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 Italy's Hidden Gems - April 12 - 27, 2024 - $4685.00 per person 

                                                                                       Italy’s Hidden Gems

                                                                                                           14 nights

Come along with Your Man in Europe for a delightful tour of some of northern Italy’s most stunning hidden gems. We’ll see much of the most beautiful scenery in the entire country while visiting fantastic destinations often overlooked by most organized tours, and never seen by Big Bus tours or cruise ship side trips. 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 and local trains between destinations, and in private vans for local touring. Don’t miss this unique travel opportunity! 


Day 1: April 12, 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.


Day 2: April 13, Saturday – Guests are asked to schedule flights to arrive at Milan’s Malpensa Airport (MXP) by 11:00 AM. Our private driver and our tour guide will meet all guests at the International Arrivals gate, and then 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 or just relax before dinner. 

In the evening we’ll enjoy a wonderful dinner together in the hotel’s scenic restaurant, and then head for bed for a very welcome good night’s sleep.

Day 3: April 14, 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. Dinner will be on your own this evening.

Day 4: April 15, Monday – After a delicious breakfast-with-a-view, everyone can enjoy an entirely free day. If the weather is agreeable, have a swim, or catch some sun. Spend a leisurely day exploring the area. Take one of the shuttle boats over to Stresa, a delightful, very Italian, little town. Shop, stroll, buy supplies for a picnic in the broad lakeside park, or find just the right restaurant for a cozy lunch or dinner. For those more adventuresome travelers, consider taking the cable car to the top of the mountain for a spectacular view of beautiful Lago Maggiore. Take the day to soak in the experience of just being in Italy. Lunch will be on your own today.

In the late afternoon we will travel to nearby Arona for a private guided tour and very special dinner at the Guffanti Cheese Company. 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 tranquil island hotel in Lago Maggiore

Day 5: April 16, Tuesday – After our last breakfast on the island, we’ll board our local train to Modena, 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 carmaker 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’ll be introduced to one of Modena’s main 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 a family-run balsamic vinegar producer near Modena.  We will learn about 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”, and a light lunch consisting of local specialties.

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.


Day 6: April 17, Wednesday – After a very nice breakfast we’ll have some great activities. First we’ll 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. Our professional guide will give us a great tour of the impressive museum, where there are plenty of exquisite cars to admire. 

After the tour, we’ll head for 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.

After the visit to the market everyone will have a free afternoon and evening to explore Modena’s Unesco cultural treasures, such as the beautiful 12th-century Romanesque cathedral and its majestic Ghirlandaio bell tower, and many more. Stop in at the convenient tourist office for information and advice on getting the most out of your time in beautiful Modena.

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.  


Day 7: April 18, Thursday – 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. This stunning little village is the very image of idyllic Tuscany, with its picturesque location right atop a commanding hill, and it’s absolutely breath-taking vistas of the surrounding countryside. Our enchanting hotel is in the old town center, and features incomparable vistas of the Tuscan landscape. This is quintessential Tuscany, surrounded by beautiful vineyards and rolling hills. Not only is San Gimignano an idyllic place to see, but it’s also a wonderful place just to be. Have plenty of storage on your phone or camera because virtually everywhere you look will be a “Kodak Moment”! The beauty of this dream-like place will be something you’ll never forget.

After dropping our luggage at our hotel, we’ll have time to have a brief orientation tour and a light lunch together. After checking into our rooms, explore the quaint village, and enjoy some free time. Have a glass or two of the delicious local wine. Take the trek to the garden at the top of the village if you feel energetic. In the evening we’ve included a fabulous dinner of northern Italian cuisine and wine in the hotel’s atmospheric dining room before turning in (night life in San Gimignano is pretty slow.)


Day 8: April 19, Friday - 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 the ones out your own room’s terrace), before taking a very short ride to a nearby villa, where we will all dive into a real Tuscan Cooking Lesson!    A delightful local family will teach us how to prepare and properly taste the fabulous local cuisine.  And afterward we will sit down to savor the meal we have prepared, along with some carefully selected Tuscan wines.


After our luncheon, woozy but still on our feet, we’ll spend some time in San Gimignano itself. It is probably the most picturesque hill village in all of Tuscany. And don’t pass up the shop voted “The Best Gelato in Italy” for dessert located right across the piazza from our hotel. When you’ve worked up an appetite, enjoy a dinner on your own at just the right spot in San Gimignano tonight.


Day 9: April 20, Saturday - After a lovely buffet breakfast at the hotel our private van will pick us up to continue our exploration of Tuscany. We’ll set off on a morning drive to visit Volterra. This most remarkable town traces its history back 500 years before the Romans to the Etruscans, for whom “Tuscany” is named. The town, once one of the most important cities in Tuscany, boasts both Etruscan and Roman structures, including a massive amphitheater and historic Etruscan city gate. The beauty of this enchanting, and somewhat mysterious place will be something you’ll never forget. Experience an excellent guided walking tour and later enjoy shopping in some of the town’s excellent alabaster shops and Pecorino cheese outlets.


After leaving Volterra we’ll make our way to a wonderful winery not far from San Gimignano for a late lunch and wine tasting. We’ll sample four local wines accompanied by a rich Tuscan platter with typical regional cold cuts, mixed bruschetta and a selection of Tuscan pecorino cheeses followed by a fresh pasta course. After our tasting luncheon we’ll return to our very special hotel in San Gimignano. There will be a bit of free time, and dinner will be on your own this evening.


Day 10: April 21, Sunday - After our last “breakfast with a view” we’ll get an early start on our private van adventure. Today’s destination will be Florence. There is simply no other place on earth like Firenze, the “Cradle of the Renaissance”! Locals declare that their city is so incredibly beautiful that many guests actually swoon and feel overwhelmed – suffering from “The Florence Disease”!


We will arrive before check-in time, so we’ll drop our luggage at our wonderfully located hotel very near Giotto’s magnificent bell tower and the Piazza del Duomo. We’ll then have a fantastic pizza lunch before embarking on a nice guided tour of the wonders of Florence, including the Duomo and Baptistry.


In the afternoon we will return to our hotel to check in and relax for a bit. Enjoy some free time until we assemble for a “Welcome to Florence” dinner together at a fabulous restaurant specializing in Florentine cuisine. After dinner enjoy some time on your own in this lively city before bedtime.


Day 11: April 22, Monday - After a nice breakfast at the hotel we will head for the incredible Bargello Museum, featuring some of the most important sculptures from the Golden Age of Florence. Afterward enjoy a “choose your own adventure” day. Our group’s art guide will be available to help plan a memorable day in the grandeur of Florence. We’ll have plenty of recommendations for taking in the best of Florence.

For those who wish to visit the world-renowned *Uffizi Art Museum, advance plans should be made to get “skip the line tickets. There is so much to experience in this truly unique city, no one will find a shortage of wonderful things to do. You’ll have time to enjoy lunch and dinner on your own today. Return to our wonderfully convenient hotel at your leisure. (* Get in touch with Your Man in Europe for details.)


Day 11: April 23, Tuesday – After another great breakfast, we’ll begin on our journey by train to fantastic Orvieto. Situated in Tuscany’s neighboring region to the south, Umbria, Orvieto holds a commanding position right on top of a tall plateau of solid rock overlooking cypress-dotted Umbrian plains. The town is virtually traffic-free because of its challenging location, and is most easily reached by traveling up the cliffs on the local funicular railway, but we’ll take taxis to get to our boutique hotel, which is located up on top of the plateau, right on the Cathedral Square. Orvieto's fabulous cathedral, begun in 1330, features a beautiful, colorful Gothic façade which has been compared to a medieval altarpiece — a gleaming mass of mosaics, stained glass, and sculpture.   

After checking into our perfectly-located hotel we’ll see more of the town - and there is a lot to see here. Before dinner we’ll take some time to explore on your own. Like many of Italy’s charming hill towns, Orvieto can be busy with tourists during the day, but it’s lamp-lit romantic, and quiet after the buses take the day-trippers back to Rome. This evening we’ll enjoy a relaxing dinner together at a unique local restaurant before heading to bed for a good night’s rest after a busy day.


Day 12: April 24, Wednesday – After a lovely breakfast at the hotel we’ll be off on a guided tour of some of the town’s best attractions. After the tour, which won’t cover everything of interest here, everyone will have the rest of the day and evening on your own to explore, relax at the hotel, or find a table and watch the parade of visitors to this magical place. Enjoy a nice lunch on your own today. Maybe a picnic will sound good!


Some of the great things to see in Orvieto you won’t want to miss: Behind the Duomo exists a complex of medieval palaces called Palazzi Papali showing off the city's best religious art. Not to be missed is the marble Mary and Child, dating from the 1300s, who sit beneath a bronze canopy, attended by exquisite angels. A replica of this sculpture fills a niche in the center of the cathedral's façade, where this one used to be located.


Orvieto also boasts an incredible underground world. The town sits atop a vast underground network of Etruscan-era caves, wells, and tunnels. These medieval caves offer a glimpse into how these ancient Italians lived. The most remarkable must-see attraction is St. Patrick’s Well. The well, dug through solid stone, is 175 feet deep, 45 feet wide, has 496 steps down, and amazes modern engineers to this day. Thanks to its natural hilltop fortification, Orvieto served as a 16th-century place of refuge for the Pope. Wanting to ensure he had water during a time of possible siege, he built this extravagant well, with two spiral stairways leading down to a bridge from which people could scoop up water. The double-helix design was crucial for allowing efficient two-way traffic flow. To this very day an Italian saying for very difficult tasks is "It's like digging St. Patrick's Well."


When the tourists have departed enjoy a quiet stroll to savor the pleasures of an Italian hill town as you look for just the right restaurant for a nice dinner on your own. 


Day 13: April 25, Thursday – After breakfast at our hotel, we’ll have a private van to take us to Rome by way of the breathtaking village of Civita di Bagnoregio. The little town is perched atop a pinnacle of rock rising high above a deep canyon. Today, the only way in or out is by a footbridge. The main entrance is a huge stone passageway, cut by the Etruscans 2,500 years ago and decorated in the 12th century with a Romanesque arch. Passing through the portal is like entering another world. Inside the gate each lane and footpath hold surprises. We’ll have some free time to wander the alleyways, and enjoy a glass of wine or a coffee on your own at one of the village cafes just off the main square. If ever there was a photo op, this little village is IT. Afterward, we’ll meet up for the trek back across the bridge to meet our driver.


Then, arriving in the heart of Rome, we’ll check into our boutique hotel near the foot of the famous Spanish Steps. The charming olde-world hotel is ideally located for taking in this gloriously monumental city. Before settling in, we’ll have a late lunch together followed by a brief “neighborhood orientation” walk.


After stretching our legs a bit, we’ll meet with a great guide to begin our custom golf-cart tour of the wonders of this great city. Our driver will whisk us into the most magnificent sights, including, of course, the Pantheon, The Angel Bridge, Piazza Navona, a drive by the famed Colosseum, and the Trevi Fountain to toss your coin in to insure your return to Rome. There is simply no better way to reach the iconic sights of “The Eternal City”!


Once called Caput Mundi (capital of the world), Rome is an epic, bubbling-over metropolis filled with echoes of lost empires. One visit and you’ll be sure to fall in love with the city that rewards visitors with a feast for the senses at every turn. It is a city that bombards you with images- where you can feel cool just strolling through the streets. Rome is a place that often encourages you to take things easy. So, if you don’t feel like going on a monument tour or to a museum, you may say “what’s the need when it’s all outside on the streets?”


After the golf-cart tour, our guide will drop us off back at our hotel. In the evening, we’ll have a special “Welcome to Rome” dinner at a favorite restaurant nearby. Then, evening is for strolling around our delightful little neighborhood like a local. But don’t stay out too late because we have an early start tomorrow!


Day 14: April 26, Friday – We won’t have breakfast at our hotel today, because the day holds for us a truly unique event. Beginning at 7:30 AM we’ll enjoy a VIP experience at the Vatican with a private morning tour that includes breakfast in the famed Pinecone Courtyard, or in the Vatican cafeteria (depending on weather conditions). We’ll see the top Vatican sights like Raphael’s Rooms, the Gallery of Maps, and the Gallery of Tapestries with an expert guide. Enjoy a very special intimate tour experience when we enter the Sistine Chapel to see Michelangelo’s celebrated ceiling painting of epic Biblical scenes, and “The Last Judgment” before the huge crowds descend. Then we’ll finish with access to the awesome St Peter’s Basilica.


After our Vatican tour we’ll stop in for a rollicking fun lunch together just outside the Vatican walls. This will be our opportunity to celebrate our adventures and say our farewells to Rome. After lunch everyone will have free time. Take a taxi, or make your way to the Rome Metro to return to our hotel. For this afternoon, be sure to check into available tours that will cover your particular interests. Advance tickets are recommended and may be booked online well in advance of the trip.  Ask Your Man in Europe about the best time slots and recommended tours before booking independently. Dinner this evening will be on your own.


Day 15: April 27, Saturday – Because individual schedules will vary, we will not plan on breakfast at our hotel. Guests may want to share a van to head for the Rome Airport for flights back to the USA (Airport transfers not included).

For those guests wishing to extend time in Rome, please coordinate your additional dates with Your Man in Europe so hotel arrangements can be secured.


                                                                  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 journey will captivate you. You’ll be part of a magical adventure - complete with music and surprises that will delight you at every turn. There are no exhausting bus rides or inconveniently-located hotels.

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.

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 April 12 – 27, 2024 Tour

                                                                       $ 4685.00  Per Person                                                    

                     *All prices are based on Double Occupancy. Single supplement is an additional $865.   


A $500 deposit holds your place on the tour, and is due by January 1, 2024. The balance may be paid in increments on your own schedule, but the final payment is due by March 15, 2024. Make checks payable to “Your Man in Europe” - 2608 S University Drive - Fort Worth TX  76109   USA    -    Please inquire about other means of payment or visit our website "Tour Details" page for information about PayPal, VENMO, and credit card payments.

Tour Includes: Fourteen (14) nights of overnight accommodation (based on double occupancy) in exceptional, very specially selected hotels, thirteen (13) breakfasts, eight (8) lunches, and seven (7) dinners; all ground transportation (except April 27 airport shuttle); 1st class rail travel, admissions to all attractions described in the tour itinerary, knowledgeable guide services, and standard gratuities. Guests are encouraged to offer gratuities for outstanding service. There will be no additional charges for the tours and events specifically included by Your Man in Europe. There may be extra charges for optional tours not included in the detailed itinerary.

Not Included: Airfare to Milan and returning from Rome; strongly recommended 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. The Rome airport terminal shuttle on April 27 is not included, as flight arrangements may all differ. Also: All overnight accommodations, as well as railroad and minibus travel will be NO-SMOKING.

                   This tour is strictly limited to a minimum of 8 & maximum of 10 guests travelling together 



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