Luxury Voyages in Italy in spring time
A 22-day grand tour among the renowned art cities in Veneto, the romantic sea villages in Liguria, the excellent wines of Tuscany, the natural beauty of Umbria and the gastronomic treasures of Emilia
1st day: arrival of guests at around 9am at the airport in Venice and transfer of guests to the hotel in Verona, with en-route stop in Vicenza for a guided visit of the centre. Light lunch. You’ll then admire some of the most important and representative Palladian villas. In the late afternoon, departure for Verona. Arrival of guests at the hotel, accommodation and relax before the welcome dinner with a seasonal menu.
2nd day: Breakfast in the hotel and morning guided visit of the town of Verona, between romanticism and history: the Roman Amphitheatre, the Arena (where opera is performed every year in the summer months from June to August), Piazza delle Erbe, Piazza Bra, San Zeno Basilica - a real masterpiece of Romanesque architecture - and Juliet’s balcony (Verona was in the past setting of the love story of Romeo and Juliet, made famous by William Shakespeare). Light lunch in a restaurant of the centre. Afternoon excursion to Garda Lake for a visit to a local oil-mill, to enter the tasty world of the Dop Garda extra virgin olive oil. Walk through the olive-yards and tasting of olive oil and by-products. In the evening gourmet dinner with lake specialities in a restaurant near the lake. Return to the hotel.
3rd day: Breakfast at the hotel and departure for Bassano del Grappa in the district of Vicenza for a walk in the historical centre with a local guide, passing through the famous wooden bridge, that was rebuilt many times. You’ll admire the original structure given to the town by the famous architect Palladio in 1569, with the marble arches of the two main town entrances, the late XVI century decoration and the medieval layers. Visit of the most important monuments and of a well known local distillery to learn something more about the techniques of the white grappa’s distillation and tasting and those of the ageing of the yellow grappa (coming from only one vine or the classic one). Tasting and light lunch in a typical “trattoria” with seasonal menu.In the early morning you’ll proceed with a short visit to Marostica and its monuments such as the medieval Doglione or Castello da Basso and the wonderful Piazza Castello with a white and red marble draughtsboard drawn on it, that hosts every two years the traditional chess match with living characters in historical costumes. Evening transfer to Soave to plunge into the fascinating world of Soave wines in an historical wine cellar where you’ll taste light dinner with some wines of the company together with typical dishes. Return to the hotel in Verona.
4th day: Breakfast at the hotel, check-out and departure of guests for Liguria with en-route stop in Cremona for a visit of the town to admire Piazza del Comune, the Torrazzo (high tower, symbol of the town) ,the Cathedral, the Town Palace that hosts a collection of violins that are masterpieces of the local traditional “liuteria” (art of making stringed instruments). Visit of a local liutaio (artisan that makes or repairs stringed instruments, above all the most renowned Stradivari violins) - who will show you his art of selecting and working the wood, following antique methods - and of an artisan nougat laboratory to taste this speciality made with honey, eggs and roasted almonds. Lunch on your own.
Option A: Breakfast at the hotel, check-out and departure of guests for Liguria with en-route stop in Piacenza for a visit of the town with its medieval, gothic and Renaissance monuments: the Cathedral, Sant’Antonio Basilica, the many churches such as that of San Sisto, the XIII century Piazza Cavalli with the Gothic Palace, the Governatore Palace and the Church of San Francesco, Via XX Settembre and the many elegant aristocratic and middle-class palaces with their wonderful gardens. You’ll proceed with the visit of a wine estate that produces the local wine Gutturnio and the aromatic wine Malvasia di Candia with following light lunch.
Option B: Breakfast at the hotel, check-out and departure of guests for Liguria with en-route stop in Serravalle Scrivia (Alessandria) for lunch and shopping at the McArthur Designer Outlet Village, the biggest one in Europe with 190 shops.
In the afternoon, departure of guests and arrival in Santa Margherita Ligure for hotel accommodation and relax before welcome dinner.
5th day: Breakfast at the hotel and excursion to Cinque Terre. You’ll start with the visit of Monterosso al Mare, closed between green hills, olive-trees and above all vineyards which produce an excellent white wine. The village consists of two centres, which are divided by the hill San Cristoforo on the top of which we’ll visit the Capuchin's monastery. You’ll admire the old town with the parish church of San Giovanni Battista, dating back to the 14th century and the modern centre of Fegina with the long beach. En-route stop at the Enoteca Internazionale in the old town and tasting of the typical DOC wines: Cinque Terre and Sciacchetrà. It’ll also be possible to buy some typical products such as the extra-virgin olive oil of Levante. Followin transfer to Vernazza. Going down the street, we’ll reach the picturesque square next to the port: on one side an arcade-palace and mediaeval houses; on the other one the parish church S. Margherita di Antiochia. The ancient castle Doria dominates Vernazza on a rock in front of the sea. Vernazza is considered the most beautiful village of the Cinque Terre with the typical terraced houses, the many porticos and the Ligurian “carrugi” (narrow alleys). Light lunch in a typical restaurant with the anchovies of Monterosso al Mare (Slow Food) and the trofie (a pasta made of wheat or chestnut flour formed into corkscrew shapes) with pesto sauce (an ancient Mediterranean sauce made with basil, olive oil of the highest quality, pine nuts, marjoram and grated cheese). Following transfer to Manarola and visit of the church of San Lorenzo. The town is the result of the thousand-year work, carried out by its farmers who transformed steep hillsides into the fertile soil to cultivate grapes. Clung to the rock, with its multicoloured houses, Manarola is considered one of the most beautiful of five existing villages. From Manarola, you can later reach Riomaggiore, passing along the most famous pathway of Cinque Terre, Via dell’Amore (the love pathway) partly carved in the cliffs facing the sea. (It takes about 20-30 minutes). The main street of this last little village is a covered brook, the Rivus Maior, which gave the village its name. Visit of a country estate to learn the techniques of the terrace cultivation of grapes and of the wine production (Cinque Terre and Cinque Terre Sciacchetrà). Tasting and dinner with a seasonal menu in a restaurant in La Spezia. In the late evening, return to Santa Margherita Ligure.
6th day: Breakfast at the hotel and departure for Genoa for a guided visit of the historical centre, the best example of entirely preserved Medieval town in Europe and in the Mediterranean area. You will start from Banchi Square that has always been the heart of the commercial Genoa. You’ll then take Via Orefici and walk through the narrow carrugi (typical streets of Liguria) to reach the Spinola House, the seat of the National Gallery of Liguria. Passing through Via Cairoli, on the right of which you’ll see the suggestive Meridiana Square, you’ll arrive in the splendid via Garibaldi. Once called Strada Nuova, it’s one of the most monumental streets in Italy and Europe, with two important city museums and many noble palaces. Following relax time and lunch on your own in Piazza De Ferrari, the true heart of Genoa with the De Ferrari Palace and the Palazzo Ducale (the Ducal Palace). We suggest to taste the excellent genoese focaccia (oily bread) or the farinata (a unique focaccia made out of chickpea flour melt with water, salt and olive oil and baked in a wood-burning oven). In the early afternoon, you’ll visit the most ancient area of Genoa, the original castrum romano once situated on the hill dominating the port. You’ll easily admire the Embrici Tower, the oldest jewel in town. Short walk towards the sea till Cavour Square, where you can admire remains of ancient medieval and Renaissance buildings. We’ll then descend to the historic port. Thanks to the work of the architect Renzo Piano, the quays of the historic port in Genoa have been transformed into a large and picturesque area with the Bigo, symbol of the port, the Technological Piano’s Bolla (a Biosphere) with the botanical garden inside, the Felice Ippolito National Antarctic Museum. Facultative visits to the Sea and Navigation Pavilion inside the Magazzini del Cotone or to the Aquarium of Ponte Spinola, one of the most important aquarium in the world. Free time at disposal before the aperitif at a bar and sea dinner at the port with fresh fish and local DOC wines such as Vermentino and Pigato. Return to the hotel in Santa Margherita Ligure.
7th day: After breakfast, excursion by boat towards the San Fruttuoso Bay. A deep inlet along the indented coastline of the Promontory of Portofino hosts the famous Abbey of San Fruttuoso di Capodimonte in the intact fishing village with the same name. After its initial monastic use, the complex at San Fruttuoso di Capodimonte was a humble home for fishermen but has been then restored to its original beauty by the Italian environmental organization FAI. Light lunch in a typical restaurant. We’ll then proceed towards the Liguria fascinating village of Portofino, a real jewel and an absolutely unique place where the work of men integrates perfectly with nature. It has been declared part of the World Human Heritage by Unesco. Portofino is a picturesque, half-moon shaped seaside village with pastel houses lining the shore of the harbour. Worth a visit is the little piazzetta where the tradition of lace-pillow mix together with the elegance of the surrounding buildings. You can walk till the lighthouse and then reach the medieval Brown Castle, that has a nice garden and affords great views of Portofino and the Tigullio Gulf. In a panoramic position on the way to the castle, you can also visit San Giorgio Church. Dinner in a local restaurant with sea dishes and return to the hotel by boat.
8th day: Breakfast at the hotel, check-out and departure of guests for Tuscany with en-route stop in Lucca, land of the famous compositor and musician Giacomo Puccini, for a walking tour on its well preserved XVI century town walls (Lucca is indeed the only town in Italy entirely surrounded by walls) and through the historical centre. You can also climb up the Guinigi Tower to enjoy a wonderful sight on the whole town. Light lunch in a typical restaurant. In the afternoon, departure for Siena, arrival at the hotel, accommodation of guests and relaxing time before welcome Tuscan dinner with a seasonal menu.
9th day: Breakfast at the hotel and excursion towards the Orcia Valley, to the South, for a first visit to Montepulciano: walking tour through the historical centre to visit an artisan specialized in creating copper artefacts and a wine cellars, to discover and taste some of the most renowned Tuscan red wines, such as the “Rosso di Montepulciano” and the “Nobile di Montepulciano”. Lunch on your own. In the afternoon, you’ll proceed to Montalcino, the little village where one the most important wine in the world is produced: Brunello di Montalcino. Visit of a famous winery with tasting of Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino. Return to the hotel in Siena with stop for dinner in a typical restaurant.
10th day: Breakfast and morning cooking lesson to learn to prepare some dishes of a seasonal menu. Tasting of the prepared menu. In the afternoon, walk through Siena, land of the Palio horse race, and free time at disposal of guests. In late afternoon, visit of the Enoteca Italiana, inside Medici Fortress to enter the world of wines and taste a light dinner together with Tuscan wines. Return to the hotel.
11th day: Breakfast and departure for San Gimignano in the Elsa Valley, for a visit and wine tasting at a local winery. Tour of the “town of towers” and free time at disposal for lunch on your own. In the afternoon you’ll proceed towards Volterra, a nice medieval town, all surrounded by the XIII century town walls, that boasts beautiful monuments: Piazza dei Priori Square, Volterra’s heart, the medieval palace Palazzo dei Priori, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, built in 7th and 8th centuries in Romanesque style, the Baptisterium of S.Giovanni. Visit of the Ecomuseo dell’Alabastro (Alabaster Eco-Museum) inside Minucci Tower: Volterra is indeed the land of alabaster, an artistic craft that boasts a centuries-old history and a nobility of traditions that can be also felt in every corner of the town. Visit of one of the characteristic workshop of the centre where it is possible to find great or small masterpieces created by expert hands with this precious and luminous stone, already carved by the Etruscan craftsmen to obtain urns to keep the ashes of their dead. In the evening return to Siena, with stop in Chianti area for goodbye dinner with typical menu.
12th day: Breakfast at the hotel, check-out and departure of guests for Umbria with en-route stop for the visit to the Fisherman’s Museum of Trasimeno Lake and a walk by the lake before light lunch with typical products (olive oil, “fagiolina” a typical little bean of the lake, eels and local wines).
Option: Stop in Chiana Valley, for the visit of a “Chianina” beef and “Cinta Senese” farm followed by a visit of the meat processing centre. Thematic light lunch with cheese and typical deli meats.
In the afternoon departure for Perugia, arrival at the hotel, accommodation of guests and relax before the welcome dinner with a seasonal menu.
13th day: Breakfast in the hotel and morning guided visit to Perugia, one of the most important town in central Italy. Perugia was a very important Etruscan town and this is still visible in many monuments such as the Etruscan Arch, the Etruscan well and the Porta Marzia, one of the Etruscan city gates. Heart of the upper part of Perugia is Palazzo dei Priori, the town hall that grew from a modest foundation between the end of the XIII and the beginning of the XIV centuries. It’s one of the most important and imposing example of the Italian Middle Ages. The main portal with a monumental staircase, facing Piazza IV Novembre, leads to the Sala dei Notari. We can admire two levels of three-light windows and a wonderful gothic portal enriched with the statue of the three patron saints: Sant'Ercolano, San Costanzo and San Lorenzo. The Palazzo dei Priori houses on the ground floor the Collegio del Cambio and the Collegio della Mercanzia and on the third floor the National Gallery of Umbria. Near Palazzo dei Priori, the Fontana Maggiore can be found. This represents a 13th century masterpiece and was carved by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, together with Fra’ Bevignate da Cingoli. Time at disposal for lunch and, after a short visit to the Paolina Fortress you’ll depart for Torgiano to visit the Museum of Wine and Olive Oil and a renowned wine cellar and following dinner with typical Umbrian dishes together with the company’s wines. Return to the hotel.
14th day: Breakfast and excursion to Spello, on the lower southern flank of Subasio Mountain, whose particular calcareous rock has been used through centuries to build the most important houses and buildings of this town, by giving its historical centre a particular pink aspect. You’ll start to admire a mosaic of a Roman patrician house that has been recently found in town, to proceed then through one of the most ancient and characteristic streets of the centre, the Roman Iulia Hispellum, passing through Porta di Venere, flanked by two imposing ramparts and reaching Porta Consolare, part of the town walls, the Roman amphitheatre and the acropolis, belvedere of Spello. Visit of the famous Capella Baglioni (frescoed in 1501 and dedicated to Baglioni family that ruled in Spello in the XIV-XV centuries) in Santa Maria Maggiore Church, that is the location of one of Pinturicchio painter’s most impressive masterpieces. Palazzo dei Canonici is near the church and was built in 1552 and houses the Pinacoteca Civica. Palazzo Cruciali is today the Town Palace. The narrow streets of the centre are always coloured with the multicoloured paintings by famous local artists that open their laboratories to tourists so that they can appreciate their original art, deeply linked to the spirit of the town. Lunch at a local farm with a typical seasonal menu and DOC wines. Facultative visit of the company wine cellars. Afternoon departure for Assisi for the visit of the renowned Basilica of San Francesco. On the way back to the hotel, stop in a typical restaurant for goodbye dinner with local dishes and wines.
15th day: Breakfast, check-out and departure of guests for Emilia with en-route stop in Arezzo for a visit of the town and its village. Lunch on your own. Afternoon departure for Bologna, with arrival at the hotel in late afternoon, accommodation of guests and free time at disposal for a short walk in town to admire some of its famous monuments such as the Basilica di San Petronio and the Palazzo del Podestà, the Garisenda and Asinelli towers, Neptune’s Fountain. Welcome dinner in a restaurant of the town.
16th day: Breakfast at the hotel and morning excursion to Modena for a guided visit of the historical centre with the Cathedral (world heritage site by UNESCO), Palazzo Ducale, Galleria Estense, Piazza Grande and the famous leaning bell tour known as the “Ghirlandina”, now symbol of the town. Later transfer to a local “acetaia” (an establishment where the renowned balsamic vinegar is produced) to discover the tradition, rules and ageing techniques of this gourmet jewel; tasting and light lunch in the acetaia. In the afternoon, stop in Maranello, for a surprising tour of the Galleria Ferrari with the possibility to see old Formula 1 cars and buy Ferrari Gift. Following stop in Savignano sul Panaro to enter the world of the production and seasoning of raw ham, one of the most important brand in the area, tasting. Return to the hotel in Bologna and free time till evening for dinner on your own.
17th day: Breakfast and departure for a guided tour of Parma to admire its monuments: the beautiful medieval Cathedral Square with the Vescovado and the magnificent octagonal Baptistery, the Central Garibaldi Square with Orologio Tower, Palazzo del Governatore, the 17th century town hall, the neo-classical Royal and the Farnese Theatres, the monument in honour of the composer Verdi. Lunch on your own. In the early afternoon you’ll enter in the world of the most exported and famous Italian cheese, the “Parmigiano Reggiano”, with visit of the Parmesan Cheese Museum and a cheese factory, with an explanation of the secrets of production and seasoning; tasting. Return to Bologna with stop in a country-inn for dinner.
18th day: Breakfast and excursion to Dozza, to visit this picturesque town. Every two years internationally known artists meet here to "decorate" the streets and houses of the city centre. This initiative has made Dozza "the capital of the modern fresco". The "Painted Wall" is Italy's only example of an open-air modern art gallery and contains more than 90 works. In the ancient wine cellars of the “Rocca Sforzesca”, you’ll then visit the main office of the Enoteca Regionale of Emilia Romagna. Tasting of typical wines. Lunch on your own. In the afternoon, you will visit Faenza, noted for its manufacture of majolica ware glazed earthenware pottery. Visit of one of the world’s most beautiful and complete art collections: the International Museum of Ceramics that houses interesting pieces from all over the world and from every epoch. Transfer in the evening to one of the wine cellar along the Strada dei Vini e dei Sapori Colli di Imola, for goodbye dinner. Return to the hotel in Bologna.
19th day: Breakfast, check-out and departure of guests for Venice with en-route stop in Padua, to admire the monuments of this wonderful town: the Piazza del Santo, the Basilica di Sant’Antonio and Donatello’s equestrian monument of Erasmo da Narni, called Gattamelata (The imposing bronze equestrian statue of the Paduan condottiere Erasmo da Narni (ca. 1370-1443), the "Gattamelata" (speckled cat) who led Venetian forces to victory in the Milanese wars, stands on a high pedestal before the Basilica of Sant'Antonio). We’ll then proceed to Prato della Valle. (That is a 90,000 square meter elliptical square. It is the largest square in Italy, and one of the largest in Europe. The square today is a monumental space of extraordinary visual impact, with a green island at the center, the Isola Memmia, surrounded by a small canal bordered by two rings of statues, that represent some famous characters such as Petrarca, Mantegna, Galilei, Canova, all linked to historical events of the town . Free time for lunch. In the afternoon we’ll proceed towards Venice. Arrival at the hotel, accommodation of guests and welcome dinner.
20th day: Breakfast and guided tour with a competent local guide through the calles (typical street of Venice) and the artisan shops of Venice, in San Marco Square and on the Rialto bridge, looking for its typical and elaborate products. Light lunch in a typical trattoria. In the afternoon, excursion by boat to Murano, in Venetian Lagoon, to admire the artisan workshop and quality glass masterpieces of a famous local glassmaker. We’ll continue with the visit to the pretty fishermen’s village of Burano, also known for its small, brightly-painted houses, popular with artists. Possible stop to the interesting Museum and School of Lacemaking. In the evening return by boat to Venice and dinner on your own.
21st day: Breakfast and entire day at disposal for shopping, a private gondola ride on Gran Canal (the elegant black boat that has become the well known symbol of Venice) or personal excursions/visits in the wonderful scenery of Venice, city of water and bridges till evening, with return to the hotel before the goodbye dinner in a renowned restaurant.
Facultative excursion: Breakfast and departure for Treviso, guided visit to this little and charming town, all surrounded by the Sile river, the many water canals and the XVI century town wall. Passing through Ponte Dante, it’s possible to admire the meeting point between the two rivers Sile and Cagnan. We’ll then admire
the medieval Piazza dei Signori, heart of the town with its splendid buildings: Palazzo dei Trecento, Palazzo della Prefettura with the civic tower and Palazzo del Podestà. We’ll proceed towards the so called “little Vatican city”, with important religious monuments: San Giovanni baptistery, San Peter’s Cathedral with the valuable art pieces such as the renowned Annunciazione by the painter Tiziano. Free time for light lunch in a wine bar or a restaurant of the centre to taste the typical cichèti (appetizers) or seasonal dishes. We’ll admire the so called Buranelli, suggestive water canals where the fish dealers coming from Burano lived in the past. Return to Venice in the afternoon for free time at disposal till evening. Goodbye dinner in a renowned restaurant.
22nd day: Breakfast, check-out and departure of guests for the airport. End of the tour.