Experience more than “postcard” Italy
DAY 1: Arrival Venice-Stay in Asolo, town of hundred horizons
DAY 2: Heritage of Prosecco in Valdobbiadene
DAY 3: Trento & the Alpe di Siusi mountain region
DAY 4: Spectacular Dolomites
DAY 5: Valley drive in the Dolomites
DAY 6: Tyrolian city of Bolzano
DAY 7: Cividale, UNESCO medieval village
DAY 8: White wine heaven in the Collio
DAY 9: Trieste, one of Italy’s most impressive cities
DAY 10: Udine, with the most beautiful square on the mainland
DAY 11: Departure day. Not ready for your adventure to end? You could extend in Venice for a few days, or combines with an option to travel to Innsbruck (Austria), Bavaria (Germany) and finish in Munich. You can also add days to visit Slovenia or Istria (Croatia), all easily accessible from this part of Italy.
- Enjoy the beautiful small cities and towns of Asolo, Trento, Bolzano, Ortisei, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Cividale, San Daniele, Udine, Trieste, Palmanova; off the main tourist path but rich in culture and history
- Visit Aquileia with its Roman ruins, one of the largest and richest cities of the Roman Empire
- Asolo, a quaint hilltop town, where the panoramic views have earned the nickname the “Town of a Hundred Horizons”
- Savor tasty regional cuisine and wines in specially chosen family owned restaurants
- Visit Ötzi, the remains of a 5000 year old Ice Man in Bolzano’s archaeological museum
- Explore the beauty of the Italian Alps, take in spectacular views in Alpe di Siusi, Mount Marmolada arguably the most beautiful peak in the Dolomites
- Move beyond Italy’s signature cities and stay in countryside accommodations
- Enjoy Northern Italy with a small group of like-minded travelers of 4 to 6
- Hand-picked insider experiences: Prosecco tasting, wine tasting in the Collio Orientali, Prosciutto di San Daniele tour and tasting
PRICING: from $4,890 per person (double occupancy)
The price for a private tour is per person sharing a double room, and varies according to the number of guests on the tour, because of minimum fixed costs that need to be covered. With this tiered pricing structure we are generally able to offer slightly lower pricing if we get a higher number of guests on the trip.
Asolo, Trento, Bolzano, Dolomites, Udine, Trieste
Remember, all of Audrey’s tours are customizable to your interests and preferences.
Arrival & departure airport: Venice is Marco Polo airport (VCE)
Have you dreamed of a trip to Italy where you could explore places rarely visited by large groups of tourists and truly experience the authentic Italian lifestyle? Then, I invite you to join me as you discover new and wonderful sites in Northern Italy!
**FOR PRIVATE GROUPS ONLY**
Explore the land known as "Le Tre Venezie" the three northern regions once part of the Venetian Republic, Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, and Trentino Alto Adige, a melting pot of people, traditions, and cultures with a rich Roman, Medieval and Renaissance history.
Travel along ancient Roman roads through small villages and hamlets, stunning castles, and fortresses to be surrounded by lush golden vineyards while discovering the diverse culinary traditions and the most appreciated wines. Walk the bridge designed by Andrea Palladio in Bassano del Grappa before a grappa tasting. Learn about the production of Prosciutto di San Daniele in the small town called Friuli’s little Siena.
Indulge your mind, body and soul on a journey into the cuisine and culture of Northern Italy, as you explore and discover what makes these off-the-beaten-path regions of Italy so charming.
Day to Day Itinerary
DAY 1: ARRIVAL VENICE MARCO POLO AIRPORT
Welcome to Italy!
Your private transfer will take you from Venice’s Marco Polo airport to your lodging in Asolo, a beautiful hill town settled in the Colli Asolani and known as the “Pearl of the province of Treviso” as well as the “Town of a Hundred Horizons”. Asolo, an enchanting place, has been home to artists and poets over the centuries and has become the secret hideaway for true Veneto aficionados. It is a required stop for those interested in discovering the backcountry.
After you’re settled, sit down to a welcome dinner for some great conversation with your hosts and fellow travelers.
DAY 2: BASSANO DEL GRAPPA/CONEGLIANO/ASIAGO
Our first visit of the day is Bassano del Grappa on the Brenta River, with its charming, traffic-free center, well known for ceramics, fiery grappa and white asparagus. Your tour manager will walk you around town, to discover the squares and the Palladio-designed Ponte degli Alpini (Alpine Soldiers’ Bridge). Naturally, you won’t want to miss the grappa museum Poli Museo della Grappa, where you can enjoy a free tasting!
Bassano del Grappa, founded in the 2nd century BCE by the Romans, was the birthplace of the artist Jacopo da Bassano. During World War One, the mountains around Bassano were one of the main battlefields for the Italian and Austro-Hungarian Armies.
After lunch, let your emotions flow freely, whilst admiring a landscape of verdant hills dotted with well-ordered vineyards and tiny villages, where ancient traditions are carefully preserved and nurtured. We have selected a local winery in the Valdobbiadene hills, to give you a chance to taste the high-quality wine and of course the world-famous Prosecco.
On our return to Asolo, enjoy a stop at Marostica and a visit to Villa Barbaro di Maser, Palladio’s celebrated, medieval palazzo transformed into a country villa decorated with a cycle of frescoes, the master-work of Paolo Veronese. It is one of the most famous and beautiful of the Palladian villas.
DAY 3: TRENTO/ASIAGO/ORTISEI
Today we travel along the back roads of Italy’s Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige regions, in the very north of the country. Here you will see an expanse of rolling hills, beautiful peaks and picturesque villages. Our final destination is the Ortisei. Along the way you will see Asiago and visit Trento (Castello Buon Consiglio), Castel Beseno. The high plateau of Asiago is home to wonderful mountain cheeses and meats (Piave and Montasio, Asiago cheeses).
Surrounded by mountains, the beautiful little city of Trento, founded by the Romans on the banks of the Adige River, definitely has an Alpine flair. It spent most of its history from the 10th century through 1813 as a German-Austrian bishopric. In fact the town's status as an Italian city at the cross roads of the Teutonic and Latin worlds, along with the bishops dual role as subject both to the Pope and to the German emperor made Trent the ideal compromise site for the council of Trent called in the 16th century to address the Protestant Reformation.
And indeed unlike other towns up here in the far north, which tend to lean h heavily on their Austrian heritage, Trent is essentially Italian.
You will have time to walk around this beautiful small town, and see the Piazza Duomo. Enjoy some time wandering around the historical city center, with his beautifully painted facades, and visit Castello del Buenconsiglio.
The Adige River, the second longest in Italy, has its source in the alpine areas near the borders of Austria and Switzerland, and flows south through Verona, before turning east to the Adriatic sea. The river gives its name to the Alto-Adige, a bilingual province also known as Südtirol, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the end of World War One. With the majestic Dolomite Mountains in the background, its fertile valleys are prolific producers of fruit, wine and cheeses.
After lunch we continue on to the Gardena Valley in the heart of the Dolomites to reach your accommodations in the beautiful village of Ortisei the main hub of the Val Gardena and the Alpe di Siusi mountain region.
DAY 4: THE SPECTACULAR DOLOMITES
After breakfast, you will walk with your tour manager to the Otavia Station and after a short ride, we'll reach the Alpe di Siusi. Here, at Europe's largest high-altitude alpine meadow and a UNESCO heritage site, you will be able to do some easy hikes with awe-inspiring views surrounded by the mountain range. Perhaps you will choose to pick up some local specialties and have a picnic lunch.
The pinnacles and towers of the majestic Dolomites are the crowning glory of Italy’s northern border. Lush meadows nestle against towering limestone peaks, of all different colors. With a unique mineral that makes up breathtaking mountains, the Dolomites have long been a source of both fascination and awe. The Dolomites’ stunning peaks have drawn foreign mountaineers for centuries and the “rifugi” (alpine huts) welcome hikers with delectable cuisine in the summer months. Both the Austrian and Italian cultures have melded in this part of Italy, in food, architecture and especially language.
DAY 5: VALLEY DRIVE IN THE DOLOMITES
Today’s highlights will not be centered as much on history, but around the awe-inspiring views of the most beautiful areas in the Italian Alps: the Dolomites. we'll make stops on our spectacular drive along the Gardena Valley to admire the scenery and charming alpine villages. When we reach the Pordoi Pass (called “La Terrazza delle Dolomiti”), test your bravery and hop on the suspended car that will lift you high above the clouds to view the most important peaks in the Alps (Sasso Pordoi), including the famous Marmolada Glacier followed by the Sella Pass, before returning to Ortisei.
DAY 6: BOLZANO
Today you will spend the day in delightful Bolzano, a Tyrolean city of onion-domed churches. Bolzano (Bozen in German) is the capital of South Tyrol (also known as the Alto Adige) and has been part of Italy since World War One. This small well-preserved city is a great spot for mountain vistas and medieval architecture with a fusion of Italian and Austrian cultural influences. Its medieval center is a mix of northern and Mediterranean architecture, and is the home of the South Tyrol Archaeological Museum with the famous Otzi, the 5000 year-old glacier mummy.
Our day begins with a local guided tour of the town and its unique history as the most important trading center between northern and southern Europe.
In the afternoon, you have several options available to you: simply walk around town, do some shopping, sit at a café, or visit the Museum to see Otzi.
On our return to Ortisei, visit the medieval Castel Roncolo with its excellent cycle of frescoes on the story of Tristan and Isolde.
DAY 7: CORTINA D’AMPEZZO/CIVIDALE
Your tour in this beautiful area continues to Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy’s premier ski resort and scene of the 1956 winter Olympics. Once part of the Habsburg Empire from the 16th century until after World War One, Cortina today is a charming mix of Tyrolean and Italian. The central pedestrian street the Corso is lined with smart boutiques.
Then, it's time to travel to the region of Friuli where the charming town of San Daniele will be our culinary stop for a tour and tasting of the famous San Daniele Prosciutto.
By late afternoon you will arrive at your accommodations in Cividale del Friuli, the hub of the wine trade in the Colli Orientali growing district.
Friuli Venezia Giulia is tucked away into Italy’s northeast corner just south of Austria and snug against the border with Slovenia. Friuli is where Italians escape on gastronomic holidays. It is a small region with a big reputation for sweet prosciutto hams from the village of San Daniele, robust artisanal cheese and what many consider Italy’s best white wines from the Friulano grape. As befits the cross roads of Latin, Germanic and Slavic cultures, the cucina friulana features hearty sausages, goulash, polenta wafers of fried Montasio cheese called frico and delicate herb sauces on pasta.
DAY 8: COLLIO WINE DAY
Famed for its winemakers and country restaurants, the Collio and Collio Orientale produce some of the finest, mineral rich white wines in Italy from local varietals such as Friulano, Malvasia Istriana and Ribolla Gialla. Several indigenous grape varieties are rarely found elsewhere: look out for the perfumed red Schioppettino and delicately sweet Picolit which can yield a dessert wine of great finesse. The area’s vineyards are arranged like a quilt around the town of Cormons where you will enjoy some wine tasting accompanied with Montasio cheese. Of course, we will visit a family-owned winery to taste some of the local wines: the great whites Pinot, Tocai, Sauvignon, White Collio, and the reds Collio Red, Cabernet and Merlot.
The region is a wonderful opportunity for enjoying local cuisine, a mix of Austrian, Slovenian and Italian traditions. The recipes are handed down for generations and are really something unique.
DAY 9: TRIESTE
After breakfast our first visit of the day is with your expert local guide on a private walking tour of the impressive city of Trieste, on the Adriatic. Once the third most important city of the Austrian Habsburg Empire, after Vienna and Prague, Trieste is now a cluster of Roman, Art Nouveau and Neo-gothic architecture. After warring with the Republic of Venice for two centuries, Trieste, petitioned the Habsburgs to become part of Austria in 1382, where it remained until annexed by the Kingdom of Italy following the end of World War One. However, in a long and contorted history, it did not officially and finally become a part of the Republic of Italy until 1954. Our local guide will illuminate all this and more.
Stop in for a caffè at Caffè degli Specchi, a historical site in the main piazza overlooking the sea, before visiting Castel Miramare.
Castle Miramare, once home of the Hapsburg Royal Family, was built in the 1850s as a residence for the Austrian Archduke Maximilian, later the ill-fated emperor of Mexico. The castle is a lovely period piece, highlighted by the Duke’s bedroom and office that were modeled on the cabin and stern wardroom of the warship that he commanded to circumnavigate the world.
The afternoon will be spent visiting Aquileia, once the fourth most important city of the Roman Empire. Our local guide will take us on a walk through 1500 years of history that includes the Roman forum, the ancient port, the Basilica and the archeological museum.
Discover the history of one of the most important cities of the Roman Empire. In Friuli Venezia Giulia’s ancient town of Aquileia you will walk the ancient forum and Roman roads with a local guide. You’ll have the chance to see the remains of public baths and private houses and admire the stunning Byzantine frescoes, and the splendid Christian mosaic floors of the Basilica.
Aquileia was founded as a Roman town and port in the 2nd century BCE, and over the following six centuries became the fourth largest city in Italy. Its strategic location was the terminus of the trading route that linked the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic Sea and was the Imperial gateway to Asia Minor. It flourished as an agricultural, crafts and cultural center for centuries until Attila the Hun arrived in 452CE. The city’s inhabitants fled south and west where they founded Venice. Aquileia regained prominence in the medieval period when Friuli was a part of the Holy Roman Empire. The Basilica of Aquileia has its origins in the 4th century and, was rebuilt several times, but most of what you see now is Romanesque – Gothic style 11th century construction. One hundred years ago the original 4th century mosaic floor was discovered and brought to light – 760 square meters of some of the most wonderful mosaics of the ancient world!
DAY 10: CIVIDALE/UDINE
Today is dedicated to discovering Cividale and Udine (Udin in the local language, Viden in Slovenian and Weiden in old German). Founded by Julius Caesar in 53 BCE, and eventually becoming the capital city of the Lombards who completed a centuries-long odyssey from Scandinavia to Italy, Cividale del Friuli bears a truly one-of-a-kind cultural heritage.
The morning will be spent on a private walking tour of Cividale, visiting Ponte del Diavolo, the Monastero di S. Maria in Valle and the Tempietto Longobardo, Museo Christiano and Tesoro del Duomo with the Museo Archelogico Nazionale (one ticket for all 3 museums)
The afternoon we spend in Udine, a stately medieval city with handsome Renaissance buildings by Andrea Palladio and a wealth of luminous paintings by Tiepolo at the center of it all.
Legend says that Attila watched Aquileia burn from the hilltop where now stands the castle of Udine. Certainly the castle predates its first historical mention in 983CE.
On the visit of Udine, see the Piazza dell Liberta, dubbed the most beautiful Venetian square on the mainland, Tiepolo frescoes in the Cathedral, the marvelous Patriarch’s Palace, home of the Museo Diocesano, an enormous 15th century library and the wonderful Gallery of Giambattista Tiepolo, the foremost Venetian painter of the 18th century are just a handful of the fascinating sights that await your senses.
DAY 11: DEPARTURE DAY
Time to hear home, but with many cherished memories to share with family and friends. Transfer to Marco Polo airport.
Not ready for your adventure to end? You could extend in Venice for a few days, or combines with an option to travel to Innsbruck (Austria), Bavaria (Germany) and finish in Munich. You can also add days to visit Slovenia or Istria (Croatia), all easily accessible from this part of Italy.
- Unwind for 10 nights in hand-picked charming, locally owned accommodations that offer Italian hospitality, comfort and local character (Breakfast included):
- 2 in Asolo
- 4 in Ortisei
- 4 in Cividale
- Let go of all the details: private transportation, transfers to and from Marco Polo airport & all gratuities are taken care of
- Relax in the care of your host, Audrey, who is fluent in Italian and English
- Gain insider access to the Italian way of life
- Enjoy a perfect balance of sightseeing and time at leisure, moving beyond Italy’s signature cities and stay in the picturesque regions off the main tourist trail
- Private walking tours by Local expert English speaking tour guides in Cividale, Trieste, Aquileia
- Orientations walks in Asolo, Bassano del Grappa, Trento, Bolzano, Ortisei, Dolomites region, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Palmanova, Udine
- Entrance Fees:
- Villa Barbaro
- Castel Beseno
- Castel del Buon Consiglio
- Castel Roncolo
- Monastero di S. Maria in Valle and the Tempietto Longobardo
- Museo Christiano and Tesoro del Duomo with the Museo Archelogico Nazionale
- Castel Miramare
- Pallazo Patriarcale in Udine
- Gondola Ride for Alpe di Siusi
- Savor wine tastings and culinary delights: prosecco tasting, wine tasting in the Collio Orientali, and Prosciutto di San Daniele tour and tasting.
- Sample regional cuisine for included meals at hand-selected authentic Italian trattorias and restaurants with local wines
- Local VAT taxes and government fees, gas, highway tolls, city access licenses and permits, parking fees (does not include new accommodation tax imposed by local municipalities - to be paid in cash by guest directly to hotel).
NOTE: In the grand European traditions, I believe that dinner is a celebration of good food and wine, a celebration of culture and a celebration of family and friendship. Hosting this celebration is one of the joys of being a tour manager. I guide you to your favorite dish … or help you choose something you’ve never tried before. I choose the perfect wines and throw in some local delicacies to broaden your palate and surprise you a bit. When we are at a cooking lesson or a wine tasting, rest assured that you'll go home with new knowledge that will increase your appetite for more. On every tour, I have included dinners as a group as well as nights on your own. Of course, you are always invited to join me at my favorite places or as I explore new and interesting restaurant finds. I also have a lot of recommendations and would be happy to make reservations for you.
What's Not Included
- Passport fees, visa fees, immunization costs, entry clearing fees (when applicable)
- Optional enhancements like room upgrades
- Additional sightseeing, activities and experiences outside of your itinerary
- Early check-in or late check-out from hotels
- Personal charges such as laundry, phone calls, SIM cards or room service
- Lunches, dinners and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), unless specified in the itinerary
- Travel insurance (highly recommended)
- Your international airfare
- Porterage: Please note that you'll need to carry your own luggage up and down stairs at hotels and across cobblestone.
HOW DO WE PRICE YOUR CUSTOM PRIVATE TOUR PACKAGE?
Custom itineraries are developed as a tour package and we charge a planning fee. We handle all the logistics for your land arrangements to make your vacation run flawlessly from arrival to departure. Pricing is determined by the number of people in your private group, choice of accommodations, meals, planned activities, expert local guides, local ground transportation, length of stay and additional options chosen.
Tour dates are booked on a first come, first served basis. Space is not held until a signed Liability Waiver and Release, Guest Registration Form and initial deposit are received. Audrey works with multiple clients at any given time, so you might be in the running for dates already selected by another private group.
- It takes time to create quality. Ideally, we’d begin planning your trip six months in advance, or three months if you’re not travelling during high season.
- In a world of constant changes, please note that our quoted costs are merely informative, as all services have to be confirmed at the time of the booking. Quotes are valid up to 15 days from the date they are sent and they may require modifications.
- Hotel availability and prices cannot be guaranteed until they are booked and may not be fully protected at the time of the quote. Some hotel rates fluctuate almost every day.
- While pricing across custom itineraries can vary, our bespoke trips typically start at $350 per person per day, inclusive of accommodations, private excursions, transfers and our dedicated planning services.
- Our custom vacation plans will not be itemized, and we only accept full-service planning when hotel reservations are part of the itinerary. If you are unable to stand/walk for 3 consecutive hours, cannot carry your own luggage, cannot walk for extended periods of time, have trouble walking up and down hills, or require a special diet, this trip may not be for you. Please contact Audrey if you have any questions.
Prepare for Your Trip
European travel in general involves a lot of walking, much more than we are used to in the US. Most of our tours include city walking tours, visits to hilltop towns and villages, and meandering through cobbled streets. Keeping active and incorporating long walks into your busy schedule in the weeks before your departure will make your vacation much more rewarding.
- Don’t Overpack: A challenge even for some experienced travelers! Wash or dry clean some clothes during your travel. Some hotels and villas we choose offer laundry and dry cleaning services and towns and cities have laundry mats. Most also provide hair dryers. Toiletries and cosmetics can also be purchased at your destinations. Please contact us if you need some assistance.
- It is your responsibility to obtain the required documents to travel to Europe, please verify with your own country's travel laws and government agencies. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after your return date.
The first day on tour is your arrival day into the city in which we meet. So you would be flying the day before from the United States or Canada if you are not taking the option of spending a few days on location prior to start of your tour. When making flight arrangements, please allow sufficient time to claim luggage and clear customs in order to join the tour on time.
- Air Conditioning: Hotels and mini-buses/vans used are air-conditioned for your comfort. European air conditioning should be considered as a climate-control system; most have three settings for the fan, plus a "cool" setting. Very few of the European systems actually have a temperature setting. In general, the amount of cool air that is produced from a European air conditioning system may be less than what you may have in your own home. Some hotels in Europe do not operate their air conditioning systems on a year round basis, but only during certain months of the year.
- Mobility: All of our tours involve walking and require our guests to board and disembark our vehicles several times a day making this tour unsuitable for those with reduced mobility. You must be able to walk up and down hills, on uneven surfaces and stand for extended periods of time.
- Itinerary Changes and Price Flexibility: We pledge to make every effort to operate all pre-designed tours as advertised. We reserve the right to alter or curtail the itinerary, or substitute sightseeing, hotels, and/or transportation as deemed necessary.
- A note on accommodations: There is frequent confusion over the terminology used for hotel rooms. A “double” room is recognized as meaning a room with a double bed, which may be two single beds pushed together. A “twin” room is a room with two single beds. A “single” room tends to be smaller than double or twin rooms. Triples are usually two-bedded rooms plus a roll-away cot and not recommended for comfort. Some properties offer 1 double and 1 single bed, or 1 double and 1 pull out sofa
- Holiday and Museum Closures: Museum visits and personal shopping time may be disrupted due to unforeseen circumstances or the many state, religious and civic holidays locally observed.
- NO SMOKING: Sorry but there will be no-smoking allowed in the vehicle or during guided tours. Italy, France and Spain have banned smoking in all public buildings, including hotels and restaurants (enclosed spaces only, with the exception of sitting outdoors while eating). Some hotels may be able to provide smoking rooms if necessary. You will need to let us know ahead of time.
- Currency and Exchange Rates: The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Germany. Currency can be exchanged at banks, exchange bureaus and at most of the hotels listed on your itinerary, though you will get a better exchange rate at the banks. Major credit cards are widely accepted. Travelers’ checks are less accepted, especially by local merchants; expect to pay a fee for using travelers’ checks. Foreign currency is not accepted.
- Your Credit and Other Bank Cards Abroad: Before your departure, we recommend you contact your bank before departing on your vacation to inform them of your travel plans to ensure that your ATM, credit and debit cards will work and continue to work while you are abroad. The banks have automated security measures in place that flag transactions outside your normal spending patterns. Failure to do so may result in a temporary freeze being placed on your account.
- VAT: Many countries levy Value Added Taxes (VAT) on consumer goods and services. (The tax rate may be higher for luxury items and lower for basic goods.) As a rule, if you are not a resident of the country (or of the country’s intergovernmental economic community, e.g., the European Union) in which the purchase is made, you may be entitled to a VAT refund and should inquire about the refund policy where you shop.
- Electrical Current: The electrical current in France, Italy and Spain is 220 V, 50 Hz, AC. If your electrical devices do not conform to this standard, you may need to bring the appropriate converters and adapters.
- Even though tips to staff and restaurants are included, it is suggested that you put aside approximately $100 (US) in combined gratuities for your driver & Tour Director for your trip (and any voluntary additional restaurant gratuities are at your discretion).
The purchase of TRAVEL INSURANCE is strongly recommended to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. A Protection Plan can include coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Delay and more.
To discuss the details and customization options, click below to schedule a call with Audrey!
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