Northern delights: a food and wine guided small group adventure in Italy

Tours 8 months ago


Italy’s 'dolce vita’ or ‘sweet life’ is founded on the fantastic food and wonderful wine for which it is famous, and in Italy’s north you find some of the best food and wine in the country. On this guided small group tour you will savour great food and wine as we explore the north-east of Italy: from Milan to Alba and Torino. Whether it’s smooth red wine, the finest chocolates, excellent aperitivo, sparkling Asti spumante, authentic Bicerin, or just great food: this tour has it all.
Northern delights: a food and wine adventure best tours italy 2019
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Viaggio Italia Travel: best italy tours for seniors, best escorted group tours 2019
Italy’s 'dolce vita’ or ‘sweet life’ is founded on the fantastic food and wonderful wine for which it is famous, and in Italy’s north you find some of the best food and wine in the country. On this guided small group tour you will savour great food and wine as we explore the north-east of Italy: from Milan to Alba and Torino. Whether it’s smooth red wine, the finest chocolates, excellent aperitivo, sparkling Asti spumante, authentic Bicerin, or just great food: this tour has it all.

Day 1 – Milan: city of fashion and food
Guests will be arriving at different times and we will be on hand to assist when you check into our hotel and to help orient you. You will then have free time until 5:00pm, when all our guests will join us for welcome drinks and a chance to talk about our time in Milan and beyond. Later we will take a walk to familiarise you with the local area which will finish at a lovely Italian restaurant for our first meal together, and the opportunity to get to know the other travellers who will be sharing this tour with you.
Day 2 – Milan: getting to know
Milan’s Duomo – or Cathedral – is the most iconic image of this great city and that’s where you’ll start our walking tour. To get there it’s a short ride on Milan’s excellent Metro system. You’ll also have full use of this system for the next two days, as we provide you with a pass to use to explore the city once the formal tour is concluded. At the Duomo, you’ll take the elevator to the roof for a fantastic view of the city from the terraces, before skipping the lines with your local guide to take a tour inside this incredible and historic Gothic masterpiece. It’s a unique experience. Later we’ll walk across to see the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – the famous shopping mall with its arched glass ceiling, before visiting the Piazza della Scala from where we’ll take a guided tour of the famous Teatro alla Scala opera house. ​
Day 3 – An authentic cooking and dining experience!
In the little village of Gittana, about a 10-minute drive by private van in the hills above Varenna, is a wonderful family-owned restaurant run by Moreno and his wife Rossella. We’ll take the regional train for the hour journey to Varenna where we’ll be picked up and taken to the restaurant where you’ll enjoy a welcome cappuccino and Italian biscotti at their restaurant, before enjoying a private group cooking class. Moreno will lead and give you the chance to join in and learn the tricks, like how to fold and shape tortelloni or roll gnocchi. We’ll break for spuntino (Italian snack time) and enjoy fresh bread, salame and cheese from the local valley, and a little of the local D.O.C. wine. Then it’s back to the cookery lesson, where fresh ingredients and passion for food will provide you with a great authentic lunch time at around 2.00 p.m. You’ll receive a certificate of attending signed by Moreno and Rossella and a glass of limoncello before wishing them ‘arrivederci e grazie mille’ around 4.00 pm when you will be transferred back to Varenna. You’ll get to spend a little time exploring this gem of Lake Como before we take the train back to Milan.
Day 4 – Alba: gourmet capital of Piedmont
Today we leave Milan and head over to Alba: in the heart of the Langhe region. The Langhe is Italy's premier wine region and its most beautiful. Alba is known as the gourmet capital of Piedmont: famous for its white truffles and chocolates (it is where Ferrero Rocher and Nutella come from!). We’ll get to Milan Centrale station via the Metro, where the Frecciarossa fast train will take us as far as Torino, where we change for the regional train down to Alba; arriving early in the afternoon. When we arrive in Alba, our hotel is just a short walk from the station. After the chance to stretch your legs, we’ll take an orientation walk of the town, pausing for an apertivo in one of the great little bars you’ll find in the town’s little piazzas and cobbled streets. Later we’ll gather for dinner in one of Alba’s traditional restaurants.
Day 5 – Barolo wine and white truffles
Barolo is arguably the most famous DOCG wine produced in Italy, and it all happens in the region to the south of Alba which takes its name from one of 11 villages in the area and which now has UNESCO World Heritage status. You’ll board a private bus for a panoramic tour, stopping for a visit to the little town of Barolo, some wine tasting, and lunch in a rustic rural restaurant. After lunch, you’ll continue our adventure because the area is not only renowned for its wine, but also for its truffles. In fact, the white truffles of Alba are regarded as the Rolls Royce of the food world: some of the rarest, most expensive and most delicious ingredients in all of Italy. You’ll visit a local farm where we’ll be taken into the countryside on a search for the little white wonders. Later you’ll enjoy the rolling vine-covered hills as we return to Alba after a fantastic day in Barolo.
Day 6 – Asti spumante and the underground cathedrals of Canelli
East of Alba lies Asti, and the region around this lovely town is the home of Asti Spumante DOCG (sparkling wine) which is renowned and exported all around the world. In the morning you’ll again take a private bus and head into the Asti area where gentle hills alternate with valleys to create landscapes of unique beauty, and vineyards stretch as far as the eye can see, to provide a kaleidoscope of shades and tones. You’ll visit some of the local wineries and sample the bubbly wine for which the area is famous. You’ll enjoy another nice lunch in a rustic setting, before exploring the underground cathedrals of Canelli. These genuine masterpieces of engineering - now a UNESCO site – wind their way for about 20 kilometres in the tufa hills, and are a picturesque, surreal setting where thousands of bottles are left to ferment. ​
Day 7 – Off to Torino: northern surprise
After a couple of big days in Alba, this morning it’s back to the station for the train to Torino. It’s just a bit over an hour, and then we’ll take a short trip on the Metro over to our hotel, which is very centrally placed. After some time to settle in, you’ll take a short orientation walk before meeting your local guide who will take you through the centre, pausing to enjoy an aperitivo, before finishing our sunset walk at a great panoramic spot which will give you a great view over this northern powerhouse city and lots of photo opportunities. After we will wander to a typical northern restaurant for another great dinner together.
Day 8 – A step back in time in old Torino
After breakfast you’ll enjoy a 3-hour walking tour of Torino’s old centre and come to understand its importance for Italian history: especially it’s place in the establishment of the modern republic. You’ll see Torino’s classic sights, from the baroque palaces and porticoes of the old city centre to its medieval cathedral, home to the fabled Turin Shroud. You’ll visit Piazza Castello, Piazza San Carlo (one of the city’s most elegant squares and once dubbed Europe’s sitting room), the fine baroque architecture of Piazza Carignano including the palazzo where King Vittorio Emanuele II was born, and step inside the Palazzo Reale (Royal Court) where the Savoy kings once held court. Later, you’ll have the rest of the day to explore the city independently.
Day 9 – Torino treats
Today we’ll start a little earlier, heading out straight after breakfast to visit Torino’s famous Mercato di Porta Palazzo: the largest open air market in Europe. You’ll spend some time exploring the stalls that sell fresh food, clothes and almost anything else you can imagine, before heading back into the main part of town to discover two reasons why Torino is synonymous with Italy’s food history: chocolate and coffee. Torino has been the chocolate heart of Europe since the 17th century and its cafés rank amongst Europe’s finest. These days, Torino’s many historic cafés remain popular among all walks of society, who want to revel in the splendour and elegance of days of old. You’ll take a walk to visit several of the grand old cafes and get to sample some of the chocolate and coffee for which Torino is rightfully famous.
Day 10 – Canals, Art, Food and Wine
Today we return to Milan on the fabulous Frecciarossa fast train. A short ride on the Metro gets us to our hotel, where there’ll be time to refresh before we head out for a complete Milanese cultural experience with an unbeatable mix of Renaissance art, canal settings and local wine tour. Your tour will begin at one of Milan’s oldest and most illustrious basilicas, Saint Eustorgio: built on an ancient Pagan and early Christian burial site. The basilica is home to the Portinari Chapel which was built by the Medici bankers from Florence in the 15th century. As you wander through the Canals district your guide will provide insights into the history of one of Europe's most important river port cities. As we saunter along the Naviglio Grande in the footsteps of Leonardo da Vinci, you'll enjoy the atmosphere of the city's top entertainment district as it prepares for another night of revelry.
Day 11 – Farewell from Milan
This is our last morning in Milan. We will be available to assist in your transfers to the airport or the rail.
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