Our 13-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 will be escorted by Vince and Jan Sacilotto.
Evening departure from Toronto for Milan with Air Canada, via Munich. Dinner and a light breakfast will be served on board.
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 the centrally located 4-star/firstclass Hotel Concord (www.hotelconcordtorino.com). 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.
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.
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).
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 (www.reginaelena.it/en/home-page.aspx) or similar.
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.
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.
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.
After breakfast we leave Santa Margherita 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 Stresa, a resort situated just north of Milan on the shores of wonderful Lake Maggiore, featuring lush Mediterranean vegetation even though surrounded by towering, snow-covered Alpine peaks! Arriving in late afternoon, we enjoy a leisurely boat tour to aptly named Isola Bella, the “beautiful island” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isola_Bella_(Lago_Maggiore)), before checking into the firstclass/4-star Hotel Milan Speranza Au Lac, centrally located on the lakeshore (http://www.milansperanza.it/en). Dinner in the restaurant of the hotel.
Full-day excursion to nearby Milan, the capital of Italy’s northern province of Lombardy, an exciting metropolis that 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-thefinest.html). In the afternoon 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, before returning to Stresa. Dinner again in the restaurant of our hotel.
Today you have a choice: (1) Return to Milan (with our coach) to shop, perhaps in the fashion designer district, e.g. along the Via Montenapoleone (see www.milano24ore.net/shopping), explore on your own, and/or visit one or more of the city’s fine museums, such as the exquisite Pinacotecas di Brera (http://pinacotecabrera.org/en), the Ambrosiana (www.leonardo-ambrosiana.it/en), the Modern Art Gallery (www.gammilano.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). Or (2) you can stay in wonderful Stresa to relax, shop, or perhaps enjoy another boat tour, perhaps even to the quaint Swiss town of Locarno. In any event, this evening we all get together again for our arrivederci-dinner.
After breakfast, transfer to Malpensa Airport and return flight to Toronto with Air Canada, via Munich.
- Return flight from Toronto to Milan, 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 and 9; - 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.
- All expenses of a personal nature; - Travel Insurance is available; please call our office for rates.
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
Luigi Veronelli and Luca Invernizzi Tettoni, The Food of North Italy
David Downie, Enchanted Liguria: The Glorious Lifestyle Art and Food of the Italian Riviera