|8 days and 7 nights|
Italy (Turin, Alba, Neive-Borgonovo, Asti, Stresa, Nizza Monferrato)
Day 1 Turin
Arrival in afternoon. Check-in at your hotel. Dinner and overnight stay in Turin.
Day 2 Turin, Venaria reale
Full day dedicated to the former capital of Italy with its noble Baroque and Mannerist buildings, elegant squares and historical cafés. We start in the countryside outside Turin with the Reggia of Venaria Reale, one of the most beautiful and big Savoy Royal Palaces. It is a majestic palace with beautiful gardens, inspiration for the French Versailles royal palace. We continue with a sightseeing tour of the historical centre of Turin including the Piazza Castello, lined with several historical mansions, including Palazzo Madama, the San Lorenzo Church and the Royal Theatre, continuing to the Royal Palace and the Antonelliana Tower, the city’s symbol. We will visit also the Cathedral where is kept the Holy Shroud (a linen cloth believed by the Catholics to have been the burial shroud in which Jesus was wrapped after he was taken down from the cross; not exhibited to the public). But Turin means also chocolate, a passion which has lasted for 450 years, so during the tour we will stop to a characteristic Café to taste the typical “bicerin” – traditional mixed drink of coffee and chocolate. Dinner and overnight stay in Turin.
Day 3 Langhe-Roero region: Alba, Grinzane Cavour, Neive
We head to the Langhe area one of Europe’s foremost winemaking regions offering some of the best panoramic views in Italy. The first stop is Alba, the capital of the Langhe Region. This charming medieval town has a historical centre rich in Roman and Gothic monuments. But Alba is famous above all for its white truffles, fine cheese and, of course, wines and for being the cradle of the “slow food” movement. Winding among hills and vineyards, we arrive in Grinzane Cavour, one of the most beautiful of the Langhe, for visiting the castle and tasting some Barolo wines. Once it belonged to Count Camillo Benso of Cavour, Mayor of the village of Grinzane, credited with important discoveries in the field of viticulture and considered as one of the ‘fathers’ of Barolo wine. We continue through the vineyards to the delightful Neive, one of the most picturesque medieval villages in the area. We will take a walk in the historical centre with its red-roofed houses huddled together and heights offering a splendid view of the surrounding vineyards. Return for dinner and overnight stay in Turin.
Day 4 Asti. Monferrato
In the morning we head to the Monferrato region driving through Asti, home of the famous Asti Spumante, the sparkling white wine well known worldwide. We will visit the downtown area admiring Baroque and Renaissance buildings, the ancient Palio, Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral, Piazza Roma, the Red Tower. We continue on to Monferrato Region, one of the most important wine districts in Italy, home to lush gardens, orchards and vines, which produce excellent wines such as Grignolino, Dolcetto, Barbera, Freisa, and more notably, Moscato. In the charming small town of Casale Monferrato we will visit the historical centre with its famous fortress, Cathedral and Civic Tower. Return for dinner and overnight stay in Turin.
Day 5 Lake Orta: Orta San Giulio, Stresa
We leave today for the Lake Orta, probably the prettiest of the Italian lakes, yet surprisingly one of the least known. You cannot fail to be captivated by the perfectly medieval charms and the exquisite scenery of the village of Orta San Giulio, a haven from mass tourism, surrounded on three sides by the water of the lake. Enjoy a boat trip to the famous Island of San Giulio, then continue to Stresa, a charming town exuding an ambience of classic ‘belle époque’ gentility. Enjoy some free time at your own peace. Maybe you’d like to take a drink at the bar of the Grand Hotel featured in Hemingway’s ‘A Farewell to Arms’, and frequented by George Bernard Shaw and Charlie Chaplin. Alternatively, you can explore the myriad of twisting lanes of the old town and the shops. Dinner and overnight stay in Stresa.
Day 6 Lake Maggiore: Borromean Islands
We will spend a full day exploring the famous Borromean islands. We will travel to Stresa for a short cruise to Isola Bella to see the 17th century baroque palace built by Carlo III of the House of Borromeo for his wife Isabella. Surrounded by terraced gardens that were inspired by the ‘Hanging Gardens of Babylon’, the palace was the scene of sumptuous and lavish parties, attended by the cream of European nobility. We then continue to Isola Pescatori, the ‘island of fishermen’, with its narrow cobbled streets and pretty harbour. The island was thought to be first inhabited in the 10th century and there are now approximately 50 residents. The church on the island is worth a visit and there is a good choice of restaurants and snack-bars. Our final visit is to Isola Madre. In contrast to Isola Bella, Isola Madre has a simpler, unspoilt, romantic aspect with its exotic and terraced gardens covering almost totally the island. Return for dinner and overnight stay in Stresa .
Day 7 Centovalli railway, Locarno
If you choose to join today’s optional excursion, we leave for Domodossola to take a characteristic train locally known as the "Centovalli" (100 valleys) for an extremely pleasant experience that lasts 90 minutes. The train features specially designed panoramic carriages. We will journey through the Vigezzo valley with his spectacular waterfalls, multicolour hills, vineyards, chestnut tree forests and over high bridges to the charming Locarno in Switzerland (passport required). After a short walk in the centre of this staunchly Swiss town but resembling more Tuscany with his twisting lanes and alleys, we will catch the ferry boat on Lake Maggiore back to Stresa on a relaxing cruise which allows you to appreciate the spectacular location from an alternative viewpoint. Return for dinner and overnight stay in Stresa.
Day 8 Stresa
Breakfast and departure for return journey. End of our services.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Turin, Langhe-Roero and Monferrato Region & Lake Orta, Lake Maggiore, Centovalli railway, Locarno
Accommodation, depending on your option, in good 4* hotels centrally located or 3* not centrally located hotels, double occupancy rooms, as described:
4 night accommodation in hotel in Turin on a half-board basis, drinks not included
3 night accommodation in Stresa on a half-board basis, drinks included
Local English speaking guide in Turin. Other languages are available on request.
1 bicerin in Turin
Entrance to Reggia of Venaria Reale, Cathedral in Turin
Guided visit and wine tasting at Grinzane Cavour
Boat trip to the Island of San Giulio on Lake Orta
Centovalli train ride from Domodossola to Locarno
Cruise to Borromean Island on Lake Maggiore
Ferry from Locarno to Stresa
Bus GT for the entire tour with arrival and departure from Turin airport, including all expenses (check point and parking fees, board and lodging for driver)