Delight in the charming villages, the artistic masterpieces, and the authentic flavors discovered during your custom-tailored tour of Northern Italy. From the reflective waters of Lake Como to the serene footpaths of Cinque Terre, the aristocratic marble palaces of Venice to the maze-like lanes of Genoa’s ancient port, you will experience the luster of Northern Italy’s rich past and dynamic present. Traverse elaborate Renaissance and Baroque palaces, and then experience extraordinary churches...
Day 1 - 4
Venice – Arrive in Venice to Explore the Lagoon and Tasty Prosecco
The island of Venice is an elegant masterpiece that has been captured in the floating marble palaces that overlook the quiet canals. The waters wind beneath the more than 400 bridges that connect a collection of 118 islands to create the timeless, sophisticated city. Your flight will arrive at Marco Polo International Airport, and your private transfer will greet you at customs and escort you to the edge of the Grand Canal. Settle into the comforts of your luxury hotel within walking distance of the iconic bulbous domes of St. Mark’s Cathedral for four days.
Your private tour through the city begins with the beauty of the famous St. Mark’s Square, home to the eponymous Byzantine-style basilica and the striking Venetian Gothic design of the dramatic Doge’s Palace. The remaining image of the fascinating structure was built in the 14th century with the slender Istrian marble columns that shape the exuberant arcade. The pink Verona marble glints in the sunlight and contrasts with the arching windows to highlight the graceful, lacy patterns along the façade. The secret history of the city steps into the forefront during your tour when visiting the Sala del Consiglio dei Dieci, the Council of Ten, from which the state court who ruled over the secret state police governed. Wood paneling around the room frames the stunning painting that depicts Jupiter as he hurls thunderbolts at the Vices, illustrating the connection and the power of the Venetian Republic to the former glory of Rome.
Your time exploring the Venetian Lagoon will take you on a private tour of the three secluded islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello, home to the grand tradition of glass blowing, the delicate art of lace-work, and captivating 7th-century Byzantine mosaics, respectively. Venturing next into the countryside of Veneto on the mainland will bring a day trip away from the lagoon waters and lavish canals to sample the bright and bubbly Prosecco for which the region is known.
You will stop at a family-owned vineyard and follow your guide through the rows of grapes that grow along the sloping hillsides and the lush floodplains of the region that have operated for over a century. The cellar holds the aroma of rich oak as the wines age in a variety of barrels for months at a time. Your guide will pour a sample of the elegant straw-yellow wine that sparkles with natural effervescence. You can find floral notes like wisteria flowers and acacia emanating from the glass and a satisfying light almond aftertaste lingering on your palate.
Day 5 - 7
Lake Garda – Visit Padua and Verona before Enjoying Lake Garda
The city of Padua provides a great introduction to the grand history of the Veneto region and the extent to which the inspiring artistic reach of the Venetian Republic expanded. Travel by boat along the Brenta Canal for insight into the elegant villas once owned by the Venetian aristocrats searching for space outside of the crowded palaces of the Republic’s capital connecting the lagoon to the marvelous city of Padua. Charming and grandiose displays of wealth reveal the timely aesthetics of the High-Renaissance with structures such as the Villa Foscari, which sits on a picturesque bend framed by weeping willows and filled with rooms decorated with frescoed embellishments as opposed to actual stucco or filigreed adornments.
After exploring the beauty of Padua and seeing the frescoes in the Capella degli Scrovegni designed by Giotto in the 14th century, you can continue to the lavish city of Verona. The dramatic walls of the Roman amphitheater erected in the 3rd century BC greet the tower over Piazza Brà. The sophisticated ancient feat of engineering holds vaulted seating with 44 rows that can accommodate up to 22,000 people. The structure retains marvelous acoustics and remains in use each summer during the Verona Opera Festival, during which fans of the performances travel from across the world to hear celebrated performers.
Verona is also home to star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet, the latter of whom has become a heroine of adoration for hopeful romantics around the globe. Stepping into the home of Juliet Capulet takes you through a small arcade decorated with letters of love, affection, and support and lead to the renowned courtyard where Shakespeare had Juliet speaking into the night in search of her lost Romeo. A bronze statue of Juliet decorates the courtyard beneath a small balcony, and it exudes charm.
Your introduction to the Italian Lakes region will then begin at the ruffled waters that lap against the dynamic shores of Lake Garda for three days surrounded by the regions of Lombardy, Trentino Alto-Adige, and Veneto. The diversity of the landscape brings steep alpine foothills, low hills, sheer cliffs, and serene sandy beaches. Olive and lemon orchards grow closer to the lake’s southern point, and vineyards thrive around the variety of microclimates shaped by the hills, valleys, and constant breeze. Spending time around the lake will immerse you in the charming towns that overlook the water, beginning at Sirmione.
The idyllic streets lead to the charming entrance that includes a drawbridge, a moat, and a castle forecourt that will make you feel as though you have stepped back in time to the 12th century. The defensive walls retain their panoramic views along the parapets, and the preserved soaring tower overlooks the lake as well as the vast landscape. The ruins of a 1st-century AD Roman villa teeters at the town’s northern tip with stone arches and fractured walls standing three stories tall beneath the gorgeous terraced hills.
Day 8 - 9
Milan – Explore Bergamo and Delight in Elegant Milan
The town of Bergamo embodies the beauty of the Lombard region and the wealth of art that ranges from the medieval period to the Renaissance hidden within the Baroque architecture. The mountainous edges of the region look out over the southern plains as the scent of fresh espresso emanates from the corner bars and mixes with the fresh mountain air.
The colossal Torre del Campanone looms over the city at 170 feet tall. Each night the tower fills the streets with music at 10 pm when the bell peals 100 times, a tradition dating back to the centuries-old curfew warning townspeople the gates were closing for the night. A view from the top spreads across the expansive Lombard plains as the old city walls retain their artistry in the Accademia Carrara. Founded in the 18th century, the gallery holds a stunning array of Italian masters such as Botticelli and Mantegna, as well as the captivating painting of San Sebastiano by Raphael. The bright work depicts the saint with a serene and thoughtful expression juxtaposing the arrows piercing his body.
Milan embraces its title as the capital of Lombardy with a sophisticated ambiance that drifts from the elegant restaurants, the interesting architecture, and an important history. The captivating city has beckoned to great artists for centuries with Michelangelo, Verdi, Giorgio Armani, and Michelangelo all calling Milan home, as well as acting the city in which Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself Emperor.
The enchanting Duomo at the heart of the city shines with a Gothic architectural design that dates back to the 14th century. The immense project took over 400 years to build and was eventually completed in the 18th century during the reign of Napoleon. The stained-glass windows bring a marvelous and colorful light in the nave while also telling important biblical stories. For an impressive view of the city and surrounding landscape, you can climb to the top of the cathedral roof for a panorama leading over the rooftops to the pristine snow-covered Alps.
Day 10 - 12
Bellagio – Discover the Charming Lakes Region of the Italian Alps
The untouched natural beauty of the Italian Lakes Region comes from the pristine cobalt waters that reflect the elegant colorful towns and the surrounding jade evergreen forests that climb up the rugged peaks. Three days in the gorgeous landscape will immerse you in the relaxing ambiance of the lakeside villages and the calm waters that begin at Bellagio. The lovely town has a festive charisma filled with sensational views of the lush mountain slopes and charming promenade that wraps around the lakeshore. Colorful houses shine with earthy tones and ancient streets glow with rich flowers and dangling wisteria. Boutique shops and delicious restaurants hide among the winding cobbled lanes leading to the waterfront.
The Borromean Islands become a must-experience destination during your time exploring the Lakes Region with the grandeur of Isola Bella located a short ferry ride from the idyllic village of Stresa. The villa on the island was erected in the mid- to late-17th century by Count Vitaliano Borromeo, who supported the construction of magnificent terraces in the garden and exuberant décor inside the villa galleries. The Sala della Musica displays an array of rare musical instruments while Giordano’s Room radiates power and mythology with frescoes depicting the Judgement of Paris and Europe kidnapped by Jupiter.
The gardens enchant visitors with blossoming flowers and blooming trees spread across the multi-level terraces. Rich niches and intricate reliefs provide the image of a Romantic’s Neoclassical aesthetic amid the statues that reflect the triumphs of the Borromeo family. The terraces reach 105 feet tall with lemon and orange trees, as well as cherry-laurels and towering cedar trees. The aroma of citrus fades beneath the scent of camellias and oleanders as you have a spectacular view to the mountains.
Day 13 - 15
Turin – Relish Fascinating Turin and Piedmont Delicacies
The region of Piedmont has a regal elegance with a Franco-Italian blend that celebrates flavor, sophisticated architecture, and dynastic rule. Venturing into the fabulous region begins with visiting the Monferrato region, known for literary giants and classic wines in the delicious culinary triangle between Asti and Casale Monferrato. Vines spread across the illustrious landscape and are interspersed with grand castles and secluded renowned restaurants focusing on the Slow Food Movement. The town of Casale Monferrato overlooks the eastern slopes of the mountainous region and the banks of the Po River.
The centuries-old cobbled lanes wind between palazzos of former noble families and atmospheric contemporary cafes. The foundations of the massive fortress date back a millennium to approximately 1000 AD with preserved corner towers and a defensive moat from the 15th century. Frescoes by Guglielmo Caccia decorate the interior of the Civic Museum and contrast with the impressive 16th-century Synagogue that highlights the importance of the Jewish community in town. The aroma of krumin, a cookie made from wheat flour, butter, eggs, and vanilla drifts through the streets emanating from the bakeries and bars where locals enjoy the sweet treat with a coffee or after dinner accompanied by a glass of white grappa.
The city of Turin embodies the picturesque charms of a European city and feels a bit like Paris or Vienna with sophisticated squares, aristocratic palaces, and grand boulevards lined with trees. Art nouveau cafes offer views of the fringing alpine summits and confectionaries producing delicious treats fill the air with the rich aroma of chocolate. Turin also hosts the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts outside of Cairo in the historic Museo Egizio, which opened in 1824. The collection helped support the House of Savoy as the true rulers of the Kingdom of Italy and boasts among its treasures a massive statue of Ramses II, as well as a remarkable papyrus collection. The galleries also host the original Temple of Ellesyia, erected during the eighteenth century during the reign of Pharaoh Thutmosis III.
Outside of Turin, you can indulge in the fabulous treats of the countryside in towns like Barolo, where the vineyards blanket the landscape between the Po River and Ligurian Apennines Mountains. The municipality encompasses 4,448 acres surrounding a hilltop village representing approximately four centuries of vinicultural history rooted in the distinctive soil. The ancient streets of town take you past welcoming wine cellars and atmospheric restaurants serving traditional dishes such as risotto alla Barolo and a stew cooked for hours with the famous local red wine known as brasato al Barolo.
Visit one of the cellars, and your local guide can lead you through the reasons Barolo is famous in Italy and around the world. Made from Nebbiolo grapes, the soil is shaped by the changing seasons, and the distinct microclimates of the area inform the flavors soaking into the vines. Within the borders of the 10th-century foundations of town, you can sample the wine and find hints of rose petal, cherry, cinnamon, and leather lingering long after the wine is gone.
Day 16 - 18
Monterosso – Indulge in the Charisma of Cinque Terre
The five towns of Cinque Terre have risen in popularity over the years for their pristine historical coastal setting. Untouched and isolated from the reaches of greater Italy until the construction of a train line in the late-19th century, the five towns retain their humble charm as they overlook the crystal-clear turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Embrace the relaxing pace and the coastal ambiance of Monterosso al Mare, which hosts the largest lounging beach of the five towns. Colorful umbrellas shade lounge chairs that embody the idyllic image of the Mediterranean Riviera.
Three days spent along the Ligurian coastline will offer ample opportunity to follow the famous trails that once acted as the only land connection between the five towns of Cinque Terre, and they encompass nearly seven miles. The path leading from Monterosso to Vernazza covers approximately one and three-quarter miles with a rewarding mixture of views that spread from the terraced vineyards beside the towns to the vast azure waters that reach the horizon.
Small private gardens grow large basil plants and orange blossoms as lemons fill the air with fresh citrus. The breezy citrus scent contrasts with the briny scent of the sea and of the yellow, red, and green peppers that hang on trellises alongside the walkway. You can see the bright fishing boats wading in the small marina while protected DOC grape vines, as well as gnarled olive trees, overtake the rugged maritime mountains. You will continue to the town of Vernazza, which was built around 1,000 AD and ruled by the Republic of Genoa beginning in the 13th century. The colorful tower homes climb the hillsides and frame the natural marina as a 16th-century castle protects the town from pirate raids.
Day 19 - 20
Genoa – Traverse the Italian Riviera and Grand Genoa
Travel up the coast on a scenic drive along the magnificent crescent that forms the Mediterranean coastline and elegance of the Italian Riviera. To the west, the turquoise waters shimmer in the sunlight as the eastern Alps and Apennine foothills drop dramatically into the sea. Two days spent along the Riviera and in Genoa will bring a spectacular array of charisma and historical grandeur as you visit the variety of towns nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the Mountains. The peaceful fishing village of Camogli protrudes from a rocky outcrop with cobbled lanes lined with local butchers, bakeries, and shops that lead down to the small harbor. The colorful houses boast tromp l’oeil treatments with whimsical facades resembling stucco flourishes around the windows. The three-dimensional illusions along the facades of the historical homes provide the town with a fairytale-like atmosphere that captures the kaleidoscopic colors of vivid reds, pinks, peaches, and greens.
Genoa glows with the prominence of its former glory as the master Republic of the Mediterranean at the base of the Apennine mountains. The bustle from the port continues to fill the streets along the Old City, at the new harbor, and within the twisting maze of narrow streets that link the past and the present city. Gold-leaf halls highlight the wealth during the Age of Enlightenment, and the 12th-century gate of Porta Soprana shades the restored childhood home of Christopher Columbus. The heart of the medieval city reveals life in Genoa as the Republic gained power along the Mediterranean Sea, and locals continue to hang their clothes to dry on washing lines, and the alleyways turn into caves amid the trendy bars, hidden boutique shops, and vibrant cafes.
The wealthiest citizens of the 16th century built their homes along the northern edge of the former city limits lining the Strada Nuova where the Rosso, Bianco, and Doria-Tursi palaces combine to form the Musei di Strada Nuova. The Red Palace holds lavish frescoes and paintings that include works by master Renaissance artist Van Dyck, as well as works of Veronese and Guido Reni. After enjoying it all, you can spend another relaxing evening of fantastic food and a charming atmosphere.
Genoa – Depart for Home
In the morning, life returns to the narrow, cobbled lanes of the Boccadasse, the old fishing village that has been overtaken by the urban sprawl of Genoa. The seafront promenade nestles between the sparkling Mediterranean Sea and the pastel facades of the tower apartments. Fishers return to the shingle beach in the early-morning light eager to visit the fish market with their fresh catch at the heart of the ancient harbor. After breakfast and one last chance to wander and take it all in, your private transfer will greet you in your hotel lobby and escort you to the Christopher Columbus Airport with plenty of time to check-in for your flight home.
- Discover the true drama of Venice with a private tour of the former Republic’s secret histories as you dive into the power of the Doge’s Palace
- Embrace the remarkable flavor and captivating aromas of Piedmont’s world-famous Barolo wine with a tasting in the serene village
- Explore the coastal charms of the five towns of Cinque Terre with a tranquil and scenic hike along the renowned trails
- Sail the sensational Brenta Canal for insight into the lavish and unique architectural aesthetic of the Venetian aristocracy
- Wander the sensational Borromean villa on Isola Bella in Lake Maggiore and stroll among the gorgeous garden terraces
- Visit the home of fabled Juliet Capulet in the city of Verona and see her memorial statue and the letters the heroine receives daily
- Sample the delicate and dynamic flavors of proper Prosecco on a tour of the vineyards around the fascinating Veneto region
- Uncover the grandeur of Turin’s European design and the splendor of the captivating collection of Egyptian artifacts displayed in the Museo Egizio
- Traverse the exceptional display of Renaissance wealth on the Strada Nuova in Genoa, which hosts an array of lavish noble palaces
- Enjoy the medieval ambiance of Sirmione town on the southern banks of Lake Garda, which retains the original defensive gate, walls, and moat
Relish every moment of your immersive three-week tour of Northern Italy as you capture the essence of the treasured landscape and of the enchanting culture that constantly changes between regions, municipalities, and hamlets. Enjoy an in-depth discovery of Veneto, Lombardy, Piedmont, and Liguria that will take you from crystal blue lakes to vineyards that produce the “king of wines,” colorful seaside villages to majestic detailed cathedrals. Experiencing Northern Italy will shine a light on a distinctive heritage that contrasts with the familiar images for which Italy is known. Over the days spent exploring, you will find intricate ingredients, sensational wines, sophisticated villas that have evolved from a history of lavish kingdoms and wealthy republics.
Three-weeks in Northern Italy will provide you with enough time to experience what makes the different regions of Italy unique. You will begin with your arrival in Venice and the Veneto region, and exploring the Venetian Lagoon will take you around the splendors of the famous city that rise out of the water with sites like St. Mark’s Square and the Doge’s Palace, while also introducing you to the heritage of the six distinctive neighborhoods of the city. A private tour of Murano, Burano, and Torcello explores the histories of specific artisan crafters while wandering the foothills of Veneto allows you to sample the celebrated diversity of the sparkling wine, Prosecco. Traveling into Lombardy takes you first on the Brenta Canal leading to Padua, a city with fascinating artistry and a history of academia with one of the oldest universities in the country. Visiting Verona combines a wealthy past of Roman foundations with stunning medieval and Renaissance legends captured in the preserved architecture.
Lombardy embodies the unspoiled waters of the Lake Regions, as well as the surrounding tranquil villages around Lake Garda, Lake Maggiore, and Lake Como. Exploring the preserved medieval villages, lavish vineyards, and stunning villas will reveal the wealth of the former aristocracy and the remaining treasures of the opulent region crowned by the capital, Milan. Traverse the streets of home to Italy’s fashion world and enjoy the tranquil views around Bergamo before continuing to the former capital of a Unified Italy at Turin, in the Piedmont region. The luxurious city embodies the former prestige of the House of Savoy emanating from the dynamic collection of artifacts in the Museo Egizio. The countryside boasts beautiful villages committed to flavorful productions of food and wine including Barolo, the “King of Wines.”
Traveling through Liguria lets you bask in the grandeur of the Italian Riviera between the five towns of Cinque Terra and the ancient harbor of Genoa. Discover the historical walking paths that connect old villages, enjoy the delightful fresh seafood, relish the charms of colorful homes overlooking the glistening blue waters, and discover the fantastic, extravagant history lining the Strada Nuova. The grace and grandeur of Liguria will bring both the natural beauty of the northwest coastline and the cultural majesty shaped by the Republic of Genoa. Read some of our Italy traveler reviews to discover new experiences to add to your own tour.
$5,770 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.
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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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