DAY 1 Friday September 27, 2019 Como, the Italian Lakes
Upon arrival into Milan Airport we will meet Heather Burden and transfer to Como, where we spend the three nights. Como was prosperous under the Ancient Romans and reached its zenith in the 11th century. Now, it is a modern town situated in a beautiful setting on the shores of Lake Como.
DAY 2 Saturday September 28, 2019 the Italian Lakes
Today we take a ferry across the lake to Villa Carlotta, known for its beautiful setting and spectacular gardens. Built in 1745 and later given as a wedding present to Carlotta, Duchess of Saxe Meiningen. We will then take the ferry across the lake to the lovely town of Bellagio. Occupying a magnificent site on the promontory dividing Lake Lecco from Lake Como, it is known for its pretty streets, villas and gardens. The group will have the option of visiting the semi-classical Villa Melzi, known for its splendid gardens, on the shore of the lake. We return to Como by ferry in the afternoon.
DAY 3 Sunday September 29, 2019 the Italian Lakes
A free day to explore the town of Como, relax on the lake, or visit surrounding villages.
DAY 4 Monday September 30, 2019 Bolzano, the Italian Alps
Today we travel to Bolzano in the Italian Alps. Its surrounding slopes are covered with orchards and vineyards. Bolzano’s architecture shows a marked Tyrolean or Austrian influence. Its main square, Piazza Walther, and the delightful Via dei Portici are overlooked by some lovely houses. Bolzano will be our base for the next four nights.
DAY 5 Tuesday October 1, 2019 the Italian Alps
We travel to the village of Soprabolzano, located on the plateau of Ritten. We will take the Ritten train to explore the most beautiful and evocative panoramic points of the Dolomites. Upon reaching the highest point we will have spectacular views of the alpine scenery. We will continue the tour to Callalbo, a typical mountain village, where we can admire the ‘pyramids of rock’, imposing stone columns that emerge from the soil. Here, we will have some free time to stroll around and have lunch. We return to Balzano late afternoon.
DAY 6 Wednesday October 2, 2019 the Italian Alps
Today we travel to the delightful town of Trento a meeting point of Austrian and Italian influences standing at an important crossroads with converging routes from Venice, the Brenner Pass and Brescia. We will see the Castello del Buonconsiglio (for several centuries residence of the prince bishops of Trento), the Duomo, its splendid piazza and fountain dedicated to Neptune, the frescoed houses and Council churches, as well as the museums and exhibitions which make Trento a true landmark of alpine arts, culture and traditions.
DAY 7 Thursday October 3, 2019 the Italian Alps
We venture further into the Dolomiti today. The main touring route is the great Dolomite Road, a world-famous example of road engineering. The road was already used during the Renaissance by merchants travelling between Venice and Germany and was also used during the First World War. We will travel through the picturesque Ega Valley, with pink sandstone walls, and see the attractive village of Nova Levante, the Passo di Costalunga and the resort of Vigo di Fassa. From Malga Ciapela we will take the cable car up the highest peak in the Dolomites, Marmolada. There will be spectacular views of the Cortina peaks and, in the background, the Austrian Alps.
DAY 8 Friday October 4, 2019 Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna
We depart our hotel this morning and travel to Ferrara in the popular Emilia-Romagna region. Emilia-Romagna is generating a lot of interest with its towns and villages reminiscent of Tuscan villages of 20 years ago. Ferrara is a tranquil town with squares, palaces and streets lined with red-brick houses. A splendid cultural centre during the Renaissance, these days Ferrara is a young and vibrant town and one of the major artistic and cultural centres in Italy.
DAY 9 Saturday October 5, 2019 Ferrara
Today, we have a full day tour to experience the delights of Bologna. Bologna has always been an important crossroads between northern and southern Italy and between northern Europe and the Mediterranean region. Bologna’s university, along with that of Paris, is the oldest university in Europe. Known as Bologna the Fat, due to its gastronomic opulence, Bologna is enshrined as the food capital of Italy. Bologna is also a significant cultural and architectural hub with imposing buildings, squares and towers, as well as 53-km of porticos. We will have a guided tour of the city, as well as free time to explore and shop.
DAY 10 Sunday October 6, 2019 Ferrara
This morning we travel to beautiful Ravenna, on the Adriatic coast and will have a sightseeing tour of the town, which was briefly the capital of the Roman Empire and, later, the Italian capital of the Byzantine Empire. During this time, incredible mosaics were constructed throughout the city. Described as a symphony of colour in Dante’s Divine Comedy, Ravenna’s well-preserved mosaics are some of the finest remaining in the Western world. We will return to Ferrara late afternoon.
DAY 11 Monday October 7, 2019 Ferrara
Today, we will have an exciting day tasting the produce of the region. We travel to Modena for a balsamic vinegar tasting, then continue to Parma for a tour and tasting at a parmigiano cheese factory. We will also try some of the local Parma ham. We return to Ferrara late afternoon.
DAY 12 Tuesday October 8, 2019 Bagno Vignoni, Tuscany
Today we travel south by coach to the Tuscan village of Bagno Vignoni. We will stop in Florence for a walking tour, where we will see the cathedral with its enormous dome, the Baptistry, Piazza Signoria, the famous Ponte Vecchio and more. We will also have time for lunch. We continue on to Bagno Vignoni, a small Orcia River valley village, which has long been a favourite among painters and travellers seeking solitude in a beautiful location. We will stay at a small family-owned, 15th-century hotel built by Bernardo Rossellino as a summerhouse for Pope Pius II, who enjoyed the advantage of the nearby hot mineral springs. Tour members will enjoy delicious Tuscan dinners each night during our stay at Bagno Vignoni.
DAY 13 Wednesday October 9, 2019 Bagno Vignoni
Today we visit the great medieval city of Siena. Best known for the famous Palio horse race held in the magnificent Piazza del Campo, Siena is also home to the oldest bank in the world, a spectacular town hall and majestic cathedral. This morning a local guide will introduce us to the sights of the city, including the Piazza del Campo, with its splendid civic tower and the enormous, partially completed Duomo. The afternoon will be free for tour members to explore Siena independently. We return to Bagno Vignoni for our included dinner.
DAY 14 Thursday October 10, 2019 Bagno Vignoni
Today we will visit the town of Pienza, the birthplace of Pope Pius II and the setting for the film, The English Patient. It was the pope’s dream to turn his old town of Corsignano into a utopian model town. He commissioned architect Rossellino to make it into a jewel of renaissance architecture. The aroma of pecorino cheese and other local specialities will tempt us into the many cheese shops. Near Pienza, we will visit the studio of a local art family, which continues the ancient traditions of Tuscan painting. We enjoy an afternoon’s drive through the beautiful Orcia Valley, with its rolling hills, to the Brunello wine area of Montalcino to savour a wine tasting in a well-preserved 14th-century fortress.
DAY 15 Friday October 11, 2019 Depart
We will be transferred to Rome Airport for return flights to Australia.