Northern Italy

Travel to the Italian Lake District, the Riviera, and other gems of Northern Italy as you soak up Italian culture

Starting at: $5,999 * Including airfare, airline taxes & departure fees Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The village of Stresa, located on Lake Maggiore  The lovely Borromean island of Isola Bella, located in Lake Maggiore  Milan's renowned cathedral  The seaside town of Vernazza, one of the Cinqueterre villages  The village of Portofino on the Italian Riviera  The legendary tower of Pisa  The city of Florence and the famous Duomo  Michelangelo's <i>David</i> in the Accademia in Florence  The Campo or main piazza in Siena  The facade and distinctive belltower of Siena's cathedral  The Tuscan hill town of Volterra  The quintessential Tuscan landscape with rolling hills, cypress trees, and farmhouses   The Grand Canal of Venice  Venice


This tour is specially designed for a small group of 16 to 24 Smithsonian travelers and offers outstanding travel value. Prices include airfare, airline taxes, fuel surcharges, and departure fees.

Our new tour of Italy’s breathtaking northern regions offers an exciting perspective on a well-known and beloved land. Join us to experience the highlights of the Italian Lake District, the Riviera, and important northern cities and towns. A three-night stay on Lake Maggiore showcases this region’s beauty, from Stresa and nearby Orta San Giulio to a cruise to Isola Bella, renowned for its stunning palace and gardens. Enjoy a leisurely walking tour of cosmopolitan Milan, famous for its awe-inspiring marble Duomo and celebrated La Scala opera house. Along the Italian Riviera, stroll through the resort town of Santa Margherita, enjoy a full-day excursion to the seaside towns and World Heritage site of the Cinque Terre, and arrive at Portofino by boat. Continue to Tuscany to explore the arts of Florence and the medieval world of Siena, both World Heritage sites. You’ll also savor an authentic winery tour and tasting in Chianti and visit the classic hill town of San Gimignano before concluding your journey in magical Venice.

Day 1 — Depart U.S. for Milan, Italy

Day 2 — Arrive Milan, Stresa
After arriving in Milan, drive to the international resort of Stresa on lovely Lake Maggiore, straddling the border between Italy and Switzerland. This afternoon is at leisure before tonight’s welcome dinner. (D)

Day 3 — Stresa, Orta San Giulio
This morning visit the lovely lakeside town of Orta San Giulio – called “God’s watercolor” by Italian writer Piero Chiara – with its cobblestone streets, 16th-century town hall, and medieval houses flanking the inviting town square. After lunch on your own here, return to the hotel for time at leisure. Then take a late afternoon cruise to Isola Bella, the beautiful Borromean island in the middle of Lake Maggiore. Fully occupied by 17th-century Palazzo Borromeo and its extravagantly landscaped gardens, the island offers lovely views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Take a guided tour of the palazzo, with its priceless works of fine art, and stroll through the gardens before dining here tonight. (B,D)

Day 4 — Stresa, Milan
Depart this morning for Milan, where you visit such highlights as 14th-century Castello Sforzesco, a fortified castle that once hosted such luminaries as da Vinci and Bramante. Take a guided walk past the celebrated La Scala opera house and the awe-inspiring marble Duomo, one of the world’s largest churches with 135 spires and some 3,400 statues. Then you’re free to explore on your own before returning to Stresa late afternoon. (B)

Day 5 — Stresa, Santa Margherita
Leave Stresa this morning, traveling south to Italy’s tiny Liguria region, the narrow coastal plain whose capital is seafaring Genoa. Your destination is the Italian Riviera resort town of Santa Margherita, with its lovely palm-lined esplanade overlooking a picturesque harbor. (B,D)

Day 6 — Santa Margherita, Portovenere, Cinque Terre
The rugged coastline from Santa Margherita to the five towns of the Cinque Terre region (literally, “five lands”) virtually bursts with scenic and cultural significance. Dramatically situated at the edge of vertical vineyard-clad cliffs, the towns here once could be reached only by sea, and even today, no road connects them all (though walkers can use an ancient footpath). From Portovenere, tour comfortably by boat today along this striking coastline – called the Riviera Levante – stopping along the way in the villages of Monterosso andVernazza. Return to your hotel late this afternoon and dine there tonight. (B,D)

Day 7 — Santa Margherita, Portofino
This morning travel by boat to the renowned – and beautiful – resort town of Portofino, a former fishing village where palatial yachts now crowd the port and the good life is celebrated. Enjoy free time to wander the colorful streets and visit the chic boutiques and galleries here before returning to your hotel mid-day. (B)

Day 8 — Santa Margherita, Lucca, Tuscany

Moving on today, travel south to beloved Tuscany, stopping first in the atmospheric medieval town of Lucca. Take a walking tour of this incredibly well-preserved gem, whose city walls and ramparts remain intact and a popular attraction. After time for lunch on your own, continue on to your lodgings, a restored 18th-century villa where you dine tonight. (B,D)

Day 9 — Tuscany, Florence
Spend today touring and exploring wondrous Florence, a living monument to the Renaissance and crown jewel of Tuscany. Your day includes a guided morning walking tour followed by free time. Together visit the Galleria dell’Accademia to view Michelangelo’s sublime “David” and his pieces for the papal tombs; and the Duomo, with its stupendous dome by Brunelleschi. There’s time on your own to stroll the 14th-century Ponte Vecchio, with its many jewelry shops; visit renowned museums and churches; shop for leather goods and artful Florentine paper; and to enjoy lunch on your own at a typical Florentine restaurant. (B,D)

Day 10 — Tuscany, Siena, Castellina in Chianti
Today visit the walled city of Siena, whose historic center is a World Heritage site and ochre-colored buildings and ancient ramparts vividly evoke its medieval past. Fan-shapedPiazza del Campo is one of Europe’s greatest public squares; its Duomo, with pillars of black and white marble, is one of Italy’s finest, with masterpieces by Donatello and Michelangelo. Following a guided walking tour that includes an inside visit to the Duomo, enjoy free time to explore on your own. Then return to your villa via Castellina in Chianti, where you visit a local winery for a tour and tasting; only in this region is authentic Chianti Classico produced. (B,D)

Day 11 — Tuscany, Volterra, San Gimignano
Encounter classic Tuscany today as you visit first nearby Volterra, set high on a bluff some 1,800 feet above the valley below. A fortress-like town, Volterra was a center of Etruscan art and commerce from the 9th century bce through the 4th century. On your walking tour here explore the maze of medieval alleys and see some of the white alabaster carvings for which the city is renowned. After free time for lunch on your own, continue on to the classic hill town of San Gimignano, whose 13 remaining watchtowers have left its skyline looking much as it did in medieval times. Enjoy a brief walking tour of this town known for its churches and museums that house important works of art; and for its smart shops and art galleries. (B,D)

Day 12 — Tuscany, Venice
Leaving Tuscany today travel through the Veneto region to Venice, arriving early this afternoon. The remainder of the day and evening is free to begin savoring this wondrous city on your own. (B)

Day 13 — Venice
This morning take a guided walk through vast St. Mark’s Square, deemed “Europe’s most magnificent drawing room” by Napoleon Bonaparte. The afternoon is at leisure for independent exploration. Tonight bid “arrivederci” to Italy and to your fellow travelers at a farewell dinner. (B,D)

Day 14 — Depart for U.S.
Depart early this morning for your connecting flights to the U.S. (B)