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Home > Italy > Itineraries > Gems Of The North

Gems of the North


May or September


12 Days


Milan, Lake Como, Portofino, Venice


From the shores of Lake Como and the fishing villages of Cinque Terre to the Most Serene Republic of Venice, experience all the charm and magic of Italy’s elegant northern provinces.

Itinerary in Detail

    Day 1 - Milan

    Transfer from the airport and enjoy some leisure time. Milan is synonymous with Italian fashion, and if clients can walk away from the art offered by Valentino, Gucci, and Armani, there are plenty of important historical sites to explore.

    Hotel: Mandarin Oriental Milan or Four Seasons Milan

    Isola neighborhood, Milan

    Duomo di Milano

    Day 2 - Milan

    Guided tour of Milan, La Scala Theater and the Last Supper.

    In the afternoon, your expert guide will explain the city’s historical center, including the spectacular gothic Duomo, a masterpiece that took more than 500 years to construct, the exterior of La Scala Theater where many of the greatest names in opera have made their debuts, and finally one of the most famous works of art in the world, Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ with reservations.

    Hotel: Mandarin Oriental Milan or Four Seasons Milan

    Isola neighborhood, Milan

    Duomo di Milano

    Day 3 - Milan

    Private art tour of Milan, Church of San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, the Museum of the Castello Sforzesco and shopping expert consultation.

    Meet your expert Art Historian in your hotel lobby for a tour of the Renaissance artworks of Milan. The Pinacoteca Ambrosiana is the oldest museum in Milan and dates from 1618. Located in the Ambrosian Library (Biblioteca Ambrosiana), it houses several notable artworks, including sketches by Raphael for the School of Athens mural, which the artist later painted in the Vatican. Also on display are Caravaggio's Basket of Fruit, Leonardo da Vinci's Portrait of a Musician and Boticelli's Madonna and Child with Three Angels.

    Next, visit the nearby Church of San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, a jewel of Renaissance Lombard art with its unique and fascinating history, filled with colorful frescoes by Bernardino Luini Or, see Michelangelo’s marble statue of the Pietà Rondanini at the Museum of the Castello Sforzesco.

    In the afternoon, you will have your own Milan Shopping Expert who will recommend exclusive and specialized boutiques based on your interests where you can see bespoke designs, accessories, shoes, and housewares created by Italian designers and help you negotiate the myriad of appealing choices to find the items that are perfect just for you. A stop can be made in a local designers’ workshop upon request for clients interested in production.

    Hotel: Mandarin Oriental Milan or Four Seasons Milan

    Filarete Tower at Castello Sforzesco

    Day 4 - Milan - Lake Como

    Cruise around Lake Como and lunch.

    Drive to beautiful Lake Como and cruise its sparkling waters. Your private boat will take you to the village of Bellagio and past the many luxurious villas that dot the lakeshore.

    Later, enjoy lunch in a local restaurant, followed by a walking tour of Como and an atmospheric funicular ride.

    Hotel: Mandarin Oriental Lake Como or Villa D’Este

    Lake Como

    Varenna, Lake Como

    Day 5 - Lake Como - Lake Maggiore - Isola Bella - Lake Como

    Tour around Lake Maggiore, Barouque Borromeo Place, Isola Madre and the resort town of Stresa.

    Meet your driver and guide in your hotel lobby at 9:00 a.m. for a day of exploration of Lake Maggiore. Lake Maggiore is a magical glacial lake nestled against the mountains and stretching away into Alpine Switzerland. It is here that the famous islands of the Borromeo Gulf including the three Borromean islands of Isola Bella, Isola dei Pescatori, and Isola Madre seem to be painted in one of the most beautiful landscapes of the world.

    Isola Bella, with its 17th century Baroque Borromeo Palace is populated with white peacocks and adorned with magnificent fountains, grottoes and sculptures, known as a masterpiece of Italian garden design. The palace houses an impressive painting gallery that may be visited from March to October. The Isola dei Pescatori, or Fisherman’s island, is a picturesque village, inhabited by a small community that still makes its living by fishing. The Isola Madre is a virtual botanical garden on water. Abounding in rare plants and exotic flowers, the favorable microclimate has helped to create an enchanting tropical green house.

    After the islands tour, the last stop will be at the charming resort town of Stresa. Located just across the waters from the Borromean islands, this international tourist resort attracts visitors from all over the world, with elegant villas, lush gardens, wonderful restaurants, hotels, and stylish boutiques.

    Hotel: Mandarin Oriental Lake Como or Villa D’Este

    Isola Bella, Lake Maggiore

    Borromean Islands, Lake Maggiore

    Day 6 - Lake Como - Dolomites - Lake Como

    Helicopter ride over the Dolomites and lunch on the mountaintop rifugio.

    Morning of leisure or explore the area.

    In the afternoon you explore this UNESCO-listed mountain range from the best window seats in the house on our “flightseeing” adventure. You haven’t experienced the Dolomites until you’ve seen this breathtaking landscape from the sky, gliding over craggy mountain peaks, snow-covered slopes and the verdant valleys in between.

    The ideal flying machine for “flightseeing”, helicopters can perform agile maneuvers and reveal the unique geomorphology that put this region on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Stopping off at a mountaintop rifugio gives you the added bonus of tasting traditional mountain fare and famed Alto Adige wines.

    Hotel: Mandarin Oriental Lake Como or Villa D’Este

    The Dolomites

    Day 7 - Lake Como - Rapallo - Portofino

    Visiting Rapallo, making pesto and picnic.

    It is time to say goodbye to Lake Como and drive south to Portofino. En route you will join a local family in Rapallo at their olive grove to learn the art of making the best traditional pesto.

    You will have the opportunity to visit a local market where you will get the ingredients and then follow your host to their local kitchen, where they will teach you how to make pesto, then savor a picnic lunch before you check in to the hotel.

    Hotel: Belmond Splendido

    Colorful Portofino

    The Portofino coast

    Day 8 - Portofino - Cinque Terre - Portofino

    Cinque Terre boat ride.

    Discover the extraordinary beauty of the Cinque Terre (“Five Lands”), five scenic villages built along the steep coastal cliffs of Liguria on the Italian Riviera. Explore this magical coast by private boat.

    Hotel: Belmond Splendido

    Cinque Terre National Park at dusk

    Day 9 - Portofino - Venice

    Tour of Verona and Venice.

    Today you will head for Venice, on the way you will stop in Verona once an important Roman settlement, and still prominent today.

    On a walking tour, see the old Roman Forum area, the Roman arena and the remains of the original Roman walls. Stand beneath the balcony reputed to belong to Juliet, Shakespeare’s most tragic heroine.

    Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and then continue your journey to Venice.

    Hotel: Belmond Cipriani or St. Regis Venice

    Ancient Verona

    Grand Canal, Venice

    Day 10 - Venice

    Basilica of San Marco, Doge’s Palace and the Grand Chancellery Hall.

    In the morning, meet your guide in the lobby and go on a walking tour of this romantic city that begins in San Marco Square with the magnificent Basilica of San Marco. One of the most unique cities in the world, Venice offers priceless art, stunning architecture and an element of mystery with its canals and winding alleyways. Admire the church’s rich, detailed mosaics and the sculptures that adorn this enchanting structure.

    Next, learn about Venetian art and style with a tour of the gothic Doge’s Palace that dates to approximately 1309, and its trove of treasures. This visit concludes in the Rialto area, where you will stroll over the Rialto Bridge, the oldest and best-known bridge in Venice, to end in the bustling Rialto Market for a glimpse of local life.

    After touring San Marco and the “official” rooms of the Doge’s Palace, go behind the scenes to visit the Grand Chancellery hall, the State Inquisitors room, the Torture chamber and the prison. See where the famous inmate Casanova made a dramatic and spectacular escape across the rooftop in 1756 and pass through the fascinating maze of cells where countless prisoners were held captive while awaiting their fate before the Venetian courts.

    In the afternoon, your expert guide will meet you in the hotel lobby to accompany you to the workshop of a famous Venetian mask maker where you will learn about the ancient craft of these classic accessories for the Carnevale celebration and see the spectacular examples on display.

    Then, sit down with an expert artisan to design your own personalized mask, using all of his materials including acrylic paints, glitter, silk ribbons, flowers, feathers and gold/silver leafing. Take your completed mask home for a memorable souvenir of your Venice sojourn.

    Hotel: Belmond Cipriani or St. Regis Venice

    A view of Piazza San Marco

    Rialto Bridge, Venice

    Day 11 - Venice

    Private boat around the city, Church of San Sebastiano and cruise along the Grand Canal.

    What better way to visit this mysterious and ancient city than by private boat with an expert guide?

    Depart from the hotel with your expert guide for a walking tour of the Dorsoduro sestiere of authentic Venetian quarters, strolling along hidden streets where locals once built their world-famous gondolas.

    Visit the Church of San Sebastiano to tour the masterful frescoes by the pre-eminent late Renaissance painter Paolo Veronese and then enjoy a one-hour cruise along the Grand Canal by private boat to witness the splendor of the Venetian palazzi.

Following the Grand Canal Tour, depart in the comfort of a private boat with your expert guide to explore three famous Venetian islands, starting with Murano.

    The world’s top glassmakers have worked on the island since 1291, and you will see masters of this craft at work, along with their most important historical pieces. The next stop is Burano, with its brightly painted houses which is world-renowned for intricate lace making. Finally, proceed to Torcello to visit the island with the oldest cathedral in Venice, the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta which is a magnificent Byzantine-Italian cathedral dating to 639 AD housing ancient mosaics. Return to Venice afterwards.

    Hotel: Belmond Cipriani or St. Regis Venice

    Burano, Venice

    Murano, Venice

    Day 12 - Venice

    Transfer to airport.

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