Romantic Getaway to Northern Italy and Cinque Terre Tour

A 8 day trip to Italy 
4.75 out of 5 stars
16 reviews

Share the secrets of Italy with your partner during a romantic excursion from the snow-capped Italian Alps to the sun-drenched cobblestone streets of the Cinque Terre villages. The Mediterranean Sea laps at the rugged coastline as ships sail along the turquoise waters to weigh anchor in the small marinas and the natural harbors of these often overlooked towns. Scents of basil and parmesan linger in the air and give way to the aroma of lemon trees and vineyards. Your custom tailored tour encompasses the elegance of luxurious villas and the enchantment of castle ruins to provide you with the perfect romantic landscape to indulge in.                                                                                                                    

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Baveno, Varese, Milan, Parma, Langhirano, Santa Margherita, Genoa, La Spezia, Vernazza, Riomaggiore, Monterosso, Corniglia, Manarola 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Varese – Arrive in Milan and Transfer to the Beautiful City of Varese

The Italian Alps wind along the northern edges of the country to divide the region across the Swiss and Austrian borders and provides unimaginable mountain peaks, secluded culture, and pristine lakes. Your flight will land at Malpensa Airport in Milan, and your private transfer will await your arrival. Outside the city, the trees rise over the hills and the road meanders along the undulating landscape to reach the town of Varese in the Alpine Foothills.  Nestled between Lake Maggiore and the Como province, you and your partner will notice the castles that rise out of the trees. The mountains shimmer with gray granite, the valleys glow emerald and the bark from the forests create a dense brown at the edge of Varese, sweeping from the shore of Lake Varese into the distance.

The antique buildings shine with colorful facades ranging from rosy pastels to bright blues. In the 17th-century, many wealthy families built second residences in the historic center of Varese, the grandest of which belonged to the Duchy of Milan, who established the Palazzo Estense in the 1700s. The graceful façade looks south into the Italianate Estensi Gardens, accentuated by ponds and a large Lebanon cedar. The breeze carries the aroma of fresh blossoming flowers mixed with the pure alpine air. Your private transfer will escort you to a luxurious hotel located in a former palace. Carrara marble provides an elegant and classic ambiance blending effortlessly with the Art Nouveau décor.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, dinner

Day 2: Varese – Half-Day Tour of Milan and an Afternoon at Leisure in Varese

The morning light shimmers off the surface of Lake Varese. The aroma of fresh brioche drifts out of the cafes along the pedestrianized Corso Matteotti in the Citta Vecchia neighborhood of Varese. The baroque Basilica di San Vittore stands at the heart of the old streets. The freestanding bell tower was erected in the 17th-century and continues to watch over the elaborate façade and lavish interior of the cathedral. After breakfast, your private transfer will escort you to Milan for an exciting tour of Italy’s fast paced, fashion capital.

Your local guide specializes in the secrets of the city to offer you a perfect blend of Milan’s highlights and hidden gems. You and your partner will find romance in the Piazza del Duomo as it stands beneath the Gothic towers and nearly 2,250 marble statues. This historic nave was erected between the 15th and 16th-centuries, punctuated by the elegant stained glass windows, the largest in the world. The electric tram travels through the city to connect the distinct neighborhoods while the metro weaves silently beneath the city, unbeknownst to locals and visitors as they enjoy a fresh espresso in a piazza café.

Your guide will take you and your partner along the Naviglio Grande Canal, one of the most beautiful areas in the city, to see the 12th-century San Cristoforo Church. The small village-style square looks up to the pink stone of the church, to take you away from the city’s bustle. The interior embodies the church’s history, filled with iconic artwork that depicts the saints and the carries the scent of melting wax from the burning candles. You and your partner grab a creamy pistachio gelato from the nearby gelateria before strolling along the pedestrian bridge to return to highlights of the city.     

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Baveno – Travel to the Lakes District and Explore the Gorgeous Landscape

Before breakfast, stroll with your partner through the quiet, cobbled streets of the city for a private view of Varese. The clock tower adorns the Church of Sacro Monte as it casts a shadow over the umbrellas of the opening cafes in the square. The trees outside of town sway in as the breeze carries from the lake. After breakfast, your private transfer escorts you to the town of Baveno on the shores of Lake Maggiore; the body of water spreads across the foothills that cross into Switzerland.

The quiet streets provide a secluded ambiance for you and your partner to enjoy the 19th-century structures and unique Henfrey-Branca villa, which resembles a traditional English castle. The Romanesque parish church has an octagonal baptistery added between the 15th and 16th-centuries. Boats cruise along the turquoise water to provide endless views of the charming villages that are framed by the rolling mountain peaks. Trees and exotic flora flourish in the surprisingly delicate Mediterranean climate as you and your partner board a small boat to venture to the enchanting shores of Isola dei Pescatori, home to a small fishing village.

The two islands closest to Isola dei Pescatori contain grand villas and gardens, to contrast with the simple, yet captivating, culture of the village at the heart of the lake. Small homes were built along the island’s highest point with doors that face inward to the narrow streets to keep the residences from flooding during the spring and autumn rains. The scent of grilled fish and lemon drifts over the lanes as the church spire imitates the soaring mountain peaks encircling the lakeshores. 

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

Day 4: Santa Margherita – Tour the Splendor of Genoa and Santa Margherita

In the morning, the locals linger around the cafes to sip their espresso and look out to the rolling mountains and serene lake that shape the town’s beauty. Your private transfer will meet you at the hotel after breakfast and lead you to the stunning city of Genoa.  Located on the Mediterranean Sea, Genoa defeated Pisa for Italian maritime supremacy in the 10th-century. The mountains and forests of the Italian Alps fade into the seaside hills as the ocean air blends salt and sweetness through the streets. Your guide will share how Genoa is a city that glows with historical significance and unique art.

Pastel colored homes contrast with the black and white facades of the palaces and villas. Your guide will lead you down Via Garibaldi as an introduction to the bustling city and lively atmosphere. The lane contains the 16th and 17th-century palaces where the rich and powerful resided. Grandiose facades frame the walkways north of Piazza Ferrari, and grand arcades lead to frescos as balconies overlook the hidden courtyards. Noble family crests adorn the facades as a short walk away stands the Gothic Cathedral of San Lorenzo.

In the 1300s, the original Romanesque cathedral had a stylistic architectural makeover, finished in the 16th-century with a Renaissance dome. The Saint Giovanni Battista Chapel was erected in the 15th-century to house the remains of St. John the Baptist and remains the oldest discovered example of Renaissance architecture in the city. The treasury below the cathedral holds a bowl that many historians and theorists believe is the Holy Grail. Continue to Santa Margherita and relax with your partner in a retreat fit for royalty as it overlooks the turquoise waters that lap against the Ligurian shores.

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

Day 5: Vernazza – Relish a Day at Leisure in the Scenery of Cinque Terre

The sunlight spreads across the mixture of green trees, tan baroque facades, and calm waters of the Mediterranean to create the ambiance of Santa Margherita. Fishing boats sway in the current and locals enjoy a morning stroll along the seaside promenade. After breakfast, board a local train to travel through the coastal mountains to reach the town of Monterosso al Mare, the most northern, and the largest, of the five towns that make up Cinque Terre. A soft-sand beach wraps around the alcove to edge the town into the narrow gorge.

The 14th-century parish church of San Giovanni Battista has a bell tower that was originally constructed as a watchtower for Genoese Navy. The remains of the medieval Aurora Tower stand on a craggy outcrop as the tower was built to protect the city from pirate attacks.  Locals sunbathe on the lounge chairs as children dip their toes into the refreshing sea. The cobbled streets lead deeper into the town that is filled with the aroma of basil and fresh pizza. Men play bocce ball on the sandy courts as clothes drip dry on the nearby washing lines.

Here is where the traditional Italian culture meets the beauty of the seaside. The train connects all five towns to one another and the outside world. A pathway weaves along the mountainside and travels through terraced gardens and vineyards. On the road to Vernazza, you and your partner can make the trek to the church of Madonna di Soviore. The sanctuary was constructed in the 11th-century, which is the oldest in the region. The interior contains a restored Baroque interior with an unforgettable panorama to share with your partner as you bask in the promontories that reach out into the sea and the empty horizon in the far in the distance.

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

Day 6: Vernazza – Enjoy the Land and Sea at your Preferred Pace in Cinque Terre

In the morning, you will open the shutters and look out on the immaculate coastline of Liguria, as it sweeps across the rugged mountains and verdant forests that frame the water. Vernazza’s natural harbor creates a small inlet into the edge of the city and turns the western rising outcrop into a narrow peninsula. The scent of basil and lemon emanates from gardens along the celebrated coastal trail that connect the five towns over a length of nearly 10 miles. The 14th-century church contains an octagonal tower in the heart of town.

The rugged 11th-century ruins of Castello Doria crown the ridge to offer visitors a 360-degree panorama of the coast. You can take the romantic, but challenging, trail to the town of Corniglia and share the magnificent views of the water and hills.  The town rises nearly 400 feet above sea level with brightly painted buildings that shine over the terraced gardens. 300 steps lead to the Gothic Church of San Pietro that was built in the 13th-century. In the afternoon, return to Vernazza by train to indulge in the sweet, and savory, flavors of a private cooking lesson. Your instructor will teach you the secrets to the fresh pesto famous in the region as virgin olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and Parmesan cheese is combined for a refreshing and zesty taste of Cinque Terre. 

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

Day 7: Parma – Visit a Working Dairy and Tour the Charming Streets of Parma

Today you will enjoy the simple sounds of the Mediterranean as it crashes on the rocks of the natural harbor. After breakfast, make your way out of Cinque Terre and continue north to the charming streets of Parma. The Romans colonized the area and built the main road of Via Aemilia. Grand palaces and graceful squares fill the heart of the city and lead to the jewel of the Ducal Palace. Piazza Garibaldi contains the Government Palace; the façade was constructed in the Baroque style of the 18th-century adorned with an elaborate astronomical clock.

A café covers an entire section of the piazza and services frothy cappuccinos with a view of Parma’s daily life. The cobblestone streets are devoid of cars, and the aroma of prosciutto and cheese accentuate the flavors of the wines and art-nouveau café styles. After you explore the city on a guided tour, venture to a local dairy to witness the production of famous Parmigiano Reggiano. You and your partner will listen attentively to the nature of parmesan and the distinctions of its life, from crumbly to grated.

The master cheese-maker leads you through the factory where workers heat copper vats filled with milk. They swirl a large whisk through the milk to capture the curds that form in the process. Near the end of the tour, stroll through the soaring shelves of the warehouse that are filled with entire wheels of cheese. Your guide will knock on the rim to let you hear the appropriate hollow sound that stems from the wheel. The tour ends with a sampling of the cheeses produced at the dairy so that you can taste and enjoy the unique differences between the varieties of aged cheeses.

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

Day 8: Milan – Depart for Home

Milan returns to life in the refreshing cool temperatures of the morning. Spend your last hours in Milan and explore the city as you stroll along the mosaic floors of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a luxury shopping center near the Piazza del Duomo. The glass dome that crowns the gallery stands more than 157 feet above the floor. The aromas of brioche, chocolate, and fresh coffee emanate from the lush cafes. The prestigious opera house of Teatro alla Scala contains 2,800 seats and provides a window into the dramatic and dedicated enthusiasts of the world’s operatic stage. Costumes from landmark performances, including mementos of celebrated composers from Verdi to Toscanini, fill the museum situated in the same building. Your private transfer will meet you in the lobby of your beautiful hotel and escort you to Malpensa Airport for your flight home. Your romantic sampling of Italy and Europe could easily continue with time in Venice or Paris.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer


Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

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.