutella derived from a shortage of cocoa during the Napoleonic war pushing chocolate makers to experiment with new tastes, textures, and ideas.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 11

Turin – Truffles and Tasting Extraordinary Wines in Alba

The mist floats over the valleys around Piedmont in the morning quickly dissipating to reveal the wet, lush grass and damp forest floors. You meet your guide on the outskirts of the woods and venture into the landscape harboring the renowned and hidden white truffle. You follow trained dogs who sniff the forest floor in search of the isolated ingredient. Your guide explains how when the dogs are puppies the trainers see which pups will eat the truffles. Whichever prefer the scent and taste of rough-skinned tuber can easily be trained to sniff the truffles out in the wild.

The dog finds a truffle, and you help dig up the large, potato-like tuber noticing the deep musky and slightly garlicky scent. Continue to a winery in the beautiful countryside of Alba, which is known for producing noteworthy wines like Barbera, Dolcetto, and Barbaresco. The vineyard bottled its first wine in 1893 and has since produced exceptional Barbaresco from vines growing across more than nine acres of silty-loam soil. The dark, alluring spices feature aromas of sage, rosemary, and dried flowers with a full body paired well with rich dishes like lamb chops and beef roasts.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 12

Turin – Depart for Home

Turin retains a sense of mystery and majesty in the illustrious palaces preserved through the centuries. Palazzo Madama was erected in the 13th century over the remains of Roman ruins and now stands as the centerpiece of the elegant Piazza Castello. The façade acts as an example of Piedmontese Baroque architecture embodied in the magnificent double staircase. The tower of the Mole Antonelliana reaches over 551 feet tall representing the most significant landmark of Turin’s skyline. After breakfast, your private transfer meets you in the lobby of your villa on the outskirts of Turin and escorts you to Turin-Caselle Airport where you board your flight home.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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