Eternal Italy (14 days)

venice-rialto-bridge

(Departures September & October)
Italy is eternal. Rome, the capital of Italy, has for centuries been a political and religious center of Western civilization as the capital of the Roman Empire and site of the Holy See but Italy’s history dates back much farther than that. Etruscan culture developed in Italy around 800 BC and was later influenced by Greek traders in the 7th century encompassing what we today call “Italia”. Cruise the Lake Orta to the small island of Isola Bella. Discover Bergamo Alta surrounded by 17th century Venetian walls and Verona. Sail the Grand Canal of Venice and sample Balsamic vinegar in Emilia. Eternal Italy is a taste of Italy’s well preserved heritage.
Photo courtesy of Gate 1 Travel

Day 1, Monday – Depart the USA
Depart the USA for Italy. Your overnight flight includes meals, drinks, and in-flight entertainment for the journey

Day 2, Tuesday – Arrive Milan/Transfer to Stresa
Upon arrival in Milan, Italy, we transfer to Stresa, an exclusive resort town on the spectacular Lake Maggiore. Gather later with your Tour Manager for an orientation of your upcoming journey, followed by a welcome cocktail and dinner

Overnight: Grand Hotel Bristol, Stresa
Meals: Dinner

Day 3, Wednesday – Cruise Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta Islands
Cruise to Isola Bella this morning to tour the grounds of the Palazzo Borromeo*. The history on this small island is palpable; this was long the home of the Borromeo family, who acquired several of these magical islands in the early 1500s. There’ll be time to see its lovely Italianate gardens, its famed white peacocks, and of course the elegant palace that Carlo III built for his wife Isabela. Continue to quaint Isola dei Pescatori, or Fishermen’s Island. Its year-round population hovers around 30. We’ll explore its delightful cobbled lanes and pause for a delicious lakeside lunch.

*Please note: On winter departures, the Palazzo Borromeo is closed and we will visit an alternate site.

This afternoon, visit Lake Orta and historic San Giulio. This hull-shaped island is home to a Benedictine monastery and a marvelous basilica.

Tonight is free to explore Stresa on your own.

Overnight: Grand Hotel Bristol, Stresa
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4, Thursday – Discover Bergamo Alta / Tour Verona
After breakfast, we set out for Verona. En route, stop in Bergamo Alta, a unique and scenic hill town surrounded by incredibly preserved 17th-century Venetian walls. A local guide shows us around and gives us insight into its beautiful Piazza Vecchia and its Cotanini Fountain; the soaring Duomo and its Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore; and the lovely Colleoni Chapel. Continue to Verona, and enjoy a guided orientation tour of the city followed by free time to savor the atmosphere here.

This evening is free for you to make your own discoveries.

Overnight: Hotel Bologna, Verona
Meals: Breakfast

Day 5, Friday – Visit Villa Pisani/Explore Treviso
Today we stop to explore one of Italy’s architectural and cultural gems, the extravagant Villa Pisani. The 18th-century palace was built for a doge and kept in his family until Napoleon acquired it in 1807. With 114 rooms, it is one of Italy’s most magnificent Palladian villas, adorned with canals, statuary, and art from the 18th and 19th centuries. There’ll be time to explore the gardens, maze, orangery, and small woodland. We settle in at our hotel and take in charming Treviso on a walking tour and later enjoy a typical Venetian aperitif.

Overnight: Villa Contarini Nenzi Hotel & Spa
Meals: Breakfast

Day 6, Saturday – Discover Venice
Today, we explore romantic Venice, a graceful tableau of canals and bridges. Sailing the magnificent Grand Canal, we’ll have a classic view of the Venetian villas that hug its banks. Our walking tour includes the Rialto Bridge, St. Mark’s Square and its golden basilica, and the Bridge of Sighs. We also browse the food market, where you can sample baicoli or bussolai, two Venetian cookies. Farmers, bakers, and artisans of pottery and glass set up shop here to tempt you with their wares. Our visit provides an enriching way to glimpse the daily life of this ancient city.

After lunch on your own, you’ll have ample time to explore on your own.

Overnight: Villa Contarini Nenzi Hotel & Spa
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7, Sunday – Sample Balsamic Vinegar in Emilia/Continue to Parma
Our journey continues through the region of Emilia. This province is world-renowned for its balsamic vinegar. Its aging process – a minimum of 12 years – results in deep-brown, sweet-and-sour vinegar with hints of wood flavors from its casks. You’ll learn how seriously the locals take their balsamic when we stop for lunch here, accented with rich drizzles of this exquisite elixir. We continue to Parma, home to another Italian delicacy – Parmesan cheese. We’ll tour this city with a guide by foot, stopping to view the octagonal baptistery and its painted ceiling; the cathedral; and the Renaissance Basilica of Santa Maria della Steccata

Overnight: Starhotel Du Parc, Parma
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8, Monday – Visit Giuseppe Verdi Museum & San Vitale Fortress
This morning, we visit Busseto, the hometown of Guiseppe Verdi. The famed 19th-century opera composer found inspiration in this quiet village. The Villa Pallavicino houses a museum dedicated to the artist and his work, with ample opportunity to hear some of his most famous arias.

Later, in Fontanellato on the plains of the Po River, savor a lunch of local ingredients. Then stop by the 13th-century Fortress of San Vitale, home of the descendants of the Count of San Vitale until the 1930s. During our guided visit of this castle-residence, we admire its original furnishings, portraits of the family, and frescoes of the 16th-century painter Parmigianino. There’ll be time to stroll its gardens and view the optical chamber, which projects an image of the surrounding town onto a wall through the ingenious use of mirrors and a prism.

Enjoy free time late this afternoon to explore more on your own and find an ideal spot for dinner. Perhaps you’ll sample some local specialties created here: prosciutto di Parma or a stuffed pasta dish like tortelli d’erbetta or anolini in brodo

Overnight: Starhotel Du Parc, Parma
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 9, Tuesday – Journey through Tuscany to Cortona
Today’s drive takes us south into the soft and lilting countryside of Tuscany, renowned for its sun-washed vineyards and magnificent wines. There is no mistaking its majestic hill towns as authentically Tuscan, and we’ll be sure to visit some of them during our stay in the region. We arrive at our next accommodation, Villa di Piazzano, with time to relax and perhaps enjoy a cocktail before dinner. Enjoy its manicured gardens, swim in the pool, or sip a drink on the terrace

Overnight: Villa di Piazzano, Cortona
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 10, Wednesday – Explore Cortona
After a free morning enjoying our villa’s amenities, join our afternoon tour of Cortona, the glorious setting for Under the Tuscan Sun. One legend has it that the son of Noah built this city 273 years after the Great Flood. We’ll see the main square and explore the Etruscan Museum in the Palazzo Casali. Its collections span Egyptian, Etruscan, Roman, and Renaissance artifacts. Tonight, we take our dinner at our villa
Optional: Italian Cooking Lesson (AM)

Overnight: Villa di Piazzano, Cortona
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 11, Thursday – Discover Siena/Enjoy Wine Tasting / Continue to Lucca
Discover one of Tuscany’s most stunning medieval hill towns today – Siena. This is one of the most beautifully preserved medieval cities in the world. Palazzos line its streets and in the grand Piazza del Campo, horse hooves echo from the twice-annual Palio horse race that pits local districts against each other. We’ll enjoy a guided tour, featuring the campanile and duomo. We then journey into the heart of Tuscany and stop at a wine estate for a tasting and a delicious dinner of local ingredients in a sumptuous locale. Afterward, we continue to Lucca.

Overnight: Ilaria Hotel, Lucca
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 12, Friday – Explore Lucca
Lucca’s imposing city walls are a sight to behold. And the city within is a true Tuscan gem. We explore its alleyways and churches with a local guide, stopping at the Piazza San Michele, once the seat of the Roman Forum; the city’s remarkable amphitheater ruins in the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro; and the elegant Palazzo Mansi, whose simple exterior hides a flush of wealth inside overseen by the ghost of Lucida Mansi at the full moon. This afternoon, explore at your leisure – perhaps by bicycle, provided at our hotel

Overnight: Ilaria Hotel, Lucca
Meals: Breakfast

Day 13, Saturday – Discover Cinque Terre
We venture today to the Ligurian Sea and Cinque Terre, or Five Towns. Over centuries, residents have built terrace upon terrace from the rugged coast up the slopes here. Now, each of these breathtaking, multi-hued villages seems suspended between sea and shore. So spectacular and genuine are they today, the five villages and their hillsides are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our farewell dinner tonight is at a local restaurant

Overnight: Ilaria Hotel, Lucca
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 14, Sunday – Depart for the USA
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home

Meals: Breakfast

Cost from $3999.00 per person, land only
Based on twin share accommodations

CALL NOW to BOOK 415-331-3791