From high in the Dolomites to the shores of Lake Como, romance is in the air on this unforgettable Italian honeymoon. In just 11 days you'll visit four of northern Italy's most spectacular locales, starting in the mountain resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo. With a private driver at your service, you can forget about the logistics and focus on making memories: touring the atmospheric canals of Venice, hiking between fishing villages in the Cinque Terre, and cruising past stately villas and stunning scenery on Lake Como.

Highlights

  • Hike through stunning alpine scenery in the mountain resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo
  • Navigate Venice's romantic canals by gondola
  • Explore the five fishing villages of the famous Cinque Terre
  • Learn to make authentic pesto in Portofino
  • Discover the grand villas & lush gardens of Lake Como

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Venice, Transfer to Cortina d'Ampezzo Cortina d'Ampezzo
Day 2 Lake Misurina & Tre Cime di Lavaredo Hike Cortina d'Ampezzo
Day 3 Free Day in Cortina d'Ampezzo Cortina d'Ampezzo
Day 4 Transfer to Venice Venice
Day 5 Venice Walking Tour, Bacari Street Food Tasting & Gondola Ride Venice
Day 6 Transfer to the Cinque Terre, Bologna Food Tour En Route Cinque Terre
Day 7 Hike the Cinque Terre Villages Cinque Terre
Day 8 Transfer to Lake Como, Pesto Making in Portofino En Route Lake Como
Day 9 Lake Como Ferry Tour, Explore Bellagio Lake Como
Day 10 Free Day on Lake Como Lake Como
Day 11 Transfer to Milan, Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Venice, Transfer to Cortina d'Ampezzo

The lakeside resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo

Welcome to Italy! Upon arrival at the Venice Airport, you'll be met by your personal concierge, who will coordinate your private transfer to the popular ski town of  Cortina D'Ampezzo

The drive through the heart of the Dolomites takes about 2 hours. Along the way, you can sit back and admire the amazing scenery as you pass by dramatic mountains including Monte Antelao.

In 1956, Cortina hosted the Winter Olympics, giving the town worldwide fame as an active holiday destination. Located in the Ampezzo Valley, visitors flock to Cortina for excellent skiing and snowboarding in the winter, but in the warmer months, it is also highly regarded as a perfect base for biking, hiking, and shopping in the Dolomites region. Check into your accommodation and spend the afternoon exploring the compact but stylish town center. 

In the evening enjoy an aperitivo in the central Piazza Angelo Dibona before choosing from one of the town's many excellent restaurants for some traditional northern Italian fare.

Day 2: Lake Misurina & Tre Cime di Lavaredo Hike

Misurina
Mountain reflections in Lake Misurina
After breakfast, you'll head out on a half-day trip to Lake Misurina and the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. Meet your driver in the center of Cortina and enjoy the scenic journey up towards the pristine lake. Lake Misurina is located 5,755 feet (1,754 m) above sea level, and the air here is so pure that some say it can help the recovery of respiratory diseases. It's a wonderful place to spend a few hours clearing your lungs and discovering the area's natural beauty and tranquility.

In 1956, Lake Misurina was the venue for the Winter Olympics speed skating events. This was the final year that the event was held on natural ice. Your local guide will tell you about the history and magical mirror legend before allowing you to enjoy a leisurely walk around the lake's 1.6-mile (2.5 km) trail.

Continue your drive further north to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, meaning the Three Peaks of Lavardo in English. They are iconic because of their jagged appearance and extreme vertical slopes. During World War I, the area was along the Italian and Austrian front line, and today you can still stumble upon trenches, tunnels, and plaques left in commemoration of fallen soldiers.

The peaks are popular with beginners as well as more experienced trekkers. In the afternoon, head out on an easy and mostly flat walk between two alpine huts. The route from Refugio Auronzo to Refugio Lavaredo is 1 mile (1.6 km) each way, and the route can be adapted for more advanced hikers by adding an extra few miles up to and around the three peaks.

The tour ends back in Cortina d'Ampezzo, where you have the rest of the afternoon free. Consider taking it easy and browsing Cortina's finest high fashion clothing and jewelry in designer shops and luxurious small boutiques, or just exploring more of the town. In the evening, walk along the bustling Corso Italia and find a traditional restaurant for dinner.

Day 3: Free Day in Cortina d'Ampezzo

Free day in Cortina d'Ampezzo
Explore more of the scenic countryside around Cortina d'Ampezzo at your leisure

Today is yours to explore Cortina d'Ampezzo at your leisure, doing as much or as little as you desire. Some recommended highlights include:

  • A visit to the 18th-century Basilica of Santi Filippo and Giacomo, with its famous bell tower and interiors lavishly decorated with local marble.

  • Browse the Mario Rimoldi Modern Art Museum, a three-in-one option that houses modern art, local history, and paleontology exhibitions

  • Follow the footsteps of James Bond and check out some of the For Your Eyes Only filming locations in Cortina including the Piazza Angelo Dibona on Corso Italia and the Olympic bobsled track.

  • Ride the Faloria Cable Car from the stop in Cortina on Via Ria de Zeto. At the top are spectacular views and many walking or cycling trails.

Day 4: Transfer to Venice

Skyline of Venice
Welcome to the Floating City

This morning you'll say goodbye to the Dolomites as your private driver whisks you away to the other side of Italy and the iconic romance of Venice.

Venice is famous for both industry and tourism. With nicknames like "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", and "The Floating City," it's clear that the city's myriad canals are its main draw. Stretching across 117 small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea, the city has long been a commercial and cultural hub thanks to its strategic placement. Silk, grains, spices, and art were traded through the Middle Ages, making Venice very wealthy.

The city is also renowned for its many beautiful historic attractions, such as the Piazza San Marco and San Marco Basilica, the Grand Canal, and the ornate Doge's Palace. The Lido di Venezia is a popular luxury destination that attracts actors, critics, and other cinema industry celebrities.
 
After settling into your hotel, take the evening to explore the Cannaregio district. This area of Venice, known for its Jewish Quarter, is the perfect place to simply stroll as you admire the architecture. Cannaregio has plenty of artisanal shops to explore as well as a plethora of delicious restaurants and lively bars to stop in for dinner and drinks.

Day 5: Venice Walking Tour, Bacari Street Food Tasting & Gondola Ride

Venice's canal network
Explore Venice's labyrinthine canals by gondola
Experience Venice's highlights this morning with a guided walking tour. Starting from the Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square), the heart of the city's cultural and administrative district, you'll tour the Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace), a Venetian Gothic palace built as the primary residence for the Doge of Venice in 1340. The palace stands within the city's most famous piazza, and its resplendent interior decor and priceless works of art make it a must-see for history and architecture buffs. 
 
Adjacent to the palace is San Marco's Basilica, originally the Doge's private chapel. The building is one of the best surviving examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture and features a stunning collection of Byzantine art, gold mosaics, and exquisite marble floors. 

The palace is also connected to the next-door prison by the infamous Bridge of Sighs, which has joined the two buildings since the 16th century. The bridge features a small window onto Venice's harbor and earned its grisly name from the prisoners' sighing as they got one last glimpse of the city on their way to execution. While most visitors gather outside the bridge to look in, you'll get the best sense of history from inside the bridge, looking out from the same window as the doomed medieval prisoners.

Once you've worked up an appetite from all that sightseeing, it's time to meet your local food connoisseur for a fascinating tour of the city's best local haunts, known as bacari. Home to the most authentic Venetian cuisine, these small cafes and taverns offer the chance to sample regional specialties accompanied by local wines. Start with un’ombra (a small glass of wine) and cicheti (traditional snacks). There is an immense variety, including baccalà (cod), spicy meatballs, fish appetizers, fried vegetables, and many more. The ritual visit to the wine bar is an important part of the rhythm of life in Venice, and a favorite way of catching up with friends.
 
There is something to be said for the classics—and taking a romantic gondola ride when in Venice is definitely a must-do. This afternoon you'll board a private gondola and visit parts of the city that are only accessible by boat. Gliding through the evocative narrow canals of San Marco, dominated by towering palaces and punctuated by delicate bridges, you'll feel like you've traveled back in time as the sun sets on your final day in the city.

Day 6: Transfer to the Cinque Terre, Bologna Food Tour En Route

The cliffside Cinque Terre village of Manarola 

It's time to bid Venice farewell this morning, as you meet your private driver for a transfer to Italy's Mediterranean coast and the colorful clifftop villages of the Cinque Terre

En route, you'll stretch your legs and satisfy your appetite with a stop in Bologna for a walking food tour. As your knowledgeable local guide leads you on an exploration of the local markets, you'll shop for regional delicacies, such as artisanal tortellini, mortadella, and a variety of cheeses. Visit traditional food shops, like a bakery and pasta maker, to see the handcrafting process. After picking up items for your lunch from various stalls, feast on your acquired provisions and pasta with bolognese ragù in one of the oldest osteria in Bologna, then finish your meal with an artisanal gelato tasting.

In the afternoon, you'll get back on the road and continue to the coast, where your driver will welcome you to the extraordinary beauty and secluded atmosphere of the Cinque Terre. This rugged strip of the Liguria coastline consists of five old fishing villages—Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coast, villages, and surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The region is renowned for its spectacular natural surroundings and its abundance of Mediterranean flora, covering the scrubby hillsides that tumble down to the turquoise water. The historic villages and breathtaking beauty of the region make it a popular choice for travelers. The well-preserved towns prohibit vehicles so as not to destroy the traditional charm, and most visitors arrive by the train that runs along the coast or by tour boat.

Check into your hotel and get some rest—tomorrow you'll explore the villages on an invigorating hiking excursion. 

Day 7: Hike the Cinque Terre Villages

A hiking trail above Vernazza

Today you'll explore the beauty of the Cinque Terre on foot, quickly understanding its perennial appeal and popularity. Each village can only be accessed by foot, boat, or train, and steep terraces plunge to tiny harbors with colorful little houses, huddled together at the sea's edge. 

In the morning, you'll meet your private hiking guide in the lobby of your hotel. After receiving your Cinque Terre National Park Cards, you'll set out on an unforgettable hiking excursion. Your guide will help you choose which paths to follow, based on your interests, the weather conditions, and your training.
 
Your options include:
 
  • Monterosso to Vernazza: This medium-difficulty, 2-hour walking tour starts in Monterosso and will take you along a scenic path with amazing views. After an initial climb up a steep cliffside stairway of one hundred steps, the trail winds up and down through scrubby Mediterranean vegetation bordered by dry-stone walls.

  • Corniglia to Vernazza: This 2-hour walk of medium difficultly starts in Corniglia. After winding your way through vineyards, olive groves, and along terraces dotted with scrubby Mediterranean bushes, you will end in Vernazza, probably the most photogenic of all the Cinque Terre villages.

  • Riomaggiore to Madonna di Montenero: This 1.5-hour trail takes you along a medium-difficulty route on the Cinque Terre cliffs and brings you to the Sanctuary of Montenero. For centuries, it housed the only religious center for the whole area; now it operates as a youth hostel.
After enjoying a well-earned lunch at your destination, your guide will transfer you back to your hotel for the evening.

Day 8: Transfer to Lake Como, Pesto Making in Portofino En Route

Learn to make authentic Genovese pesto today in Portofino

Meet your driver this morning for a transfer north up the coast to the Tigullio region and the famed fishing village of Portofino. Widely renowned as a jewel of the Italian Riviera, Portofino's pretty harbor, clear waters, and spectacular scenery draw divers and beachgoers from around the world. One of Portofino's main sights is the Statue of Christ of the Abyss, which lies 56 feet (17 m) below the waves on the seafloor in memory of Dario Gonzatti, the first Italian to use diving gear. Other notable sights include the 16th-century Castello Brown, the 12th-century Church of St. Martin, and the Gothic Oratory of Santa Maria Assunta

But of course, the main attraction is the town itself. Narrow streets lined with shops, art galleries, cafes, and restaurants lead up from the water, and the beaches and tranquil town piazzas are full of families and couples enjoying the sunny weather.

Take some time to explore at your own pace, before joining an unforgettable pesto workshop with a local chef. After a warm welcome with focaccia and local artisanal wine, you'll learn how to prepare mortal-made pesto and different types of fresh pasta. Sit down to an informal lunch with the Genovese specialty, and continue your culinary adventure with further tastings of local wines, olive oils, and balsamic vinegar—topping it all off with some gelato for dessert. 

After lunch, you'll leave the magic of the Cinque Terre behind as you enjoy a comfortable private transfer to the idyllic shores of Lake Como. You’ll travel 187 miles (301 km), which takes about 3.5 hours. Although the route mostly follows major roadways, you can still catch glimpses of scenic Italian landscapes as you journey north. Along the way, your driver will happily provide you with regional information to make your trip even more interesting.
 
Lake Como is one of the three main lakes in Italy's Lake District, alongside Lake Garda and Lake Maggiore. Grand yet peaceful, surrounded by forests that add to the serenity, the lake is popular with travelers from around the world and has attracted numerous celebrities who own villas along its shores, including George Clooney and Madonna. You'll be based in the town of Como on the southern end of the lake while you spend the next few days exploring. 

Day 9: Lake Como Ferry Tour, Explore Bellagio

Beautiful Lake Como, Italy
Grand villas along the shores of Lake Como

Famous for its turquoise waters, there's no better way of seeing magical Lake Como than by boat. From the water, you'll get a much better view of some of the extravagant villas that border the lake, as well as the lush gardens that surround them.

Between Torno and Blevio, your private guide will show you the pretty little villages that line the shore, many with beautiful bell towers reflected in the water. Pass by the island of Comacina, the only island in the lake. Largely abandoned now—apart from a handful of artists and a restaurant—Comacina is, in fact, one of the earliest inhabited parts of the area. There was already an established settlement on the island when it was taken over by the Romans.

At the town of Bellagio, known as the pearl of the lake, you can stop and wander its quaint little lanes. Explore the many wonderful craft shops filled with local goods. Towering above the town is the impressive Villa Serbelloni, an extravagant hotel built in the late 19th century. Stop here for lunch or find a quiet cafe in the town's center before returning to Como for the evening.

Day 10: Free Day on Lake Como

Tour the romantic lakeside villa of Balbianello

Your last day in Como is free to spend however you choose. Some suggestions include:

  • Learn about local history in the Museo Archeologico.

  • Take the funicular up to Brunate, a small town located high in the mountains above Lake Como.

  • Tour the terraced gardens and beautiful interiors of Villa Balbianello and the Villa Serbelloni.

  • Visit Menaggio, a beautiful small town above Bellagio.

  • Go rock climbing on the granite and limestone cliffs that surround Lake Como. 

  • Rent an electric bike and go for a ride along the lake.

  • Go paragliding at Monte Cornizzolo to see Lake Como's beauty from above.

  • Get an aerial view of the landscape with a flight on a seaplane with Aeroclub Como

  • Rent a kayak and enjoy a day on the water.

  • Go wine tasting at Cantine Sorsasso, Lake Como's oldest winery.

Day 11: Transfer to Milan, Departure

Dusk over Lake Como

Your Italian odyssey comes to a close today, as you spend one last leisurely morning on the shores of Lake Como. At the scheduled time, your private driver will pick you up for the 2-hour journey to the Milan Airport, where you'll catch your departing flight. Arrividerci!

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