Italy Between Alps and Mediterranean

Our 14-day exploration of three north-Italian provinces, including the three capitals of Turin, Genoa, and Milan, plus wonderful countryside, featuring Alpine peaks and valleys, famous wine regions, the superb coastal scenery of the Riviera, including pearls like Portofino and the Cinque Terre, and wonderful architecture and art, epitomized by five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Leonardo’s ‘Last Supper.’ Plus fine food and wines such as Barolo! This tour is offered in collaboration with Guelph Arts Council and will be escorted by historian Jacques Pauwels, PhD, author of books such as ‘Beneath the Dust of Time: A History of the Names of Peoples and Places’ (London, 2009), who will lecture on the region’s rich history, including the saga of a world-famous Genoese hero, Columbus.

BOOKING INFORMATION

March 23 - April 05, 2017

$4,275 from Toronto

plus approximately $600 in airline taxes and surcharges "Land only": $3,925 Single room supplement: $825

Waitlist Only

VIEW TERMS & CONDITIONS DOWNLOAD PDF OF ITINERARY

*If the tour is SOLD OUT, please contact us to be added to the waitlist.


ITINERARY

Day 1 - Thursday, March 23:

Evening departure from Toronto for Milan with Air Canada, via Munich. Dinner and a light breakfast will be served on board.

Day 2 - Friday, March 24:

Late morning arrival in Milan, where a private coach will be waiting to take us to a Turin (Torino), capital city of the Italian province of Piedmont, formerly an independent country ruled by the Savoy Dynasty. Turin is a dynamic but elegant city, famous for its major industries (home of e.g. FIAT) but also wonderful architecture, fine museums, soccer (Juventus), and excellent food and wine! We briefly visit the impressive Superga Basilica, located high on a hill overlooking the city, before checking into a centrally located 4-star/first-class Hotel. Free time to settle in and relax after your overnight flight. In late afternoon, leisurely walking tour of the historical city centre, followed by welcome dinner in the restaurant of our hotel.

Day 3 - Saturday, March 25:

Morning sightseeing tour, featuring all the major sights of Turin, including its palaces, former residences of the Royal House of Savoy collectively classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, including the Stupinigi Hunting Lodge; the Cathedral (Duomo) with the chapel of the famous Holy Shroud; Piazzas San Carlo and Castello; the Roman city gate known as Porta Palatina; the Gothic San Domenico Church; and the city’s emblem, the Antonelliana Tower! For lunch, we recommend the historical café San Carlo, a meeting place of Italian patriots in the heroic era of the Risorgimento, the establishment of a unified Italian state in the 1860s. In the afternoon, visit to the Galleria Sabauda, a first-class art gallery bursting with Italian as well as Spanish, Flemish, and Dutch masters, including Veronese, Caravaggio, Van Eyck, Rembrandt. Dinner in the hotel or in a typical ristorante.

Day 4 - Sunday, March 26:

Morning visit to Turin’s Egyptian Museum, described as “one of the richest collections of Egyptian antiquities in the world” (www.museoegizio.it/en). The rest of the day is free to shop, explore the city on your own, or visit yet another museum, perhaps the Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art (http://www.gamtorino.it/en) or the fabulous Automobile Museum (www.museoauto.it/website/en). No group dinner; this evening it may be possible to attend a classical music concert (optional).

Day 5 - Monday, March 27:

A full day of sightseeing in the long and wide Susa Valley, which stretches from Turin to the French border and features magnificent Alpine scenery as well as many sites of great historical and cultural interest. Our tour will include all or most of the following: Novalesa Benedictine Abbey, a station on the ancient Via Francigena pilgrimage route from France to Rome, featuring superb 12th-century frescoes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novalesa_Abbey); the historical and strategically important town of Susa, “gateway to Italy,” with some monuments dating back to the time of the Romans, such as the Arch of Augustus, and a fine Romanesque Cathedral; the Sacra di San Michele, a Benedictine abbey perched spectacularly on top of a rock, a religious complex similar to the Mont St. Michel in France, and a station on the old St. Michael’s Pilgrims Road, similar to the St. James Road into Spain - the famous book ‘The Name of the Rose’ was inspired by this monumental abbey (www.sacradisanmichele.com). Depending on circumstances, today’s group meal will be either lunch in a country restaurant OR dinner in the city.

Day 6 - Tuesday, March 28:

Departure from Turin after breakfast. We head for the Langhe district, heartland of the world-famous Piedmont wine country, situated in the hilly south of the province, between the Po River and the Apennine Mountain Range. We enjoy outstanding scenery, featuring vine-covered slopes sprinkled with picturesque hilltop villages, castles and churches, as well as picturesque towns; this region was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on account of the “balance between the aesthetic qualities of its landscapes, the architectural and historical diversity of the built elements associated with the wine production activities and an authentic and ancient art of winemaking.” A visit to a winery, a tasting of some of the famous regional wines, such as Barolo, and a delicious lunch in a typical ristorante will be included. In late afternoon we continue into the neighbouring province of Liguria, a narrow but glorious strip of coastline tucked between the mountains and the blue Mediterranean, much of it a.k.a. the Italian Riviera. Our destination is the quaint coastal town and resort of Santa Margherita Ligure, situated at the base of the romantic Portofino Peninsula. We stay in the first-class Hotel Regina Elena or similar.

Day 7 - Wednesday, March 29:

Morning boat tour to Portofino, one of the most beautiful and romantic little seaports anywhere in Italy or, for that matter, the entire coast of the Mediterranean Sea! (www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Q1yQeJPoJA) Return to Santa Margherita after lunch and rest of the day free to enjoy the resort on your own. Dinner again in the restaurant of our hotel.

Day 8 - Thursday, March 30:

Full-day excursion to the great seaport of Genoa, the birthplace of Columbus. Our local sightseeing tour will include another UNESCO site, the complex of streets, lined with Renaissance and Baroque palaces, known as the Le Strade Nuove (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1211); the port and adjoining sailors’ quarter, featuring the lighthouse known as La Lanterna and the famous Bank of St, George; the Gothic St. Lawrence Cathedral; the splendid Church of the Annunciation; and the so-called House of Columbus. Also some time for shopping and exploring on your own before we return to our hotel in Santa Margherita in time for dinner.

Day 9 - Friday, March 31:

Full-day excursion by coach and train – and on foot! - to the famous Cinque Terre, a collection of five quaint fishing villages clinging to a particularly rugged and isolated stretch of the Ligurian Coast, and not accessible via road; this is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site! No lunch or dinner today.

Day 10 - Saturday, April 01:

Departure from Santa Margherita after breakfast. We motor, first along the coast and then across the Apennine Mountains to the city of Parma, famous for its high-quality prosciutto (ham) and Parmigiano-cheese as well as Balsamic vinegar, and associated with Italy’s great composer, Giuseppi Verdi. Upon arrival, sightseeing tour of the old town of Parma, a UNESCO World Heritage site, with monuments such as the imposing Pilotta Palace, the Royal Theatre, and the Cathedral and its magnificent Baptistry. The afternoon is free to explore the town on your own, visit the fine art gallery (www.parmabeniartistici.beniculturali.it/galleria-nazionale-di-parma/en), or shop. Accommodation in the Best Western Farnese or another first-class/4-star hotel, and dinner in the hotel or in a typical restaurant.

Day 11 - Sunday, April 02:

After breakfast we leave Parma and drive along the autostrada to the historic town of Pavia, a former capital of the province of Lombardy. Here we visit the famous Certosa di Pavia, one of the largest monasteries in Italy, dating back to about 1400 and famous for its exuberant Gothic as well as Renaissance architecture and sculptures. Lunch break in the old town of Pavia. In the afternoon we continue to Milan and dinner and overnight in the first-class/4-star Starhotel Ritz (www.starhotels.com/en/our-hotels/ritz-milan) or similar.

Day 12 - Monday, April 03:

Morning sightseeing tour of Milan, an exciting metropolis that may not be Italy’s capital but is sometimes described as the country’s “New York”! The highlights will include the wonderful Duomo (Cathedral); the impressive 19th -century Galleria, featuring fine shops and restaurants; La Scala Theatre with its small but exquisite museum; and the huge Sforza Castle. Will it be a coincidence if the tour ends around noon right in front of what is arguably Europe's best delicatessen store, Peck, a great option for lunch? (http://www.nytimes.com/1981/02/25/garden/in-milan-a-delicatessen-among-the-finest.html). Afternoon free. No group dinner today.

Day 13 - Tuesday, April 04:

This morning we view Leonardo’s masterpiece, ‘The Last Supper,’ in the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, a UNESCO site, and also visit the ancient Basilica of Sant’Ambrosio, a fine example of Lombard-Romanesque architecture. Afternoon free to shop or visit another one of the city’s fine museums, such as the exquisite Pinacotecas di Brera (http://pinacotecabrera.org/en) and Ambrosiana (www.leonardoambrosiana.it/en); the Modern Art Gallery (www.gam-milano.com/en/home), with the iconic painting The Fourth Estate, by da Volpedo; and the Poldi Pezzoli Museum with its fabulous collection of weapons, clocks, bronzes, paintings, etc. (www.museopoldipezzoli.it/#!/en/discover) In the evening, arrivederci-dinner in a typical restaurant. 

Day 14 - Wednesday, April 05:

After breakfast, transfer to Malpensa Airport and return flight to Toronto with Air Canada, via Munich.

ITINERARY PDF

EXPLORE THE AREA

INCLUDED

- Return flight from Toronto to Milan via Munich, with Air Canada; - Overland transportation via private coach; - Accommodation based on double occupancy in first-class/4-star hotels - the single room supplement is $825; - Daily breakfast, mostly buffet-style, and dinner (or sometimes full lunch) also daily except on days 4, 9, and 12; - All visits and sightseeing as outlined in the itinerary, including admission to museums and monuments as shown in the itinerary; - Gratuities for the coach driver and local guides.

NOT INCLUDED

-***The usual combination of airport taxes/security fees/fuel surcharges, presently (June 2016) approximately $600, but subject to change; - All expenses of a personal nature; - Travel Insurance is available; please call our office for rates.

RECOMMENDED READING

Alta Macadam, Annabel Barber, and Paul Blanchard, Northern Italy: From the Alps to the Adriatic

Sally Spector, Chocolate, Truffles, and Other Treasures of Italy's Piedmont Cuisine

Victor D'Amico, Bonding with Piedmont: Italy's Undiscovered and Bountiful Region

David Downie, Enchanted Liguria: The Glorious Lifestyle Art and Food of the Italian Riviera


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