Genoa, Portofino, Recco, Santa Margherita, Portovenere, Riomaggiore, Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Parma, Bologna, Ravenna, Ferrara, Tellaro, Lerici,...
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Culture embodied in cuisine with history personified in architecture will be yours to enjoy during your custom tailored tour that takes you from the Mediterranean to the Adriatic. Stroll down the medieval cobbled streets that wind along the promontories of Cinque Terre. Savor a bite of cheese from a wheel opened just for your pleasure, and then sip a glass of crisp white wine with a view of the crystalline indigo waters nearby. Indulge in zesty pasta sauces served inside centuries-old restaurants...
Genoa – Arrive in Genoa for an Introductory Tour of the Ligurian Coast
Genoa retains a glimmer of its maritime grandeur from the 10th century to the 17th century as marble palaces line a wide and graceful boulevard. Steep streets and narrow lanes meander along the Old Harbor as the city stretches around the Mediterranean waters and upwards along the foothills of the Apennine Mountains. Your flight will land at Cristoforo Colombo Airport where you will meet your private transfer. The wealth and power of the city’s past is illustrated by the Porta Soprana that frames the Piazza dei Ferrari. The 11th-century gateway contains two dramatic preserved towers that are connected to the old city walls and the renowned explorer Christopher Columbus grew up in the stone house beside the cloister of Sant’Andrea near the gateway.
The 17th-century street of Via Balbi showcases the palatial splendor included with the city’s everyday life as the Palazzo dell’Universita features a remarkable courtyard and lavish gardens. You will easily settle into the luxuries of Genoa with your private introductory tour, and it will inspire you in the same way that the city inspired Wagner, Flaubert, and Joseph Conrad. You venture next to the Old Harbor and make your way down a small alley to find the centuries old restaurant that embodies the old and new of Genoa. A chalkboard lists the menu items in Ligurian dialect as the food sings in its simplicity as it celebrates every ingredient.
Monterosso – Enjoy a Scenic Ride to Cinque Terre and Explore Monterosso
The magnificent Cathedral of San Lorenzo frames the Piazza Matteotti and glints with layers of intricate marble in the morning light. The 12th-century Romanesque Basilica contains elements of Gothic style from the 13th century adorned with a Renaissance dome, which embodies the elaborate history of the former Republic. The scent of fresh espresso drifts out of the cafes near the old harbor and blends with the lingering scent of the Mediterranean Sea as your private transfer will meet you at the hotel and escort you south to the seaside town of Levanto.
For the adventurous, a trail leads along the mountain ridges from Levanto to Monterosso, the most northerly town connected to Cinque Terre. However, an easy, quick, and scenic train ride takes you through the Maritime Alps with a stop at the Monterosso train station. A representative from your hotel will meet you at the station and escort you to your seaside villa that overlooks the water. Above the hotel, the terraced mountains shine with marvelous emerald hues that rise from the vineyards and the coastal forest.
The sapphire Mediterranean Sea splashes at the edges of the narrow pebbled beach as umbrellas shade the beachgoers who relax atop comfortable lounge chairs. The medieval castle referred to as the Dawn Tower watches over Old Town and the sea above the pastel colored homes. You can get a glimpse of the statue of Neptune carved into the cliff, supporting a bridge to the roof of Villa Pastine. For dinner, you will venture to a celebrated restaurant and sit at one of the few outdoor tables to enjoy the Mediterranean breeze. The menu is true Ligurian with a friendly atmosphere, welcoming smiles, and a herbaceous pesto testaroli, a type of Italian pancake.
Monterosso – Visit Cinque Terre by Boat and Relish a Wine and Food Tour
The morning in Monterosso brings the quiet rustling of the leaves around your villa-style hotel. The mountain ridges keep the waves from breaking hard on Monterosso’s beach as the aroma of freshly baked brioche lingers in the streets of Old Town as the bakeries fill their display cases with cakes and cookies. You will meet your guide at the small marina that edges town and board your private boat. Your small boat will pull away from the dock and offer you a panorama of Monterosso’s colorful homes as they contrast with the verdant foliage that carpets the mountain ridges.
The water is calm, and your boat stops first in the town of Vernazza, a jewel amongst the treasured towns of Cinque Terre. The pastel homes encircle the natural harbor and ascend the cliffs and promontories. Cafes and restaurants line the cobblestone streets as narrow lanes in meander away from the main street in traditional Genoese style. The buildings open up to offer sporadic views of the water, and you will continue your travels to visit each of the towns until you dock at Riomaggiore, the southerly most town of Cinque Terre.
After touring the cobblestone streets that take you along the narrow ridges of the Maritime Alps, your guide will lead you to the steps of the Via dell’Amore, the trail that connects Riomaggiore to Manarola. A restaurant overlooks the water, and steep cliffs provide the perfect setting to experience the flavors of Cinque Terre, in both wine and cuisine. Your guide will pair five wines with five different types of traditional Ligurian dishes, and each will complement the briny, floral, fruity, and savory tastes and aromas of your surroundings.
Monterosso – Delight in the Landscape and Cuisine of the Italian Riviera
In the morning, the beauty of Monterosso and Cinque Terre look surreal as the sapphire water turns indigo in the secluded coves nestled into the mountains. Locals harvest grapes in the vines that stretch across the terraces as trails meander through olive groves and maritime forest. After breakfast, the beauty of the Italian Riviera is once again yours to experience at your preferred pace, this time taking you out of Cinque Terra and onto the Gulf of Poets, named for its allure and inspiration for the likes of Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and Petrarch.
The scent of focaccia and onions lingers in the streets of Monterosso, overtaking the sweet, creamy scent that fills the gelaterias. You will meet your private transfer in Levanto and find the charming villages that overlook the glassy water of the Mediterranean, each decorating the coastline with color in spite of the steep cliffs. The town of Tellaro is one of the best-kept secrets of the Italian Riviera, and the charm derives from the antique buildings, narrow cobbled lanes, and welcoming locals who maintain a connection to tradition and culture. Red-tile roofs glint in the sunlight against the indigo hues of the water as the houses practically spill down the hills near the shore.
Rocks border the coastline and frame the colorful building facades. The main square looks out to the islands of Tino and Tinetto. Your stroll along the streets allows you to engage in the everyday life of locals through the aromas of farinata, a chickpea tart, emanating from the cafes, and the stunning colors of the produce on display in the markets. Before returning to Monterosso, you will meet a private chef eager to teach you the art of simple, yet delicious cooking for which Italy is known. In a perfectly stocked kitchen with a view of the coastline, the scent of cream and garlic will begin to overtake the briny aroma of the mussels as they rest in the sink.
Bologna – Venture to Charming Parma en route to Medieval Bologna
Today you will leave behind the beauty of the coastline and the elegant cuisine to embrace both the mountainous terrain and the ingredients found in the depths of the sea. A hotel representative will escort you to the train station where you will board your train to Levanto to meet your private transfer. The Maritime Alps will disappear behind the peaks and hills forged by the Apennine Mountains as cypress and fern trees grow along the landscape between the cities and towns. Golden hills roll into the emerald forests until they reach the shores of the Adriatic Sea. You will stop in the city of Parma where the blend of beauty and history becomes even more apparent.
Although not much remains from the days of the Roman settlement, the grandeur of the Farnese dukes remain. The Romanesque Basilica overtakes an entire side of the Piazza del Duomo, and the 12th-century structure accentuates the more than 205-foot tall bell tower. The power and wealth of the past come to life inside the Cathedral as the thick pillars line the nave to create flanking arcades beneath a vaulted ceiling. The riot of color in the dome derives from the fresco of the Assumption of the Virgin, which was painted by Correggio in the 16th century.
After exploring Parma, your guide will lead you to a small factory that producing Parmesan cheese. The master cheesemaker will introduce himself with a wide smile, happy to show you the work that goes in to producing one of the most popular types of cheese of Italy as an apprentice churns milk in a copper heated vat as the liquid curdles. Wander through the warehouse to find giant wheels of cheese aging to perfection before your guide opens a new wheel to offer you the first taste of a newly minted Parmesan cheese.
Bologna – Discover the Wonders of Bologna including a Private Food Tour
Bologna is home to Europe’s oldest university, which was founded in the 11th century. The city is also known for its medieval streets and inspiring cuisine. After breakfast, your guide will lead you on a half-day tour of the marvelous city streets beginning with the massive Basilica of St. Petronius in Piazza Maggiore. The church was erected in the late 14th century, designed to be larger than St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Part of what makes the church unique is that it remains unfinished. The façade feature rosy and pearled marble that leads upward into an undecorated arched window. The interior embodies Italian Gothic architecture with chapels designed to look like small churches.
The museum offers visitors a chance to see the original plans for the church, along with designated décor designed by Andrea Palladio. After your tour of the city, your guide will lead you through the streets to indulge in the pleasures of the cuisine often praised as the best in the country. You will return to Piazza Maggiore for a sampling of the famous tagliatelle al ragu, thick noodles in a savory meat sauce. At the second stop, your guide will offer you a sample of tangy and tart lemon sorbet mixed with creamy white chocolate. The combination of citrus and light bitterness has a captivating effect.
Bologna – Explore Emilia-Romagna for Castles, Mosaics, and Historic Towns
At breakfast, you will sip your frothy cappuccino and enjoy the lingering bittersweet flavor of the roasted coffee beans. After your meal, your guide will lead you outside of Bologna to discover the charms of Emilia-Romagna. The city of Ravenna was once the capital of the Western Roman Empire, trading extensively with Constantinople and the Byzantines. The wealth and power of the former imperial city remain emblazoned in the churches that date back to the 4th century, embellished with precious stones and gold. The riot of color impressed nobility and poets, including Dante Alighieri who lived in Ravenna at the end of his life.
The church of San Vitale contains a remarkable octagonal shape that will capture your attention. The structure was erected in the 6th century and decorated with Byzantine mosaics, which now represents one of the finest examples of early Christian art and architecture. The stones in the choir apse come together to portray Justinian and his wife, Theodora. Down the stairs, you will have a view into the sunken mosaics beneath what now resembles a well. Gold fish swim above as the flickering light casts off settled coins. The wonders of Ravenna lead you to the historical harbors of Rimini before you reach the marvelous ancient grounds of San Marino, one of the smallest and oldest republics in the world. Three towers crown the microstate, the oldest of which dates back to the 13th century over the remains of a Roman fortress.
Bologna – Depart for Home
The medieval center of Bologna embodies the beauty of the city in both the history and the cuisine, expressing the culture of locals through tradition and experimentation. In the morning, pop by a favorite café that offers Bologna the country’s favorite drink, espresso, but offers interesting combinations in case people feel adventurous, including chocolate and chili pepper. The café fills with the aroma of brewed coffee beans and sweet pastries. Every coffee served has a special quality, whether connecting you to the simple pleasures of an Italian tradition or taking you on a unique journey through taste alone. After breakfast, your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and escort you G. Marconi International Airport for your flight home.
- Relish the flavors of Ligurian wine and food during a paired tasting with a view of the Mediterranean coastline
- Enjoy a sampling of the celebrated dishes of Bologna during a private food tour of a city famous for its cuisine
- Luxuriate during a private cruise along Cinque Terre to view the gorgeous scenery and the distinctive positioning of the five towns
- Delight as you tour a cheese factory to learn the art of producing Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Partake in a private cooking class on the Ligurian coast to emulate the flavors of the coastal cuisine while guided by a local chef
- Witness the stunning castles and powerful strongholds of the Emilia-Romagna region, including the Towers of the Republic of San Moreno
- Roam along the streets of Genoa to view opulent palaces and historical gates edging the protected home of Christopher Columbus
If beauty derives from pleasure, then Liguria and Emilia-Romagna burst with indulgences both gastronomically and aesthetically. Your 8-day tour will take you from Cinque Terre to Bologna and immerse you in the splendor of the rich Italian heritage as it shapes the inspiring cuisine. From small towns to elaborate castles, golden valleys to metallic cliffs, you will find passion in the flavors and wonder in the architecture. Your culinary and artistic journey will begin with your arrival at Cristoforo Colombo Airport in Genoa. Your private transfer will escort you into Genoa and take you on an introductory tour of a city decorated with lavish palaces that tell of a decadent past. Wake the next day for a scenic drive down the Ligurian coast to visit the small villages en route to the town of Monterosso al Mare, one of the five towns of Cinque Terre.
Enjoy the charms of Recco, Santa Margherita, Portofino, and Levanto and then enjoy dinner at a restaurant favored by locals for an introduction to the cultural cuisine of the fishing village. The next day, you will take a private cruise to Cinque Terre to connect you to the five towns hidden by the Maritime Alps. Your guide will take you to hidden beaches and coves nestled between the villages before anchoring at Riomaggiore. A restaurant along the Lover’s Trail overlooks the coastline and offers you a food and wine-paired sampling to highlight the flavors of the region in both the cuisine prepared and the wine offered. Next, you will venture to the protruding landscape of the Gulf of Poets, across the water from the Italian Riviera.
Explore the serene cultural towns of Tellaro and Lerici before you visit the iconic Riviera town of Portovenere for a private cooking lesson. You will make your way by train to Levanto, one town north of Monterosso, to meet your private transfer at the station. You will venture through the mountains and across the hills of Emilia-Romagna to reach the city of Parma. After exploring the history and art of the city, you will tour a cheese factory to learn about the process of cheese making, followed by a sampling of the Parmigiano-Reggiano.
You will then reach Bologna in the late afternoon for an evening at leisure, and then wake the next morning for a private tour of the medieval city to show you the fascinating history, marvelous architecture, and iconic art. An encompassing food tour will follow your discovery of the city streets for an opportunity to taste some of the famous and lesser-known dishes for which the city is celebrated. The next day, you will venture outside of Bologna with a private transfer to enjoy the distinctive early Christian mosaics of Ravenna, the old harbors of Rimini, and the majestic castle towers of the Republic of San Moreno. Conclude the next day as you meet your private transfer in the lobby of the hotel and make your way to the airport for your flight home.
$2,195 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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