Spectacular Northern Italy Tour: Exploring Lake Como & More

The Basilica di Santa Maria delle Salute with the Grand Canal in the foreground
A 14 day trip to Italy 
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Experience authentic culture and elaborate history during your custom-tailored tour of Northern Italy and Lake Como that will take you from the splendor of Venice to cosmopolitan Milan and from the serene waters of Lake Maggiore to the charming cafes of Turin. You will indulge in the marvels of Italy that can be found in the tranquil ambiance of Alpine towns and sample the traditional cuisines of the Venetian lagoon. Whether learning the art of glassblowing or finding the indelible connection between the former Kingdom of Italy and the majesty of ancient Egypt, you will find sophistication, grandeur, and unforgettable heritage.

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Colorful houses on a hillside bordering Lake Como in Lombardy, Italy
Sunset view of the Varenna Village at nestled into the east side of Lake Como
Closeup, upward view of the intricate architecture of the Piazza Duomo in Milan, Italy
View of the beautiful gardens of the Isola Bella Island in the Lago Maggiore, Italy
View of the canal surrounded by statues in the Prato della Valle, Italy
View from a restaurant terrace of Varenna Town on Lake Como, Italy
View of Turin, Piemonte, Italy with the Mole Antonelliana standing high over all other buildings
View peering through Bellagio, Italy buildings with Lake Como in the background
Boats parked on a canal running through colorful buildings on Burano Island, Italy
Varenna Village on the east side of Lake Como, Italy at midday
The Basilica of Superga in Turin, Italy
Colorful apartment buildings in Vernice, Italy
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Venice, Murano, Padua, Verona, Brenta Canal, Milan, Como, Stresa, Isola Bella, Turin, Brunate

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Venice – Arrive in Italy with a Stunning Introduction to Venice

The famous canals divide the city of Venice, drawing attention to the marble palaces soaring above the tranquil secluded waterways and leading to more than 400 bridges, which connect the various islands that create the elegant city. Vaporetti, gondolas, and speed boats glide down the famous waters of the Grand Canal that wind more than two miles through the cityscape. The familiar bell tower, which is known as the Campanile, towers above the rooftops and domes of St. Mark’s Cathedral at 323 feet.

Your flight will land at Marco Polo Airport, where your private transfer will greet you upon arrival and escort you to your accommodation by a private boat. The opulence of the city on the lagoon will enchant you before you meet your guide in the hotel lobby. By now, you will be ready for an introduction to the classic beauty for which Venice is celebrated. The scent of dishes such as risi I bisi, risotto with peas and pancetta, baccala’ mantecata, and dried salted codfish will drift from the restaurants and fill the winding, cobbled lanes.

Your guide will lead you to the famous St. Mark’s Square to visit the fascinating architecture and artwork of the eponymous cathedral, which grew in importance in the 9th century after the remains of the saint were smuggled from Alexandria to Venice. Your guide will provide cultural, historical, and artistic commentary on the structure as they lead you from the captivating exterior into the breathtaking interior that is decorated with nearly 45,638 square feet of gilded Byzantine mosaics.

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Venice – Delight in a Classic Culinary and Hidden History Tour of Venice

You will meet your guide in the morning and walk to the growing, local crowd of the Rialto Market. The marketplace bustles with people who are searching for fresh produce and seafood. You can watch as merchants unload their goods from the barges along the lagoon near the edges of the renowned Rialto Bridge. The bridge was built in the 16th century after over a century and a half of wooden bridge’s destruction, which was due to serving the busy crossing at the canal’s midway point.

A form of the market has occurred in the plaza since the 11th century AD. You will wander through life in the market with sounds of active vendors who will call out to passersby. After visiting the marketplace, your guide will turn into a chef who then instructs you on the proper ways to prepare a traditional Venetian meal. You will follow along with the chef as a guide, learning the recipes of a customary three-course meal by preparing dishes like risotto al nero di seppia, risotto cooked in squid ink, or bigoli in salsa, which is a whole-wheat pasta that is cooked in a sauce of onions and salted fish.

The aromas of onion and simmering herbs will fill the kitchen as you shape your own menu that will be accompanied by delightful flavors of wines from the surrounding region of Veneto. In the evening, you will find a hidden history of the Venetian Republic that will be told through the cuisine of Cicchetti, which is a small dish that is typically served with an alcoholic beverage. Your guide will lead you through the quiet neighborhoods of the city that will be erupting with locals who are spilling out of the acclaimed bars that serve delicious, traditional plates.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Venice – Revel in a Private Guided Tour of the Venetian Lagoon

After breakfast, you will board a private boat with your guide. You will be bound for the islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello, beginning with the renowned island of Murano, which is known for its intricate, glassblowing tradition. A small canal winds across the island and resembles a smaller Venice. The bell tower of Chieso di San Pietro Martire rises above the main piazza of Campo Santo Stefano. Your guide will lead you to a private studio where you will meet an artisan who is a master at crafting handmade, colorful artwork. The heat from the kiln will fill the studio as you learn the intricate methods that are required for heating, shaping, and molding the glass into the proper form before cooling. The techniques were once coveted in Venice and moved to Murano in the 13th century by decree of the doge. The foundries produce everything from chandeliers to vases. You will continue to the island’s main church and find stunning, mosaic flooring as it shines in the light.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Verona – Cruise the Brenta Canal and Visit Padua en route to Verona

At breakfast, the aroma of espresso and fresh brioche will fill your dining room. Your private transfer will lead you outside of Venice to board a boat that will take you along the Brenta Canal, which is a 17-mile waterway that once used to transfer goods and aristocrats to the center of commerce during the Venetian Republic. Elegant villas line the banks where you can stop and enjoy the lavish lifestyles that are captured in the neoclassical and Baroque designs. You can stop at Villa Foscari, which is located on the picturesque waterway and is decorated with weeping willows. The gorgeous 16th-century villa has a reception floor, which is adorned with frescoes that depict mythological scenes from the epic Ovid.

You will reach the sophisticated city of Verona, which is situated on the banks of the River Adige. The charming city stems from the foundations of the 1st-century BC Roman colony. Upon your arrival, you will see the Roman Amphitheater as it rises out of Piazza Bra and dates back to the 3rd-century AD. The preserved structure contains 44 rows of seating that can accommodate 22,000 spectators and it is still used in July and August during the popular Verona Opera Festival. Castelvecchio stands overlooking the river with impressive defiance that dates back to the 14th century and reflects the power of the former Scala family.

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

Day 5: Milan – Discover Charming Verona before Arriving in Elegant Milan

The aroma of cream puffs that are dusted with sugar will fill the streets of Verona in the morning. The morning fills with the sounds of the marketplace. The water from the Madonna di Verona fountain trickles in the Piazza delle Erbe, showcasing a famous statue from the Roman era. Your guide will meet you at the hotel and lead you through the city for a private tour that will culminate at the home of Juliet Capulet. The tunnel, which leads into the courtyard, has letters that are to the matriarch of love who has become a patron for the hopeful and heartbroken around the world. A bronze statue of Juliet stands in the courtyard, reflecting the affection that locals and visitors have for Shakespeare’s heroine.

You will travel to the train station by way of a private driver and venture to Milan. The cosmopolitan city shines with culture, architecture, and treasures that date back to the 13th century. The Duomo decorates the central piazza with a flamboyant, Gothic style. The stained-glass windows were crafted between the 15th and 16th centuries and tell stories of the bible in vibrant color. The interior contains the aromas of frankincense and myrrh that accentuate the gold and silverwork in the sacristy.

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

Day 6: Milan – Explore the Bustling History and Dynamic Art of Milan

The cultural legacy of the Austro-Hungarian and Napoleonic ages signifies the sophisticated allure through the ages before the Second World War. You will follow your guide through the preserved history of the city, moving between art deco from the post-war redevelopment until reaching the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which dates back to the 15th century. The pink-brick exterior shines in the sunlight before you enter the structure and the renowned refectory that hosts Leonardo da Vinci’s famous work: the Last Supper.

The captivating work depicts Jesus and his apostles during their final meal. Your guide will help you decipher the meaning of the painting by pointing out the distinct character representations. After visiting the intricate artwork, you will continue to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, which is a collection of luxury shops that are set beneath a gorgeous dome. The 19th-century industrial iron and glass architecture creates a vibrant destination where cafes fill the arcade with the aromas of espresso and pastries.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Como – Transfer to the Gorgeous Scenery around Lake Como

Your private transfer will greet you in the lobby of your hotel after breakfast and escort you into the luscious landscape of the Italian Alps to reach the charming town of Como, which is located on the shores of Lake Como. The charming town sits on foundations that date back to the 1st century BC. The trees that rise among the surrounding hills fill the cobbled lanes with pine. You can even hear the water from the lake as it laps against the esplanade. Cafes will set out tables and chairs that overlook the water.

You will have a great view of the Rhaetian Alps and the snowcapped peaks that reflect in the water. The charming town has an elegant ambiance that you can explore the during the remainder of your day, taking you along the history of the silk industry to the sophisticated palaces that dot the hillside with Italian art. The cathedral at the heart of town glints with marble and a Romanesque style that supports its Gothic dome. The interior brims with the spiced scent of myrrh that drifts beneath the cross-vaulted nave and tapestries.

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

Day 8: Como – Traverse the Enchanting Landscape of the Italian Alps

At breakfast, you can find the mouthwatering aromas of frothy cappuccino and cornetto that has been stuffed with Nutella. The remainder of the day will be yours to enjoy the beauty and charms of the villages around Lake Como. You can start by taking the funicular to Brunate. The village is located on top of the scenic mountains, offering remarkable views of the surrounding alpine landscape and the glistening water below. The quiet village almost floats serenely above the lake and is by the tranquil Chiesa di San Andrea that will glow with a faded pink façade. The interior boasts a fabulous, 15th-century fresco and 17th-century paintings that were crafted by the Recchi brothers.

You can continue up the hill on a walk to reach the lighthouse that was built in 1927 and provides an exceptional panorama across Brunate, Como, the water, and the marvelous, rolling summits. The town embodies classic Italian culture in the mountainous terrain with older men gathering to play board games and children kicking soccer balls against the walls. Decorative, iron gates lead to bright doors of private apartments and flower boxes host blossoming buds that decorate the winding walkways, making it the perfect place to sip a glass of Prosecco and enjoy the slower pace of life.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 9: Como – Enjoy the Beautiful Towns and Culture along Lake Como

The neoclassical allure of Villa Olma charms visitors as one of Como’s biggest landmarks. The opulent décor dates back to the 18th century in connection to the wealth and power of the Odesalchi family. Art exhibitions accentuate the established marvels of the Italian interior while the gardens blend both Italian and English design. The English garden possesses a small neoclassical temple and ancient trees that provide shade to visitors who stroll along the paths. The Italian gardens contain symmetrical flowerbeds and a large fountain that is decorated with statues of pagan gods.

The grandeur of Villa Melzi d’Eril also possesses a neoclassical design and remains a highlight for visitors. Azaleas and rhododendrons blossom with lively colors in spring, adding to the elaborate array of statues that adorn the English-style park. After enjoying the enchanting ambiance of the villas in Como, you can travel along the edges of the lake to reach the town of Bellagio, which is a collection of steep, stone staircases that offer views of homes with red roofs, green shutters, cypress trees, and boats. Walking through town will take you to the charismatic church of San Giacomo, which was built between the 11th and 12th centuries while containing 10th-century mosaics and a unique 6th-century altar.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 10: Stresa – Indulge in the Gardens and Ambiance of Stresa at Leisure

In the morning, the sounds of the water as they lap against the shoreline will become a tranquil soundtrack to your time along Lake Como before you transfer with your private driver to the town of Stresa. The buildings of the town represent the decadence of the Belle Époque on a serene waterfront that once attracted 19th-century artists and writers. The promenade lines the lake with narrow, cobbled lanes that lead inland to the center where cafes line Piazza Cadorna beneath the shading trees.

The scent of pine fades beneath the aromas of frothy cappuccino and fruity gelato. The day will be yours to enjoy the beauty of the town and the enchanting natural splendor of the mountains and lake. For a different perspective, you can take the cable car to the top of Mount Mottarone, reaching 16,050 feet above sea level. The crisp mountain air contains hints of crisp, cold, and lush tufts of grass, which provide a fantastic panorama that stretches from the Po Valley to the Alps.

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

Day 11: Stresa – Visit the Opulent Isola Bella on a Boat Tour of Lake Maggiore

Eager to lead you to the majestic ambiance of the Borromean islands, your guide will greet you in the hotel lobby in the morning and escort you to a boat that will be waiting on Lake Maggiore. Many of the islands on the water remain under the ownership of the Borromeo family, which highlights the power and prestige of the family and the architecture along the islands as you reach Isola Bella. The Baroque villa at the center of the island uses gardens, the lake, and the surrounding mountains as features the decorate this elegant villa. The palace’s grand is an interpretation of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

The garden has an authentic, Italian-style spread across ten terraces that reach over 121 feet above the surrounding water. Exotic plants and blossoming flowers will fill the air with a soothing mixture of herbaceous and sweet fragrances. Instead of the lake lapping against the rugged rocks of the island’s base, you will hear the tranquil sounds of the fountains as they trickle into their basins beneath the lavish vision of the Baroque statuary.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 12: Turin – Venture to Turin for a Lovely Walking Tour Italy’s First Capital

Your private transfer will escort you from your hotel along the edges of Lake Maggiore to the classic European city of Turin, which resembles more of a French or Viennese design with wide boulevards that are with green trees and cafes in which students, intellectuals, and chocolate-lovers convene beneath snowcapped peaks of the Alps. The architecture reflects the connection to contemporary living with an affection toward cuisine, wine culture, and the theories of innovation that are captured in the way baristas find new methods for making delicious coffee. After settling into the comforts of your hotel, your guide will greet you in the lobby and will be interested in introducing you to the splendor of Italy’s first capital.

The imposing 1st-century Roman gate of the Porta Palatina remains standing near the cathedral along the main boulevard of Via Garibaldi. The brick archway stands three stories tall and connects a pair of defensive towers. Upon reaching Reggia di Venaria Reale, you will find one of the largest royal residences in the world that once hosted a 17th-century hunting lodge. The jewels of the architecture consist of a vast garden with a stunning fountain of a stag and a museum that possesses over a mile of halls and is known as the Theater of History and Magnificence. It contains over 1,000 years of history that pertains to the Savoy family.

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

Day 13: Turin – Wander the Exceptional Museums and Cafes of Turin

In the morning, your guide will direct you to the Museo Egizio, which is the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts on display outside of Cairo. The collection speaks as much to the dynamic culture of Egypt as to the importance of the ancient connections of Italian monarchs. The galleries inside the Palazzo dell’Accademia delle Scienze display 5,268 artifacts that have been excavated from Egypt and obtained by King Carlo Felice in the 19th century. These depict various gods and pharaohs, including a stunning assemblage of Ramses II.

One of the most captivating features that are on display remains in the tomb of Merit, which was crafted in the 15th century BC. The image was made using layers of plater and linen that were adorned with gold leaf and glass inlays for a reflective, colorful, and intricate portrayal of the royal architect’s wife. The modern museum techniques shine a brighter light on the fascinating history of Egypt and its importance in shaping the greater civilizations of the Mediterranean world in ancient and modern times.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 14: Turin – Depart for Home

The sunlight washes over the 13th-century Palazzo Madama at the heart of Piazza Castello, which is positioned at the top of the former Roman gate. The scent of luscious chocolate and hazelnut cake will fill the Caffè al Bicerin where white candles in antique silver holders top white tabletops above wooden floors. The Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista adorns the heart of town and hosts the Holy Shroud of Turin, which is held in a climate-controlled vault behind the altar. After breakfast, your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and escort you to Turin-Caselle Airport for your flight home, bringing an end to your exciting and lavish exploration of Northern Italy and Lake Como.

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$3,845
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.