Highlights include Italian Lake Region, Italian Riviera, Pisa, Florence, Italian Cooking Class, Siena, San Gimignano, Wine Tasting, Venice and more.|
Day #1 Overnight Flight - From the romantic canals of Venice and the rolling Tuscan hills, to the relaxed ambiance of the Riviera and the majestic Italian lake region, experience the richness of Italian art, culture, food and fine wine.
Day #2 Venice, Italy - Tour Begins - Your tour begins in the truly unique city of Venice, built on 117 islands with 150 canals and 400 bridges. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a welcome dinner, a wonderful opportunity to get to know your fellow travelers.
Day #3 Venice - This morning enjoy a boat trip* (weather permitting) to Murano Island for a fascinating glass-blowing demonstration. Return to charming St. Mark’s Square, the hub of Venetian city life. A local expert will take you on a walking tour featuring the Clock Tower with its famous Moors, St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, and the legendary Bridge of Sighs.
Day #4 Venice - Bologna - Cortona - LANGUAGE DISCOVERY: Today your Tour Manager will help you discover the origin and history of the Italian language you will experience on your tour along with key words and phrases that will help you communicate with the locals. En route to Cortona, stop in Bologna, rich in history and culinary tradition and surrounded by hills. The center of this city is virtually untouched since the Renaissance. Enjoy a guided walking tour of the historic center, including its historic buildings and specialty food shops, where you may have the opportunity to sample some of their wares. Your day ends in the Etruscan town of Cortona, in a villa tucked away in the uniquely beautiful Tuscan countryside, where you will enjoy a relaxing four-night stay. This evening’s dinner will allow you to sample delicious Tuscan cuisine in one of medieval Cortona’s typical locandas.
Day #5 Cortona - Florence - Cortona - Spend time exploring Florence, the cradle of Italy's Renaissance. Start your morning with a walk through the local market and learn about some of the fresh ingredients used in Tuscan recipes. Then a walking tour highlights the city’s treasures and monuments, including the Piazza del Duomo, center of religious life in medieval Florence, and Piazza della Signoria with its many sculptures. Visit the Museo della Casa Fiorentina Antica, housed in the 14th century Palazzo Davanzati, to experience medieval Florentine life. Take time to explore independently before returning to Cortona.
Day #6 Cortona - Siena - San Gimignano - Cortona - Today, travel to the rose-hued medieval city of Siena. Join a local expert for a walking tour through narrow Gothic streets and visit the dramatic cathedral. You will next arrive at the hilltop town of San Gimignano, punctuated by tall medieval towers, affording spectacular views of the Tuscan hills below.
Day #7 Cortona - Tuscan Countryside - Cortona - Today you will visit a winery in the heart of Tuscany. Upon arrival, enjoy a visit to the wine cellar, family estate and beautiful grounds submersed in vineyards, olive groves and stunning views. Next, meet the winery’s own chef for a lesson on Tuscan cooking. Afterwards, enjoy your authentic Tuscan lunch, expertly paired with the wines produced on site. Upon your return to the villa this afternoon, you are at leisure to relax or perhaps enjoy a leisurely stroll through the villa’s beautiful park or partake in one of their spa services.
Day #8 Cortona - Lucca - Italian Riviera - Begin your journey with a drive to the city of Lucca, one of Tuscany’s hidden gems. Encircled by 16th century Renaissance walls originally built to defend the town, Lucca’s charming piazza is nestled in the center. Enjoy a walking tour with a local expert and visit the 14th century Cathedral of San Martino, Lucca’s medieval streets, Piazza S. Michele in Foro and Piazza Napoleone.
Day #9 Italian Riviera - Portofino - Cinque Terre - Italian Riviera - This morning, head to the lovely seaside town of Santa Margherita Ligure and join us on a scenic boat ride** to the glamorous town of Portofino. Known as a getaway for the wealthy, the town’s colorful harbor has fishing boats dotted amongst mega yachts against a backdrop of Cypress trees and pastel-colored buildings. Next, continue your travels to the lovely Cinque Terre. Board a train for a spectacular journey through the villages of Cinque Terre. This rugged coastal area is an Italian treasure with terraced vineyards and a nearly inaccessible string of fishing villages tucked between the mountains and the azure beauty of the Mediterranean. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon exploring these magical villages at leisure.
Day #10 Italian Riviera - Orta - Stresa - Depart Italy’s Riviera for one of the most picturesque spots of northern Italy, the Italian Lake District. En route, stop at Lake Orta, one of Italy’s hidden treasures. Upon arrival you will take a boat ride to Isola di San Giulio where you will walk the grounds of this gorgeous and still working convent. Take time to experience this enchanting lakeside resort with its many outdoor cafes and shops before continuing on to Stresa.
Day #11 Stresa - Lago Maggiore - Locarno, Switzerland - Stresa - This morning, travel on the breathtaking Centovalli Express Train. This train offers you an unforgettable journey across one of the most wild and scenic areas in the region, as you travel through the mountains and cross the border into Switzerland to visit the town of Locarno. This lovely old town has a glorious location…it is nestled on a sweeping curve of the bay and is known for having the most sunshine of anywhere in Switzerland! Return to Stresa, where the evening is at leisure to experience the best of this picturesque region. Explore the piazzas of the town center with flower lined alleys, cobblestone streets, lakeside promenades and historic buildings boasting Renaissance facades. Take a boat ride to your farewell dinner on Isola dei Pescatori.
Day #12 Stresa - Depart for Home - Your tour ends today in Stresa.