Discover Italy's culinary and wine delights without the crowds
DAY 1: Arrival day in Milan
DAY 2: Barolo
DAY 3: Truffle hunt & cooking class
DAY 4: Royal city of Turin
DAY 5: Hiking the vineyards
DAY 6: Mediterranean Coast
DAY 7: Asti and cheese farm visit
DAY 8: Departure Day
Planning to spend more time in Italy before or after the tour? Audrey will be happy to help you plan a pre or post tour extension to other regions of Italy like Val d'Aosta, or the Italian lakes (Lake Orta, Lake Maggiore, Lake Como).
- Sample local wines on a visit to Barolo, Asti & Barbaresco wine producers
- Private cooking class with a local farmhouse 'momma' surrounded by hazelnut trees
- A day on the Mediterranean coast with a fresh seafood lunch on the beach
- Stroll through olive groves to a private tasting
- Enjoy the pleasures of eating the rare and delicate white truffle
- Learn about the secrets of chocolate with a tasting of the famous "bicerin"
- Traditional meals with a variety of local recipes and wines
- Artisanal cheese tasting at local Piedmontese farm
- Charming villages and alluring beauty of panoramic Piedmont
- Intimate group size of 4 to 8 like-minded travelers
- You unpack only once!
NEXT CHANCE TO GO: October 19 to 26, 2022
PRICING: From $3,500USD pp (double occupancy)
Arrival airport: Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP)
8 days/7 nights (7 nights in the Langhe, Piedmont)
Are you looking to discover the culinary and wine delights of northern Italy, without the crowds? If you are, then this is the small group tour for you!
Discover one of Italy's magical wine regions, Piedmont, which Italians call Piemonte. Although more and more people are hearing about Piedmont and coming to visit, the region remains quite undiscovered. In Piemonte, the rhythms of Italian life, uninterrupted by tourists, can be found everywhere: from the corner bar where the locals grab their daily café to the local festivals that almost always revolve around food and wine.
Piedmont is often referred to as ‘Tuscany without the tourists’. Piedmont’s undulating hills striped with vineyards bear more than a passing resemblance to its famous southern counterpart. Allow yourself to become enthralled by this picturesque region of dramatic hills wrapped with vineyards, orchards, hazelnut orchards that boast the finest quality of nuts in the world, medieval fortresses, and charming villages with terracotta rooftops. Delight in white truffles and wine tastings at premier winemakers. This area also produces most of the rice used throughout Europe and the Piemontesi claim to have taught the Swiss how to process chocolate into a tantalizing experience. Meet authentic local people, hard workers, very proud of their land and visit Torino (Turin) the aristocratic first capital of Italy and unexpectedly gorgeous city. Come discover the magic of Piedmont for yourself!
Day to Day Itinerary
DAY 1: Wednesday - ARRIVAL DAY
Arrive in the afternoon after an included transfer from Milan Malpensa (MXP), and check-in at your hotel where you will be staying for the duration of your visit in this region. Once you have had the time to freshen up, enjoy some time to get acquainted with the small town of Alice Bel Colle followed by an included dinner at a well-known trattoria, considered one of the best casual dining experiences in the area. During dinner you can sip on a selection of local wines and get to know your fellow travelers.
DAY 2: Thursday -BAROLO
After breakfast, journey with your local host to the area of production of Barolo wine, Explore the quaint village of La Morra, with its cobblestone streets, the highest of this area and enjoy breathtaking views of the region followed by a hike through the vineyards (Length 10KM/6 miles-difficulty level: medium).
At lunch time, visit the majestic aging room of a Barolo winery and relax in the dining room on the on-site restaurant overlooking the vineyards. Lunch is served with traditional starters and a pasta course, paired with five wines (including Barolo)
In the afternoon transfer to the village of Barolo with its medieval castle and many wine shops. The last stop of the day is Alba, a city of a hundred medieval towers, and the hometown of Nutella, Ferrero Rocher and aromatic white truffles. The decadent chocolate hazelnut Gianduia dessert was invented here and the city hosts the famous truffle fair between mid-October and November. Alba is also home to Barolo, the ‘king of Italian reds’, and the lighter, Nebbiolo. Enjoy a stroll on your own in the elegant town center and step inside the impressive cathedral.
DAY 3: Friday - TRUFFLE HUNT AND COOKING CLASS
No trip to Piedmont in the fall would be complete without feasting on white truffles. As we accompany a "trifulao," truffle hunter, and his faithful scent dog through the countryside, we will learn the secrets of the delicate treasure we are searching for. If weather permits, we will enjoy a lunch outside at a nearby restaurant following our hunt.
Spend the remainder of the day relaxing at your hotel before departing for a home cooking class on an organic farm surrounded by hazelnut trees and vineyards. This is an original stone home of the Langhe hills, beautifully restored. For the cooking class you will be using seasonal ingredients, herbs and vegetables from the garden just outside. Then enjoy the four-course dinner you created, with water and wine included.
DAY 4: Saturday - ROYAL CITY OF TURIN
After breakfast, embark on a short drive (1h 30min) to meet your guide in central Turin for a 2 hour walking tour of the historical city. The regional capital of Turin (Torino) is magical and considered one of the most elegant and beautiful in Europe. It is Italy’s fourth-largest city and has an illustrious past, resulting in elegant squares, world-class museums and historic cafés, flanked by some 18km of colonnaded walkways.
We'll venture into the old Roman Quadrilateral, an ancient enclave where the original city walls and gate can be seen, and stroll through Piazza Castello, home to Turin Cathedral and the Palazzo Reale for an unparalleled glimpse into royal life during the Savoy Dynasty. The last stop on our tour will be at the impressive Porta Palazzo open-air market, the largest-open air market in Europe where you can snack on salumi and gourmet cheeses, or sit down for lunch at one of the artisan eateries.
During the tour, we will stop at one of the historic coffee shops of Turin for a tasting of the local chocolate and coffee drink, called "bicerin" and sample some local pralines. On tour, we will also ride on the glass elevator to the top of the iconic "Mole Antonelliana" where with a reserved entrance, you can enjoy a 360 degree view of the city and the Alps.
The rest of the day is at your leisure to visit other wonderful sites in the city, including:
• the Cinema Museum for a a peek into Italian motion picture history.
• the Egyptian Museum, considered the second-best collection of Egyptian artifacts in the world (after the Egyptian Museum in Cairo).
• a stroll along the Po River through the scenic Parco del Valentino.
DAY 5: Sunday - HIKING IN THE VINEYARDS
Enjoy breakfast and a lazy morning. Then, it is time to hike from the hotel through the vineyards and country roads in the heart of the UNESCO world heritage site of the Monferrato hills. This is the area of production of robust red Barbera, aromatic and sweet Moscato and one of the few red sparkling wines of Italy, called Brachetto (Length 9km/5 miles-Difficulty level: medium). Along the way, stop in a family run Barbera winery for a tour of the cellar followed by a traditional farmer's brunch, called "merenda sinoira" paired with 4 wines including the Barbera wine aged in oak (DOCG appellation "Nizza"). Time to walk off lunch by returning to your hotel, then enjoy the rest of the afternoon at your leisure.
DAY 6: Monday - MEDITERRANEAN COAST
After breakfast, depart for the Italian Riviera, to the town of Finale Ligure (driving time 1.5 hours). The first stop of the day is the medieval walled town of Finalborgo, located in the mainland, one mile away from the sea. You'll have time on your own for souvenir shopping and photo opportunities. Then, after a 15 minute transfer, we arrive to the seaside town of Noli, once a powerful independent Maritime Republic. Take a stroll along the promenade and maybe dip your feet in the Mediterranean.
Lunch is served in a restaurant on the beach. Enjoy the Ligurian pasta with pesto, the catch of the day and dessert with local wine included and water.
After lunch, our van will take us into the mountains near the town of Varigotti where a brave farmer grows an ancient indigenous varietal of olive trees. The van can only go to a certain point, so we have a pleasant hike through the olive trees overlooking the sea. After an introduction about Ligurian olive oil and its beneficial effects, it is time to savor the liquid gold.
DAY 7: Tuesday - ASTI AND THE CHEESE REFINER
Today we are off to Asti to meet our local guide for a 2 hour walking tour of the city center followed by a visit to a local cheese refiner. This is not a dairy farm, but a farmhouse where a young cheese master refines different types of cheese coming from Piedmont and nearby regions. Visit the small aging cellar and relax upstairs with a selection of 4 cheeses, jams and a glass of local wine (this is not a meal but enough to satisfy your appetite).
Then it is time to visit another winery! We explore the beautiful northern Monferrato hills, home of the grape varietal, called Ruche. Visit the cellar run completely by women, including the wine maker. Enjoy a wine tasting of 4 wines with local cold cuts.
This evening is your Farewell Dinner with us, enjoying local regional specialties.
DAY 8: Wednesday - DEPARTURE DAY
Transfer to Milan Malpensa airport (MXP) included for today for your return flight (Flights should not be booked before 10:30AM).
Planning to spend more time in Italy before or after the tour? Audrey will be happy to help you plan a pre or post tour extension to other regions of Italy like Val d'Aosta, or the Italian lakes (Lake Orta, Lake Maggiore, Lake Como)
Your Tour Price Includes
- Unwind for 7 nights in charming, hand-picked boutique style accommodations that offer Italian hospitality, comfort and local character (standard rooms, including daily breakfast)
- Relax in the care of your host, Audrey, who is fluent in Italian and English
- Private transportation throughout the itinerary
- Rest assured that we will never guide you into a tourist trap shopping experience or surprise you with hidden fees
- Private transfers to and from Milan Malpensa Airport
- Local expert guides for private walking tours in Torino and Asti
- Hand-picked experiences and insider access to the Italian way of life:
- Private cooking class on an organic farm followed by dinner (4 courses, water and wine)
- Light lunch "merenda sinoira" on local regional specialties and wine
- Lunch on the beach on the Mediterranean coast (3 courses, water and wine)
- Olive oil mill visit with tasting of extra virgin olive oil
- Truffle hunt with a truffle hunter and his dog, known as a "trifolau"
- Cheese refiner experience and tasting of 4 cheeses with a glass of wine and jams
- Wine tours and tastings
- 2 traditional dinners
- Information packet before departure
- Taxes & Fees: Local VAT taxes and government fees, city tax, gas, highway tolls, city access licenses and permits, parking fees
Audrey's Gold Standard
I've personally tried, tasted and tested every single experience, ensuring quality and authenticity. If it doesn’t meet my personal Stamp of Approval, it won’t be on your tour!
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
- Travel insurance (strongly recommended)
- Your international and domestic airfare
- Porterage: Please note that you'll need to carry your own luggage up and down stairs at hotels and across cobblestone
Extend your trip
Are you planning to spend more time in Italy before or after the tour? Italy has so many beautiful cities and regions, you might want to prolong your Italian journey, to include a few more amazing destinations! We can help you to extend your stay with pre & post tour options, tailored to your preferences. Here are some of our suggestions:
Spend a few days in the city of Turin
The Royal City of Turin (or Torino) is considered one of the most elegant and beautiful in Europe. It is compact yet bustling modern city with impressive historic buildings, excellent restaurants and stunning views of the Alps. There is so much to do in this city! World-class museums like the Museo dell’Automobile, which is a must-see for any car fanatic—will enthrall you. Or, visit the UNESCO-listed Reggia di Venaria Reale, a lovingly restored 17th-century hunting lodge that was once the expansive residence of the Savoy royal family. Hike up to the 10th-century Sacra di San Michele, a striking abbey crowning the mountain of Monte Pirchiriano. On your way back to town, swing past Birrificio San Michele, a brewery at the foot of the mountain, for a platter of salumi and a flight of their craft beers.
THE LAKES: Add 4 wonderful days/3 nights visiting Lake Orta & Lake Maggiore designed as a post tour extension
The enduring charm and beauty of the Italian Lakes has lured everyone from Roman emperors and Hollywood celebrities to the cream of European society. Lying in the foothills of the Alps near the Swiss border, romantic Lago di Orta (Lake Orta), the most beautiful lake in Northern Italy, is nestled among a dark green forest and rocky hills. One of the smallest and lesser known of the northern lakes of Italy, its shimmering waters, the nearby ancient town of Orta San Giulio and its fascinating history will steal your heart.
On Lake Maggiore, idyllic islands play host to grand palaces and picturesque fishing villages as well as superb gardens that nurture plants from all over the world. It's a beguiling region, littered with Michelin-starred restaurants and fine hotels, making a trip here a feast for both the eyes and the senses.
DAY 1: Most beautiful Italian lake, Lake Orta
Today we head northward to Lake Orta and the town of Orta San Giulio. The village is a maze of picturesque streets and narrow cobbled lanes, flanked by old stone walls, craft boutiques, antique shops and lively cafés.
- Walk uphill to the Sacred Mountain, a unique religious site with 25 chapels dedicated to the life of St. Francis where pilgrims used to come and pray. As you walk uphill enjoy stunning views over the lake.
- Take a short boat ride to Isola San Giulio and walk around the tiny island home of a convent of nouns. Take in views and the mystic atmosphere walking around the path of silence.
After lunch, we drive to Stresa (25minutes) and check in to your hotel just a 10 minute walk along the lake to the town center.
Dinner at your leisure: your tour manager can make recommendations of her favorite places
DAY 2: Lake Maggiore
Bella (beautiful), Pescatore (fisherman) and Madre (mother). These three islands on Lake Maggiore were named after the aristocratic Borromean family—art and garden lovers—who bought the land in the 16th century and transformed two of them into luxury residences.
Today, we'll travel by ferry. We'll begin our day at Isola Bella with a visit to the Baroque Palazzo Borromeo to tour the opulent rooms filled with 15th-century art, intricate tile work and beautiful frescoes. We'll finish in the gardens before we hop the ferry to Isola Pescatori, also known as Isola Superiore, the northernmost island of the three. It’s a beautiful little fishing village where we'll have lunch. (not included) Those naturalists among us can continue on to Isola Madre, and tour the English-style Giardini Botanici dell’Isola Madre: seven terraces include cypress trees, camellias, rhododendrons, plus a wild community of peacocks, pheasants and parrots.
DAY 3: Nursery and farmhouse visit
Meet your private driver and guide to drive around the shores of lake Maggiore up to the town of Pallanza. Take a stroll in town before continuing on the mountain overlooking the lake with breathtaking views from the snow-capped Swiss Alps to the city of Milan. Visit a farmhouse where horses, cows and cats leave peacefully in a bucolic setting.Enjoy a generous traditional meal with the organic products of the farm and local recipes.
This afternoon, meet the passionate owner of a nursery where camellias are grown. Walk in the nursery for an interesting and interactive lecture about flowers and relax in the private garden for a tasting of local teas and infusions.
DAY 4 - Transfers to Milan Malpensa Airport for flights out or join us for and extra day in Milan.
When we arrive in Milan, we'll drop our bags at the hotel and meet our guide for our tour, including reserved timed admissions to the Scala Opera House and the Last Supper. Discover how business and history blend together in Milan. We'll begin our tour at the Piazza del Duomo, including a skip the line ticket to the roof. Just across the square is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, one of the most beautiful covered gallerias in the world. Begun in 1865, it was the first to make use of an iron glass structure. We’ll then visit La Scala opera house, the most famous theatre hall in the world. After lunch (not included), we're off to see Leonardo’s masterpiece, The Last Supper, painted in the refectory of the Santa Maria Delle Grazie church. The church and adjoining refectory were badly damaged in World War II, and during the repair work, old sgraffito paintings in the dome were brought to light.
Milan is Europe’s fashion capital, with many chic shops and boutiques! Visit vintage shops, view street art, explore Milan’s canal district, and sample this city’s delicious cuisine. If you want to see l’ultima moda (the latest fashion), and the beautiful Duomo di Milano Gothic Cathedral, add a couple of extra days to your journey.
Overnight in Milan
DAY 5 - Departure day from Milan Malpensa Airport
From Milan, by train, you can easily reach Bologna, Florence, Rome or Venice.
Travels with Audrey RECOMMENDS YOU BOOK EARLY as hotel availability may occasionally be an issue due to popularity, capacity of unique accommodations, and/or high season. A supplemental fee may be applied if our normal set of hotels in each city is not available. Hotels are booked based on availability at time of booking. If a specific hotel is not available, a similar quality or location will be chosen. Your hotels will be finalized about 90 days prior to the tour (after receipt of full payment) and will be available in your pre-tour documents mailed to you within 30 days prior to your tour.
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
Please note that the hotel staff assigns rooms to guests. Some rooms may include stairs. A specific view is not guaranteed. As we work mainly with luxury historic inns and small upscale boutique hotels, rooms differ in size and layout. In general, Italian bedrooms and bathrooms are smaller compared to US standards. Each room has its own en-suite bathroom with shower and/or tub, hair-dryer, and basic toiletry set. Please contact us if you have specific requests/needs.
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! Plan to 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 laundromats. 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 no later than the day before from the United States or Canada. It is your responsibility to get to the city and hotel where and when the tour begins. When making flight arrangements, please allow sufficient time to claim luggage and clear customs in order to join the included transfer on time. For all pre-designed tour packages, we meet for our first orientation walk of the tour at 3:00PM (15:00) on tour start date in the hotel lobby. The tour ends when you check out of the hotel on your last day on tour.
Note: Please make note or inquire with us as to the meeting time on that first day on tour. This should be done prior to you making any flight or train bookings so that it is clearly understood that the arrangements will fit in with our times. Your train or flight should arrive between 09:00AM and 12:00PM-noon (no later) on Day 1 of the tour to allow you enough time to check in to your hotel, freshen up and meet for the orientation walk with our other group guests.
Remember, airfare is a completely separate arrangement from your land tour. It is your responsibility to arrive at the point of tour origination.
- All prices are subject to change until a deposit has been made for your tour. Please bear in mind that each hand-crafted pre-packaged itinerary showcased on the website represents a typical itinerary, and the actual details may vary due to season and special events. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances may arise. Itinerary changes are also made to improve the tour and your experience. Prices are subject to change with global exchange rates. Please be aware that equivalent dollar costs are based on exchange rates and are contingent upon a fluctuating currency market.
- All quoted prices are subject to changes based on Euro dollar/US dollar exchange rate, until balance is paid. Once the deposit has been received, the price is locked, regardless of exchange fluctuations prior to the tour . Variations in price will be made only if Euro value increases 5% or more from the time of reservation to the time that balance is due. Any variations in price, which may or may not increase your balance, will be communicated by email.
- 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 our tours as advertised. We reserve the right to alter or curtail the itinerary, or substitute sightseeing, hotels, and/or transportation as deemed necessary.
Please note: while we do our best to adhere to our published itineraries, they may be changed at the discretion of the tour leader (local host) due to weather conditions and any other unforeseeable circumstances.
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.
Local living and boutique hotels - Where you stay matters
We believe that where you sleep is an important part of your overall travel experience. We choose truly special and unique locations, that reflect authentic local charm. Here are photos of a few of our favorite places.
Enjoy the Elegance and Traditions of Piedmont's Hilltop Castles, Vine-Filled Valleys, Breathtaking Landscapes, Exquisite Gastronomy and Its Wines!
What Audrey's clients are saying...
Sign up for our Newsletter
Sign up for my monthly newsletter showcasing featured tours, new itineraries, expert travel advice and inspiration. You will receive my insider tips for bringing your wine home.