AUTHENTIC NORTHERN ITALY LUXURY GRAND TOUR
The Northern Lakes, Emilia, Tuscany and Umbria in 12 days

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!!

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Lake Como, a scenery for movie lovers
  • Parma, the art of food
  • 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
  • Umbria, the green heart of Italy
  • Assisi, the extraordinary land of Francis
  • Orvieto, the "city on the rocks"
  • Tivoli, an invitation from the Emperor

DATES & PRICES

  • January to March – November & December: € 10,250 / pax (2-pax group) - € 7,790 / pax (4-pax group)
  • April to October: € 10,860 / pax (2-pax group) - € 8,390 / pax (4-pax group)

Groups of 5 to 10 pax - Single Room Supplement: upon request

GROUP SIZE: 2 to 10 travellers

WHAT'S INCLUDED:

Accommodations with Continental Breakfast (List of accommodations and type of rooms available upon request):

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

Activities and Transfers:

  • Day 1: Private half-day boat tour along the western coast of Lake Como with an Authorised Tourist Guide – Stopover in Bellagio
  • Day 2: Private transfer to Stresa on Lake Maggiore - Free visit of the Borromean Islands - Private transfer to your accommodation in Parma area  
  • Day 3: Full-day private tour of Parma area with an Authorised Tourist Guide, including visits of a Parmesan Cheese factory and a Parma Ham factory, and a Cooking Class in a Villa near Parma
  • Day 4: Private transfer to your accommodation in the Chianti area - Stopover in Modena area - Private visit of a Traditional Balsamic vinegar of Modena Producer 
  • Day 5: Full-day private Food Tour of Chianti area with a Sommelier - Private visit of a Super Tuscan Chianti wine cellar with tastings - Private visit of an olive oil mill with tastings
  • Day 6: Private full-day tour of Siena area: San Gimignano, Monteriggioni and Volterra - Visit of an Alabaster laboratory in Volterra - Stopover at Abbazia di San Galgano in Chiusdino - Private transfer to your accommodation in the Val d'Orcia area
  • Day 7: Full-day private tour of Val d’Orcia: Montepulciano and Bagno Vignoni - 3-hour private "Gourmet" walking tour of Montepulciano city centre with a Sommelier Guide, with food tastings
  • Day 8: Private transfer to Assisi - 2-hour walking tour of Assisi city centre with an Authorised Tourist Guide
  • Day 9: Private visit of a truffle farm, truffle hunting and lunch - Private round trip to Deruta, free time
  • Day 10: Private transfer to your accommodation in Orvieto area - Stopover in Spoleto, free time
  • Day 11: 2-hour private walking tour of Orvieto city centre with an Authorised Tourist Guide - Half-day private round trip to Civita di Bagnoregio, free time
  • Day 12: Full-day private tour to Tivoli with an Authorized Art Historian Tourist Guide - Private transfer to your accommodation in Rome city centre - Farewell dinner at a Michelin-starred Restaurant in Rome

Admission Tickets to:

  • Villa Balbianello OR Villa Carlotta on Lake Como
  • Isola Bella and Isola Madre on Lake Maggiore (including the public ferry to the islands)
  • Museo Ferrari in Maranello
  • Orvieto Underground
  • Villa d’Este and Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli

All transfers by private Luxury Sedan (2 pax) / Minivan (3 to 5 pax) /Minibus (6 to 10 pax)

OPTIONAL Pick up and drop off at Airports / Railway Stations - Meet & Greet (Porterage and assistance with luggage, tax refunds, customs clearance) 

Full assistance 24 hours/day by our Back Office

DAY 1 – LAKE COMO

Benvenuti in Italia, welcome to Italy!

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

The Lake (one of Lombardy's several incomparable lakes) is of a characteristic upside-down Y-form. The town of Como is situated on its southwestern arm, Lecco on the southeastern arm, and Colico on that northern. From the Lake’s shores, one can enjoy multiple, fascinating views: suggestive borgoes, splendid villas and lush gardens await visitors in search of a bit of 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 you will admire Villa Balbianello, used as a location in movies such as “Star Wars: Episode II” and James Bond's “Casino Royale”. You’ll be amazed by its gardens, a perfect scenery for movie lovers.

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.

Where the Lake’s three arms meet, you will visit Bellagio with Villa Melzi. The Villa, built in 1808, is much sought-after for its botanical park, with sculptures and a garden renowned for its beautiful azaleas and rhododendrons.

DAY 2 – 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 countless 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.

DAY 3 - PARMA

Parma is known for its delicious food products. First, you 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, you will savour authentic Italian cuisine on a fun-filled cooking class led by a local "rezdora". You will immerse yourselves into the tradition of fresh Italian pasta and study the secrets of preparing pasta dough from the scratch, using just flour and eggs. You 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, you will enjoy what you 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 is renowned worldwide for the famous people - Enzo Ferrari and Luciano Pavarotti above all - who were born and lived here, and for some of its gastronomical products. The city is the capital of the so-called “Motor Valley”: the factories of the most famous Italian sports car makers Ferrari, De Tomaso, Lamborghini and Maserati are located here.

In Maranello, you 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, you 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 read the article in our BLOG

Maranello

DAY 5 – CHIANTI

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.

For lunch, you may stop at the famous “Macelleria Cecchini”, maybe the most famous meat shop in Italy. Behind the shop, Mr Cecchini cooks original Tuscan meat, above all “Fiorentina” steaks, he has personally selected at farms in the area (don't worry, there’s also a vegetarian menu).

Chianti

DAY 6 – SAN GIMIGNANO & VOLTERRA

In the morning, you 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

Not far from San Gimignano is 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, you 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. Although it no longer represents a significant part of the local economy, it is nonetheless a fundamental part of Volterra's culture. You will visit a laboratory and find beautiful shops selling artefacts and unique handmade pieces carved into this semi-transparent stone.

On the way to Val d’Orcia, you 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 7 – 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 a 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.

In Montepulciano, our friend Francesca will lead you to discover this beautiful town full of stories, legends and thousand flavours, introducing you to the excellent products of this unique land: olive oil, pecorino cheese and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

In the afternoon, you will visit Bagno Vignoni, a tiny and charming village where the main square is a pool 49 meters long and 29 wide. Several hot springs, whose therapeutic quality have been renowned since antiquity, bubble up from its bottom! All this creates such a pleasant sensation; it will be hard to leave!

Val d'Orcia

DAY 8 – ASSISI

Today you will explore Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis, the nobleman who renounced all his possessions to devote his life to helping the needy and became the most acclaimed Saint of the Catholic Church.

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' 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 will admire the frescoes of the life of St. Francis, painted by 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 - with 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 9 – TREVI & DERUTA

In Trevi, at a local estate overlooking the valley between Assisi and Spoleto, you will enjoy the unique excitement of a truffle hunt with a local expert and his faithful dog, learning about the special connection of ancient woods, people and animals. After the search, time for a gourmet lunch with the extraordinary fruits of this extraordinary land, “i tartufi”.

Then, you will head for Deruta, famous for its splendid brightly coloured maiolica. The production of ceramics in Deruta goes back to the 13th century. In those times, small “bottegas” produced objects of everyday use: jugs, bowls, basins. Maiolica reached its apex in the 16th century, with artists making various motifs, such as mythological figures, battles and religious scenes.

Umbria

At dinner, 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 10 – SPOLETO

Umbria is the greenest region of Italy, and its citizens are famous for their hospitality. On the way to Orvieto, you will stop in Spoleto, 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 most pleasing sights: dating back to the 12th century, the Cathedral is set against a backdrop of hills and valleys. The Rocca is high above the town, a Papal fortress used as a prison until the 1980s. A massive bridge, Ponte delle Torri, built in the 14th century, functioned as a bridge and aqueduct; we can walk on it for breath-taking views of the valley and gorge below.

You will have lunch in Spoleto; you can try a typical Spoleto food, “torta al testo” (bread prepared with water, flour, salt, pepper, and olive oil, and cooked on a particular marble stone in a wood-burning oven); sometimes it is stuffed with ham, sausage, or simply with herbs prepared in olive oil.

Spoleto, the beautiful staircase leading to the Duomo

DAY 11 –ORVIETO & CIVITA

Orvieto in Umbria is perhaps the most beautiful hill towns in Italy, perched upon 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!

Civita di Bagnoregio, the spectacular “borgo” slowly sliding towards the valley, is also known as the “Dying City”. The town is famous for its unique position atop a plateau of friable volcanic tuff overlooking the Tiber river valley. It is in constant danger of destruction as the edges of the plateau collapse due to erosion, leaving the buildings to crumble as their underlying support falls away.

Orvieto

DAY 12 – TIVOLI

At the end of this extraordinary tour, you 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.

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.