Details

Start date:12 May 2017
End date:28 May 2017
Start date:30 September 2017
End date:16 October 2017
  • Duration:17 days
  • Departs:Rome
  • Ends:Rome

Price

  • $4,490 (2017 Tours) per person, twin share
  • Single supplement $990
More booking details

Inclusions

  • All accommodation and hotel taxes
  • Meals as shown NB: beverages not included
  • Trenitalia train transfers between accommodation bases including intercity fast-train supplements
  • Return bus transfer Bolzano to Ortisei
  • Luggage storage at Pisa, Florence & Bolzano
  • Admission to Bolzano Archaeology Museum and “Otzi” tour
  • Hostess services and Italian speaking tour leader
  • Rome pre-tour Welcome Dinner including house wine

What our guests say

Thanks for a great holiday – we enjoyed every experience particularly the walks, accommodation, food and company. We will have life long memories of our walking tour of Northern Italy.

– Graham & Jill

Thank you Bruno & Christine for a wonderful tour. In a few word “Buonissimo” our Northern Italian walking tour was a smorgasbord of breathtaking scenery, compelling history, cultural insights, fine Italian cuisine and wines and many captivating Italian characters all superbly packaged and led by you both.

– Ellis & Bronwyn

Many thanks for a wonderful tour of Northern Italy. We certainly met the locals and felt that we were a part of this beautiful region. The tour was set at a very comfortable pace which made the distance travelled by both walking and train easy and rewarding. Once again thank you for showing us this colourful Region of Northern Italy and your great pre-tour info reading.

– Bob & Barbara

Thanks to Bruno & Christine for the wonderful experience we shared with you and 14 other intrepid adventurers which ended far too quickly. The food, the views and camaraderie of the tour group were complemented by the care and attention given to us. This adventure will remain high on our list of memorable experiences.

– Mario & Cheryl

Thanks again for an interesting and informative trip, we really appreciated how much preparation you put into the program. It’s not only all that but also the way you looked after us so well too, we will remember this for a very long time. Let us know any future trips planned and we will be there!!

– Fred & Susan

Our aim is to provide an “authentic Italian experience” by travelling to charming cities, towns and villages especially selected for their beauty, cultural significance and idyllic locations. We will head off the major tourist routes on short established walks and hikes through some of the prettiest hamlets and countryside Italy has to offer allowing us to discover authentic local cultures and delights.

Our tour is big on discovery… and small in size (maximum of 16 on tour). We not only see different sights but see them differently in ways that most other tourists don’t get to experience. Along with the must-see sights, we visit off-the-beaten path gems experiencing special moments and enjoying encounters with locals that will enrich your trip to Italy.

2018 Program – Next year we will be extending this tour by one night to include an extra day and dinner in the beautiful Cinque Terre region.  Registrations of interest are now open for our 2018 x 18 Day Tour dates as follows;
Tour 1/2018; 14th-31st May.
Tour 2/2018; 12th-29th September.
Tour 3/2018; 2nd-19 October.
Cost; $4790 Twin Share (Single Supplement $1200)
Call us for further details.
 

Itinerary

DAY 1 Roma (Rome)

Dinner included

“Benvenuti to Bella Italia – Welcome to Rome”. Check into the Villa delle Rose near Roma Termini and meet up with your tour leaders, Bruno and Christine Corletto and fellow travellers. A ’meet & greet’ dinner has been organised tonight at a nearby Italian Trattoria.

DAY 2 Rome – Dolomites (Ortisei)

Breakfast & dinner included

Wake up to the sounds of church bells as we ready ourselves for our journey north. After a typical Italian breakfast we depart Rome on our first train trip of the tour as we head for the majestic Dolomite Mountains located in Italy’s South Tyrol. From Bolzano we will transfer via a private shuttle to our special mountain home for the next three nights in the lovely town of Ortisei located in the Dolomite valley of Val Gardena.

Here you will hardly believe you are still in Italy as cultures and landscapes blend in a unique and charming mix of Ladin, Tyrolean tradition and the Italian Dolce Vita. After meeting our delightful hostess we take you on a village stroll before enjoying dinner at a local Keller (Tavern) where authentic Tyrol fare is served.

DAY 3 Ortisei

Breakfast included

Subject to weather and trail conditions, today we can either soak up the jaw dropping mountain scenery and verdant alpine farmland above Ortisei or hike back from the nearby village of San Cristina famous for the hand carved woodwork of local artisans including the world’s largest hand carved nativity scene. No matter what the weather there is a multitude of highlights to enjoy in this spectacular UNESCO World Heritage natural setting including short walks to tranquil alpine vistas studded with charming wooden herder huts flanked by jagged Dolomite peaks or visit the Ladin Cultural Museum, woodwork galleries (where you can see local sculptors at work) or simply stroll through the alleys, squares, shops and the fascinating onion domed church of Ortisei. Dinner tonight is at own arrangement.

DAY 4 Ortisei

Breakfast & dinner included

Depending on the weather and trail conditions, today our plan is to lead an optional excursion to nearby “Alpe di Siusi” one of the most beautiful and largest alpine meadows in Europe. Hiking is a joy here and you don’t have to be a mountaineer to enjoy the undulating gentle slopes as we walk through farmland more akin to Switzerland.

The scenery up here is dominated by the towering Sasso Longo (Long Stone) Mountains which provides a perfect backdrop to the rolling verdant pastures, wooden barns and alpine mulgas (farmers huts serving home-grown produce – makes for a perfect lunch venue). By mid-afternoon we return to Ortisei where the rest of the day is free to continue to explore our beautiful environment before our final tour dinner.

DAY 5 Ortisei – Lake Como (Varenna)

Breakfast & dinner included

This morning we bid the mountains farewell as we transfer back to Bolzano, a vibrant cosmopolitan small city with a charming historic centre for a short stopover. After a short stroll through the pretty streets and squares we have arranged a visit to the Archaeology Museum, home to the famous alpine Iceman “Ă–tzi” a well-preserved natural mummy of a man who lived about 3300 BC. The mummy and his belongings were found in September 1991 in the Ă–tztal Alps – hence the name Ă–tzi – on the border between Austria and Italy.

We then catch our next train to Varenna (changing at Verona and Milan) situated on a promontory on Lago Como’s eastern shore in the Lombardy Province of Lecco. Varenna is one of Lake Como’s prettiest and more tranquil medieval villages and here we will make our base for the next three nights at a stunning lakeside Albergo. One of the highlights of this location is to simply stroll the scenic lakeside promenade known as the “Passeggiata degli Innamorati” (Lovers’ Walk) to the old town centre and explore the cobblestoned alleyways admiring traditional Italian architecture and soaking up the serene atmosphere while savouring a homemade gelato. Tonight we enjoy our hostess’s hospitality with traditional local fare.

DAY 6 Varenna

Breakfast included

Today’s optional excursion offers a visit to the fascinating 11th century Castle Di Vezio above Varenna (entrance fees apply). Soak up the amazing history, see the WWI Bunker, the Falconer’s birds of prey, the castle ’ghosts’ and admire the stunning panorama of Lake Como from the castle tower. Our walk down from the castle takes us along the evocative “Sentiero del Viandante” (Wayfarer’s Trail) which weaves steadily through terraces cultivated with vineyards and olive groves. We experience many highlights including the Fume Latte (“Milk River” Italy’s shortest river) and a beautiful cliff-top cemetery before returning to Varenna in time for lunch. This afternoon we also offer a visit by ferry (at own cost) to Bellagio -the “Pearl of the Lake” for a stroll around the picturesque waterfront and cobblestoned alleys.

Alternatively those wanting to enjoy a more leisurely experience today can explore Varenna at their own pace, perhaps including visits to the impressive Villa Monastero or Villa Cipressi where you can enjoy the beautiful botanical gardens of cypress trees and rare Mediterranean species. Dinner tonight at your own expense.

DAY 7 Varenna (Menaggio)

Breakfast & dinner included

You may wish to join us today as we take a scenic ferry ride (at own cost) across to the western shore of Lake Como to the attractive village of Menaggio. For those of you up for a truly unique and fascinating hike we will take a packed lunch and climb above the town via the panoramic Loveno district to the Historical Park “Val Sanagra”, a wonderful natural setting filled with interesting rural settlements and traces of traditional activities like mills, brickworks and furnaces. Along the way we stop for our picnic lunch beside a river then later stop at a family run trout farm “La Vecchia Chioderia” (The Old Nail Factory) to enjoy a coffee or drink (at own expense). We then continue up to the ancient and mysterious hilltop village of Barna where tourists rarely visit, to experience an authentic slice of Italian rural life before heading back to Menaggio.

Alternatively those not up for a hike today may rather visit these lake towns at their own pace via the regular ferry service connections. Once again this evening we enjoy our hostess’s hospitality for dinner.

DAY 8 Varenna – Lake Maggiore (Stresa)

Breakfast included

Today we transfer (via Milan) to the Piedmont region’s lakefront town of Stresa on the shores of stunning Lago (Lake) Maggiore where we stay for the next two nights. After settling into our family-run hotel we will either, depending on the weather, conduct an orientation of downtown Stresa via the grand waterfront parade or catch the cable car up to Mottarone above Stresa (at own cost) for possibly the best views in Italy across the Alps and Italian Lakes District. Dinner tonight is at own arrangement.

DAY 9 Lake Maggiore (The Borromean Islands)

Breakfast included

Today there is the option to take a ferry to discover the pearls of Lago Maggiore, the gorgeous Borromean Islands located directly opposite Stresa surrounded by mountains. The islands take their name from the aristocratic Borromean family who took ownership of them in the 16th century. Italy’s best architects and gardeners were called on to develop their ambitious projects with Isola Bella and Isola Madre transformed into grand, luxurious residences, while the third island Isola Superior (named “Pescatori” after its age-old fishing community) was left to continue its traditional way of life. Returning to Stresa by late afternoon you may wish to indulge in some retail therapy before making your own dinner arrangements.

DAY 10 Stresa – Venice

Breakfast included

After a leisurely breakfast we board an Intercity Fast Train and travel east through the Veneto region on our way to the famous water city of Venezia (Venice) known as ’La Serenissima’ in reference to its title as Italy’s “Most Serene Republic”. If you have never been to Venice then your first sight of the Grand Canal en-route to our hotel will take your breath away and remain with you forever. This evening join us for a romantic passeggiata through a labyrinth of enchanting and narrow back alleys and footbridges surrounding our Venetian Albergo located in the less-touristy neighbourhood (sestiere) of Santa Croce. Here we will introduce you to the magic of Venice and discover many charming squares and footbridges before we board a vaporetto for a sunset trip up the Grand Canal to Piazza San Marco. For our first night in Venice you are welcome to join us for dinner at a charming pizzeria near St Marks Square if you wish (at own expense).

DAY 11 Venice

Breakfast included

Today we have arranged a 3 hour walking tour of Venice with a local resident who will guide you away from the main tourist thoroughfares to discover many hidden gems and delights that most tourists rarely find. At the conclusion of the tour the remainder of the day is free to enjoy as you wish, perhaps visit the beautiful Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute or return to Piazza San Marco and take in the highlights such as the Basilica, Doge Palace or climb the beautiful Campanile (Church Tower) for an awesome view over Venice. Also a good opportunity to take a traditional gondola ride. Dinner tonight at own arrangement.

DAY 12 Venice (Islands of Murano & Burano)

Breakfast included

After a leisurely breakfast you are free to explore more of Venice on your own or join us on an optional excursion to the lagoon islands where we will travel by vaporetto (at own cost) to Murano and Burano renowned for hand-made glass and lace products. At Murano you can take in a glass blowing demonstration or just explore this “mini” Venice with its maze of galleries and shops selling the work of local artisans.

From here we continue to Burano via the less travelled island of Mazzorbo where you’ll see fewer tourists as we stroll past the pretty canals and colourful houses which have long attracted painters to the island.

Burano makes a great lunch stop where you may either purchase a panini (sandwich) to enjoy a peaceful picnic by a canal or try the island’s specialty “Fritto Misto” a platter of mixed fried local seafood. We return to Venice via Vaporetto by late afternoon where dinner is at own arrangement.

DAY 13 Venice – Tuscany (Certaldo)

Breakfast & dinner included

Bidding farewell to Venezia we take an Intercity fast-train south for our stop-over in the Tuscan capital of Firenze (Florence). Enjoy a short guided walk through this beautiful Renaissance City followed by a visit to Florence’s bustling Central Market (better known locally as the “Mercato Centrale”) a fascinating place to visit especially for foodies and anyone wishing to purchase leather goods. By late afternoon we will arrive via Regional train to the medieval town of Certaldo where our accommodation is in a fabulous 15th century renovated flour mill for the next two nights. Tonight we have arranged a banquet of regional specialties within a medieval castle in the fascinating Certaldo Alto, an ancient walled hilltop hamlet and one of the best preserved medieval quarters in all of Tuscany.

DAY 14 Tuscany

Breakfast included

Today is free to enjoy as you wish otherwise join us on an optional excursion (costs apply) including a walk along the ancient “Via Francigena” pilgrim’s route through the awesome Chianti hills. The day starts with a visit to a traditional family run winery to sample regional wine and other typical local fare before walking on through quintessential Tuscan landscapes of olive groves, vineyards and centuries old sanctuaries. This walk culminates with a stroll through the walled medieval hilltop town of San Gimignano a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the “Town of Fine Towers” famous for its medieval architecture, spectacular hilltop setting and encircling walls. Return to Certaldo for a well-earned refreshment in the Hotel’s garden before heading out to discover your own Tuscan dining experience at one of the many nearby traditional restaurants. An alternative option today for those culinary buffs is to attend an Italian cooking class with a local identity up in the historic Certaldo Alto (prior bookings required at own expense).

DAY 15 Certaldo – Cinque Terre (Monterosso al Mare)

Breakfast included

This morning we travel by regional train to Cinque Terre (five lands) on the Lingurian Coast via the Tuscan city of Pisa and its iconic Leaning Tower. After storing our luggage at the train station we take a short walk through the city’s medieval quarter to the beautiful Piazza dei Miracoli where you can climb the Tower or visit the Duomo, Baptistery, Museum or Camposanto (cemetery). Lunch (at own expense) in Pisa before travelling by local train via La Spezia to Cinque Terre where we will stay in the pretty coastal village of Monterosso al Mare for the next two nights. This afternoon is free to relax in our charming family run Albergo or come along on a passeggiata (social stroll) to explore the quaint village, hilltop ramparts and Capuchin Monastery.

Our hosts offer complimentary refreshments each afternoon between 2:00pm-4:00pm serving fresh homemade local fare for your enjoyment.

DAY 16 Cinque Terre

Breakfast included

Cinque Terre is a UNESCO World Environmental and Cultural Heritage Site, a nature oasis made up of five villages – Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza & Monterosso. Spend your day exploring the nearby villages by train or ferry or enjoy the short walks and highlights on offer close to our Albergo. Additional costs apply including trail fees and ferry/train transfers.

DAY 17 Monterosso al Mare – Rome

Breakfast included

This morning there is time to absorb a little more of this special area including our final breakfast together before catching a late morning local train to La Spezia and a fast-train back to Rome arriving late afternoon. On arrival at Roma Termini we end our Northern Italian Adventure. From here own arrangements to be made for hotel transfers, further travels or flights home.

Travel Notes

Walk Grades: Italy by its geographical nature tends to be mostly hilly therefore some climbing will be unavoidable. All walks and excursions are offered on an additional cost basis and are optional - come if you feel like it or do your own thing.

Fitness: Travellers should have a good level of fitness and agility to fully enjoy this tour.

Travel light: You must be able to carry your luggage between train station platforms, usually up and down two or more flights of stairs and also lift luggage up into train carriages and overhead luggage racks when the main luggage area is full. All our hotels have stairs and some do not have elevators so you must be able to manage your own luggage however we will offer assistance where we can.

Flexibility: Bring along your sense of adventure and flexible attitude.

Train travel: We will travel comfortably on both inter-city and regional trains.

Italian breakfasts: Mostly cereal, croissants, rolls, ham, cheese, boiled eggs, coffee, tea and juices.

Accommodation: Albergo style hotels with en-suites. There are no tea/coffee making facilities in the hotel rooms however they all have hair dryer.

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Highlights

  • Cinque Terre cliff-top villages & walks
  • Pisa – it’s Leaning Tower & Duomo
  • Tuscany’s Chianti Region & hilltop hamlets
  • Medieval villages Certaldo & San Gimignano
  • Walking tours of Venice & Florence
  • The Venetian Islands of Burano & Murano
  • Lake Como – ancient villages, castles & pilgrim trails
  • Lake Maggiore
  • The Borromean Islands & villas
  • Dolomite Mountains
  • South Tyrolean Alpine Villages
  • “Otzi the Ice Man”, Bolzano