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

Starting at: $5,499 * Includes airfare, taxes & all fees Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Vernazza, one of Italy's charming towns known as the Cinque Terre, along the Riviera  The village of Stresa, located on Lake Maggiore  The lovely Borromean island of Isola Bella, located on 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 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 hill town of San Gimignano, featuring its many medieval towers  The quintessential Tuscan landscape with rolling hills, cypress trees, and farmhouses   The Grand Canal of Venice  View of the Doge's Palace and Campanile from the canal in Venice  Venice

Northern Italy

The Italian Lake District, Cinque Terre, Tuscany, and Venice

14-15 days from $5,499 | includes airfare, taxes and all fees

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

or Call 855-330-1542

SPECIAL VALUE

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.

Overview

Italy’s evocative northern regions offer an exciting perspective on a well-known and beloved land. Join us to experience the highlights of the Italian Lake District, the Riviera, Tuscany, the Alpine Tyrol, and magical Venice.

Highlights Include:

  • The Italian Lake District: Enjoy a three-night stay along Lake Maggiore, which showcases the beauty
of this region. Explore Stresa and nearby Orta San Giulio and cruise to Isola Bella to tour the stunning Palazzo Borromeo and its extravagantly landscaped gardens, followed by dinner on the island. Enjoy a winery tour and tasting in Barolo.
  • The Italian Riviera: Stroll through the resort town of Santa Margherita, enjoy a full-day excursion to the seaside towns of the Cinque Terre, a World Heritage site, and arrive at Portofino by boat.
  • Florence/Tuscany: Spend two days exploring the arts of Florence and medieval Siena, both World Heritage sites. Learn about ancient Etruscan history and art in Lucca. 
  • Alpine Tyrol: Gaze upon the breathtaking Italian Alps during your stay in Bolzano, gateway to the Dolomites.
  • Venice: Conclude your journey in magical Venice. 

If you like to learn and have fun at the same time, take a Smithsonian tour. 

- Irma C.

To see itinerary, please click on an option below.

2016 Itinerary

Italy’s evocative northern regions offer an exciting perspective on a well-known and beloved land. Join us to experience the highlights of the Italian Lake District, the Riviera, Tuscany, and magical Venice.

Highlights Include:

  • The Italian Lake District: Enjoy a three-night stay along Lake Maggiore, which showcases the beauty
of this region. Explore Stresa and nearby Orta San Giulio and cruise to Isola Bella to tour the stunning Palazzo Borromeo and its extravagantly landscaped gardens, followed by dinner on the island.
  • Milan: Take a leisurely walking tour of this cosmopolitan city, famous for its awe-inspiring marble Duomo and celebrated La Scala opera house.
  • The Italian Riviera: Stroll through the resort town of Santa Margherita, enjoy a full-day excursion to the seaside towns of the Cinque Terre, a World Heritage site, and arrive at Portofino by boat.
  • Tuscany: Spend two days exploring the arts of Florence and medieval Siena, both World Heritage sites. Enjoy a winery tour and tasting in Chianti and visit the classic hill town of San Gimignano.
  • Venice: Conclude your journey in magical Venice. 

Day 1 — Depart the U.S. for Milan, Italy

Day 2 — Arrive Milan and 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 and Orta San Giulio

This morning visit the lovely lakeside town of Orta San Giulio – dubbed “God’s watercolor” by Italian writer Piero Chiara – with its cobblestoned streets, 16th-century town hall, and medieval houses flanking the inviting town square. After lunch on your own here, return to your hotel for an afternoon at leisure. (B)

Day 4 — Stresa

Embark this morning on a 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 flower-decked gardens, then enjoy lunch together on the island. (B,L)

Day 5 — Stresa, Milan, Santa Margherita

Today visit Milan, Italy’s commercial and financial center, and world capital of design and fashion. See the immense Duomo, one of the world’s largest churches with 135 spires and some 3,400 statues; and Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle, the four-story double-arcade that is one of the world’s oldest shopping malls. Then visit the Brera Picture Gallery, Milan’s first fine arts museum and still its foremost gallery, with works by Caravaggio, Tiepolo, Tintoretto, Raphael, and other great masters. After lunch on your own, travel on to Italy’s Liguria region, the narrow coastal plain whose capital is seafaring Genoa. Your destination is the Italian Riviera resort town of Santa Margherita, with its palm-lined esplanade overlooking the harbor. (B)

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 and Vernazza. 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. Enjoy free time to meander through the colorful streets and visit the chic boutiques and galleries here before returning to your hotel midday. (B,D)

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 and 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-shaped Piazza 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 beginning in 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 and 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 the U.S.

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

2017 Itinerary

Map - Northern Italy

Italy’s evocative northern regions offer an exciting perspective on a well-known and beloved land. Join us to experience the highlights of the Italian Lake District, the Riviera, Tuscany, the majestic Dolomites, and magical Venice.

Highlights Include:

  • The Italian Lake District: Enjoy a three-night stay along Lake Maggiore, which showcases the beauty
of this region. Explore Stresa and nearby Orta San Giulio and cruise to Isola Bella to tour the stunning Palazzo Borromeo and its extravagantly landscaped gardens, followed by dinner on the island. Enjoy a winery tour and tasting in Barolo.
  • The Italian Riviera: Stroll through the resort town of Santa Margherita, enjoy a full-day excursion to the seaside towns of the Cinque Terre, a World Heritage site, and arrive at Portofino by boat.
  • Florence/Tuscany: Spend two days exploring the arts of Florence and medieval Siena, both World Heritage sites. Learn about ancient Etruscan history and art in Lucca. 
  • South Tyrol: Discover the majestic beauty of the Dolomites plus a stop in the lovely medieval city of Verona.
  • Venice: Conclude your journey in magical Venice. 

Day 1 — Depart the U.S. for Milan, Italy

Day 2 — Arrive Milan and 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 and Orta San Giulio

This morning visit the lovely lakeside town of Orta San Giulio – dubbed “God’s watercolor” by Italian writer Piero Chiara – with its cobblestoned streets, 16th-century town hall, and medieval houses flanking the inviting town square. After lunch on your own here, return to the hotel for an afternoon at leisure. (B)

Day 4 — Stresa

Embark this morning on a 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 flower-decked gardens then enjoy lunch together on the nearby Isola dei Pescatori. (B,L)

Day 5 — Stresa, Barolo, Santa Margherita

Leave the Lombardy region today, bound for Santa Margherita and the Cinque Terre.  En route, stop in the village of Barolo for lunch and to sample Barolo, the “king of wines," at Marchesi di Barolo, Italy’s premier vintner of its greatest wine. Continue on to the Italian Riviera resort town of Santa Margherita, with its palm-lined esplanade overlooking the harbor. Tonight enjoy dinner together at the hotel. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Santa Margherita, Portovenere, Cinque Terre

Depart this morning by train for the hour-long trip to the Cinque Terre (literally, “Five Lands”), the five cliff-clinging villages seemingly carved from the mountains. Originally medieval fishing villages, the Cinque Terre were inaccessible by land for centuries; even today, no road connects all five. Stop in scenic Vernazza then board a boat for a comfortable cruise along the rugged coastline to visit another village of the Cinque Terre. From here cruise to the port town of Portovenere, with its cluster of colorful column-shaped houses. After a brief walking tour of the Old Town, enjoy time to explore and have lunch on your own. Dine together tonight at the hotel. (B,D)

Day 7 — Santa Margherita and 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 the hotel mid-day. (B)

Day 8 — Santa Margherita, Lucca, Florence

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 in the heart of Florence. (B,D)

Day 9 — 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.  Then you're free 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 and dinner on your own at a typical Florentine restaurant. (B)

Day 10 — Florence and Siena

Today visit the walled city of Siena, whose historic center is a UNESCO site and whose ochre-colored buildings and ancient ramparts vividly evoke its medieval past. Fan-shaped Piazza 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. Return to Florence mid-afternoon, with the remainder of the day at leisure. (B)

Day 11 — Florence, Verona, Bolzano

As you travel north today, stop in storied Verona, renowned as the setting of several Shakespeare plays, including, of course, “Romeo and Juliet.”  A UNESCO site, Verona boasts well-preserved monuments from antiquity, including a 1st-century Roman amphitheater still in use today, as you see on your guided walking tour. After time for lunch and to explore on your own here, continue your journey to South Tyrol, Italy’s German-accented northern reaches bordering Austria and Switzerland. You’re bound for the regional capital of Bolzano, gateway to the Dolomites in the Italian Alps.  Late afternoon reach your hotel, where you dine together tonight.  (B,D)

Day 12 — Bolzano

Set in a basin surrounded by rounded forest-green hills, Bolzano boasts an enviable quality of life – and truly spectacular scenery. Take a cable car to a spot for views of the 18-peak Dolomites, their vertical walls and sheer cliffs presenting a magnificent backdrop to the surrounding woodlands, valleys, and pastures. Then walk through Bolzano’s colorful historic center and visit the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, well known for housing the mummified corpse of Ötzi the Iceman, dating to 3,300 B.C. This afternoon is at leisure to enjoy this surprisingly cosmopolitan city as you wish; tonight dine at a local restaurant. (B,D)

Day 13 — Bolzano and Venice

En route to Venice today, travel through the Dolomites themselves, enjoying jaw-dropping scenery at every turn.  Upon reaching Venice late this afternoon, you are free to begin savoring this wondrous city as you wish and enjoy dinner on your own. (B,L)

Day 14 — Venice

This morning take a guided walk through vast St. Mark’s Square. The afternoon is free for independent exploration; tonight bid “arrivederci” to Italy and to your fellow travelers at a farewell dinner. (B,D)

Day 15 — Depart for the U.S.

Depart early this morning for connecting flights to the U.S. (B)