- Sample cicchetti and explore ornate palaces in Venice
- Master the art of homemade pasta and aperitivo in Milan
- Dine on Veneto specialties in Verona and Lake Garda
- Visit vineyards and sip fine wines in Piedmont
|Day 1||Arrive in Milan, Transfer to Bologna, Emilia-Romagna's Foodie Capital||Bologna|
|Day 2||Highlights & Tastes of Bologna||Bologna|
|Day 3||Day Trip to Parma, Prosciutto & Parmigiano Reggiano Tasting||Bologna|
|Day 4||Train to Venice, Guided Walking Tour||Venice|
|Day 5||Self-Guided Visit to Murano, Torcello & Burano Islands||Venice|
|Day 6||Train to Verona, Guided Walking Tour||Verona|
|Day 7||Guided Tour of Lake Garda, Return to Verona||Verona|
|Day 8||Valpolicella Wine Region Tour||Verona|
|Day 9||Train to Milan, Free Afternoon||Milan|
|Day 10||Homemade Pasta & Aperitivo Masterclass||Milan|
|Day 11||Train to Turin, Street Food Tour||Turin|
|Day 12||Langhe Hills Wine Tour||Turin|
|Day 13||Visit Sacra di San Michele Abbey||Turin|
|Day 14||Depart Turin|
Day 1: Arrive in Milan, Transfer to Bologna, Emilia-Romagna's Foodie Capital
Benvenuti in Bologna! Arrive in one of Milan's two international airports and make the 1.5-hour train journey from to Emilia-Romagna's foodie capital. Settle in and relax at your hotel, then head out to discover the historic charms of Europe's oldest university town and its renowned gastronomy.
One of the best ways to explore the city is via the medieval porticos, a network of covered walkways that connect the city's landmarks, museums, and neighborhoods. Stop in at the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna to discover renowned 14th-century artists such as Jacopo di Paolo and Guido Reni, or for a modern take on the city's renowned art, head to the Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna (MAMbo). Afterward, wander the narrow alleyways of the Quadrilatero, the area's historic foodie neighborhood, where you'll find everything for a delicious lunch on the go.
In the evening, enjoy aperitivo (an aperitif, usually spritz, prosecco, or wine, accompanied by small bites) at one of the local bars before heading out to dinner to dine on typical Bolognan cuisine such as tagliatelle al ragù.
Day 2: Highlights & Tastes of Bologna
Spend today getting acquainted with Bologna's foodie scene on a full-day walking and food tour of the city. Led by an experienced guide, you'll uncover the sights, smells, and tastes of the region's gastronomic capital. Start with caffè in Piazza Maggiore, the town's grand 13th-century plaza, overlooked by some of Bologna's most prominent and historic buildings. Visit the City Hall, the 14th-century Basilica di San Petronio, and the medieval Asinelli and Garisenda Towers which flank the piazza.
Pause for lunch and dine on typical Bolognan cuisine, such as tortelloni in brodo (tiny meat-filled pasta served in a delicate broth), accompanied by a glass of the region's excellent local wine. Afterward, head to the 11th-century University of Bologna to view the Anatomical Theater, formerly used by students dissecting cadavers, and stroll the medieval university grounds. On the way, stop to see the former Jewish Ghetto, then continue to the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna, the National Art Gallery.
Toward the end of the afternoon, you'll explore the city's foodie hotspots and shop for regional delicacies, such as artisanal tortellini, mortadella, and formaggi. You'll visit traditional pasticcerie (bakeries) and sample a delicious variety of sweet and savory delicacies before a trip to a local pasta maker to see the handcrafting process in action. As the sun dips, part ways with your guide and wander over to the popular Mercato delle Erbe, a beautifully restored indoor market teeming with locals at aperitivo hour and an excellent spot for dining if you're feeling peckish later.
Day 3: Day Trip to Parma, Prosciutto & Parmigiano Reggiano Tasting
Known for its ornate medieval architecture, castles, and its famous prosciutto namesake, Parma, along with Bologna, is considered one of the top gastronomic destinations for travelers to northern Italy. This morning, you'll catch an hour's train to the city and meet your guide in the center. See highlights, including the 10th-century University of Parma, the Museo Glauco Lombardi, the 12th-century Piazza Duomo, and the world-renowned opera venue, Teatro Regio.
Next, it's time to explore the local production sites of the city's two main food exports, Prosciutto Crudo di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, staples not just in Italian cooking but worldwide. You'll learn about and see the production process in action and the hard work that goes into ensuring they meet high regional standards and the coveted DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) status or PDO.
Whet your appetite with a tasting of delicious cheese, ham, and traditional balsamic vinegar, and then it's off to a local family-run trattoria for lunch. Northern Italian cooking favors ingredients such as butter, cheese, truffles, risotto rice, and polenta, so expect dishes such as risotto Milanese and ravioli al burro e salvia (ravioli with butter and sage). After you've feasted on regional specialties, spend the afternoon strolling the town before returning to Bologna in the evening.
Day 4: Train to Venice, Guided Walking Tour
Continue your tour of northern Italy with a 1.5-hour train north to Venice. Arrive at Venezia Santa Lucia station and immediately experience the city's unique network of canals and car-free streets with a vaporetto (water taxi) to one of the central stops on the Grand Canal, located near your hotel. Check in and relax, then head out on a guided tour to discover the beautiful bridges, atmospheric streets, and glimmering architecture that make the elegant "City of Canals" one of Europe's top destinations.
Start at Piazza San Marco, the heart of the city's cultural and administrative district. Savor the views of Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace), a Venetian Gothic palace built as the primary residence for the Doge of Venice in 1340, then venture inside and admire the splendid frescoes and masterpieces by Titian. The adjacent San Marco Basilica is one of the best surviving examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture and features exquisite art, gold mosaics, and marble floors.
After seeing the major sights, your guide will lead you through the maze of streets and canals into the heart of Venice, away from the crowds. Hear fascinating stories of the island's exotic past and explore the Cannaregio neighborhood, the city's former Jewish Ghetto. Part ways with your guide and either continue on your own or enjoy a gondola ride along the Grand Canal to see the city from a different perspective. In the evening, head to a local bacaro to sample cicchetti (Venetian tapas) and local Veneto wine.
Day 5: Self-Guided Visit to Murano, Torcello & Burano Islands
Today, you'll head out early for a tour of Venice's three famous neighbors—the islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello. First up is Murano, known worldwide for its colorful, elegant glass-making. Marvel at the intricate pieces in the Glass Museum and visit a local glass blower to learn about the process. If you want to purchase any gifts for back home, this is the place to pick up souvenirs.
From here, continue to Burano, a picture-perfect island known for its striking, colorful houses and elegant lacework. It also has some of the lagoon's best seafood restaurants. Stop for lunch at Al Gatto Nero (you'll need a reservation), and after a stroll of the island's pastel streets, catch the next boat to Torcello. See the Byzantine mosaics in the seventh-century Cattedrale di Santa Maria Dell'Assunta, and when you're ready, head back to Venice for dinner in the San Polo district, a stone's throw from the Rialto Bridge.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Train to Verona, Guided Walking Tour
Take one last vaporetto to Venice's station and then catch a train west to the romantic city of Verona, a UNESCO World Heritage Site swathed in art, culture, and opera. While best known as the setting for Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," the town has a rich culinary history. It's famous for its pandoro (a buttery sweet bread served at Christmastime), monte veronese cheese, and the famous vialone nano risotto rice. Check into your hotel, then head out to discover the city's treasures with a guided tour.
You'll start at one of Verona's most notable landmarks, the astonishingly preserved Arena, Italy's second-largest Roman amphitheater after the Colosseum, and now a world-famous opera venue. Stroll through Piazza Bra, the city's vast central square, while your guide shares stories of Verona's turbulent history. Reach Casa Giulietta, the house that inspired the play of the star-crossed lovers and home to Juliet's famed balcony.
Crisscross your way through side streets and back alleys until you reach the River Adige, where you'll be met with beautiful views of the Ponte Pietra, the Roman Theater, and the Archaeological Museum. Cross the Ponte di Castelvecchio, an impressive red brick medieval bridge dating back to 1350, and discover the sculpture and artworks in the Castelvecchio Museum, a small castle and a wonderful example of Gothic architecture. Later on, take the weight off with a glass of wine in the Piazza delle Erbe and dine on specialties such as risotto all Amarone (risotto with red wine)
Day 7: Guided Tour of Lake Garda, Return to Verona
Swap Verona's city walls for the serene shores of Lake Garda today with a guided tour of the villages that dot the lakeside. After a short train ride, you'll meet your guide at Desenzano station. Stroll to Piazza Malvezzi, the main square just behind the Porto Vecchio (Old Harbor), and wind through the narrow streets until you reach the famous Castillo di Desenzano, a beautifully preserved 11th-century castle. Your guide will share stories of the town's history as you see other landmarks, including the Piazza Duomo and the Duomo di Santa Maria Maddalena.
Return to the harbor and catch a ferry to Sirmione, a picture-postcard town perched on a peninsula jutting out from the southern shores of the lake. Famous for its thermal springs, which have attracted visitors since Roman times, and the imposing Castillo Scaligero, a vast 15th-century fortress with magnificent views and plenty of evocative battlements to explore. Delve further back in time with a visit to the Grotto of Catullus, a sprawling Roman mansion set among olive groves and overlooking the expansive lake.
Part ways with your guide and head to Piazza Carducci—an excellent spot for lunch where you can feast on dishes, including bigoli con le sarde del Garda (a Veneto pasta dish made with sardines). Afterward, continue your lake tour at your own pace with a boat ride over to the pretty town of Peschiera del Garda to explore the Roman ruins and wander the local delicatessens. Try the local formagella di tremosine (a semi-soft cheese) and sbrisolona (a mouthwatering crumble cake). When you're ready, return to Verona in time to enjoy a free evening in the city.
Day 8: Valpolicella Wine Region Tour
Enjoy a relaxed breakfast at your hotel before meeting your guide for a trip to Veneto's Valpolicella region, a district between the Alps foothills and the surrounding valleys of the Lessini Mountains. Surpassed only by Chianti and Montepulciano d'Abruzzo in Italy's red wine production, the area's renowned vineyards produce four excellent reds: rich amarone, spicy cherry Valpolicella ripasso, sweet recioto, and, of course, Valpolicella.
You'll tour two of the region's favorite wineries, learn about the centuries-old production process, visit the cellars, and see how the barrels are stored for aging. Afterward, you'll taste various vintages and styles, accompanied by small piatti (plates) to compliment the wines. Once you're done, you can purchase any bottles you particularly enjoyed, and your guide will drop you back in Verona.
Spend the afternoon exploring at your own pace. Verona's Giardino Giusti (Giusti Garden), east of the city, is a beautiful giardino all'Italiana (Italian-style garden) with a classic Renaissance layout. Stroll through the maze of lawns, manicured hedges, and Greek statues that adorn the walkways. As the sun dips, walk over to the Old Town and sample classic Veronese dishes using the region's famous Vialone Nano risotto rice and Monte Veronese cheese.
Day 9: Train to Milan, Free Afternoon
Transfer to Lombardy's capital this morning with a one-hour, 15-minute train journey to Milan. Famous as the epicenter of Italy's sophisticated fashion and the north's industrial and commercial hub, the city is also the birthplace of the world-famous risotto alla Milanese, a rich saffron risotto traditionally made with beef stock and bone marrow. Upon arrival, check in at your hotel and head out to explore.
Milan's famous historical sights are helpfully clustered together in the center. Your first stop should be the Piazza del Duomo, where the 14th-century Gothic Duomo is an arresting sight. Built over six centuries, it's Italy's second-biggest cathedral and one of the largest in the world. Other notable sights close by include the La Scala Opera House, the Pirelli Tower, and the medieval Castello Sforzesco. Don't miss an opportunity to see Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper" at the Santa Maria della Grazie monastery, where you'll need to book your slot well ahead of time.
In the evening, head to the bohemian Porta Genova neighborhood, which runs along the Naviglio Grande canal. It's the perfect spot for a predinner aperitivo with plenty of buzzy waterside bars, where people from all over the city come to socialize and people-watch.
Day 10: Homemade Pasta & Aperitivo Masterclass
Enjoy a relaxed morning and a caffè at a local bar before continuing your immersion into Italian life with an afternoon cooking class where you'll master the art of fresh pasta. You'll start with a lesson in cocktail making, where you and your fellow chefs will be guided through the ritual of aperitivo and shown how to make the perfect spritz or martini, depending on your choice.
Then, learn how to transform flour and eggs into different pasta shapes and silky smooth strands before getting to work on your preferred sauce. Choose from fresh pesto, pomodoro con basilico (tomato and basil), ragù, or burro e salvia (butter and sage). At the end of the workshop, sit down with your fellow chefs and enjoy your creations, accompanied by a selection of drinks, including craft beers and local wines. You'll leave armed with plenty of traditional techniques and authentic recipes to use back home.
Spend the rest of the afternoon either seeing any of the sights you missed yesterday or browsing the shops in Milan's famous fashion district on the Via della Spiga, Via Sant'Andrea, and Via Montenapoleone shopping streets.
Day 11: Train to Turin, Street Food Tour
Wave goodbye to the Lombardy region this morning and transfer by train to Turin, Piedmont's foodie capital. Known for its elaborate architecture, culture, and elegant wide boulevards, this historic university town is the perfect base to experience the region's famous wines and delicious local cuisine. After checking in, it's time to sharpen your taste buds with a street food tour.
Meet your guide and wander through the Old Town and toward the Porta Palazzo, Europe's largest open-air market. Browse the stalls and sample the fresh produce, including regional hams, cheeses, breads, truffle-infused treats, and other regional delicacies. Then snack your way through the city's historic streets with visits to local bakeries and food stalls, where you'll try the city's famous cioccolato and sweet pastries.
Part ways with your guide; the rest of the day is yours to spend at leisure. The central squares of Piazza San Carlo and Piazza Castello are excellent options for stopping for a caffé and savoring one of Turin's famous cioccolato di Giandiutto. Afterward, cross the Ponte Vittorio Emanuele I bridge over the river to the Chiesa Santa Maria del Monte dei Cappucini. It's an uphill walk up to the church, but it's worth it for the panoramic views. In the evening, find a cozy trattoria near the Piazza Vittoria Veneto and enjoy dishes such as brasato al Barolo (braised beef in Barolo wine).
Day 12: Langhe Hills Wine Tour
After breakfast, set out on a private wine tour in the nearby Langhe Hills, a renowned area for the exceptional quality of the vineyards and wines produced here. As well as Barolo and Barbaresco, you'll also find barbera and dolcetta varieties, and today, you'll take a guided tour through the Langhe-Roero and Monferrato area that comprises five distinct wine-growing areas with outstanding landscapes that were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014.
Your adventure begins in Asti, a 35-minute train ride from Turin. Meet your guide and embark on a guided tour of several family-owned wineries. Hear from the winemakers about the traditional wine-making methods used in the region, and then visit the cellars and see how the wines are aged in oak barrels. You'll conclude your visit by tasting a selection of vintages and varietals, accompanied by tasty local charcuteries, cheeses, and bread.
In the afternoon, you'll stop for lunch in one of the nearby hilltop villages and finish your tour with a visit to the centuries-old Grinzane Castle. As well as providing stunning views across the Langhe Hills, the castle is a renowned showroom for Piedmont's best regional wines. You'll have the opportunity to taste a moscato or grappa dessert wine and purchase any of your favorites. Afterward, you'll be dropped back at your hotel in time to watch the sunset over the hills and enjoy dinner at a nearby trattoria.
Day 13: Visit Sacra di San Michele Abbey
This morning, you'll fuel up on a warming cup of bicerin (thick Torinese hot chocolate) and a bignoline or two (choux pastry balls filled with cream, nuts, zabaglione, and coffee) and transfer 45 minutes west to Sacra di San Michele, an ancient monastery surrounded by Alpine peaks. One of Piedmont's most recognizable landmarks, the site dates back to the 10th century when it was built in dedication to the cult of Archangel Michele, the defender of the Christian people.
Climb the 243 steps to the monastery's entrance, and you'll be rewarded with a whimsical 12th-century "zodiac door" sculpted with cherubs and a breathtaking panorama of the snowy Alps. Once inside there's plenty to see, including the 16th-century "The Virgin on the Throne," a painting by Piedmontese artist Defendente Ferrari. After you've had your fill of exploring, return to Turin and settle on a cozy trattoria in the San Salvario neighborhood to savor a celebratory dinner and toast your Italy trip.
Day 14: Depart Turin
Your journey in Italy will end after breakfast, with a transfer to the airport to catch your flight home or to your next destination. Arrivederci!