Follow in the footsteps of European nobility to find inspiring fashion, aristocratic wonder, and captivating historical architecture during your custom tailored itinerary of Northern Italy. The snow-capped peaks of the Italian Alps create a perfect backdrop to your mornings as the waters of Italy’s largest lake shimmer against the window of your elegant hotel room. Lavish castles continue to guard canals, lakeshores, and cliffs as fascinating paintings adorn the ceilings and walls with unique...
Milan – Arrive in the Fashionable and Distinguished City of Milan
Milan is a city of history and fashion, refined luxury, and rich cultural heritage. The beautiful Cathedral rises out of the city center with more 135 stone spires and nearly 2,250 marble statues. Cafes entice passersby with the aroma of fresh espresso and delicate pastries shaped by French occupation. Small rowboats moor against the walls of the old canals that wind through the Navigli district and the elegant façade of the 19th-century opera house Teatro alla Scala enchants visitors with promises of perfect acoustics and graceful works of art.
Your flight will land at Milan-Malpensa Airport, and your private transfer will greet you upon arrival and escort you to your gorgeous hotel located in the heart of the bustling city. Elegant 19th-century palaces line the cobblestone boulevards that lead to everything from the garment warehouses and the classical art gallery of the Pinacoteca di Brera. After settling into the comforts of your accommodation, you will have the remainder of the day at your leisure to relish the beauty of the fascinating city. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele was erected in the late 19th-century as one of the oldest arcades in the world. The glamorous architectural style features a soaring glass dome above the central gallery that allows natural light to pour down nearly 160 feet onto the mosaic-tile floors. The aroma of fresh brioche and frittelle, round, fried cakes sprinkled with honey and or sugar, emanates from the pastry shops that are framed with the building’s original filigree.
Milan – Experience Art, Culture, and Architecture in Milan on a Guided Tour
In the morning, the scent of fresh espresso and delicate cakes topped with chocolate glaze will drift through the open doors of a café opened in the early 1960s. The restaurants along the Navigli canal set out tables and chairs to overlook the calm waters, and your guide will meet you at your hotel after breakfast eager to lead you on an immersive exploration of Milan’s captivating highlights, beginning at the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. The exterior has an unassuming rosy façade that glows from the brickwork and contrasts with the white frames of the recessed arched windows. The six-sided dome was built in the 15th century and crowns the far side of the edifice adorned with graceful archways and pillars.
Candles flicker along the central altar, and you will still find subtle hints of spice in the air from frankincense and myrrh. Enter into the refectory to find Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, which was crafted in the 1490s and continues to captivate viewers with its representation of Jesus and the Apostles during the final meal. This piece has come to represent a new development in artistic technique and aesthetic with movement and grace, which at the time opposed the tradition of capturing a scene of stagnation. Continue your exploration of the city at Castello Sforzesco for a glimpse of the formerly powerful families that ruled the region of Lombardy from behind the dramatic gate tower.
Lake Maggiore – Travel to the Alps to Enjoy Lake Como and Lake Maggiore
The doors of the favorite cafes open with the daylight in Milan to bring locals a quick espresso and delicious brioche topped with caramelized sugar. Cakes and pastries fill the display cases as both fashionistas and business people relish cappuccinos in the midmorning as the bustling streets pass through the windows. Your private transfer will greet you at your hotel and escort you along the scenic route and into the Italian Alps to reach the town of Lake Como. The fabled cobbled streets wind along the old Roman design, with the original walls of the city embodied in the Porta Pretoria, the Roman gate. The aroma of pine emanates from the alpine forests, offering a pleasant, minty spice to accompany the ever-present scent of brewing espresso.
Outside the center stands the Basilica di Sant’Abbondio, an 11th-century Romanesque church with a tall, narrow interior. Gothic frescoes adorn the walls and contribute to the dramatic ambiance while outside the forest rustles in the passing breeze. The pristine waters of the lake spread like a fjord along more than 20 miles of shoreline, reflecting the surrounding limestone mountains, forests, and villages across the shimmering surface. For a stunning view of the surroundings, you will visit Villa Carlotta where the botanic gardens blossom with azaleas and roses as orange trees fill the air with the scent of citrus. Pergolas draped in ivy add layers of luster to the accents of the 17th-century villa.
Lake Maggiore – Explore the Beauty of Stresa and the Borromean Islands
The waters of Lake Maggiore reach nearly 43 miles long and up to five miles long. In the morning, the sunlight will wash over the shiny surface and reflect the snow-capped peaks of the Italian Alps. After breakfast, your guide will lead you to the famous town of Stresa, located more than 650 feet above sea level with a view of the Borromean Islands. What was once a small community of fishermen grew to prominence as the home of Milanese aristocracy by the 15th century, and the cobbled lanes are lined with belle époque structures that bring both charm and elegance. The breeze brushes the manicured hedges, palms, and oak trees that shade the lakefront promenade.
The local market brims with vendors with bright, fresh flowers and arrays of locally made cheeses and cured meats on offer. Board your ferry and make your way with your guide to reach Isola Bella, known for the grand palace and garden adorned with grottoes. The villa was erected in the early 17th-century under the patronage of Charles III. The magnificent Baroque features present an elegant first impression of a bygone era as the halls and galleries of the villa provide a treasure chest of antique furniture, vaulted ceilings, stucco decoration, Flemish tapestries, and marble features. Natural light pours through the collection of windows causing the embellishments to glisten as you explore.
Lake Garda – Visit Medieval Lake Orta and Bergamo en route to Lake Garda
At breakfast, you will likely think back to the stunning gardens of Isola Bella you visited the previous day as you watch the peacocks that roam the grounds amongst the blossoming hydrangeas and neo-classical statues that decorate the hidden grottos with views of the stoic waters of Lake Maggiore. You can see the shoreline from your hotel and will enjoy the view and the decadent scent of fresh espresso that fills the air. Your private transfer will meet you at your hotel after breakfast and lead you away from the glistening waters of Lake Maggiore to the shoreline of Lake Orta and the medieval cobbled lanes of the eponymous town.
The pleasures of Orta emanate from the serene landscape and the quiet alleyways that go undiscovered by passing tourists. Locals refer to Orta as a secret hideaway from the movement of Lakes Como and Maggiore. The passing sunlight causes the colors to change by the hour, with the bright facades of the ascending medieval architecture glistening against the surrounding alpine forest. Narrow lanes lead to graceful columns and restaurants are filled with aromas of simmering garlic. After touring the town, you can continue to a cheese cellar run by a fifth generation artisan devoted the variety of Italian cheeses.
Your guide will lead you through the cellars and the aging cheeses with over 300 different types of crafted Italian rinds on display. The aroma of the aging cheese fills the cool temperature of the cellar, which retains a constant humidity and temperature as to keep the cheeses from spoiling. In the tasting room, your guide will pair a selection of the cheeses with a tasting of the wines crafted at the local winery for a unique balance of flavors you never before imagined.
Lake Garda – Relish a Full Day Excursion and Engage in the Charms of Verona
The heart of Verona at Piazza delle Erbe brings the quiet soundtrack of the trickling fountain into the light of the morning. Vendors stack their produce into their stalls and turn the cobblestone lanes into aisles bright with oranges, lemons, tomatoes, and eggplant. Cafes set out their tables and chairs for patrons to enjoy the vibrant life of the city and watch as people pass beneath the medieval architecture. The Roman arena borders the edges of the city center, with seating accommodating up to 22,000 spectators, and the city continues to utilize the structure originally erected in the 3rd century AD to house the Verona Opera Festival inside the grounds.
Your guide will escort you on a tour of the city and bring the connection between the gorgeous architecture, narrow lanes, and Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. The traditional artistry of the city will capture your attention, but the fabled love of Shakespearean Italy will capture your imagination. You will reach the home of Juliet Capulet, located near Piazza delle Erbe and pass through the arched tunnel that leads to the courtyard. Love letters asking for the spirit of Juliet to help in matters of the heart spill out of the cracks in the walls of the tunnel, and the courtyard features a decorative balcony situated above a bronze statue of Juliet.
Lake Garda – Discover Medieval Modena and Taste Balsamic Vinegar
Gastronomy thrives within and along the medieval cobbled lanes of Modena. Celtic settlements predate the 2nd-century BC Roman colony, with the grandeur of the 11th-century Romanesque Cathedral that crowns the heart of the city like a statue carved from featured stone. Your guide will escort you to Modena to traverse the arcaded streets and marvelous piazzas, grand palaces, and elaborate gardens as Ghirlandina Tower adorns the skyline at the height of more than 550 feet. The structure was originally built as a defensive tower as bas-reliefs along the original floors depict knights and monsters, sirens, and ladies, and brings the spectacular panoramas provided by the 13th and 14th-century additions.
Your guide will explain that to know Modena, you must understand the history and cultural significance of their famously sweet and tart vinegar. The roots of balsamic date back to the 11th century as artisans capture the freshly pressed fruit juice mixed with skins, seeds, and grape stems known as must. They producers then cook the must down and leave it to reduce inside wood barrels, similar to the process of winemaking. The wood helps mellow the flavor over a period of time, often aged with the purpose of sprinkling the final product over freshly cut Parmesan cheese or delicious fruit. In the tasting room, you will enjoy a private sampling of the vinegar produced on the property and find flavors of fig, molasses, and chocolate.
Lake Garda – Embrace the Enchanting Landscape of Lake Garda at Leisure
Wake up with a view of Italy’s largest lake that fills more than 142 square miles. Vineyards roll along the hills and valleys of the southern shoreline as sailboats take to the sweeping winds of the northern waters in view of the staggering cliffs. Cosmopolitan towns give way to hidden lanes with cuisine inspired by Austrian lineage and pastries evolving from French tradition. The day is yours to indulge in the beauty of the landscape and the relaxed pace around the villas of Garda as you enjoy the view of the harbor from the cafes along the promenade.
You could venture to Arco to walk amongst the medieval ramparts or enjoy views of the Adige Valley from the colorful homes along the pre-alpine slopes of Bussolengo. Make your way to Scaliger Castle located in the town of Sirmione as the turquoise waters lap against the small breakwater of the marina. The castle embodies medieval fortifications with foundations laid in the 1st-century BC by Romans, and water continues to brush against the base of the crenulated walls first built in the 13th-century. The castle dominates the scenery with a large moat and storybook features as ducks and swans float across the calm, cool waters as 150 steps lead to the top of the lookout tower for a spectacular view of the walls, grounds, and waters.
Lake Garda – Depart for Home
In the morning, you will bask in the aromas of freshly brewed espresso as it blends with the breeze that carries hints of pine from the surrounding forests. The Ducal Palace in Mantua shimmers with more than 300 years of grandeur that dates back to the seat of the Gonzaga family, and the grounds feature more than 500 rooms that trace the family’s ascent to power in the 14th century, from horse breeders to nobility. The ceiling in the Bridal Chamber contains a comical and captivating central panel of an open blue sky framed by a balustrade with heavenly figures look in. After one last morning to take it all in, your private transfer will meet you at your hotel in Garda to make your way to Verona Villafranca Airport for your flight home.
- Appreciate the artistic aesthetic on one of the world’s most renowned works of art, da Vinci’s Last Supper
- Traverse the captivating cobbled streets of Stresa in the Italian Alps before wandering the elaborate halls, galleries, and gardens of Isola Bella
- Taste an array of traditional Italian cheeses near Lake Orta during a private pairing of cheese and wine at a local celebrated cellar
- Enjoy an immersive experience in Verona with a private guided tour of the Roman architecture, grand castles, and the home of Shakespeare’s Juliet
- Discern the layers of flavor found in traditional balsamic vinegar while touring the antique lanes of Modena and surrounding countryside
- Relish the fairytale architecture of the preserved 13th-century Scaliger Castle grounds in Sirmione
- Embrace the splendor of the former families that controlled the regions of Northern Italy while touring Villa Carlotta on Lake Como’s Shores
Cathedral spires decorate the skyline of Milan as the walls of rural castles rise to meet the cliffs that overlook Northern Italy’s shimmering lakes. Your 9-day tour of Northern Italy will encompass the vibrant culture, enchanting history, and marvelous artistry that have been collected over more than two millennia. You will discover ancient marvels, taste the delicate flavors, and witness unfathomable luxury beginning with your arrival in Milan. Your private transfer will greet you upon arrival at Milan-Malpensa Airport, and you will then venture into the heart of the fashionable city to enjoy the comforts of your luxurious hotel.
The remainder of the day will be yours to enjoy the beauty and the bustle of the fascinating city as you wander the arcades of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele or visit the galleries of the Pinacoteca di Brera. Wake the next morning, and your guide will lead you on a private tour of Milan for a view of the Last Supper and to explore the grounds of Sforza Castle and the Museum of the La Scala Opera House. The next day, your private transfer will escort you into the Italian Alps to reach Lake Maggiore. En route, you can stop at Lake Como to stroll along the lakeside promenades and visit the lush gardens of Villa Carlotta.
The next day, follow your guide along the shoreline to reach Stresa and enjoy the tranquil streets of town before visiting the Borromean Islands, beginning with Isola Bella. Your private transfer will greet you at your hotel the next morning and bring you to Lake Orta to visit the town off the beaten tourist path. Revel in the quiet charm and visit a local cheese cellar to taste the locally produced cheeses paired with delectable wines. Continue to the city of Bergamo before reaching the luxurious view of your grand hotel room in Garda. The next day, wander the streets of Verona with your private guide and explore the medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture inspired by the remaining Roman arena, and then visit the home of Juliet Capulet from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
The following day, your guide will lead you on a fantastic tour of Modena. Visit a balsamic vinegar factory on the outskirts of the city to learn about the process of the flavorful condiment before enjoying a private tasting. The next day will be at your leisure to indulge in the beauty of Lake Garda. Spend time wandering along the cobbled lanes of Sirmione or visit the collection of castles scattered across the lakeshores and into the hills. Your private transfer will meet you the next day and escort you to Verona Villafranca Airport for your flight home.
$2,470 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.
Reviews of Zicasso's Referral Service
4.88 stars based on 4574 reviews
Reviewed By Michael P.
Reviewed By Michael B.
Reviewed By Ravi O.
Reviewed By Jean Y.
Reviewed By Ronald Q.
Reviewed By Jim M.
Get Weekly Inspiration and Expert Advice on Travel
during the COVID and post-COVID era