Highlights include Italian Lake Region, Italian Riviera, Tuscan Countryside, Wine Tasting, Cooking Class, Bologna and Venice
Come on an exclusive adventure with me limited to 40 travelers! I travel all over Italy bringing Coco’s guests on tours several times a year and this is one of my favorites because, on this trip, the romantic part of Italy comes to life. This tour will tickle all of the senses: your eyes, ears, nose and taste buds. Another great reason to chose this trip is that it is harvest time in Italy, plenty of foods are at their peak freshness. The vineyards will be bustling with production, a site you can only see this time of year with a special focus on visits to artisan salumi producers and makers of Parmigiano-Reggiano where you can taste cheeses aged from 16 to 65 months. My mouth is watering as I write this because it really is a seasonal treat and I can’t wait for you to partake in this with me. During our free time I will guide or join you on my top picks for restaurants, suggestions for ordering foods and favorite cocktails. You will love every moment of this very special tour and you will find out why so many people want to move to Italy when you are done with this this romantic, culinary and cultural adventure.
-Chuck Cinelli, Owner of Coco’s
Day 1 Overnight Flight
Welcome to Italy! After we land, we’ll take a scenic drive to our hotel and freshen up. It’s hard to not get excited for what awaits us, Italy’s most remarkable landscapes and towns, full of grape vines, olive trees, and seaside views.
DAY 2 Stresa – Borromeo
We begin our day with a wonderful breakfast, looking out at the notable Swiss Alps, relaxing along the shores of Lake Maggiore and surrounded by the tranquil beauty of the three islands that make up the Gulf of Borromeo. Today antipasto snacks for an afternoon picnic. Later, we will set sail for a late-afternoon cruise to the most picturesque of the three Borromean Islands, known as Isoladei Pescatori, where we will embrace our new friends and end our night with a classic Italian dinner welcoming us to beautiful Italy!
DAY 3 Stresa – Mottarone
Today we take a scenic drive to a historic village, tucked away in the mountains of Mottarone, a local friend of ours and his family greets us to sample their very own, unique artisanal cheeses that are paired with the region’s best wines. We take the remainder of the day to explore the city of Stresa at your leisure. Ask me for recommendations, maybe hop on the Mottarone Cable Car to see the beauty of Stresa from above, take a walk through one of Stresa’s many parks and trails, enjoy an elegant lunch at the historic Villa Ducale, or stroll along the flower-lined cobblestone streets and the lakeside boardwalks. Or, perhaps relax on an optional cruise, coasting through the breathtaking surroundings of the scenic lake region.
DAY 4 Stresa – Orta – Italian Riviera
Experience picture-perfect views from Lake Orta (a UNESCO historic site), known as the “Hidden Gem” of the Italian Lakes District. A boat will guide us to Isola di San Giulio, heavily influenced by the historical Benedictine Monastery. After exploring the fascinating history on the island, we will journey south to the Italian Riviera and discover its boundless beauty along the unspoiled Liguria coast.
DAY 5 Italian Riviera – Cinque Terre
Today is my favorite way to travel through Italy, by rail because you see an Italy that is not seen by the roads-it’s like going through Italy’s back yard. Speaking of backyards, today we visit the unspoiled five coastal villages known as Cinque Terre (UNESCO), a string of five unspoiled medieval towns perched on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. We spend an afternoon independently exploring each unique village – ask me about lovely scenic hikes on one of the many beautiful trails, the best restaurants for some delicious fresh seafood, explore the dramatic walking paths that connect each individual town, or relax with a Spritz cocktail on the sandy beach in Monterosso.
DAY 6 Italian Riviera – Lucca – Tuscany
Encircled by 16th-century Renaissance walls, Lucca exudes an old-world ambience. Old storefronts and busy piazzas offer a glimpse into the city’s medieval past, which have served as local gathering spots for more than 2,000 years. This afternoon, it’s your choice! Discover Lucca on foot -OR- pedal the city via bicycle. Whatever you choose, you’ll see historic marvels, including the Cathedral of San Martino and the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro. After you’ve worked up an appetite, we will tour Lucca’s specialty food shops and sample the region’s seasonal delicacies. We’ll stop at a family-owned leather shop and learn the traditional Italian techniques of leather making. We end our day in a historic Tuscan villa to start a rejuvenating 4-night stay.
DAY 7: Tuscany – Florence
Welcome to Florence – the birthplace of the Renaissance and the beloved home of the Medici family, Galileo, Botticelli and da Vinci. We will set out on a walking tour and see Florence’s medieval treasures and monuments, including the Piazza del Duomo – the center of religious life in Florence – and the Piazza dellaSignoria. We will visit the world-famous Galleria dell’Accademiato and see Michelangelo’s unparalleled statue of David. Later, enjoy some free time to explore Florence independently before returning to your villa. Ask me about travel by foot over the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge, discover the shops, restaurants, and delicious gelato close by Santa Spirito, hang out in front of Pitti Palace, walk through the courtyard in the Uffizi Gallery, or enjoy a refreshment in a bar by Piazza Santa Croce.
Day 8 Tuscany – Siena
Today we take a scenic drive to Siena, where Romanesque and Gothic architecture surround us within this UNESCO World Heritage site. We meet up with our local guide and walk the narrow medieval streets and see all the beauty within Siena. We’ll take a walk to the Gothic cathedral – Duomo di Siena – an architectural marvel featuring frescoes by Pinturicchio and masterpieces by Pisano, Donatello, and Michelangelo. Visit Piazza del Campo, where Palio di Siena (famous horse race) takes place every year, or roam the city and try to find all 17 plaques that represent the 17 districts “Contrade of Siena” that race in the Palio di Siena. Then we retreat to your Tuscan villa for a relaxing afternoon.
Day 9 Tuscan Countryside
Get your cameras ready as we take in Tuscany’s scenery, a spectrum of vineyards and endless groves of golden, sun soaked trees. In the heart of the Tuscan countryside, a family-owned wine estate awaits us. After a tour of the wine cellar,the estate, the vineyards and the olive fields, we will enjoy a lunchtime cooking lesson with the estate’s own chef. We will break bread during an authentic Tuscan lunch and toast with wines produced on-site. Return to your villa for some leisure time in the afternoon. We’ll continue our culinary journey at a traditional Tuscan restaurant for dinner.
Day 10 Tuscany – Bologna – Venice
Have a hearty breakfast because today we’ll start the day off on a walking tour, and discover the culture of Bologna, a city barely changed since the Renaissance era and where Italy’s most acclaimed chef’s train. We’ll peruse the city’s specialty food shops and sample local delicacies along the way, making a stop at Mercato di Mezzo. Later, we will arrive in Venice, the “Floating City” and settle in for a splendid 2-night stay in one of the most romantic cities in the world. Spend some time walking along the main canal, and I’ll guide you to my favorite spots for dinner and wine, while enjoying the sound of the water splashing against the canal walls.
Day 11 Venice
We will spend our last day in Venice, home to lavish art collections, architectural wonders and where marbled palaces tower over gondola- laden canals. We will travel by boat to Murano – the “City of Glass” – for an expert glass-blowing demonstration, a renowned tradition on the island. After touring through Murano and finding a few treasures, we will journey back to St. Mark’s – Venice’s iconic main square. During our free time, I’ll point out some great lunch spots. After lunch, a local guide will take us on a tour of the city’s incredible sites, including the Bridge of Sighs, the Clock Tower, and St. Mark’s Basilica. We’ll say “Arriverderci” to Italy at a savory farewell dinner I have planned for everyone.
Day 12 Venice
At breakfast in the hotel we will share email addresses with your new friends as our tour comes to a close but it’s the beginning of beautiful memories shared and friendships.
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