Northern Italy Tour: Beauty, Culture, Food & Wine

A 10 day trip to Italy 
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Italy offers you a world of remarkable landscapes, unparalleled wines, sensational artistry, and vivacious food. This custom tailored tour will bring you to the country’s magnificent north. You will find a world steeped in history and filled with pristine lakes, canals and Shakespearean drama, truffles and Barolo, castles and villas. You will find yourself in the opulent land of dukes and Doge’s, rich meals, fabulous hills, lavish gardens, noteworthy churches, and celebrated mountains. You will find greatness in Italy’s north. 

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Milan, Lake Como, Langhe e Roero, Alba, Barolo, Lake Garda, Venice, Verona, Lake Maggiore

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1 – A Taste of the North

Arrive in Milan, the center of the fashion world and a city that is filled with modern life and gothic character. You are met at the airport by a private transfer and taken to your charming accommodation near the acclaimed Duomo. The Sforza Castle stretches across the city walls, built in the 15th century, and adds a dramatic sense of antiquity to what is often considered the industrial capital of the north. In the afternoon you can settle into the city with an espresso while overlooking the Piazza Duomo where the textured Cathedral stands.

The Milan Cathedral is a sensational work of gothic architecture built between the 14th and 16th centuries, and made of pink Candoglia marble with a pearled façade. When you walk beside the basilica you can see the 135 spires rising like a crown. The interior is as impressive with stained glass windows said to be the largest of any in the church worldwide and which add a glittering light to the imposing marbled columns and polished grounds.  In the evening you will enjoy a delightful meal in one of the exceptional gourmet restaurants found in the city.

What’s Included: transfer, dinner, accommodation

Day 2 – Finding Grace

When the morning sun hits the Duomo you can see the reflecting light from the white façade and numerous pillars bounce into the sky. The start of the day brings with it a delightful breakfast filled with flaky brioches and fresh cappuccino. Soon you will find yourself in front of the unassuming church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. The brick façade gives pink coloration to the cathedral while the large rotunda rises in the background. The interior, however, takes away from the simple décor of the façade. The quiet church was once refurbished to become the mausoleum of the powerful Sforza family, which commissioned the large cloister by Bramante and is also home to the celebrated painting The Last Supper by da Vinci. The painting maintains its complexity and ingenuity, as Leonardo presented the theme with a realistic portrayal of the apostles and the skillful representation of collected threes throughout the piece. The unobtrusive home to the work is a quiet wing where only small groups are allowed for short durations, giving inspiration to every new person who enters the room. 

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 3 – The Grander Mountains

The mountains outside of Milano are brimming with the beauty of Italy’s coveted Lake’s Region, home to the marvelous town of Lake Maggiore. Today you will venture through the mountainside, along the winding roads that take you to the pristine nature around the water. The lake itself is immaculate with a reflective surface making the mountains climb both into the sky and along the mirroring water. Find yourself in Stresa, a town with only 5,000 people, and overlooking the island of Borromeo. The town is filled with an atmosphere of a gentler pace. The buildings match the history of the belle époque, a golden age of art, literature, and architecture in the 19th century. You will step onto a boat and glide across the glassy water to visit the Borromean Islands.  

The islands are filed with lavish palaces situated close enough to the main shores to be seen, but far enough to be recluse. Once inside the Palazzo Borromeo on the Isla Bella you will experience the sensational architecture and gardens placed within an island on a lake. The baroque building blends into the greenery, while the interior does nothing less the shimmer with splendor, from grand galleries to marvelous chandeliers dating back to the 16th century. Stroll along the boulevards that meander through the gardens where you can look back at the main shore and find the landscape around the lake as remarkable as the palace within the lake. You can see the manicured neo-classical grotto that rises three stories, decorated with neo-classical Grecian statues and adorned with a promenading horse.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 4 – Pearls of the Lake

The morning light comes just before the sun as it begins to peek over the mountains. Today you will travel along the twisting mountain roads though the glamorous landscape to see Lake Como and its pearl, Bellagio. The town resembles a storybook; the air is crisp, the water is cool, and the bell tower stands out against the surrounding rocky mountains as the tallest building in the area. You can see the colorful buildings resting on the shoreline. A boat will ferry you across the placid lake to the stunning Villa Carlotta, known for its grand architecture and tremendous gardens.

Ten rooms are situated along the ground floor of the villa now mainly displaying art pieces, including the frescoes of Apotheosis of Napoleon the Emperor, the only surviving pieces after the bombing of the Royal Palace in Milan during the early 19th century.  The garden has a gate that reaches right to the water. While in season, the colorful flowers blossom like a virtual Crayola box and stretch around the walkways beneath the splendor of trees and ever-present mountain peaks. The gravel adds texture to your steps and the crisp air is perfumed from the vibrant floral tunnels and romantic stone steps, all with the wondrous view of the lake.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 5 – Truffles in the Air

The Lake Region will soon fade behind the undulating mountaintops as you make your way to the charming city of Alba within the region of Piedmont. The curving limestone gives way to lush hills that roll into the horizon. You can see Alba getting closer, a city along the hillside whose center is still surrounded by the Roman walls of its founders. Towers ascend over the city, giving Alba the name of “City of 100 Towers,” and the gateway to the Langhe Mountains. Medieval homes give character to the already mesmerizing streets, forming a triangle between the two local rivers. The city is quiet within the hills, much like the quintessential charisma of the mountain lakes; however, the culture of the region has an absence of Swiss influence. In the afternoon you will indulge in a tasting of the local cuisine within the welcoming landscape. The scent of white truffle is intoxicating, promising you an unparalleled meal and a divine welcome to Piedmont and the city of Alba.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, lunch, accommodation

Day 6 – Rejuvenating Flavor

The hills will come alive with the flavors of the valley as you venture out into the countryside to experience a cooking course like no other. The morning air is cool and refreshing as you come to a restored castle found in a small Piedmont village. The delight of the course does not come from just the alluring atmosphere, but also from the stories of the food itself. Each ingredient adds to the flavor of the dish, with herbaceous scents rising through the air as your chef and guide tells you about the plates to come. Each flavor profile tells you the story of the region and how the food came to be such an important aspect of the Piedmont. From potato dumplings with Fontina and Grana Padano cheese cooked in butter, to beef marinated in red wine and braised in herbs, you will learn the elements of the dishes and dine on the delectable tastes with grand company.

From marvelous castle-side cuisine to the open vineyards that have brought celebrated flavors to the hillside, your day continues with a wine tour. The WIMU Museum is an innovative wine museum opened in 2010 within an ancient castle. The passion for the wine was the inspiration for the creation of the exhibits. The focus is not just on the vines but also on the Barolo, the region’s king, and an in depth look at the history and culture of wine. After venturing through the storied halls of the castle you will enter the cellar, home to the 11 varieties of Barolo. The crimson color is speckled with orange and features a soft aroma of spice touched with vanilla. Your taste buds will dance in happiness from an entire day spent with impeccable flavors.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, cooking class, wine tasting, accommodation

Day 7 – Sizeable Encounter

Today you will leave behind the vines that introduced you to Barolo and venture to the largest lake in Italy, Lake Garda. The craggy mountaintops rush into the placid cobalt water, varying the colors of the earth from light limestone to rich rock. The city is set against the shore with squared turrets from the remnant castle sitting along the water. It is easy to become immediately captivated by the lush landscape, charming city, and colorful nature. The moat of Castle Scaligero is balanced beneath the drawbridge and connected to the lake, and was constructed between the 13th and 14th centuries. Enjoy exploring the castle’s exterior, or discover it from within. Wander along the exceptional history and grand walkways as the elegant breeze brings the soft scent of water over the stone.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 8 – The Grand Canal

Known as a city built on water, you will enter the stateliness of Venice with a water taxi ride into the iconic Saint Mark’s Square. The byzantine basilica stands tall over the square, adorning the skyline with marvelous domes and glinting frescoes hidden from the elements by recessed arches. Pressed against the waterways you can see the eastern influence from the Moorish arches and angular domes. There is raucous atmosphere to the square, filled with delighted children chasing pigeons and inspired onlookers that can’t help but stare at the Doge’s Palace and the Basilica creating another border.

In the 9th century, Venetian merchants stole the relics of Saint Mark and the adventure is now ingrained within the 13th century mosaic displayed over the entrance on the far left. There is an endless captivation to the majesty of the cathedral, from the exterior architecture to the interior’s lofty arches and decorated ceilings of Byzantine, Romanesque, and Gothic art. The sloped roofs make every echo musical and the aroma of frankincense an elegant addition. Stroll along the legendary canals of the city, crossing the Rialto Bridge, until you come to a gondola. Step into the iconic watercraft and drift through the majestic waterway in true Venetian style .

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 9 – Star-crossed Lovers

Set in a Shakespearian town or along the rushing waters that boarder the city today, there has always been a charisma to Verona that endlessly persists. Within the historic center of the city there is a wide-open street filled with the aroma of fresh coffee and chocolates. No matter the weather or the season there is a jovial atmosphere wrapping around the ancient ruins and floating along the cobblestones. You can grasp a glimpse of a golden morning that hovers over the Roman architecture and the medieval churches.

The story of Romeo and Juliet has become a part of the city’s history and their homes are on display to visitors who have made the journey through the lovely city to pay homage to the star-crossed lovers. Within the stone archway that leads to Juliet’s courtyard you can find notes stuck hanging along the walls, pressed into the structure in praise  and in hope for relationships and love. In the courtyard you find a pleasantry of trees dangling along the 13th century home. A bronze statue of Juliet marks the story and the history, and people hug the image in hopes for luck in elaborate romances.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, tour, dinner, accommodation

Day 10 – The Greatest Lakes and More

Today you will say goodbye to the tremendous flavors and landscapes of northern Italy. From the sensational lakes to the exceptional art, you have made your way along the mountains and stepped within history to savor each moment along the diverse countryside. Whether visiting Romeo and Juliet or enjoying a truffle tasting in the medieval city of Alba, you have found the quintessential grandeur of the north. As you make your way to the airport you know that the beauty of the landscape will never subside and your next trip to Italy is already in the works.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer

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Price

Price 

Zicasso recommends the following guidelines for customized Italy tour packages, excluding international flights:

  • 5-star: USD $450 - $1,000+ per person per day
  • 4-star: Minimum USD $350 per person per day
  • 3-star: Minimum USD $300 per person per day

The customized package will include hotels, airport transfers and other transportation within Italy, guided tours or activities, unique experiences, trip planning, and 24X7 support during your trip.

Please inquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final hotel choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.