Our signature tour of NW Italy for those who truly appreciate good food, good wine and natural and man-made wonders in a friendly and relaxed small group environment!
"For lovers of good food and wine- this is the tour for you." Mark
2017 June 8th - June 22nd & Aug 17th - Aug 31st
2018 May 17th - May 31st / May 31st - June 14th & Oct 4th - Oct 18th
Tour cost – AUD $6,250.00 per person,twin share,
(AUD$400.00 Single Supplement).
Are you looking for a small group tour of Italy? Do you love great food and great wine? Are you exalted by gorgeous views? If your are then this is the tour for you! Experience Lombardy and Piedmont from the high Alps to the fertile plains and valleys. Tick off the beautiful Lake Como from your bucket list. Stay in unique 'Agriturismi' or farm stays. Learn to make the local pasta of the Valtellina and go on a truffle hunt in Piedmont. Experience the local wines of the Barolo, Oltrepo' Pavese, Gavi and Valtellina wine regions and immerse yourself in the local foods of these delightful regions!
Lake Como and Lake Maggiore (Bellagio, Varenna, Stresa and Isola Bella) - The stunning Bernina Express train ride from Italy to St Moritz - Milan - Western Europe’s largest Designer shopping outlet - Visits to Barolo, Gavi, Valtellina, and Oltrepo' Pavese wine regions and many more hidden delights!
Day One – (Arrival Day and La Valtellina - Apple orchards, vineyards and beautiful mountains as far as the eye can see!)
Voghera/Malpensa - Varenna - La Valtellina
You will be met by Jim at the Voghera train station between 11 and 11.30am, or alternatively at Milan’s Malpensa Airport between 12.30 and 1pm. We then head up to the area in the northern most part of Lombardy known as La Valtellina. Spectacularly located in a very picturesque valley, La Valtellina shares the border with Switzerland. Along the way guests will have a break in the charming town of Varenna, on the eastern shore of Lake Como. We then head to the Valtellina, where our cosy farmhouse awaits us! After our arrival, and once you have settled in, you have the opportunity to relax amidst the apple orchards and vineyards at our residence, the “Al Vecchio Torchio (The Old Wine Press)”. Tonight's dinner is at the “Al Vecchio Torchio”.
Day Two – (“Il Trenino Rosso”, St Moritz, Livigno and Casalinga Cooking Class - “I Pizzocheri”)
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St Moritz, Switzerland – Livigno – Tirano
Today is a very special day indeed. Don't forget your passports because early this morning you will depart from Tirano on the Trenino Rosso for a day out in the Swiss Alps! Enjoy the magnificent views of the mountains as the “little red train” meanders through a multitude of valleys and passes, and climbs up to a height of 2252 meters above sea level! It is truly one of the most spectacular train rides that exists today. Spend a couple of hours in St Moritz enjoying the lakeside ambience that this classic Swiss mountain resort has to offer, and we then move on to the scenic Italian tax free town of Livigno, where you can buy sunglasses watches and a whole range of items at pretty good prices! After our day out we spend the evening at Al Vecchio Torchio with the establishment's chef, Vittorio, as we learn and help him to prepare our evening's dinner, the famous local dish - Pizzocheri (a tasty pasta dish unique to this area comprised of Grano Saraceno (Buck Wheat) pasta, potatoes, and a hearty mix of cabbage, sage, butter and the local Casera cheese. We will later enjoy the fruits of our labour over a relaxing evening's meal once all the hard work in the kitchen is done!
Day Three – (Tirano and Sondrio)
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Tirano - Sondrio – Al Vecchio Torchio
Today is our last full day in the beautiful Valtellina. In the mid morning we will be visiting the rustic town of Tirano. The morning is free here, but our suggestion would be to visit the lovely Palazzo Salis, with its highly decorated rooms and lovely garden. For our provided lunch we will be dining in a restaurant located in the old town. After lunch we will have a rest at Al Vecchio Torchio, before moving on to Sondrio, an elegant nearby provincial city. After this excursion we return to Al Vecchio Torchio for a free evening in preparation for our day out on Lake Como tomorrow.
Day Four – (Lake Como Day)
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Lake Como – Menaggio, Bellagio and the Majesty of Italy’s most beautiful lake! (Private Lake Tour also available)
Today we once again visit Lake Como, one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe and a place described by the poet Percy Shelley, as ”surpassing in beauty everything I have ever seen hitherto”. Amongst the famous people to grace the shores of the lake, both past and present, are George Clooney, Gianni Versace and Pliny the Younger in the first century AD! The day is spent in the Triangolo Lariano, or the central section of the lake in the towns of Menaggio and Bellagio, where, after your ferry crossing, you can enjoy a free lunch in one of the many eateries in Bellagio beside the Lake. Upon our return to Al Vecchio Torchio we enjoy our provided dinner together.
Day Five – (Lake Maggiore and Piedmont)
Stresa - Monferrato, Piedmont
Today we depart La Valtellina to begin the next leg of our tour - Piedmont. Before we reach our lodging, which is deep in the heart of Piedmont's wine country, we break for a free lunch in the gorgeous lakeside town of Stresa, on the shores of Lake Maggiore. After lunch we head off to the classic wine region of Piedmont for our next few days together where a host of gastronomic delights await us! Upon arrival at our charming lodging, La Quercia Rossa in Moncalvo, guests will have the opportunity to enjoy a free and very relaxing evening.
Day Six – (“Eataly” the home of Italian Gourmet food and Turin -
The King's capital)
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Eataly – Turin (optional walking tour) - Moncalvo
Today we pay a visit to a truly inspirational monument to the Slow Food movement in Italy and around the world– Eataly. The overriding aim of Eataly is to quash the myth that quality products need to be expensive and hence available to only a limited circle of privileged people. Eataly offers the best cottage-industry products at sustainable prices by dealing directly with the producers. Its main aim is to increase the awareness of consumers so that we can choose high quality products and pay particular attention to the source and processing of raw materials. Guests will have a free lunch at one of Eataly's 8 different restaurants before departing for an early afternoon visit to central Turin, where the majesty of Italy's first capital city (after its unification in 1861) awaits us! An optional walking tour of Turin is also available to guests, and our provided evening meal will be enjoyed either in Moncalvo or at La Quercia Rossa.
Day Seven – (Barolo wine country day and optional Truffle Hunt!)
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Barolo Wine Region – Alba - Moncalvo
Today we pay a morning visit to the township of Barolo, which is the home of its namesake and arguably Italy's most famous wine – Barolo, made from the local nebbiolo grape variety. After our visit to Barolo we will enjoy a cellar visit and tasting at a nearby winery owned by the Ceretto family. The Ceretto wine brand has been managed by the Ceretto family for three generations. Its business mission for more than seventy years has been to strive for excellence in wine and to be an international ambassador of Piedmont and Italy. After we have visited the company's Monsordo Bernadina vineyard and winery, the evidence of this will become all too clear, as we see the beautiful and most impressive complex at one of Ceretto's flagship wineries. Guests will then have the opportunity to sample some of their delicious wines with lunch prepared at La Piola, Ceretto's restaurant located right in the heart of Alba, the home of the White Truffle! Speaking of truffles, today you also have the option of joining Jim on an optional truffle hunt in Moncalvo upon your return to our lodging!
Day Eight – (Transition and Rest and Relax Day)
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San Sebastiano Al Curone
Today we leave La Quercia Rossa to head to the beautiful Val Curone where we spend our last 8 days of the tour together. Relax and pack your clothes away in the wardrobes because you won't be leaving here until Day 15 of the tour! In the evening we head off for dinner at a local eatery with a menu composed of both national and local dishes.
Day Nine – (Market and Shopping Extravaganza Day!)
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Varzi – Piedmont (Serravalle/Walk and Villa Sparina Winery-Gavi)
Today we start off by relaxing and unwinding in the sleepy medieval town of Varzi. In the morning we visit Varzi’s local market and have the opportunity to see the delicious produce on offer, along with an interesting assortment of other wares. The market or "mercato" was traditionally a cattle and produce market, and cattle farmers from the surrounding hills would congregate once a week, not only to trade in their produce, but also to meet with their friends and fellow farmers. Today, even though the cattle are no longer there, one can still imagine what it may have been like, as older townsfolk gather and converse in their local dialects amidst the market’s shoppers. After experiencing "il mercato di Varzi", you will be taken to another world altogether - a contemporary designer shopping village in nearby Serravalle della Scrivia (there's an optional country walk if you don't want to shop). At Serravalle you can literally “shop till you drop” in an outlet containing a magnificent array of famous Italian brands, including of course the iconic Prada and Dolce & Gabbana. After our designer shopping spree/walk we will explore a centuries old Piedmont wine cellar, Villa Sparina, which houses international award-winning wines. After the cellar tour we will dine at “La Gallina”, its delightful Michelin starred restaurant which offers glorious views over the vineyards.
Day Ten – (Classic Architecture Day)
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Pavia - Certosa di Pavia
We begin the day in the classy university city of Pavia, once the capital of Lombardy, which is located on the banks of the Ticino river. After our morning stroll we enjoy lunch together at one of Pavia’s traditional restaurants for a sample of the local fare. After lunch we head to another hidden gem of Italy, the Certosa di Pavia, a stunning fourteenth Century monastery hidden deep in the countryside between the cities of Milan and Pavia. After our visit to this stunning piece of Italian history we return for a free late afternoon/evening at Cascina Ca' Bella.
Day Eleven – (Fine Dining and Natural Beauty Day)
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Bobbio – Medieval Town, Roman Bridge, Ancient Monastery, Beautiful Scenery
Today begins with a scenic drive through the stunning countryside of the Staffora and Trebbia Valleys in Southern Lombardy and Emilia Romagna respectively. After crossing the Monte Penice pass we head down to the charming medieval town of Bobbio, in the Emilia Romagna region. Lunch is in the town’s most elegant restaurant - "Il Piacentino", which is well known for its delicious anti pasti and "primi". Afterwards you get the chance to explore this little gem of a town. Two beautiful churches, a fourteen hundred year old monastery and a beautiful Roman Bridge that is full of character, are just some of the delights of Bobbio waiting to be discovered! Later this afternoon we may also be able to catch up with Jim and Lynette's good friends, Oliviero and Adelaide Masi. If Oliviero and Adelaide are at home, we can experience the gorgeous grounds of their stunning house and property, and guests are also able to peruse and purchase a range of artwork produced by them both. Oliviero and Adelaide are professional artists who have exhibited work internationally over a period of over 30 years. In the evening you can simply unwind at "La Cascina Ca' Bella", or take a leisurely passeggiata to San Sebastiano, where you can enjoy a gelato, coffee, or delicious glass of wine (or two!), before retiring for the evening.
Day Twelve – (Walk, Picnic and Pamper Day)
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Abbey of Sant Alberto Di Butrio and Salice Terme/ Nazzano Optional Walk.
This morning we explore the Abbey of Saint Alberto di Butrio, a place that exudes spirituality and serenity. It is a medieval gem nestled in a green, lush landscape high in the hills above the Staffora Valley. The Abbey was built nearly a thousand years ago by the noble Malaspina family, for Saint Alberto, the cave-dwelling hermit-turned Saint who cured their mute son. There is also a most curious tomb located here that is said to have been a temporary resting place for the body of an English King! After our abbey visit we enjoy a delightful picnic together in the surrounding countryside, and after this there is an optional afternoon visit to the nearby town of Salice Terme, which is historically famous for its thermal springs and health spas. Over the years it has been frequented by luminaries such as Julius Caesar, who rested and bathed here on his way back from battle in Gaul. Here you can be experience the spa pools and salt room, enjoying the benefits of its healthy sulphurous water. If you don’t want to have a swim at Salice Terme, you can choose to take a delightful walk in the surrounding countryside. The evening is free and will be spent at Cascina Ca Bella.
Day Thirteen – (Fashion and Style Day- Optional Walking tour with Da Vinci's
Last Supper Fresco visit)
Today we have a free day in Milan, the capital of the region of Lombardy and arguably the fashion capital of the world! After being dropped off in the morning guests will have the whole day to explore the varied and interesting sights of this unique city. There is also a walking tour with a visit to Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper fresco on offer for today. Several interesting itineraries will also be available to guests, depending on whether one is keen on shopping, art or food. Regardless of your desires we will help you to make the most out of your day! After our day out the the late afternoon/evening is free at Cascina Ca Bella.
Day Fourteen – (Wining and Dining Day)
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Visit to Medieval Town and Castle – Winery Visit - Farewell Dinner!
Today we spend the morning in the hills of the Oltrepo Pavese, a wine production region that is home to almost 500 producers and some very drinkable vino! However, first we visit the quaint township of Zavatarello, where an imposing, centuries old castle is perched right above the town. In the mid morning we move on to an artisan and family- run winery called Ca Del Ge, which is situated 300 metres above sea level and on the 45th parallel. The owners, Sara, Stefania and Carlo Padroggi, are passionate about their business , and their pride and joy is their“Passito” - a sweet, still wine made from either Moscato (Muscat) or Croatina grapes. After our morning winery visit we head back to the Cascina Ca Bella for a relaxing afternoon for guests to prepare for tomorrow's departure, and our farewell dinner at the Tenuta Terensano farmhouse. Tonight we sample some delicious local wine in conjunction with some local dishes especially prepared by the owner, Valentina, who is a veritable expert in local wine and produce!
Day Fifteen – (Farewell Day)
Departure for Milan Malpensa Airport and Voghera train station - End of Tour
Today we say farewell to the lush rolling hills of Southern Piedmont and Lombardy. After breakfast, you will be taken either to Milan’s Malpensa Airport, or the train station at Voghera. Alternatively you can make your own arrangements for your onward journey.