“Romancing the senses” is an apt description for the experiences showcased on this 11-day northern Italy vacation adventure… for the landscapes you’ll see and the lifestyles you’ll sample have resulted in many a love affair with the country’s northern regions. It starts with fashion and art in Milan when you view da Vinci’s The Last Supper with a local guide. It continues during a private Tauck cruise across Lake Como to Bellagio and a boat ride to Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore. It captures your heart along the cobblestone streets of Verona, home to Romeo & Juliet… your taste buds at an agriturismo in the Franciacorta region and a cooking demo in Bologna (whose nickname is La Grassa, the Fat One)… and all the senses in Venice, after-hours guided visit to St. Mark’s Basilica to view its treasures without the daytime crowds, and a soulful serenade on a gondola. Now that’s amore, from pane to formaggio to vino.
Day 1 Benvenuti a Milano! Meals: D Your northern Italy vacation begins at 6:00 PM at Grand Hotel et de Milan. A transfer is included from Milan’s Malpensa Airport to Grand Hotel et de Milan, close to the La Scala Opera House and the city’s celebrated fashion district. Please join us to meet your Tour Director and your fellow travelers at a welcome reception followed by dinner this evening. Lodging Grand Hotel et de Milan Day 2 Milan, city of fashion and art Meals: B This morning will be a special treat for aficionados of religious art masterpieces… or The Da Vinci Code. Visit the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie to take in Leonardo da Vinci’s mural The Last Supper, which he painted on the refectory wall at the request of his patron, Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. With dimensions of 15 by 29 feet, this beloved mural covers the entire large wall. Continue on to magnificent Castello Sforzesco which houses Michelangelo’s last unfinished masterwork, the Rondanini Pieta. Later, admire the Duomo, the great Cathedral of Milan, a striking example of Gothic architecture, and the impressive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. After a short walking tour and lunch on your own, view works by Raphael, Bellini and other great Italian masters at the Pinacoteca di Brera; the rest of the day is free to explore what interests you most. Lodging Grand Hotel et de Milan Day 3 Visit a villa, cruise Lake Como and spend time in Bellagio Meals: B, D It’s said to be Italy’s most beautiful lake, and you’ll understand why it entrances celebrities, aristocrats and jetsetters when you see Lake Como for yourself today. In Tremezzo, discover Villa Carlotta, known for its lovely setting and splendid 17th-century gardens decorated with sculptures, stairways and fountains. A private boat ride across the lake to Bellagio reveals the grand villas of the rich and famous. After lunch on your own, board another private boat for a cruise to Como en route to your Belle Époque hotel in Stresa on Lake Maggiore. Lodging Grand Hotel des Iles Borromees Day 4 Cruise on Lake Maggiore and a visit to Baroque Isola Bella Meals: B, L Your northern Italy vacation continues as you travel by boat to Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore and the exquisite Villa Borromeo on the tiny, private island. Count Vataliano Borromeo began the construction of this opulent Baroque palace and its splendid gardens in 1632. A guided tour of the ornate family home showcases priceless works of art, tapestries and furniture in an elegant and sumptuous setting. Have lunch on Isola Pescatori, then return to lovely Stresa, where the afternoon and evening are free to enjoy as you please. Lodging Grand Hotel des Iles Borromees Day 5 Explore medieval Bergamo, attend a wine tasting and arrive in Verona Meals: B, L Today’s travels take you across lush rural landscapes to ancient Bergamo, where you’ll explore its walled medieval center – straight out of a storybook illustration – with a local guide; visit the Piazza Vecchia, the 12th-century Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, and the Cappella Colleoni. After a wine tasting and tasty lunch at an agriturismo in the Franciacorta region, your northern Italy vacation continues to Verona, land of Romeo and Juliet, where your accommodations at the Due Torri Hotel are not far from the famous balcony that inspired Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy. Lodging Due Torri Hotel Day 6 A guided tour of Verona, home of “Romeo and Juliet,” and time to spend as you please Meals: B, D Verona is probably best known as the home of Shakespeare’s tragic lovers, Romeo and Juliet… and of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Valentine and Proteus. But, Verona is so much more. In honor of its many historical buildings, Verona has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is famous for its Roman amphitheatre, the third largest after the Colosseum in Rome and still used for operas and other cultural entertainment, and other buildings that have survived since Roman times… as well as for its outstanding wine and cuisine. A walking tour this morning reveals the many charms of the city; the afternoon and evening are free to continue your explorations on your own. Enjoy an à la carte dinner with wine at a local ristorante tonight. Lodging Due Torri Hotel Day 7 Tour architectural inspirations of Mantua, do some balsamic vinegar tasting in Spilamberto, and arrive Bologna Meals: B, L, D Journey this morning to Mantua, birthplace of the poet Virgil, and once the site of one of the greatest Renaissance courts in Europe. Tour the impressive Palazzo Te, a prime example of Mannerist-style architecture, designed by Guilio Romano and completed in the 1530s for the powerful Gonzaga family; its highlights include the Hall of the Horses and the Chamber of the Giants. Visit the 14th-century fortress of Castello San Giorgio to view its art collection. In Spilamberto, a visit to a local museum reveals how authentic balsamic vinegar is produced, complete with a tasting that will be an interesting memory of your northern Italy vacation. Arrive in Bologna for a two-night stay at the Grand Hotel Majestic – gia Baglioni; dine à la carte this evening at a local restaurant. Lodging Grand Hotel Majestic – già Baglioni Day 8 Walking tour of Bologna, a cooking class with a master chef & a fantastic dinner Meals: B, D Surrounded by hills, the dusky red buildings, marbled-floored ancient porticoes and wide piazzas contribute to the distinctly Renaissance feel in the center of Bologna, a bastion of food, fashion and culture. Home of the world’s oldest university, the Alma Mater Studiorum, founded in 1088, notable scholars such as Dante, Boccaccio and Petraca once walked its streets. A walking tour this morning reveals sights that they may well have seen centuries ago – including the university’s magnificent Archigninnasio, the Church of San Domenico, Piazza Santo Stefano and the city’s iconic Two Towers. After time to explore and lunch on your own, learn the secrets of Bologna’s cuisine in a cooking class from a master chef prior to an unforgettable à la carte dinner… where you’ll savor the delicious results of what you’ve learned! Lodging Grand Hotel Majestic – già Baglioni Day 9 Explore Venice and visit St. Mark’s Basilica after hours Meals: B, L Travel on to Venice today, one of the world’s most enchanting cities. After lunch at a local restaurant, your sightseeing includes the famous Piazza San Marco, impressive St. Mark’s Basilica and a guided tour of the Doge’s Palace, official residence of Venetian rulers in the Middle Ages, where you’ll learn how the “bridge of sighs” got its name. Your home in the City of Canals is The Gritti Palace, Venice, originally the 15th-century private home of a Doge of Venice overlooking the Grand Canal, and just reopening in 2013 after a painstaking, handcrafted restoration. an after-hours guided visit to celebrated St. Mark’s Basilica in the heart of Venice (subject to availability and day of the tour may vary), during which you can explore the iconic Basilica without the usual crowds! Lodging The Gritti Palace, Venice Day 10 Spend the day in Venice as you please Meals: B, D Awaken in intriguing Venice, one of the world’s most beloved cities, today and indulge in all things Venetian just as you choose. You might begin your day enjoying a coffee in Piazza San Marco, referred to by Alfred de Musset as “the drawing room of Europe.” Here in the city where streets are paved with water, the sound of human voices replaces the traffic noise so common in the other great cities of Europe as pedestrians (and pigeons) flock to this central gathering place for Venetians. Perhaps you’ll choose to see the magnificent view of the city from the top of St. Mark’s bell tower, stroll over to the Rialto Bridge, take in some of the city’s excellent museums or shop for distinctive Venetian souvenirs such as the traditional Carnival masks and colorful Venetian glass. Or, just follow your nose and see where the tiny streets might take you. Then, sit back and relax for an included, iconic Venetian experience, as a gondolier propels your gondola through the canals, complete with a serenade; it’s a ride that you’ll long remember! This evening, join us as we celebrate the end of a splendid northern Italy vacation with our farewell cocktail reception and dinner at the hotel. Lodging The Gritti Palace, Venice Day 11 Journey home Meals: B Memorable northern Italy vacation ends in Venice. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from The Gritti Palace, Venice to Venice’s Marco Polo International Airport. Please allow 3 hours for airport check-in formalities. We wish you a safe and pleasant journey home.LESS