October 11 to October 21
An eleven-day break in the magnificent city of Milan, Italy’s “New York,” a metropolis famous for architecture, epitomized by its fabulous Duomo (Cathedral); music, conjured up by La Scala Theatre; art by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo; the last word in fashion; great shopping as well as fine food and wine; and dolce vita in general! We will also enjoy sidetrips to the wonderful Lombardy lakes situated nearby, stretching into the Alps, towards the Swiss border: Lago Maggiore and Lake Como, with delightful resorts such as Stresa and Bellagio. The tour is conducted by Jacques R. Pauwels, PhD.
At 8:45PM, departure from Toronto for Milan with Air Canada. During this convenient non-stop flight, dinner and a light breakfast will be served on board.
Arrival at Milan’s Malpensa Airport at 10:30 AM. Short transfer to nearby Stresa, a fine little resort on the shores of magnificent Lake Maggiore, for a boat tour to view Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori, two of the so-called Borromean Islands, owned by one of the leading families of Milan. Afterwards there will be free time to enjoy lunch in one of the town’s many trattorias. Then we motor to Milan and check into the very comfortable, recently refurbished first-class Starhotel Ritz, where we will be accommodated in superior rooms. This hotel, rated “excellent” or “very good” by most commentators on Trip Advisor, is located just off one of the city’s major shopping streets, the Corso Buenos Aires, and only a few hundred meters from a major subway station. Free time to settle in, and welcome dinner in the fine restaurant of our hotel.
After breakfast, walking tour of Milan’s historical city centre, with the fashion designer district; world-famous La Scala Theatre and its small but exquisite music museum; the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II, an amazing 19th-century shopping mall, featuring fine shops and restaurants; historical Piazza dei Mercanti; and the city’s emblem, the Duomo, one of Europe’s biggest, most distinctive, and impressive Gothic cathedrals. Probably not coincidentally, the tour will end in front of what is perhaps Europe’s finest delicatessen store, Peck, a veritable temple of gastronomic delights featuring a gourmet restaurant. In the afternoon, we return to the Duomo and take an elevator to its roof a forest of over 100 turrets and statues, and a visit to the Cathedral Museum, highlighting the history of the edifice’s construction and featuring all sorts of sculptures, tapestries, and other wonderful antiquities. No group dinner this evening, as it may be possible to attend a concert or opera in La Scala or another venue.
Morning visit to the huge Sforza Castle, built by, or rather for, the House of Sforza, rulers of the Duchy of Milan during the Renaissance Italy, having succeeded the earlier governing dynasty, the Viscontis. This castle now incorporates several museums, featuring musical instruments, Egyptian antiquities, ancient furniture and sculptures, frescoes by Leonardo da Vinci, and paintings by masters such as Mantegna, Canaletto, and Tintoretto; but the pride and joy of the collection is the unfinished Pietà Rondanini, by Michelangelo, a statue on which he was still working a few days before his death. Afternoon at leisure. How about a cappuccino and a pastry at the legendary institution, Pasticceria Marchesi? It will likely be possible to enjoy a game of one of the city’s two famous professional soccer teams, Milan AC and Inter Milan, in the city’s legendary San Siro Stadium. This evening, lecture on the history of Milan before our group dinner in a typical restaurant in the vicinity of our hotel.
Full-day excursion to romantic Lake Como, a spectacularly beautiful body of water surrounded by towering Alpine peaks, whose shores feature lush Mediterranean vegetation as well as villas and gardens owned by Milanese industrialists and bankers as well as Italian and international jet-setters such as Sofia Loren and George Clooney! Among the highlights will be our visits to the picturesque town of Bellagio, where we will break for lunch, and the ancient city of Como, featuring a fine Cathedral as well as excellent shopping. Return to Milan in late afternoon.
Today we plan to view what is arguably the city’s greatest attraction, Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper,’ a fresco in the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, a masterpiece that has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; however, since admission is extremely restricted and reservations can only be made three months in advance, this visit may well have to be scheduled on a different day. Before or after this homage to Leonardo, we will also visit the ancient Saint Ambrose Basilica, a fine example of Lombard-Romanesque architecture. This evening, optional dinner in one of the many eateries in the lively Navigli District, bisected by a canal connecting Milan to the Po River.
After breakfast, we head for the Brera Art Gallery, ranked, like Florence’s Uffizi, as one of Italy’s “super museums,” boasting one of the greatest collection of classical Italian art in the entire world, with masterpieces by the likes of Bellini, Mantegna, da Vinci, Caravaggio, Tintoretto, Veronese, El Greco, Canova, Giacometti, and Modigliano.
After an early breakfast, transfer to Milan Malpensa Airport and non-stop return flight to Toronto, with Air Canada. Departure at 12:10PM, arrival at 3:00PM.
Return airfare Toronto-Milan with Air Canada, including all airport taxes, fuel surcharges, and security fees; Airport transfers and excursions by private coach, local sightseeing on foot and by public transportation, mostly by subway; Accommodation, based on double occupancy, in a centrally located first-class/4-star hotel; the supplement for DSU (“double room for single use”) is $1,150; Hotel taxes and gratuities; Buffet breakfast daily and a total of four three-course dinners; Visits and sightseeing as indicated in the itinerary; Services and lectures of your tour conductor, Jacques R. Pauwels, PhD.
All items of a personal nature; Wine, beer, mineral water with dinners; Travel insurance, available upon request.
January 19 - 27, 2021
$5,474 from Toronto based on double accommodation
March 02 - 19, 2021
$4,995 from Toronto based on double occupancy
April 13 - 26, 2021
$4,895 from Toronto, including air, based on double occupancy