A Taste of Italy September 18 – 27, 2020 8 nights $3195 Per Person
Come along with Your Man in Europe for a delightfully compact tour of some of northern Italy’s most wonderful hidden gems. Italy is well-known for its fabulous cuisine and world-class wines; and this trip capitalizes on that aspect as we drop in to many “foodie” destinations. You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to appreciate the origins of some of the finest foods and wines in the world. We’ll see much of the most beautiful scenery in the whole country, and stay in boutique hotels featuring truly breathtaking views – right from the rooms specially-selected just for our tour guests. Our group will enjoy traveling on high speed trains between destinations, and in private vans for local touring. Don’t miss this unique travel opportunity!
September 18, Friday – Guests depart the USA on overnight flights to Milan, Italy. Flight cost is not included with the tour. Guests may wish to upgrade or use points to book flights independently.
September 19, Saturday – Guests are asked to schedule flights to arrive at Milan’s Malpensa Airport by 10:00 AM. Our private driver and our tour guide will meet all guests at the International Arrivals gate. Our private driver will transport our group by deluxe van or minibus to Stresa, about an hour north of Milan. In route we will visit the stunning “Colossus” of San Carlo Borromeo, a massive copper statue, erected between 1614 and 1698. For many years it was the largest statue in the world, and served as the inspiration for The Statue of Liberty.
Once we arrive in Stresa we will be met by a private boat to take guests to a unique hotel situated on a small island in the middle of beautiful Lago Maggiore. Our boutique hotel boasts fantastic lake views and a quiet, relaxed atmosphere for weary travelers. After checking in and getting settled we’ll have a light lunch together, and then everyone will have some free time to explore our island home before dinner.
In the evening we will travel to nearby Arona for a private guided tour and very special dinner at the Guffanti Cheese Company. This will be the first stop on this specialty tour that will be exploring the fine wines and gourmet foods of Italy. Since 1876 the Luigi Guffanti Formaggi has selected and aged the best cheese from the Italian and European dairy tradition. Great attention to the research and refining of artisan-quality dairy products are the fundamental rules that the Guffanti Fiori family has been practicing for five generations. After this truly unique gourmet experience we will return to our lovely island hotel in Lago Maggiore.
September 20, Sunday – After breakfast with a stunning view we will make our way down to the dock for a self-guided boat tour of the enchanting islands in the lake. The three picturesque islands, the Borromeo Islands which seem to float on the calm water, are very different in character, and each has its own charms. Our hotel is situated on Isola Superiore dei Pescatori (Fishermen's Island). The other two main islands are Isola Madre (Mother Island) with its rich and lush vegetation, beautiful peacocks, pheasants and other birds, and Isola Bella (Beautiful Island) with Borromeo Palace, the incredible baroque mansion and Italian-style-garden with its ten terraces overlooking the lake. For art lovers there is a new gallery, inaugurated in 2008, with previously un-displayed 15th-17th century paintings from the Borromeo Family Collection.
The lake and the area around Stresa are like a tropical paradise, but nestled in the foothills of the Italian Alps! Stresa was once a tiny fishing village, recorded for the first time in 998 AD, occupying a narrow strip of land only accessible by a dusty old Roman road. This narrow strip of land on the lakeside is where Stresa got its name. Even today in Stresa dialect the word “strecia” means “narrow passage”.
Everyone will be provided a boat ticket which will allow exploration at your own pace. Since we will have different interests we may wish to go our own way. Investigate the narrow lanes of the island villages, and seek out a memorable place to enjoy lunch on your own today. As personal itineraries will vary, admissions to specific attractions are not included. Take the day to soak in the glorious ambience of this very special place in an unhurried way. We’ll meet back at the hotel for a lovely dinner together, and then enjoy a tranquil evening before heading for bed.
September 21, Monday – After one more delightful breakfast overlooking Lago Maggiore we will board our boat to take us to the train station for our journey to Modena. Modena is a too-often overlooked city in the heart of northern Italy's Emilia-Romagna region. Its medieval city center is among the most beautiful in Italy. The main square, dominated by a 12th-century Romanesque cathedral, has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Modena is the hometown of the late tenor Luciano Pavarotti and legendary car maker Enzo Ferrari. The area is also known around the world for its balsamic vinegar and Parmesan cheese production. The principal wine of the area is Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine and also the name for its grape variety.
Its rich history, gastronomic traditions and links to sports cars and opera music mean there is something for nearly everyone in this charming city in the Po River Valley.
After our arrival and check-in at our historic hotel in the Medieval city center we have a nice lunch together before setting off on our exploration. First we’ll visit we’ll visit Gavioli Antica Winery & Museum. This winery, with over 220 years of history, is deeply rooted in tradition. The stunning space showcases ancient instruments, agricultural and oenological tools, and vinification equipment. During our tour we’ll have the opportunity to dive into the history of Lambrusco produced in this area. We’ll sample their production vinified according to the Ancestral Method, where the second refermentation takes place in the bottle and the residual yeasts remains on the bottom.
We’ll return to our hotel for a bit of relaxation before having a wonderful dinner together in the hotel’s garden terrace (weather permitting), or in the lovely dining room.
September 22, Tuesday – After a very nice breakfast we’ll continue our “Foodie” experience with a visit to a Parmesan cheese maker. It’s time to see the production of authentic Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, which happens only in the mornings. The visit includes a tour of the milk processing area, pre-salting & salting rooms and concludes in the aging storeroom where parmesan wheels rest on wooden shelves. Of course, a highlight will be tasting the various aged cheeses. We will also be able to sample other famous foods of the area: Parma ham and salami. We’ll also have the opportunity to try other local products, like honeys and marmalades.
Following the morning cheese tour we’ll be introduced to one of Modena’s other claims to fame: Balsamic vinegar production. The difference between precious Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena — as the renowned high-quality balsamic vinegar is officially called — and the generic imitations stocked on supermarket shelves is like the difference between gold and pyrite. To taste the real thing we’ll visit the small family-run balsamic vinegar producer near our hotel. We will be introduced to the fermentation process, during which the vinegar is aged in a series of wooden barrels for a minimum of 12 years. The tour concludes with a tasting of different varieties of the rich gastronomic condiment, sometimes called “liquid gold”.
After the morning tours everyone will have the rest of the day to experience Modena independently. There is so much to see and do here that it may be difficult to choose.
Guests may decide to visit the Museo Casa Enzo Ferrari, a museum that celebrates the company founder and hometown hero, Enzo Ferrari. The museum comprises the house in which Enzo was born and a dazzling new structure topped with a curving canary-yellow roof that resembles the hood of a racecar. Inside there are plenty of exquisite cars to admire.
Around lunchtime consider checking out the bustling Mercato Albinelli which has been satisfying the grocery needs of locals since 1931. The covered marketplace also provides unique insight into the world of residents of Modena. Nibble samples of the market’s offerings, like trays of handmade stuffed pasta and morsels of Culatello, one of the region’s tastiest salamis. The old center offers a wide choice of wonderful small cafes for a more substantial lunch.
Walking around in the Piazza Grande in the historic center reveals Unesco cultural treasures, such as the beautiful 12th-century Romanesque cathedral and its majestic Ghirlandina bell tower. Marvel at the sublime scene over an aperitivo at Caffè Concerto, a cafe whose outdoor tables occupy choice spots on the picturesque piazza.
Lunch and dinner will be on your own today. For an exceptional dining experience there are many very fine and unique restaurants in the city’s Medieval center.
September 23, Wednesday – After a very nice breakfast our too-short visit to Modena comes to a close. We will be transported by private van south into Tuscany - to San Gimignano. Our hotel there offers some of the very best views in all of Tuscany. This is quintessential Tuscan landscape, surrounded by beautiful vineyards and rolling hills. After everyone is settled in our hotel we’ll have a nice lunch together before setting out on our next adventure: a visit to a local winery for an introduction to the area’s wonderful white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
We’ll enjoy a short walking tour of an extraordinarily scenic property including a visit to the winery and vineyards with one of the family members. Of course, we’ll have a private wine tasting experience. In the early evening we’ll enjoy a lovely dinner together at the winery before returning to our hotel.
September 24, Thursday – We’ll take our time enjoying breakfast at the hotel (with some of the most spectacular views you’ve ever seen - that is, except for out your own room’s balcony), before taking off on our next exciting experience. We’ll travel just a short distance from the town to Il Vicario, where we’ll be treated to a fantastic cooking lesson. We’ll learn secrets of Italian cooking, prepare our own meal, and sit down together to enjoy it with a generous sampling of the wonderful local wines.
After returning to San Gimignano everyone will have free time to see more of this stunning little village and enjoy dinner independently. And don’t pass up the shop voted “The Best Gelato in Italy” for dessert located right across from our boutique hotel. We might decide to just have a picnic on our wonderful private terrace with its magnificent view.
September 25, Friday – After another great breakfast with our stunning panorama we’ll travel by private van the short way to Florence. After our arrival we’ll meet with The Best Tour Guide in Italy for an enchanting walking tour of the old city center. Guests will receive fascinating insights into one of the world’s most celebrated cities. We’ll have lunch together along the way. At the conclusion of the tour we’ll make a visit to the wonderful Bargello Museum, a lesser known gem of an art museum filled to the brim with fabulous world-famous sculptures and elegant artifacts from the Golden Age of Florence.
After the tour we’ll have free time in Florence for shopping, specialty museums, or just strolling around the iconic city. In the evening we’ll return to San Gimignano in time for a fabulous dinner of northern Italian cuisine at our hotel’s fantastic dining room before turning in for the night (as night life in San Gimignano is pretty slow.)
September 26, Saturday - After a wonderful breakfast we’ll check out of our charming boutique hotel and head out for an exceptional wine experience. Today we’ll have a private tour of one of Italy’s most incredible wineries: Antinori, a historical link with the Chianti Classico region. The winery dates back to 1385, but surprisingly today is one of the most modern in the world. The new facility was inaugurated in October 2012, affirming the historical bond between the Antinori family and their ancestral territory. The winery was built entirely with locally sourced materials, respectful of the surrounding environment and the Tuscan landscape. It represents an important milestone in the history of the Antinori family. For the first time in 26 generations, the Antinori’s inaugurated a new winery designed to welcome wine enthusiasts inviting them to come into direct contact with their production philosophy based on passion, patience and the continual pursuit of the highest quality.
Our visit there will be an in-depth introduction to production as well as sophisticated tastings and a lovely lunch on a hilltop overlooking the vineyards. This is truly a place where tradition and innovation coexist in perfect harmony.
On the way to Florence we’ll stop by the American Cemetery where the fallen American soldiers from World War II are buried in an awe-inspiring setting that rivals the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach and Arlington National Cemetery.
In the late afternoon we’ll travel to the Florence train station to board our train to Milan and our hotel near Malpensa Airport. There we’ll have our “Farewell to Italy” dinner together.
September 27, Sunday – Our hotel invites everyone to enjoy breakfast before departure to the airport. Easy shuttle transportation will be provided for departing flights to the USA.
Your Man in Europe will be pleased to offer assistance for those guests wishing to extend their time in Italy.
What’s in store for us?
This tour is custom-planned for a small group of no more than 10 guests. Even if you are a seasoned traveler, you have never experienced Italy like this. We’re sure the magic will captivate you. You’ll be part of a magical adventure - complete with music, gourmet picnics, and surprises that will delight you at every turn.
This is not a “Big Bus Tour”. There will be no wake-up calls at 5 AM to herd onto the buses. Our travelers will have a friendly, extremely knowledgeable guide for the entire trip – not just a bus driver and hum-drum contracted tour guide. We do our best to set the mood, to weave a spell, and to make yours a total experience. Hotels and most restaurants on the entire tour have been selected for their very specific location or high level of “atmosphere”. The small group size allows us to personalize the experience in a way large groups simply cannot do. We make it easy, comfortable and stress-free. No guest has to worry about the details of where we are going next. You will feel as if you are not a tourist, but a guest of your Italian friends.
This is a complete tour; and the prices are not increased during the trip through unexpected charges for “extra” tours and arrangements you must handle on your own. If there will be any optional tours or activities not included in the cost everyone will be advised well before signing up for the tour. Most meals are included, as detailed in the itinerary.
Your Tour Guide: Larry Ivy is the Tour Coordinator and guide for Your Man in Europe, and a long-time veteran of European travel and unique private tour-leading. Larry wants just one thing: for you to have “the best time of your life”!
Complete Prices for the September 18 - 27, 2020 Tour
$3195.00 Per Person
*All prices are based on Double Occupancy. Single supplement is an additional $590.
A $500 deposit holds your place on the tour(s). Reservations and deposits for this fantastic opportunity should be made as early as possible, but not later than April 15, 2020. The final balance is due by August 1, 2020. Make checks payable to “Your Man in Europe”. Guests are invited to use our no-interest flexible payment plan.
Tour Includes: Eight (8) nights of overnight accommodation (based on double occupancy) in very specially selected hotels and B&Bs, all eight (8) breakfasts, six (6) lunches, and six (6) dinners; ground transportation with a private driver; and First Class rail travel (where available), admissions to all attractions described in the tour itinerary, knowledgeable guide services, and standard gratuities. There will be no additional charges for the tours and events specifically included by Your Man in Europe. There may be extra charges for tours not included in the detailed in the itinerary. These are optional activities.
Not Included: Airfare to and returning from Milan, Italy, optional travel insurance, extra beverages (meals will include one beverage and will be budgeted accordingly); a la cart or premium menu selections beyond the established meal allowances; between meal snacks; gratuities for extra services such as baggage porters, or for superior service (normal gratuities are included in the trip cost); souvenirs; and privately arranged activities.
Also: All overnight accommodations, as well as railroad and minibus travel will be NO-SMOKING.
This tour is strictly limited to a maximum of 10 guests travelling together
The minimum group size is 6 – The tour will be canceled with fewer than 6 guests.