Swiss Literature Tour: From Hesse to Mann

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Total Trip:

7 Days
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Countries Visited:

Switzerland
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Places Visited:

Zurich, Basel, Lucerne, Lugano, Milan
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Departure Dates:

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Switzerland is like a great book that you cannot put down, and your custom tailored tour follows in the footsteps of famous authors who found stimulation and wonder around every cobblestone street.  From Thomas Mann to Albert Einstein, Hermann Hesse to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, you too will find majesty in the emerald trees and rushing rivers, antique wooden bridges, and cozy vintage cafes. The mountain breeze carries the scent of spruce, the clock towers chime the hour and echo through

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Day 1

Zurich – Arrive in the Vibrant City of Zurich with an Introductory Tour

Zurich is a city that buzzes with energy. Electric trams glide across the contemporary neighborhoods as the boutique window displays glint along the Bahnhofstrasse, a nearly 4,000-foot long street filled with shops that run along the left bank of the Limmat River. Old Town runs along the contours of the Roman fortified settlement. As your flight descends into the Zurich airport, you will see the greenery spread through the meadows, with the emerald trees and the rolling peaks of the famous Alps in the distance.

Zurich effortlessly combines the antique with the contemporary and allows you to wander through the charm of Old Town while simultaneously enjoying the modern pleasures of the more contemporary neighborhoods. Your private transfer meets you at baggage claim to escort you into the heart of the old city, beneath the blue-green spire of Fraumunster. The church was founded in the 9th-century and has inspired artists of various kinds, including the famous painter Marc Chagall. A small door beneath the spire leads you into the three aisles that guide your eye to the 13th-century Romanesque Choir.

The structure reaches a height of nearly 60 feet, and the main attraction of the church is a set of five stained glass windows. Chagall designed the 32-foot tall windows with their color schemes to encapsulate the allegories that pertain to the heavens and the earth. In the morning, the soft sunlight pierces the glass and brings the remarkable red, yellows, blues, and greens to life as you watch the prophet Elijah ascend in a chariot trailed by fire.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

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Day 2

Zurich – Reveal the Life and Times of Thomas Mann on a Half-Day Tour

In the morning, the aroma of freshly made coffee emanates from a celebrated old cafe. Locals continue to frequent the enchanting restaurant as they have from its opening in 1911. Albert Einstein was among the café’s first patrons and artists of all kinds have visited the café over the century; the famous Dutch dancer and World War One German spy, Mata Hari, once danced in the room above the café, and Thomas Mann enjoyed the establishment’s cozy atmosphere after moving to Zurich.

Your guide will meet you in the lobby of your hotel to lead you on a tour dedicated to Thomas Mann’s old haunts and influential writings. Although Mann was born in Germany, he moved to the majestic city of Zurich in the 1930s after the Nazis gained power. The Thomas Mann Archive and Library are located near the university on the outskirts of the city, and you can stroll through the author’s preserved study. The scent of vintage books with leather or woven bindings fills the air as the sunlight filters through the window over the corner desk.

You can imagine the author scribbling away at a provoking thought or sipping coffee on the antique couch during a break from work. The archives allow you to immerse yourself in Mann’s work over the ages, from manuscripts to diaries, letters to notebooks, all the materials offer insight into the thought process of the writer that lead to the culmination of his works. The archive has collected tens of thousands of documents about the writer’s work and life, including records, translations, and photographs.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 3

Basel – Travel to Basel for a Half-Day Excursion through the City

Basel has the second largest population in all of Switzerland, along with an inspiring amount of museums dedicated to the rich culture in and around the Alps. The fascinating contemporary architecture along the Rhine River accentuates the cobbled streets of Old Town. After breakfast, be ready to see the splendor of Basel on a half-day tour. Your guide will meet you at your hotel in the heart of the city and escort you beneath the shuttered windows and the antique buildings to the Spalentor. The fortified gate was erected in the 14th-century and marks the edge of Old Town.

The Town Hall lines Marktplatz with captivating red walls that dominate the square. The main arcade was erected in the 16th-century with a Burgundian Gothic style; the original clockwork was designed in the 1500s and continues to adorn the façade that overlooks the square. Boats cruise along the tranquil waters of the Rhine as the walkways on the riverbanks lead to shading trees and fabulous views of the red-tiled roofs of the skyline. The Basler Munster stands on the highest point in the city, which accentuates the height of the prominent spires. The geometric shapes decorate the rooftop shine brightly in the sunlight.  12th-century Romanesque carvings continue to decorate the St. Gallus doorway.

Basel is enchanting in its celebration of art in all its facets, from gastronomy to architecture, and in the curation of exhibits. The Historical Museum is housed inside a 14th-century church and contains collections of local history and culture. The city stands at the crossroads of Swiss, German, and French heritage, to provide a unique view of how the cultures intertwine. Late Gothic tapestries and antique weapons tell a tremendous story about the city and the region’s past.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 4

Basel – Discover the Swiss Sherlock Homes on a Half-Day Tour of Basel

The old paper mill is found along the medieval canal that houses the Paper Museum.   A functioning waterwheel continues to swirl amidst the current as the interior evokes history with the dozens of mills that operate in the area. The museum contains working machinery that highlights the laborious process of the production of handmade paper that begins with the start of the paper revolution from Gutenberg’s press. Your private guide will meet you at the hotel and take you on a fantastic journey of the page in the footsteps of Hansjorg Schneider, a Swiss writer who created Inspector Peter Hunkeler, considered the Swiss Sherlock Holmes.

Begin at the Dreiländereck, as France, Germany, and Switzerland meet on the Rhine River. Ships fill the harbor on their way to the North Sea to pass through the locks of Rheinfelden. The sleuth Hunkeler uses common, and uncommon, knowledge to help finger the guilt to follow clues across Basel and Switzerland, including tracing the guilty party from the scene of the crime. From the Dreiländereck, venture to the Rhine Swimming facility at Rheinbad St. Johann. Kids splash in the cool mountain water as a smaller swimming area for adults has a strong current that sweeps through the protective cage. Each place you visit during your tour connects you to the author Schneider, along with the character of Inspector Hunkeler, which allows you to get into the mind of a celebrated detective in the beautiful city of Basel.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 5

Lucerne – Transfer to Lucerne to Explore the Medieval and Ancient History

Lucerne is a gorgeous city known for its cobalt lake of the same name, mythological mountains, and candy-colored facades of the antique buildings in Old Town. Your private transfer will meet you at the hotel and lead you to the lovely streets and beautiful monuments of Lucerne. The city resembles a storybook, from the wood bridges that cross the Reuss River to the dramatic onion-shaped spires of the Jesuit church. Follow your guide on a tour of the city that immerses you in an atmosphere of fairy tales and legends.

The famous Chapel Bridge was erected in the 14th-century and contains more than 100 paintings that decorate the roof rafters. Some paintings depict scenes from the town’s history while others reflect patron saints. The aroma of spruce and freshwater fills the air as coats of arms adorn the artwork to show by whose patronage the paintings were made. The storybook allure of the city continues with your visit to the Lion’s Monument; a lion of stone was etched into the cliff to overlook a reflective pool. The sculpture depicts the wounded animal lion atop a broken shield adorned with the Fleur-de-Lis.

The monument was erected in the 19th-century in memory of the Swiss Guards who perished while defending King Louis XVI at the beginning of the French Revolution. The nearby Bourbaki Panorama in Lowenplatz is another war memorial equally as touching and less visited. The painting encompasses 118,403 square feet and depicts the 19th-century battle of the Franco-Prussian War in hyperrealism. Stand at the heart of the work, which provides the massive piece with a three-dimensional quality, where rail truck and figures burst from the wall.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 6

Lugano – Enjoy a Full Day Tour of Lugano in Search of Hermann Hesse

Mountains tower above the shoreline of Lake Lugano as chic bars and charming cafes open to the thin labyrinthine cobblestones streets of the city. The flower- lined walkways of the promenade untangle around the cold alpine water. From the shore, you can see the towering figure of Monte San Salvatore rise out of the lake draped with emerald trees. The mountain stands nearly 3,000 feet above sea level with a summit offering a spectacular panorama of the Alps. You leave behind the tranquil beauty of Lucerne for the drama of Lugano, meeting your private guide near the boat landing at Paradiso.

Subtropical gardens surround modern sculptures as antique buildings overlook the quiet streets, including the 18th-century Palazzo Riva to create a picture-perfect image. Your guide will lead you on a remarkable exploration of the literary wonders of the region, in search of Hermann Hesse, a German-born Swiss poet, novelist, and painter best known for Siddhartha and Steppenwolf. The small Hermann Hesse Museum in the Camuzzi Tower opened in the 1990s while the writer resided on the estate grounds from 1919 to 1931 to enjoy the daily views of the lake.

The exhibit offers insight into the research and writing habits of the author throughout his life, and showcases notes and works representing different phases of Hesse’s active writing career. In the village of Ascona, located at 643 feet above sea level, embrace the mild climate that has given rise to street cafes and a friendly outdoor ambiance. Hesse and other artists built a colony atop Monte Verita, the Mountain of Truth. Zurich and Lucerne universities continue to hold seminars on the mountain and speak openly about the works many of the former residents pursued.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 7

Milan – Cross the Border into Italy and Depart For Home from Milan

In the morning, the aroma of fresh espresso drifts out of the corner café near your hotel. The sunlight shimmers off of the cobalt waters of Lake Lugano as your private transfer meets you in the lobby to escort you to Milan. Soon, you will depart for home from the Malpensa Airport, but first, you will enjoy one last literary tour to visit the monuments detailed in Alessandro Manzoni’s classic Italian novel, The Betrothed, hailed as the first Italian novel ever written. The story tracks the fate of a couple that flees their hometown after a local nobleman takes an interest in Lucia. See the city through the lens of the young lovers on the run during the 17th-century Milan, when the city was under Spanish rule, as they dealt with plague and famine. It is a unique period worlds away from the fashionable and contemporary city of today and connects Milan’s significant past with its exciting present.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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Trip Highlights

  • Uncover the rich landscape of Lugano that helped inspire the thought-provoking works of Hermann Hesse, best known for his novel Siddhartha
  • Meander through the eclectic city of Basel on a literary excursion following the footsteps of Switzerland’s detective, akin to Sherlock Holmes
  • Witness the large collection of archives and preserved office of noted German author Thomas Mann, housed at the University of Zurich
  • Enjoy the enchanting architecture and landscape of Lucerne, which immerses you in history and fairytales simultaneously
  • Discover the inspiring artistry of Switzerland embodied in the remarkable stained glass windows of the Fraumunster, designed by Marc Chagall
  • Visit the commune atop Monte Verita for an insightful look at an artist colony overlooking the town of Ascona along Lake Lugano 
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Detailed Description

The written word is powerful, and literary history shows us pages filled with romance and aspiration, family sagas and tales of revenge. Your 7-day literary tour of Switzerland encompasses the mystical mountains and medieval squares, reflective lakes and recurring folklores that are embodied in the landscape. Visit literary archives of famous writers and let the splendor of the countryside and cityscapes inspire your deepest literary aspirations. Arrive at the Zurich airport where your private transfer will meet you at baggage claim and escort you into the heart of the old city.

Explore Zurich with a private guide to experience the preserved medieval past and contemporary energy between the divided neighborhoods of history and present-day architecture. Your guide will lead you on a remarkable tour that follows the life and times of German writer Thomas Mann. Linger in the writer’s former office and trace your fingers over his manuscripts as archived at the University of Zurich.

Travel next to the city of Basel, home to the mystery writer Hansjorg Schneider, to enjoy a half-day tour of the city and its grand collection of museums that house art and even antique printing presses. Follow the trail of Schneider’s main character, often referred to as the Sherlock Homes of Switzerland, to take in the sites of the city referenced in his books. You will have time to visit Dornach, outside of Basel, where Goethe’s Faust was first performed. Move on to the gorgeous city of Lucerne, located near the mouth of the Reuss River and the shores of Lake Lucerne. Your guide will lead you on an architectural and historical tour of the city to view the preserved structures that are filled with biblical references and medieval enchantment.

Venture across Switzerland to arrive in the town of Lugano located near the Italian border. Find traces of the celebrated author Herman Hesse in a small museum dedicated to his archives before you visit Ascona, where the writer helped start a small artist colony atop Mount Verita. Your private transfer will then escort you to Milan for your flight home. If time permits, follow in the footsteps of Lorenzo and Lucia from the first, and most famous, Italian novel, The Betrothed, en route to the Malpensa Airport.

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Starting Price

$2795 per person (excluding international flights)

This trip is customizable for your private travel.
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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.

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