Italy’s Vibrant North: A Cultural Immersion Tour of Veneto & Piedmont

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Total Trip:

10 Days
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Countries Visited:

Italy
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Places Visited:

Venice, Padua, Verona, Gardone, Lake Garda, Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, Milan, Varenna, Menaggio, Borromean Islands, Stresa
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Departure Dates:

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Travel beyond the borders of the Venetian Republic to discover the splendors of Northern Italian culture as it emanates from the architecture, art, and their continuing way of life. Your custom tailored tour will immerse you in opulent villas and gorgeous gardens, towering mountains and amazing cathedrals. The aromas of pine and tulips will overtake a terraced, island villa as immaculate statues cast shadows over the open piazza. Medieval frescoes inspire artists and poets, and graceful rolling

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Day 1

Venice – Arrive in Venice with an Introductory Tour of the Grand Canal

The majesty of Venice emanates from the marble palaces and labyrinthine streets that hover above the tide. Secret passageways conjure images of esoteric powers and the bulbous domes of St. Mark’s Basilica harkens back to the long reach of the Byzantine Empire. Your private transfer will greet you upon your arrival at Marco Polo International Airport. You will venture to the shores of the famous Venetian lagoon to board a private vaporetto ready to whisk you along the meandering waterways of the Gran Canal. The homes and palaces that line the water will glint rosy and white hues in the sunlight.

The Grand Canal twists and turns through Venice and acts as the main street that connects the businesses and homes by way of barges and gondolas. The Baroque church of Santa Maria della Salute embodies the brilliance of the city’s former power and architectural beauty. The 17th-century church was erected in a tribute to the end of the plague, and the builders drove more than one hundred thousand timbers into the lagoon floor to support the immense weight of the stone. The dome represents the crown of Marian as a work of Tintoretto, known as the Marriage at Cana decorates the sacristy. After your tour of the canal, your vaporetto will escort you to the private dock of your lavish hotel that is situated inside a refurbished Venetian palace and offers an immersive combination of history and luxury.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

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Day 2

Venice – Explore the Monuments and Iconic Images of the Lagoon City

In the morning you will find the captivating and refreshing aromas of sweet brioche and cappuccino filling the air. Sip your morning cup and you will delight in the frothy, creamy texture that adds a slight sweetness to the rich coffee blend. After breakfast, your private transfer will meet you in your hotel lobby eager to escort you through the lavish decor and exciting history of Venice, beginning with St. Mark’s Square. The square gained prominence in the 9th-century when the remains of St. Mark were brought to the Doge’s chapel to turn the noble church into a grand basilica. Life in the Venetian Republic revolved around the square, whether civic or religious and arcades border three sides to nearly frame the edges of the Basilica di San Marco. The elaborate façade shimmers with the golden mosaics and recessed arches support the iconic Byzantine domes.

A significant portion of the basilica’s grandeur derives from an 11th-century law that states that any ship that returns to port must bring a precious artifact with which to decorate the interior. 500 rare marble columns, including alabaster and jasper, were brought back from the East. The interior will take your breath away as the mosaics cover a surface area of nearly 45,640 square feet. The luminous colors develop an ethereal glow in the glass pieces and gold leaf that drape the ceiling. You can find remnants of frankincense and myrrh from morning mass, and the windows in the five domes provide natural light to flicker off of the artwork to bathe you and the church gallery in light.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 3

Lake Garda – Visit the Marvels of Padua and Verona en route to Lake Garda

Lake Garda has inspired poets and offered secluded grounds for divas and politicians to relax amongst Italy’s pure and natural landscape. The lake encompasses a surface area of more than 140 square miles that cross from Veneto into the Lombardy region. After breakfast, you will step onto the palace’s private dock and return to Venice’s mainland shore for a private transfer to Garda Lake. The beauty of Venice’s marble facades and meandering stone walkways fade along the marshy horizon behind you as you travel. Ahead of you rises the hills of the countryside lined with cypress trees and vineyards. You will stop in the town of Padua, which once challenged Verona and Venice for power. The university was founded in the 13th-century and continues to lend a youthful ambiance to the city with ancient roots.

The cream-colored façade of the Basilica de Sant’Antonio rises above the heart of the city with Byzantine features that mingle with the Romanesque and Gothic design. Three piazzas converge in the old city center where the 12th-century Palazzo della Ragione contains frescoes that depict mythological and zodiac motifs. Your cultural exploration of Padua culminates at the Cappella degli Scrovegni, a 14th-century chapel constructed with rosy brick. The exterior has a humble quality while the interior contains the splendor of the Middle Ages. The master artist Giotto painted the walls with images of the life and times of Jesus and the masterful way Giotto humanizes the figures inspired artists from Dante to da Vinci.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 4

Lake Garda – Discover the Charms of Gardone and the Villages of the Lake

In the morning, the sunlight will wash over the alpine foothills and bring the emerald trees, limestone ridges, and turquoise waters of Lake Garda to light. Beaches line the south and offer views to the sheer cliffs that fringe the northern shores. Venture out onto the Gardone Riviera for a perfect introduction to the province and the local culture. Art Nouveau and Art Deco buildings overlook the water as beautiful vegetation grows around the town due to the perfect climate caused through a mixture of the lake’s moisture and the hillsides. The tropical foliage in the Hruska Botanical Garden grows thick and crisp. Lotus flowers and water lilies decorate the ponds and dragonflies flitter around the trickling creeks.

You will hear the waterfalls tumbling down the rocky ridges and into the waiting pools to add layers to the living qualities of the lake. Tulips and bamboo contrast in normal temporal zones but unite perfectly in the garden, along with elements of the African Savannah and the plains of Central America. The wonders of the lakeside span cultures and centuries and takes you from the collected charms of an international garden to the medieval streets and promenades of Riva del Garda, which maintains its Venetian watchtower and arcaded harbor square.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 5

Lake Como – Venture to Varenna and Traverse the Shores of Menaggio

The roads hug the mountainside along the small lakes that lead from Lake Garda. The dramatic waterfall of Cascata del Varone corkscrews downward along the gorge fed by the glacial lakes of the mountains. After breakfast, your private transfer will meet you at the villa hotel and escort you northward through the winding roads of the Italian Alps.  You will soon reach the charming town of Como, located on the shores of the homonymous lake. The snow-capped peaks of the Rhaetian Alps will provide a perfect frame for the spectacular color and relaxed ambiance of town. Take the time to wander along the stone streets of town leading to the Piazza Duomo.

The Gothic architecture of the 14th-century contains a lavish marble façade and detailed rose window. Images of Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger decorate the pinnacles and commemorate the historic residents of the province. The dome was erected in the 18th-century and now resembles the mountains and hills that border the town. Step aboard a private launch at the harbor to reach the Menaggio, a picturesque town at the foot of Val Menaggio, a valley connected to Lake Lugano. The medieval town showcases artisan shoe shops and locally made home accessories. The lakeside Piazza Garibaldi contains charming cafes shaded with parasols overlooking the water.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 6

Lake Como – Relax with a Day at Leisure to Relish the Beauty of Lake Como

Your hotel overlooks the heart of Menaggio’s center and includes a lavishly manicured garden. From your window, you can see the colorful homes and ascend the cliff-side streets of the town of Bellagio. After breakfast, you will have time to enjoy more of Menaggio as your wander along the bridges over the Sanagra stream. The waterfall rushes below, and boats ferry locals and visitors away from the lakeshore. The day is yours to relish the beauty and culture around the lakes.

Step aboard the ferry to Varenna to visit the village on the eastern shores of the lake. The water mists upwards from the boat as the aromas of pine and fresh water blend in the refreshing alpine air. The colorful fishermen’s homes of Varenna contrast with the emerald trees that carpet the hillside. The town has remarkable medieval lanes that are graced with a serene ambiance. Pebbles fill the beach as families and locals alike bask in the sun with their lounge chairs facing the lapping water.

A pathway leads from the jetty to the waterfront promenade as an arcaded walkway leads to the elegant cafes that serve the preferred flavors of local gelato. Villa Monastero contains a long, thin garden that lines the lakeshore. Rhododendrons bloom against cypress trees as the terraces contain more than 1,000 species of plants that thrive in the mild climate. The aroma of citrus emanates from the orchard and oleanders fan their petals with pearly tones. The villages around Lake Como provide a perfect atmosphere to wander and relax, for the enchanting towns are themselves a site to see.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 7

Lake Maggiore – Transfer to the Gorgeous Landscape of Lake Maggiore

In the morning, the grandeur of Villa d’Este returns with the rising sunlight. The villa adorns the west lakeshore with an opulent façade as the hedges frame the café and restaurant as it looks out to the water. The tables will fill in at breakfast with locals and visitors alike all eager to bask in the beauty of the landscape and the frothy layers of a fresh cappuccino. After breakfast, you will return to Como by ferry to meet your private transfer ready to lead you west to the shores of Lake Maggiore, Italy’s second largest lake. The body of water divides Piemonte from Lombardy, as it crosses over into Switzerland. The opulent mountain peaks rise over the lake’s north shores to offer a distinct view of the Swiss Alps.

Your hotel is located in a 19th-century villa that prides itself on its traditional atmosphere of antique furnishings with modern amenities. Discover the splendor of the landscape as you make your way to the Monte Mottarone Cable Car at Stresa. As you ascend to the height of more than 4,650 feet above sea level, you will have a panorama of Lake Orta below and the chain of Alps in the distance. The snow-capped peaks of Monte Viso to Ortles are striking. At the top of Monte Mottarone, the view widens to encompass the cobalt waters of Lake Maggiore and its gorgeous pockets of land known as the Borromean Islands. You can stop at the Giardino Alpinia to bask in the charms of the thriving mountain plants.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 8

Lake Maggiore – Traverse the Lakeshores on a Half-Day Cruise

In the morning you will wake up to the quiet charms of Lake Maggiore. The water laps at the shore beneath the colorful homes that overlook the lakeside promenades. Today you can wander along the waterside quays or visit the Borromean Islands at your desired pace. Locals sip their espresso on the way to work and spill out of cafes to enjoy the refreshingly cool air of the early morning. The aroma of olives, figs, and pomegranate fill the air and accompany the fresh scent of coffee. You will venture next to Stresa to board a boat to Isola Bella, a small island known for its 17th-century villa erected under the patronage of Count Vitaliano Borromeo.

The palace structure rises out of the water with grace and opulence and embodies the wealth and power of the family after which the islands are named. The second and third floors remain off limits to visitors, as the current owner of the property inhabits the villa during the summer months. The first floor retains its majesty with guest rooms, ballrooms, and studies. The ballroom of Salone Grande has a ceiling that is 75 feet tall, and 130 paintings decorate the walls of Berthier’s gallery. The lavish décor extends to the gardens, which contains ten tiers of terraces, including the grottoes adorned with pink marble and lava stone.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 9

Milan – Venture to Milan and Enjoy an Encompassing Tour of the History

Today you will depart from the stunning scenery and relaxed pace of Lake Maggiore, to venture south and to the bustling metropolis of Milan. The shimmering waters and snow-capped peaks to the north fade into the meandering streets of the city and towering spires of the Duomo, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. The structure was erected in the 11th-century with the main spire added in the 18th-century to reach a height of more than 357 feet. You will marvel at the detailed statues that adorn the exterior and amount to 3,400 statues and 135 gargoyles. Near the main entrance, you will find a sundial that decorates the floor. A single ray of light beams through a hole on the opposite wall to strike against the bronze tongue that offers a surprisingly precise time of day.

You can venture out to the terrace for a view of the statues that frame the city as you ascend the marble stairway. The Teatro alla Scala acts a tribute to the opera, a form of entertainment revered by local Milanese. The theater can seat up to 2,800 patrons and the accompanying museum exhibit costumes from renowned performances, along with mementos from celebrated conductors, including Verdi and Rossini. Connect to the operatic culture through the museum and inside the theater gallery to witness the grand architecture dedicated to harnessing perfect acoustics.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 10

Milan – Depart for Home

The image of Castello Sforzesco offers an image of Milan during its formation of the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. The Visconti and Sforza families ruled Milan between the 13th and 16th-centuries and today the grounds maintain a number of museums dedicated the history of the families, and prehistoric antiquity, along with a collection of containing Michelangelo’s final Pieta. Spend your morning out exploring and then your private transfer will meet you at your hotel to escort you to Malpensa Airport with plenty of time to check-in to your flight home.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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Trip Highlights

  • Witness the grand monuments, palaces, and iconic images of Venice during a private tour of the Grand Canal
  • Venture deep into the secluded depths of the St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace when exploring the splendor of Venice
  • Bask in the waterside charms of Lake Garda to discover the diverse European community, along with a relaxed ambiance and celebrated local vineyards
  • Relish the unfathomable 14th-century artistry of Giotto’s frescoes inside Padua’s Cappella degli Scrovegni
  • Delight in the blend of ancient history and literary legend in Verona, as you stroll alongside A Roman Arena and see Juliet Capulet’s balcony
  • Enjoy the tranquil scenery in Hruska Botanical Garden grows at Lake Garda to view tropical foliage, waterfalls, streams, and lavish artwork
  • Experience the opulent lifestyle of the Borromeo family during a tour of their private islands and unforgettable villas
  • Relish the pristine view of Lake Maggiore and the Swiss Alps on the horizon from the top of Monte Mottarone
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Detailed Description

From Veneto to the Lakes District, you will experience the true culture of northern Italy while you relish the magnificent landscapes and charming villages. Your 10-day tour will offer flowers and waterfalls, villas and gondolas. Whether visiting Italy for the first time, or for the 10th-time, you will enjoy unforgettable pleasures as you chart the canals of Venice and wander the cobbled streets of Varenna. Your cultural exploration will begin with your arrival at Marco Polo Airport in Venice. Your private transfer will escort you to the edge of the Grand Canal where you will board a vaporetto for an in-depth tour of Venice’s renowned waterways. After your tour, you will settle into the luxuries of your hotel situated inside a Venetian Palace.

Wake the next morning and your private guide will meet you in the hotel lobby and lead you on a remarkable half-day tour of Venice’s iconic St. Mark’s Square and lead you through the artistry, history, and opulence of St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. The remainder of the day is yours to enjoy the splendors and culture of Venice, whether with a wander along the labyrinthine paths or with a visit to the glass blowing island of Murano. Next day, travel west to the shores of Lake Garda and visit the cities of Padua and Verona along the way. In Padua, visit the marvels of Giotto’s frescoes in Cappella dei Scrovegni. In Verona, you will experience the delights of visitors that bask in the presence of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet before you relax and settle on the tranquil shores of Lake Garda.

Venture next to Gardone to stroll through the gorgeous Hruska Botanical Garden. Indulge in the relaxed ambiance of the towns around the lake at Riva del Garda. Then, leave the pleasures of Lake Garda behind for the luxuries of Lake Como in the Italian Alps. Traverse the lanes of the homonymous town before you take a private boat to Menaggio to reach your enchanting hotel. The following day is at your leisure to enjoy the majesty around Lake Como as you desire. Visit the town of Bellagio or hike along the trails to see secluded villas that offer sensational views.

Next day, your private transfer will escort you to Lake Maggiore, the body of which crosses over the border to Switzerland. Take the time to relax in the charming atmosphere of the villages around the lakeshore, or you could also venture to the peak of Monte Mottarone by cable car for an exceptional panorama. Continue with a half-day cruise along Lake Maggiore to discover the lavish villas and gardens of the Borromean Islands. The remainder of the day is yours to indulge in the village and towns around the water.

The following day you will have a private transfer to Milan where you can wander around the city at your preferred pace to take in the Cathedral and the Teatro alla Scala. You can also see Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, located in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Conclude as your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and escort you to the Malpensa Airport for your flight home. 

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Starting Price

$2745 per person (excluding international flights)

This trip is customizable for your private travel.
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What's Included

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.

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