Northern Italy

From Lake Garda to Verona, from Parma to Langhe and finally to Vercelli, in search of the best culinary traditions and wine productions of Northern Italy!


  • Franciacorta & Lugana, the wines of the lakes
  • Verona, crossroads of tastes
  • Parma, the art of food
  • Langhe, the land of strong flavours
  • Vercelli, where risotto was born


Accommodations with Continental Breakfast:

  • Days 1 & 2: 3* to 5* Hotel in Garda Lake area
  • Days 3 & 4: 3* to 5* Country House in Parma area
  • Days 5 & 6: 3* to 5* Country House in Langhe area
  • Day 7: 3* to 5* Hotel in Milan city centre

Activities / Transfers:

  • Day 1: Transfer from Milan city centre to Lake Iseo area – Private Visit of a Franciacorta sparkling wine cellar with tasting - Transfer to Lake Garda area - Private Visit of a Lugana wine cellar with tasting
  • Day 2: Transfer to Verona city centre - 2-hour Private guided tour of Verona city centre with an Authorised Tourist Guide - Transfer to Valpolicella - Private Visit of a Valpolicella wine cellar with tasting
  • Day 3: Transfer to Modena area - Private visit of a Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Estate with tasting – Parmesan Cooking class in Parma area
  • Day 4: Full-day private tour of Parma area with an Authorised Tourist Guide, including visits to a Parmesan Cheese factory, a Parma Ham factory and a Lambrusco wine cellar with tastings
  • Day 5: Transfer to Langhe area - Visit of a Barolo wine cellar with tasting – Free visit of the Castle of Grinzane Cavour
  • Day 6: Truffle Class and lunch at a selected restaurant - Visit of a Barbaresco wine cellar with tasting
  • Day 7: Transfer to Vercelli area - Visit of a rice farm and Risotto Cooking Class – Transfer to Milan

Admission Tickets to:

  • Castello di Grinzane Cavour in Langhe area

All transfers by private car / minivan

Full assistance 24 hours/day by our Back Office

Optional pick ups and drop offs at Airports / Railway Stations


Benvenuti in Italia, welcome to Italy.

Franciacorta is located in the heart of Lombardy, near Milan, on the southern shores of Lake Iseo. Its rolling hills, bordered to the west by the River Oglio and the northeast by the last offshoots of the Rhetic Alps, owe their ancient origins to the glaciers that, retreating over 10,000 years ago, created the amphitheatre within which Franciacorta lies. The morainic origin gives the various soils of this area an extraordinary mineral wealth; this, combined with the most advanced techniques, allows to get the best sparkling wine in Italy, rivalling with French Champagne.


Franciacorta is a DOCG sparkling wine (Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin), produced according to the so-called “Classic method”, that is wine is fermented first inside the barrel and then inside the bottle after the addition of yeast, nutrients for the yeast, and sugar. Franciacorta is mainly made with Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir grapes, and has a savoury, fresh, fine and harmonious taste, making it an ideal wine at all meals, from aperitif to second dishes, from the simplest to the most complex.

Later on, we will move to another wine area, Lugana on Lake Garda. The area is characterized by layered clays of morainic origin and sedimentary nature, mainly limestone, rich in mineral salts. These chemical-physical characteristics give the wine vigorous, sharp scents, between almond and citrus, as well as acidity, flavour and a well-balanced structure. In Lugana the microclimate, positively influenced by the temperate breezes of Lake Garda, is mild and quite constant, with few thermal excursions between day and night. A "climate cradle" perfect to enhance the peculiarities of the local grape, the Turbiana. Lugana is one of the great Italian white wines, with many different versions, firm, sparkling wine and even “late harvest”. Lugana can be cheerful, light, bubbly but also structured and deep, to keep in the cellar and enjoy after a few years.

As to food, this is the land of “polenta”, cornmeal boiled into a porridge and eaten directly or baked, fried or grilled. But also “casoncelli”, raviolis stuffed with sausage meat, sage and more butter, and many varieties of cured meats and cheeses: Taleggio, Silter, Bagoss, Quartirolo.

In these days you will stay in Sirmione, the “Pearl of the Lake”, famous for its Castle, built by the Scala family, closing the entrance to the Peninsula.


In a stretch of land designed in accord with the bends and twists of the River Adige, we find Verona, a visually-stunning city of excellence. It is a city of many faces whose history can also summarize Italy's history – think of the works left by the Romans, the Medieval streets and the “palazzi” of the Renaissance.

The city’s commercial hub is Piazza delle Erbe, where the original Roman Forum was located. This piazza represents the synthesis of several different historic moments; such is affirmed by the 13st-century buildings – among which Casa dei Mercanti (House of Merchants) stands out - the painted facades of the Mazzanti Houses, and the Madonna Verona Fountain, with its central statue from the Roman times. Also dating back to Roman times is the monument that is most symbolic of Verona, its Arena (1st century B.C.). Originally constructed to host gladiator combats, it saw a long period of abandonment before it returned to the limelight with a new form of entertainment, in 1913: after having hosted the premiere of Aida in that year, it has been known around the world for the sounds of opera that emanate from its stage, in addition to hosting concerts and theatre performances.

Verona, the Arena

The palazzi of Verona narrate its long history of wealth and power. In Piazza dei Signori - which sits under the dominating Lamberti Towers - the portico of the Loggia del Consiglio catches the eye; it is here where 16st-century political life took place, while the Palazzo di Cansignorio and Palazzo del Comune (or “della Ragione”) were the seats of military, judicial and administrative power. Nearby lie the Scaliger Arches, in the same-named piazza, and some of the most suggestive views of the city, including glimpses of the monumental tombs of the Lords of Verona. 

Finally, the Verona of Shakespeare and the “star-crossed lovers” is a legend all over the world and lives indefinitely through the places made famous in the play, Romeo and Juliet. Yet the original literary work was created by Luigi da Porto, a writer from Vicenza, in the 1500s; it eventually circulated Europe, reaching England. It was the Bard who rendered it the immortal story that it is today, allowing Verona to rest as one of the most admired and visited places in the world.

A few kilometres west of Verona, in a landscape of valleys and hills descending from the mountains to the plains around the Adige, Valpolicella hosts the vineyards supplying the grapes for two of the greatest red wines of Italy: Recioto and Amarone. The starting point for both wines is the same: ripe and high-quality grapes, which are harvested and stored in the "fruttai", well ventilated and dry places, where they are left to dry for 100 - 120 days. Grapes with their thick skin lose water and sugars concentrate. After crushing, fermentation takes place, shorter for the Recioto, to leave a high percentage of sugars, longer for the Amarone. Two wines for connoisseurs, which you can enjoy at one of the most beautiful wineries in the area.


From Lake Garda, you will head for Modena, the capital of the “Motor Valley”.

The city of Modena hosts petite jewels of art, such as the Romanesque Cathedral, completely constructed with white marble and located in the heart of Modena, in Piazza Grande. The Piazza with the Cathedral and the Ghirlandina Tower is one of the 48 Italian sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Ghirlandina, the bell tower rising majestically over the rooftops, derives from its marble balustrades around the steeple, suggesting the lightness of garlands. But the town is also known all over the world for famous people - such as 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”: the factories of the famous Italian sports car makers Ferrari, De Tomaso, Lamborghini and Maserati are located here.


Here you will visit 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. The minimum period of ageing is 60 days; at the end of refinement, the product obtained is subjected to an analytical and organoleptic examination, entrusted to a group of expert technicians and tasters: this is the step to be taken to ensure that the product can be certified as Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (to know more about the Traditional Balsamic vinegar see the article in our BLOG).

And finally, you may savour authentic Italian cuisine on a fun-filled Parmesan cooking class led by a local “rezdora” (a female cook in Parmesan language). Immerse yourself into the tradition of fresh Italian pasta and study the secrets of preparing pasta dough from scratch, using just flour and eggs. You will make your 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!

DAY 4 - parma

Your next destination is a particularly savoury one: Parma.

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 to a Parma ham factory, where you will learn the secrets of the most delicious ham, Prosciutto di Parma (see the article in our BLOG).

DAY 5 - langhe

You will be startled by the beauty of Langhe, the region where the landscape changes colours according to the rhythm of the seasons! For its outstanding landscapes, the area of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato has been recently recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Think of rolling hills, quaint villages struck on cliffs, and prized vineyards and gastronomic traditions, this is Langhe. 


This corner of Italy encapsulates unique gastronomic delights, often only whispered as secrets to gourmets around the world. Here the Nebbiolo grape reigns, protected by castles, towers and fortified villages that take us back to medieval times of struggles and splendours: pilgrims, salt merchants, soldiers of fortune, the Crusaders, and Benedictine monks have all trodden this soil leaving a heritage, a sign, a legacy. But it was the farmers whose centuries of toil shaped the hills into the breathtaking landscape which widens the eyes of the visitor today.

Nebbiolo is one of the Piedmontese vines with the longest roots, reaching almost 7 meters in length; for this reason, the vine has an incredible ability to extrapolate the intrinsic characteristics of each particular soil, drawing from each different stratification a particular property that will be expressed in the wine. Thanks to this, Nebbiolo is the basis of different types of wine in which we always find its generic qualities, but with the addition of defined and different characteristics for each type of wine that originates from a definite kind of soil, microclimate and exposure.

The most famous 100% Nebbiolo wines are Barolo and Barbaresco. As we taste them, our palate is invaded pleasantly by tannin that leaves roughness to the palate, a feeling that becomes softer as the wine is more aged. Structure and body characterize this expression of the Nebbiolo, which varies, magically, according to the area from which it originates.

Among all villages, Barolo best incarnates the essence of its wines. Tucked into the hills, Barolo was a Medieval borgo belonging to the Gonzagas and Savoias; it is dominated by the Castello Falletti, the seat of the Comune’s Enoteca and of the Museum of Peasant Life, a collection of antique objects and instruments. 

So, what about food? Taste gorgeous tagliatelle, locally called “tagliolini” or “tajarin”, served with meat ragout, sausage ragout or, according to the season, melted butter and grated truffle. Then, try veal meat in any version, especially brasato, cooked in Barolo wine. The typical dish par excellence is “Bagna Cauda”, a garlic, anchovy and olive oil sauce into which seasonal raw vegetables are dipped. Hazelnut cake, soft and served with a good glass of Moscato d’Asti, is the traditional ending to every lunch and dinner!

DAY 6 - langhe

  Under these so-special hills, here is the ultimate and most secret treasure: the White Truffle of Alba: the "grey diamond" that made Cavour crazy and sent King Vittorio Emanuele II into ecstasy. The most valuable among truffles, is very variable in size and weight, up to 1 kg. Its best maturing period is from September - October until the end of December. Its celebrity among truffles from other areas of Italy is due to its intense and aromatic scent, reminiscent of garlic and fermented cheese, also for this, it is the most expensive. 

White Truffle

Eating it raw on hot dishes is certainly the best way to release its natural aroma, without masking it. Among the simplest and most effective combinations: egg and truffle, risotto with cheese and truffle, grated on top of a grilled steak.


The history of rice in Vercelli area is linked to two factors: the need to make clay soils that were practically sterile productive and the possibility of exploiting the water resources of the large rivers descending from the Aosta Valley and Monte Rosa and the myriad of small waterways and springs of mountain origin. Rice arrives permanently in Italy and Vercelli only in the Renaissance, following the winding and slow ways of cultural contacts between peoples, and the new cereal is confirmed as useful in the clean-up of marshlands. Today, rice farming in Vercelli is among the most modern in the world, thanks to the introduction of new technologies, new agricultural techniques and new varieties.


Cultivating rice means, above all, knowing how to dose water in the entire period of rice growth. Water is the thermoregulator needed to make rice plants deal with the strong thermal changes of our temperate climate. But knowing how to flood and then dry the paddy is also the most effective method to fight weeds. Water must enter slowly and reach all the areas of the paddy chamber with the same depth and it must always flow to provide oxygen necessary for the germination of the seed and counteract the formation of rotting substances, and in the same way, it must exit quickly when the paddy needs to be put dry.

Risotto is one of the most important dishes of the tradition of Italian cuisine, it is a symbol of Italianness. We do not know exactly when it was born or who was its inventor, undoubtedly risotto is the result of centuries of history. Its preparation is quite demanding but it teases almost every palate. In a cooking class dedicated to rice, you will get to know the different types of rice, cooking methods and combinations, and in the end you will be able to properly prepare a good creamy risotto, with whole but cooked grains.

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

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