Enjoy northern Italy on this delightful tour that includes an overnight in Milan and Lake Maggiore as well as five overnights in Salsomaggiore. You’ll have time in Salsomaggiore to explore this charming town with its café-lined pedestrian streets and beautiful public park. From here, enjoy excursions to the San Vitale Castle in Fontanellato, an enchanting, moat-lined medieval fortress; Parma, where you’ll have a walking orientation tour; and Cinque Terre, with its beautiful, rugged cliffs and romantic fishing villages. On the way to Lake Maggiore, where your northern Italy vacation ends, stop in Pavia and Vigevano, where you’ll see its castle and arcades.
Day #1 Arrive in Milan, Italy. Check into your hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to see some of Milan. Tonight, meet your Tour Director and fellow travelers.
Day #2 Milan–Salsomaggiore. Morning guided sightseeing in Milan, with the opportunity to visit the great Duomo. Later, drive through the Lombardy plain and across the River Po to Salsomaggiore Terme. Enjoy an introductory walking tour of this charming town, exploring its handsome architecture, café-lined pedestrian streets, and beautiful public park. Visit its best-known landmark—the ornate Terme Berzeri spa house, an extraordinary example of liberty-style architecture and protected as a national monument. (B,D)
Day #3 Salsomaggiore. Enjoy a whole day at leisure to explore at your own pace or to join an optional excursion to Mantova. (B,D)
Day #4 Salsomaggiore. Excursion to Castles of the Duchy & Parma. First stop today is San Vitale Castle at Fontanellato, an enchanting, moat-ringed medieval fortress. The castle is celebrated for its masterpiece by Parmigianino—a ceiling fresco depicting the myth of Diana and Actaeon. Next, visit the Meli Lupi fortress of Soragna and admire the castle’s lavish baroque frescoes, paintings, and furnishings. From here, continue to the fascinating Museum of Parmigiano Reggiano, turned famous with the export of its Parmesan cheese. Taste this local specialty before continuing to Parma. The visit includes a walking orientation featuring the Duomo with its famous frescoes by Correggio, San Giovanni Evangelista Church, and the Romanesque Baptistry. (B,D)
Day #5 Salsomaggiore. Excursion to Cinque Terre. Enjoy wonderful scenery as you cross the Apennines to La Spezia, a small city with a rich naval heritage. Take a short train ride from La Spezia to the villages, where you will enjoy spectacular views of the Cinque Terre region, where the beauty of the rugged cliffs and romantic fishing villages once inspired Lord Byron. If you wish, you can walk along the famous Sentiero dell’Amore (Love Path), a breathtakingly beautiful trail carved into the rocks that affords dramatic sea views. (B,D)
Day #6 Salsomaggiore. Another day to either rest or enjoy charming Salsomaggiore. Why not stroll along its tree-lined avenues or take advantage of some of the renowned wellness treatments for which the city is famous? Alternatively, join our optional excursion to Bologna. (B,D)
Day #7 Salsomaggiore–Pavia–Vigevano–Lake Maggiore. Leave Salsomaggiore this morning and head toward the Lake Maggiore area. En route, visit two more pearls of Italy’s cultural heritage. First stop is Pavia, the Roman “Ticinum” and, from the 6th century, capital of the Lombard kings. Then, on to Vigevano to admire beautiful Piazza Ducale—its castle and arcades still preserve remains of early renaissance decorations. Arrive in the scenic area of Lake Maggiore for an overnight. (B,D)
Day #8 Lake Maggiore. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning (the nearest airport is Milan Malpensa). (B)