12-day AUTHENTIC ITALY GRAND TOUR NORTH
The Northern Lakes, Emilia, Florence, Tuscany, Umbria

A tour for connoisseurs, from Milan to Rome via Florence, admiring the extraordinary beauty of Italy and its “borghi”. You will enjoy the diversity of habits and traditions across the country, as well as the diverse yet most savoury regional cuisines of Lombardy, Emilia, Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio!!

TOUR SUMMARY

  • Group size: 4 to 10 pax
  • Tour Date: May 17th - May 28th, 2022 
  • Tour starts in Milan and ends in Rome
  • The Tour is SHARED. Departure is guaranteed with a minimum of 4 travellers confirming within 60 days from departure date 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Lake Maggiore and Lake Como, a scenery for movie lovers
  • Parma, where Food is an art
  • Maranello, the legend of Ferrari was born here
  • Florence, an open-air museum
  • Chianti, winemakers for 800 years
  • Siena and San Gimignano, power in the Middle Ages
  • Val d'Orcia, where Man and Nature blend with harmony
  • Assisi, the extraordinary land of Francis
  • Orvieto, the "city on the rocks"
  • Tivoli, an invitation from the Emperor

PRICE UPON REQUEST

WHAT'S INCLUDED:

The tour is led by an Italian Authorised Tour Leader

Accommodations with Continental Breakfast (*):

  • Day 1: 4* Hotel in Lake Como area
  • Days 2 & 3: 4* Country House in Parma area
  • Day 4: 4* Hotel in Bologna city centre
  • Day 5 & 6: 4* Country House in Chianti area
  • Days 7 & 8: 4* Country House in Val d'Orcia area
  • Days 9 & 10: 4* Hotel in Spoleto city centre
  • Days 11 & 12: 4* Hotel in Rome city centre

(*) The level of accommodation will be of the highest standard at all Hotels in city centres and Country Houses. The Hotel list is available on request.

Activities & Transfers:

  • Day 1: Pick up in Milan and transfer to Stresa on Lake Maggiore - Visit of Borromean Islands Isola Bella and Isola Madre - Transfer to Lake Como area
  • Day 2: Full-day private tour of Lake Como - Visit of Villa Balbianello in Lenno – Transfer to Bellagio by public ferry, free time – Transfer to Parma area
  • Day 3: Full-day private tour of Parma area with an Authorised Tourist Guide, including visits of a Parmesan Cheese factory, a Parma Ham factory and a Cooking class in a Villa near Parma
  • Day 4: Visit of a Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Producer - Admission to Museo Ferrari in Maranello - Transfer to Bologna city centre, free time
  • Day 5: Transfer to Chianti area - Full-day private tour of Chianti area, with stopovers in Castellina and Greve - Visit of a wine cellar in Chianti with tastings
  • Day 6: Full-day private tour of Siena area - Stopovers in Monteriggioni, San Gimignano and Volterra 
  • Day 7: Transfer to Siena - 2-hour private walking tour of Siena city centre with an Authorised Tourist Guide - Transfer to Val d'Orcia area - Stopover at Abbazia di San Galgano
  • Day 8: Full-day private tour of Val d’Orcia - Stopovers in Pienza and Bagno Vignoni - 3-hour Private Gourmet walking tour of Montepulciano city centre with an Authorised Tourist Guide, with food tastings
  • Day 9: Transfer to Assisi - 2-hour private walking tour of Assisi city centre with an Authorised Tourist Guide - Transfer to Spoleto - Stopover at Fonti del Clitunno
  • Day 10: Visit of an organic farm near Trevi with tastings of local olive oil and lunch - Private round trip to Deruta, free time
  • Day 11: Transfer to Orvieto - Tour of Orvieto Underground - Transfer to Rome city centre
  • Day 12: Full-day private tour of Tivoli with an authorized Tourist Guide, including admissions to Villa d’Este and Hadrian’s Villa

Admission Tickets to:

  • Villa Balbianello on Lake Como
  • Borromean Islands on Lake Maggiore
  • Museo Ferrari in Maranello
  • Orvieto Underground
  • Villa d’Este and Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli

All tours / transfers by private minivan up to 5 pax, private minibus from 6 to 10 pax

Optional pick ups and drop offs at Airports / Railway Stations

Full assistance 24 hours/day by our Back Office

DAY 1 – LAKE MAGGIORE

Benvenuti in Italia, welcome to Italy! Your Tour Leader will meet you at your accommodation in Milan city centre, here you will meet your travel mates too. Let's have a coffee together, just to know each other.

From Milan we will head north for Lake Maggiore.

With its magnificent vintage air of old-fashioned vacations, Lake Maggiore is the second largest in Italy in size (the biggest is Lake Garda). Geographically, it straddles two Italian regions, Lombardy and Piedmont, and a small part juts into Switzerland’s Canton Ticino. Since the 19th century it has been one of the top vacation and weekend destinations for wealthy families from big cities, who built some of Northern Italy’s most stunning villas on its shores. The secret to Lake Maggiore’s success is its position just under Mount Rosa, a varied landscape, easy accessibility from both Milan and Piedmont, and a climate that allows very distinctive vegetation to thrive. In spring, the blossoming of azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, lemons and magnolias rightfully attracts plant lovers.

Lake Maggiore

The jewels of the lake are the Borromean Islands: anyone who has seen a postcard of Lake Maggiore is bound to be familiar with their outline. The archipelago is one of the biggest attractions for travellers and Isola Bella, Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori have plenty of charm. The archipelago is named after the Borromeo family, which acquired the islands in the 14th century and still owns two of them. The noble palaces on the islands, with their rooms filled with antique furniture, paintings and priceless porcelain, and the enchanting gardens are open to visitors and are a must on your list of things to see.

In the late afternoon we will drive to our next destination, Lake Como.

DAY 2 – LAKE COMO

Shaped like an inverted Y, giving it a long perimeter, it is surrounded by mountains and hills and dotted with beautiful and resort villages. The magnificent scenery of Lake Como (also known as Lake Lario) has enchanted artists and travellers for centuries: from French novelist Flaubert to musicians of the calibre of Gioacchino Rossini, Giuseppe Verdi, and Vincenzo Bellini; here he composed his opera Norma. Today Lake Como continues to attract members of the international jet-set and celebrities that appreciate the evocative beauty of the Lake and its surroundings.

Lake Como

Driving along the lake road we will enjoy multiple, fascinating views: suggestive borgoes, splendid villas and lush gardens await visitors in search of a little charm and relaxation, or a little culture and contact with nature. 

Breathtaking villas, one after the other, encircle the lake, a resort destination of the nobles of Lombardy since the 16th Century. Cernobbio is the site of the Villa d’Este (1600s), one of the locations in Alfred Hitchcock’s celebrated movie “The Pleasure Garden”. In nearby Lenno we will admire Villa Balbianello, used as a location inmovies such as “Star Wars: Episode II” and James Bond's “Casino Royale”.

Along the coast is Tremezzo, famous for its Villa Carlotta, with terrace gardens and a museum boasting works by Canova, Thorvaldsen and Hayez. It was built in the 17th century for a powerful Milanese family and in the 2nd half of the 19th century Princess Marianne of Nassau bought the villa and gave it to her daughter Carlotta as a wedding present, hence the name. Her husband was a keen botanist and over the years turned it into the lush garden that we see here today.

Later on, we will reach Bellagio, where we will relax and enjoy the lakeside ambience.

We will then drive south to our next destination, a particularly savoury one: Parma.

DAY 3 - PARMA

Parma is known for its delicious food products. First, we will visit a Parmigiano Reggiano factory, where you will see cheese masters at work: a very special way to get into the production culture of the area and to discover how a true gastronomic gem is made (see the article in our BLOG).

Later on, time for a visit of a Parma ham factory, where we will learn the secrets of the most delicious ham, Prosciutto di Parma (see the article in our BLOG).

And finally, we will savour authentic Italian cuisine on a fun-filled cooking class led by a local "rezdora". We will immerse ourself into the tradition of fresh Italian pasta and study the secrets of preparing pasta dough from the scratch, using just flour and eggs. We will make our own “tortelli d'erbetta” (Parma most traditional pasta with a filling of ricotta cheese and chards) and delicious tagliatelle with tomato sauce – all local ingredients! Once your amazing meal is ready, we will enjoy what we prepared matched with a glass of local Lambrusco wine. A very tasty experience at the end of an unforgettable day!

Parma

DAY 4 - MODENA

Modena derives its fame from some of its distinguished citizens, notably Enzo Ferrari and Luciano Pavarotti, who were born and lived here, as well as for some of its gastronomical products. Modena lies in the so-called “Motor Valley”: actually the factories of the famous Italian sports car makers Ferrari, De Tomaso, Lamborghini and Maserati are located here.

In Maranello, we will visit Museo Ferrari, not just a collection of the past, but an extraordinary experience of the world of Ferrari and sports car racing! How exciting to see live the most beautiful cars of the world, exceptional artworks made by modern mechanic artisan masters. 

Afterwards, we will move to the estate of a Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Producer, to delight in the unique, enticing taste of traditional balsamic vinegar. Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is obtained from partially fermented, cooked and concentrated grape must. The grapes come exclusively from the vines of the area, and the most important processing phase is refinement, inside containers of fine wood, such as oak, chestnut, oak, mulberry and juniper (to know more about Balsamic Vinegar see the article in our BLOG).

Maranello

DAY 5 – CHIANTI

Today we will explore the hilly area of Chianti, home of the world-famous wine!

Only a few regions can offer such a beautiful and rich panorama as Chianti: green hills sketched by miles and miles of vineyards and olive groves, ancient walled villages, panoramic curvy roads. Chianti Classico area spreads from Florence to Siena and includes the municipalities of Greve, Panzano, Radda, Gaiole and Castellina. Most of the route consists of the grid of roads connecting the larger towns to villages and castles, like the one leading to Radda, former headquarters of the Chianti Military League, and then to Castello di Brolio where Bettino Ricasoli devised the “recipe” for Chianti wine.

Chianti

DAY 6 – SAN GIMIGNANO & VOLTERRA

North of Siena, today we will stroll with our head upwards along the streets of one of the most beautiful cities in Tuscany, San Gimignano, also known as the "Medieval Manhattan", thanks to its very old and impressive 14 towers that dominate the town skyline. Originally the towers were 72, built by patrician families probably to demonstrate their wealth and power. Seven of San Gimignano's towers are around Piazza del Duomo, the tallest one is Torre Grossa, 54 meters high, dating back to 1298.

San Gimignano

After leaving San Gimignano, we will stop in Monteriggioni, the famous Senese fortress which guarded the boundary between the Senese Republic and the Florentine “Signoria”. A step back in the medieval times that will impress you. All around are Chianti vineyards and pasturelands, it’s amazing! The village can only evoke the Middle Ages with its 13th-century walls and 14 quadrilateral towers. Towers that Dante compared to the Giants of hell, in the time when this fortified site was an outpost of the Senese against the Florentines, passing several times from one to the other.

Monteriggioni

Finally, we will visit Volterra, Tuscany’s oldest continuously-inhabited town, with settlements documented since 1,500 B.C. Volterra has an unmistakable Medieval character, where the atmosphere of an ancient village can still be felt and whose authenticity is protected by the relative isolation that has limited the development of the city centre in the industrial era, safeguarding the city from urban speculation. Here we will walk on Piazza dei Priori, the main square, the centre of civic power since the 8th century, then Porta all'Arco, the 4th century B.C. Etruscan gate to the city walls, its 12th-century Cathedral and the ruins of the Roman Theater (40 B.C.) and the Roman Baths (3rd century AD).

Alabaster is a soft stone, much easier to work than marble, which is far harder. This malleability makes it perfect for carving small sculptures and richly detailed ornamental motifs. Historically, alabaster was used to carve the human face. More than 2,000 years have passed since the Etruscans first began carving alabaster, but it is still crafted today in the hilltop town of Volterra. Although it no longer represents a significant part of the local economy, it is nonetheless a fundamental part of the town’s culture. In the city, we will visit a laboratory and find beautiful shops selling artefacts and handmade unique pieces carved into this semi-transparent stone.

Volterra

DAY 7 – SIENA

In the city of the Palio we will walk on the famous Piazza del Campo, the concave square where horses run twice a year in a dangerous race that symbolizes the city’s freedom (see the article in our BLOG).

But, maybe, the thing that you are going to remember better is the colour of frontages and roofs, the renowned colour “Sienna”, a pigment first produced during the Renaissance, that makes the city lovely and warm. And don’t forget to taste the Senese sweets: “cantucci” (biscuits with toasted almonds), “ricciarelli” (soft biscuits with icing sugar), “panforte” (cake with fruit nuts and spices) and “cavallucci” (biscuits with honey, walnut, candied fruits and spices. Travellers who love dessert will be delighted!

Siena

On the way to Val d’Orcia, we will take a diversion to one of the most fascinating spots of Tuscany. Here we are in Chiusdino, to see the famous Abbey of San Galgano. What a stunning place! The Abbey of San Galgano dates back to 1218 and was considerably wealthy until the 14th century, so much as to be disputed between the Papacy and the Republic of Siena. Unfortunately, a great decline followed so much splendour: local people used it as a warehouse of building materials, even selling the roof of lead to make ammunition and transforming it into what we see today. It is really impressive for those who see it for the first time, for the isolation in which it is located as well as for the absence of the roof. In fact, finding yourself inside a church and having the sky as a cover is not common and when the evening comes, the stars offer a wonderful show. But why did the Cistercis Monks decided to build such an imposing complex in that secluded valley crossed by the river Merse? The answer is simple. Very close to it a church, the hermitage of Montesiepi, whose first nucleus is due to the same saint (and his direct followers), already existed. In its Chapel, also called "Rotonda" because of the circular shape of the central structure, an old iron sword is encased in stone, a clear reference to the legend of Excalibur, the mythic sword of King Arthur!

Siena

DAY 8 – VAL D'ORCIA

Val d’Orcia is one of the most fascinating places in Italy, included by UNESCO in the list of World Heritage Sites. The landscape of Val d’Orcia is part of the agricultural hinterland of Siena, redrawn and developed when it was integrated into the territory of the city-state in the 14th and 15th centuries to reflect an idealized model of good governance and to create an aesthetically pleasing picture. The landscape’s distinctive aesthetics, flat chalk plains out of which rise almost conical hills with fortified settlements on top, inspired many artists. Their images have come to exemplify the beauty of well-managed Renaissance agricultural landscapes. 

Our first stop will be Pienza, “Pio’s town”: here the Pope Pius II decided to build the perfect palazzo for his papal court according to the project of an “Ideal City" drawn up by artists such as Piero della Francesca. From the loggia of the Palace you will enjoy a breath-taking panorama of the landscape all around! And at lunch we'll try the typical Pecorino cheese of Pienza, a real delight to the palate!

Then, we will get to Montepulciano, for a history and gourmet food tour of the city with our Guide Francesca, at the discovery of this land’s delicacies: Nobile di Montepulciano wine and local olive oil.

We will finally stop in Bagno Vignoni, a tiny and charming village where the main square is a pool 49 meters long and 29 wide, from the bottom of which bubble up a number of hot springs whose therapeutic quality has been renowned since antiquity! All this creates such a pleasant sensation, it will be hard to leave!

Val d'Orcia

DAY 9 – ASSISI

Our first step today will be Tuoro on Lake Trasimeno; this small town is built on the site which in 217 B.C. witnessed one of the most disastrous battles of Roman times when more than 16,000 Roman soldiers were killed by Hannibal's army! Here you will understand how the Roman Armies fought and conquered most of the ancient Western World.

We will then proceed to Assisi, St. Francis' birthplace.

The splendid Basilica, one of the emblems of Christianity, located on Mount Subasio and overlooking the entire valley, is dedicated to him. Apart from being a strong appeal for millions of religious believers, the Basilica is a monument of great artistic value. Its construction began two years after his death, in 1228, and between the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th century its walls were frescoed by the best artists of that time: Giotto, Cimabue, Simone Martini and Pietro Lorenzetti. St. Francis's Basilica consists of two churches laid upon each other and a crypt containing the tomb of the Saint.  The Lower Basilica, with a double front portal, presents a simple façade embellished with a rose window and a mosaic. The interior is decorated with frescoes by some of the most important painters from 1200 to 1300, from Cimabue to Giotto and from the Lorenzettis to Simone Martini.

In the Upper Basilica, you can see St. Francis' life in frescoes painted by maestro Giotto, and the stories of the Old and New Testament covering the entire nave, and other wonderful frescoes by Cimabue and Torriti.

Another figure who deeply influenced these places is Saint Clare, to whom the homonymous Basilica - presenting a facade made of white and pink stone and divided into three sections by horizontal cornices - is dedicated. The engaging interior frescoes and the remains of the Saint are visible through a window in the crypt. 

Assisi

Try to enjoy the mystical atmosphere of Assisi:

"Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,

Who feeds us and rules us,

And produces various fruits with coloured flowers and herbs."

(St. Francis, Prayer of the Canticle of the Creatures)

DAY 10 – SPOLETO

Spoleto is a medieval hill town in the Umbria region, famous for its summer music festival, “Festival dei Due Mondi”. Thick walls and a magnificent gorge surround the city and fine medieval and Roman monuments sit along the streets. The Duomo is one of Spoleto's finest sights: begun in the 12th century, the cathedral is set against a backdrop of hills and valleys. High above the town stands the Rocca, a Papal fortress which was used as a prison until the 1980s. A massive bridge, Ponte delle Torri, built in the 14th century, functioned as both a bridge and aqueduct; we will walk on it for breath-taking views of the valley and gorge below.

In the afternoon we will visit Deruta, famous for its splendid brightly coloured maiolica.

Umbria

At dinner we’ll enjoy “salumi di cinghiale o cervo” (boar or deer sausage) and pecorino cheese, and taste the region's prized white truffle oil while sipping the red Rubesco Riserva or Sagrantino di Montefalco.

DAY 11 –ORVIETO

From Spoleto today we will reach Orvieto, one of the most beautiful hill towns in Italy, perched up on volcanic rock, its history dating back to the Etruscans.

Although just an hour from Rome, the architecture is different, with many of the buildings constructed out of tufo, a type of volcanic rock. Orvieto’s main attraction is its 14th-century Cathedral – a masterpiece of Gothic architecture with a glistening façade of stained glass, mosaics and sculptures. Another attraction is St. Patrick’s Well, a 62-meter-deep (203 feet) feat of engineering characterized by two spiral staircases that wind around the well (yet never meet), with 248 steps down to the water. On a pleasant guided tour along a very easy route, we will get to know Orvieto’s underground world, created by its ancient inhabitants over about 2,500 years of uninterrupted digging. A tour on a discovery of a millenary, surprising and unexpected “Underground City”, which you will surely enjoy!

At lunch, we will taste “salumi di cinghiale o cervo” (boar or deer sausage) and pecorino cheese and taste the region's prized white truffle oil, together with the delicious white wine of the area, Orvieto Classico!

Orvieto

DAY 12 – TIVOLI

On our last day, we will discover one of Italy’s hidden gems! Here is Tivoli, a small town in Lazio, about 30 Km east of Rome. The first major sight is Hadrian’s Villa: Emperor Hadrian built it to escape the crowd and turmoil of the capital. Much of the enormous, luxurious ancient villa remains intact today, and you will be surprised by the clever application of Renaissance plumbing in the fountains and waterworks, perfectly integrated with the landscape. There are about 500 fountains here!

The other treasure of the area is Villa d’Este, the great Villa commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito of the Este family around 1560. Among the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance that most inspired landscape architects and painters, it is an ideal reinterpretation - in a sumptuous way - of the hanging Eden of Babylon. The prestigious residence is surrounded by terraces, stairways and avenues set on each other, decorated with water games so audacious as to reveal considerable engineering skills. The monument was elected the most beautiful park in Europe, as well as UNESCO Heritage with the motivation: "one of the first gardens of wonders, which from the beginning had a decisive influence on the development of European landscape painting ».

Tivoli

The tour is over, but the memories of a fantastic journey will accompany you for a lifetime!

Arrivederci for another tour with VITOR, Visit Italy on the Road.


Opening time

As we are based in Italy, we are available from 08.00 to 19.00. Pls check your local time

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