9 Days / 8 Nights
September 22 - 30, 2018
Bellagio / Santa Margherita / Portofino
Tour Questions? Call: 626.616.3448
FLORENCE / VENICE
LAKE COMO / CINQUE TERRE
Villa del Balbianello on Lake Como
Cnque Terre's Riomaggiore
We’ll begin our 9-day / 8-night tour staying three nights in Florence’s beautiful historic city centre, considered the “Cradle of the Renaissance”… a UNESCO World Heritage site. We'll explore Florence's old town... stroll along the picturesque Arno River and across Ponte Vecchio, Florence's famous medieval bridge with jewelry shops built along it.
We'll have private tours with local historian guides of Florence's Uffizi Gallery to see the museum’s priceless masterpieces, including: Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Titan’s Venus of Urbino and Raphael’s Madonna of the Goldfinch paintings. We'll see Accademia Gallery where Michelangelo’s David statue is housed… and visit Florence's Duomo - Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiore.
Monday we’ll board a morning train, traveling first-class, for a day trip to Venice where we’ll spend the day exploring magical Venice, seeing: Piazza San Marco, Saint Mark’s Basilica, the Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge. With our local historian guide we’ll take a private boat (weather permitting) passing through the iconic Grand Canal and exploring the quiet back canals of the city for an immersive, in-depth learning experience about the history and architecture of this unique city.
There will be free time in Florence for personal sightseeing, shopping and relaxing... to visit Boboli Gardens with its lavish gardens of blooming flowers, magnificent fountains, grand sculptures, and shady lanes lined with towering cypresses... shop in Florence boutiques and markets for Italian leather goods or silk wear... relax at a sidewalk cafe... sample delicious Italian gelato.
Tuesday we'll travel by train, traveling first-class, from Florence to Lake Como, changing trains along the way in Milan Central Station, one of Europe’s grand rail stations. We'll arrive to the town of Como, situated on the southwest shore of the lake, where we'll board a lake ferry to travel to Bellagio, the extraordinary picturesque village that cradles on the point which divides Lake Como into two branches. We'll stay our next two nights in Bellagio.
Wednesday we’ll board a local lake ferry and travel from Bellagio to Lenno to visit Villa del Balbianello, Lake Como’s most magnificent villa with beautiful manicured terraced gardens. The villa, built in 1787, has been renovated to its original splendor and is filled with art and artifacts. The villa is run by Fondo per l’Ambiente Italiano, the National Trust of Italy. The grounds form part of the Grandi Giardini Italiani. After lunch we'll visit Villa Carlotta, an 18th century lake villa famous for its lush botanical garden. The Italian garden is filled with flower beds, fountains, sculptures, and spectacular views. Late afternoon we'll return to Bellagio to have open time for personal sightseeing... shopping boutiques… relaxing lakeside at a café... enjoying a wonderful dinner at a local trattoria.
Thursday is traveling day. We'll travel from Bellagio to Santa Margherita via Milan; traveling first-class from Milan to Santa Margherita on an express train. We’ll stay the next three nights along the Ligurian Sea in picturesque Santa Margherita.
Santa Margherita is one of Europe’s most beautiful resort towns located on the Italian Riviera with a long stretch of pebbled beaches and a tree-lined promenade. It is filled with boutiques, restaurants and outdoor cafes. The town is an ideal mid-way location for visiting Cinque Terre and Portofino.
From Santa Margherita we’ll spend a full day visiting all five Cinque Terre villages, with their pastel colored buildings, small cathedrals and quaint shops… we’ll interact with locals… take in the panoramic views… stop at cafes… taste gelato… sample wine and limoncello… have time for browsing boutiques. We’ll travel between villages by local ferry, weather permitting, or if a rough sea we’ll travel by local train.
We'll take a day trip to Portofino, the famous picturesque seaside village, with former fishermen dwellings lining Portofino’s cove harbor painted in rich Ligurian hues of faded yellow, ocher and pink. Anchored in Portofino's snug harbor are all kinds of boats -- from huge yachts and sailboats to bobbling sleek Italian powerboats and colorful small row boats.
We'll have a welcome reception with Italian wines and cheeses... enjoy local cuisine meals in small owner-run restaurants and trattorias... have a wine tasting session with a regional expert... and a gala farewell dinner with local cuisine and wines.
Before breakfast group pleasure walks are organized each day for those wanting some morning exercise and to see Florence, Bellagio and Santa Margherita is they wake up.
You can choose to stay in charming boutique hotels or upgrade to premiere signature/luxury hotels.
The trip is ideal for friends, couples, families and solo travelers desiring a wonderful holiday to see and experience the best of Northern Italy!
Northern Italy Grand Tour Is Designed To Provide:
A fabulous vacation experience visiting the top sights in Northern Italy -- Florence, Venice, Lake Como and Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera.
Friendly and fun small group environment limited to 15 persons. Enjoy the camaraderie and begin friendships with like-minded travelers.
Many activities -- including visiting Florence's Uffizi Gallery... the Accademia Gallery... Florence's Duomo – Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiore... day trips to Venice... day trip to Villa del Balbianello and Villa Carlota on Lake Como,... day trips to visit all five Cinque Terre and to Portofino... Italian wine tasting session...
Free personal time to discover and enjoy Florence, Bellagio, Cinque Terre, Portofino at your own pace.
Optional group morning pleasure walks led by WalkEurope president, Tom Harter.
Recommended restaurants should you want to explore on your own, yet everyone is invited to join the tour host for local-cuisine group meals.
Connoisseur service & support – fully escorted tour, personal & customized service, for a fun and worry-free vacation!
Eight nights in a choice of personally selected hotels.
Charming Boutique Hotels: Florence: Stay in a quaint and romantic old-world style hotel with antique furnishings and a rooftop garden overlooking the Arno River. Bellagio: Stay in a lovely boutique hotel located on the Lake Como shore in the heart of Bellagio. The hotel has been owned and managed by the same family for 160 years. Santa Margherita stay in a charming family owned boutique hotel located in the heart of Santa Margherita. The hotel is a short stroll to Piazza Martiri della Liberta and the Ligurian Sea.
Premiere Signature/Luxury Hotel Upgrade Option: Florence: Stay in a contemporary upscale designer hotel with an outdoor terrace overlooking the Arno River. Bellagio: Stay in one of Lake Como’s most prestigious and luxurious hotels. The hotel has one of the most stunning views of the world! Santa Margherita stay in a prestigious elegant resort hotel overlooking the Liguerian Sea, built at the beginning of the twentieth century with an art nouveau atmosphere.
Daily hotel buffet breakfasts.
Welcome Reception – with local Italian wines and cheeses hosted by WalkEurope.
Morning Pleasure Walks - optional before breakfast escorted group pleasure walks in Florence, Bellagio and Santa Margherita each morning.
Private Tour -- Uffizi Gallery with local art historian guide.
Private Tour -- Accademia Gallery with local art historian guide.
Private Tour -- Florence's Duomo - Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiore with local historian guide.
Day Trip to Venice - Tour with local historian guide, including private boat tour on the Grand Canal and through the quiet back canals (weather permitting).
Ferry rides on Lake Como and tours of the lake's most magnificent villas and enchanting gardens: Villa Balbianello and Villa Carlotta
Day Trip to Cinque Terre’s five villages – Monterosso al Mare... Vernazza... Corniglia... Manarola... and Riomaggiore. Take an early morning ferry along the Italian Riviera coastline from Santa Margherita to Cinque Terre... travel village-to-village by ferry (weather permitting).
Day Trip to Portofino.
Italian Wine Tasting Session – with region expert.
Cocktail Hour Soirees – enjoy before dinner aperitifs and local wines hosted by WalkEurope.
Farewell Dinner – featuring local Italian cuisine and wines hosted by WalkEurope.
Cathedral, museum, palace & garden entrance fees for all group activities and day trips.
Ground transportation for all group activities including train travel between Florence and Venice, Lake Como and Santa Margherita, between Santa Margherita and Cinque Terre; ferries and private vans for all group tour outings
Santa Margherita, Italy (Airports: Genoa or Milan)
Charming Boutique Hotel Option:
$5,970 – 7 days / 6 nights per person in double occupancy shared hotel room. For solo travelers, we will try to find you a roommate. Tour cost does not include airfare.
Added cost for private single room hotel accommodation option - $1.720
Premiere Signature/Luxury Hotel Upgrade Option:
$6,870 – 7 days / 6 nights per person in double occupancy shared hotel room. Tour cost does not include airfare.
Added cost for private single room hotel accommodation option - $2,525
Space Is Limited -- Available on 1st Reserve Basis -- Reserve Early!
Small Group Tour - Limited to 15 persons.
Recommended WalkEurope Trip Combinations:
Travel for 2 or 3 weeks combining your Heart of Italy Grand Tour with...
Southern Italy Grand Tour
September 16 - 22, 2018
Click here for trip description.
Cinque Terre & Lake Como "Walk About" Discovery Tour
October 1 - 6, 2018
Click here for trip description.
Note: Trips are subject to meeting six person participation; itinerary subject to changes.