Depart USA for Milan, Italy
Depart home city via your chosen air carrier to Milan, Italy’s Malpensa International Airport (MXP)
Milan / Arrival
Arrive Milan…"The City of Glamour!" After clearing customs, Carl and his local representative will personally meet and escort you to awaiting transportation. After a short drive, Anne meet you on arrival at the deluxe Hotel Manzoni . Located in one of the most prestigious areas of Milan, known as the Golden Triangle, this gem of a boutique hotel is frequented by many international personalities including the some of the Kennedy family.
The Hotel Manzoni is in the middle of Milan's historic center and very close to the Duomo Cathedral, La Scala Opera House and the stunning Galleria shopping complex. Its unique location gives you countless options for sightseeing, shopping, dining and nightlife. All of the famous fashion designer shops are just steps away from your hotel. All of this, and more, at your doorstep!
The afternoon is free for you to unpack, unwind and relax or, for those of you who cannot wait to start your great Italy adventure, just step outside the hotel and you are in the middle of the action. So go exploring and have some fun...but just remember to be back in time for our FoCA dinner function tonight!
This evening, please join Carl, Anne and your fellow Friends of Carl and Anne traveling companions...commonly known as FoCAs, for a special "Welcome to Italy" cocktail reception at the hotel and dinner at a local restaurant.
Milan / Half Day Tour
After breakfast, enjoy a fascinating tour of old and new Milan. On your half-day sightseeing tour you'll visit the glamorous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele shopping gallery and the medieval Sforza Castle. Next, you'll tour the breathtaking Duomo, one of the world's largest, most striking Gothic cathedrals. Some 135 spires and 3,200 statues are crowded onto the roof and into the facade.
Out of all of the "must see" attractions, the "Last Supper," Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, has to be number one! This great work of art is housed at Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, and has earned a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The famous fresco has enjoyed increased popularity since the publication of Dan Brown's bestselling novel, "The Da Vinci Code." During our walking tour, you will also visit the fabulous La Scala, one of the world's best known opera houses. For those passionate about opera, you can walk back here sometime and take a look at the museum.
But there's plenty more to Milan than Leonardo's famous fresco! Your half-day tour of Milan includes a walking tour introducing you to this stylish Italian city. Milan is the fashion world's design capital and rivals Paris as a leading fashion center. Shopping here takes on an almost religious significance! Theater and cinema also flourish in this fashionable city, as does club hopping and dining with Milan's "elite" at gourmet restaurants and cafes where Verdi (La Traviata) and other famous composers dined.
Lunch and dinner are on your own today. With the balance of the afternoon and evening at your leisure, you are free to explore the hundreds of unique restaurants, cafés, bars and nightclubs that are located throughout Milan's charming neighborhoods. Since this is your first free night in Milan, it is a special evening! Milan has many fine dining restaurants from which to choose as well as quaint bistros, bars and night spots that line every neighborhood’s streets. Whatever you do will be fun and memorable...guaranteed!
Personal note: Anne and Carl will provide you with a list of nearby restaurants and their website links before the trip so you can have an idea of which ones you may want to consider before arriving Milan
Milan / Full Day Tour to the Wine region of Piedmont
Exciting day today! After breakfast this morning, we will head south into the wine country for a full day tour highlighting the picturesque wine growing region of Piedmont with a wine tastings and lunch at one of their superb wineries. Piedmont is one of the most famous wine regions in the world and a “must do” for true wine lovers and collectors (HELLO!). You can look forward to VIP wine tastings at premium small Barolo and Barbaresco estates, which are some of Italy’s most sought-after wines.
The first stop will be Alba, the capital of Langhe and the city of a hundred towers. In our visit to the city center you will see its thousand year old history with numerous towers and romantic-gothic monuments.
We will continue, through a panoramic route, onto Serralunga, famous for its fortress, an impressive and evocative medieval structure. Lunch at the Rosa di Vini Restaurant .
In the afternoon proceed to Grinzane Cavour for visiting the magnificent castle. Built in the first half of the 13th century, the castle has undergone several architectural changes. The most recent renovations were carried out in 1961, to mark the centenary of Italian unification.
The next stop will be in Barbaresco, one of the most important wine growing areas of the Langhe, where we will visit the Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Grésy. This exclusive area is made up of four estates situated in the Langhe and in the Monferrato zones and is recognized for producing many of the greatest wines in the Piedmont region.
We’ll have a guided wine tasting accompanied by "the merenda sinoira", a selection of snacks and canapés (like Spanish Tapas) in the style of the Piedmont region served at the winery
This will be a long day and we will be getting back into Milan late in the evening. Dinner is on your own tonight, however "the merenda sinoira" at the winery will have been quite substantial and will probably suffice for this evenings dinner. Tonight may be a good opportunity to relax and join a few of your fellow FoCA companions for a night cap before calling it a night.
Today is a totally free day for you to do whatever you want. Sleep in, have a late breakfast or take advantage of one of the many optional tours that our local host will be offering. Day trips to Cinque Terre, Genoa & Portofino and many other charming, memorable places are all accessible from Milan.
For those of you who have never traveled to this area of Italy, the five villages of Cinque Terre (Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarolo and Riomaggiore), are especially stunning and should be high on your "bucket list." A visit to Cinque Terre will leave you in awe of this unique Mediterranean paradise! Whether you opt to go to Cinque Terre or take any of the other tours the hosts are offering, we know that you will have an amazing day!
Today, lunch and dinner are on your own (unless it is included in an optional tour that you may take). Since this is your last night in Milan, it should be a special dinner. We suggest that you ask for recommendations from our local hosts as to which are their favorite restaurants and night spots. They will be happy to help you find the perfect place!
Milan / Stresa, Lake Maggiore
Today, we say "Addio" to exciting Milano and "Ciao" to picturesque Stresa, where we will spend the next four nights. Wake up at your leisure and you will still have time for some last minute shopping before we take you to Eataly, a special place for “foodies” who love food and wine. Eataly is an incredible place to buy food and specialty items but it also has many "ristorantini" where you can eat the superb food cooked by the award winning chefs. You can choose pasta, pizza, fish, meat, fried food and as well as vegetarian outlets or combine various options. Of course there are shops with handmade chocolates (there has to be chocolate involved!), specialty desserts and some of the best "gelato" in town, so you are bound to find something that you love for sure.
We depart to Stresa directly from Eataly. Our accommodations will be at the historic Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromées , located on Lake Maggiore in the Gulf of Borromeo. This historic hotel overlooks the Borromean islands, the main attraction in the region. Its beautiful countryside, architectural gems and mild climate combine to make Stresa one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy.
Dinner is on your own later today. The good news is that the town of Stresa is just a couple of blocks from our hotel and offers an abundance of quaint and quality restaurants and trattorias. Once again, our local host will be glad to give you their recommendations and make reservations for you, as well as answer any questions that you may have about Stresa and the Lake Maggiore region in general.
However, before you "step out on the town (village)," please join Carl and Anne and your fellow FoCA travelers (old friends and new friends) for a private Welcome to Lake Maggiore cocktail reception.
Stresa / Lake Maggiore - Full Day Lake Tour including lunch
Today will be a real treat! After breakfast, we will leave via private motorboat to explore a few of the Borromean Islands. There are eleven islands on Lake Maggiore and each is unique in its own way...and all of them look like a movie set. A special lunch has been arranged for our group at the Verbano Ristorante on Pescatori Island. The Verbano Ristorante is a popular venue for "jet setters" and locals alike. You're going to love this place! This evening is free to enjoy at your leisure. After a wonderful day on the lake, a nice relaxing dinner may be in order. We're sure some inviting ristorante in Stresa is just waiting to serve you and your FoCA friends a fantastic meal...accompanied by some primo Piedmont or Lombardy wine of course!
Stresa / Half Day Tour / San Giulio Island
We have a great itinerary planned for you today! This morning we will travel to Omegna, the Northern most town on Lake Orta to take a motorboat to San Giulio Island. This island has one outstanding village, Orta San Giulio that is picture perfect with a tiny square facing the water, narrow cobbled streets, noble mansions, a wonderful, very old, town hall, many boutiques, fragrant gardens, painted houses, and picturesque churches.
Adding to the perfection, just across from the town, you see Isola San Giulio shimmering in the water. You can take a boat to this tiny island and walk the narrow street that circles it and, if time permits, visit the Romanesque style church with its 15th and 16th century frescoes. This may be one of the favorite places that you visited during the tour. Orta San Giulio is as charming as it gets!
Before returning to Stresa, you’ll enjoy lunch at one of the village’s finest restaurants, Locanda di Orta, which offers not only great food but magnificent views of the lake, as well.
Dinner is on your own today. Since this is your last free evening of the tour, you will want to make it a grand day and an even grander evening.
Stresa / Free Day at Leisure
Oh no...it's our last day in this beautiful country so we must make the most of it! Today you are free to relax or do a little (or lot) of shopping, or you may choose to take an optional excursion to experience more of this great region of Italy. Or, find a table at a trattoria, order a bottle of vino and just sit, relax and people watch. The choices of how to spend your day are plentiful!
This evening, please join Carl and Anne and your fellow FoCA travel partners...and now close friends, for a special "Farewell to Italy" cocktail reception followed by dinner.
Stresa to Milan / USA
After breakfast, Depart for Milan’s Malpensa Airport for your return flight to the USA and home city via your chosen air carrier.
Have a safe trip home and thank you for sharing your friendship with us. Arivederci al prossimo anno...see you next year!
Carl & Anne