Day 1: Last Day Possible to Leave the USA!
Day 2: Welcome to the Land of Pesto and Foccacia. Morning and afternoon - the tour begins on the Italian Riviera in the town of Sestri Levante, 40 miles south of Genoa (easily reached by frequent rail service from Milan or Florence). An enchanting seaside resort, Sestri Levante is very near the sensational coastal towns of the Cinque Terre and jet-setting Portofino. This delightful part of the Riviera, birthplace of pesto and foccacia, is a great location to begin our foodie’s tour. The day is free to relax and unwind from your international journey. Evening - our sunset dinner will be overlooking the sea at a restaurant which showcases regional dishes.
Day 3: Drop-Dead Gorgeous Cinque Terre. Morning - free to enjoy charming Sestri Levante. Afternoon - we’ll head to the Cinque Terre (“the five lands”), 5 mind-blowing small villages on the Mediterranean. There will be time to shop, chill out at a sidewalk café, or swim in the sea. These dramatic towns, several of which are precariously perched on seaside cliffs, are best appreciated from the water so we’ve included a boat ride to view this breathtaking stretch of coastline. Evening - dinner in Monterosso al Mare (the northernmost of the 5 villages) at a waterside trattoria featuring recipes that have been handed down over generations.
Day 4: Portofino: Jet-setting in "Paradiso". Morning- free. Afternoon - next is one of the most romantic spots in Italy…exquisitely beautiful Portofino. For years the hideaway of the rich and famous, this stunning piece of paradise is now home to mega-Euro yachts and out-of-this-world Mediterranean villas. Look closely at who’s behind those sunglasses as it may be a celebrity or movie-star. Evening -dinner at an upscale wine-bar that is known for its high quality cuisine.
Day 5: Cooking Class and Italy's Primier Red Wines. Morning - we can’t leave the Riviera without learning the secrets of making the best pesto and foccacia so we’ll learn these tips from a superb professional chef. We’ll lunch on the items made in the class and toast our farewell to the stunning Italian Riviera with beautiful local wines that are rarely exported to the US. Afternoon - next, we journey north to Piedmont, Italy’s premier red wine producing area. We’ll kick off our introduction to Barolo with a visit to a world-class winery that has received a plethora of accolades from the international wine press. The tasting will be held on a terrace with an awesome panoramic view of the entire vine-draped countryside. Evening - dinner on your own.
Day 6: World Class Cheese and Winemaker Dinner. Morning - today we head to cheese nirvana up into the breathtaking pre-Alps. These world-class products, crafted from milk of sheep, goats and cows that graze on these verdant hills, appear on cheese carts of iconic chefs around the globe. Lunch will be an epicurean sampler. Afternoon - next, we switch gears from cheese to wine and visit one of Piedmont super-star wineries. Winner of countless international awards, this producer has been one of the favorites on past tours. Evening - there simply couldn’t be a better way to end this world-class day than a dinner with the winemaker at Prunotto. The company’s show-stopping wines are close to perfection.
Day 7: Michelin Star Dinning in an 11th Century Castle. Morning - free time in the captivating town of Alba, studded with medieval towers, Gothic buildings and a gracious old world atmosphere. Alba is the epicenter of Italy’s famous “white diamond”, the highly-prized white truffle (while Italy has both black and white truffles, the white is the pinnacle for gourmands). One of the world’s most expensive and luxurious culinary items, the Piedmont truffle flourishes in the forests surrounding the town. The famous Truffle Festival is this coming weekend, so today will be a great time to see the town without the legions of foodies who will descend for the gastronomic festivities.
Afternoon - next, we journey to the esteemed Barolo vineyards. Mecca for many sophisticated wine lovers, Barolo is one of the most prized reds in Europe. A private tasting will be held at one of the benchmark producers, beloved by wine critics around the globe. Evening - it’s not every day that you find a Michelin star restaurant located in a castle, let alone a famous castle. We’ll start off with a tour of the ancient palace, then we’ll sample wines at its famous enoteca (wine bar). Finally, we’ll dine in the dazzling dining room of its Michelin-star restaurant on Piedmontese traditional specialties prepared with an updated twist.
Day 8: Truffle Hunt and Barbaresco Heaven. Morning - prepare yourself for a gourmet’s dream, a truffle hunt. We will go into the forest with the trifulau (truffle hunter) and his dog to search for these highly aromatic gems. Don’t be surprised if you are blind-folded part of the way as many hunters carefully guard their secretive locations. Afternoon - there will be free time in the enticing village of Barbaresco, home of the namesake wine which is one of Italy’s most expensive and revered reds. Then, a private tasting at one of the mover-and-shaker producers whose wines have scored near perfect marks from the critics. Evening - we’ll dine tonight with the family of one of the leading Barbaresco wineries in their home. Celestial wines, along with a delightful group of Italians, should make for a heavenly evening.
Day 9: Truffle Festival and a Barolo Michelin Star. Morning - we have timed our visit perfectly as today is Italy’s legendary Truffle Festival. Prepare yourself for a stratospheric gastronomic experience! You’ll see tartufi bianco (“white truffles”) varying in size from small walnuts to tennis balls, as well as items such as tartufi pasta (fresh and dried), tartufi butter, tartufi cheese, tartufi oil and tartufi paste in a tube. Moreover, you’ll be able to observe the colorful trifulau market their products and witness them passionately negotiate mega-Euro prices. There’s also on cornucopia of other local food specialties such as wine-flavored salami, chestnut desserts and a expansive variety of wild mushrooms from the nearby forests. Afternoon - free. Evening- dinner will be at one of Piedmont’s top restaurants, a Michelin-star restaurant located in the middle of the Barolo vineyards. Its classical cuisine, eye-popping wine list and intriguing avant garde architecture are sure to please.
Day 10: Designer Chocolates and Designer Shopping. Morning - go lightly on breakfast as the morning will be devoted to the worship of the cocoa bean. Today, we journey to our last stop of the trip, Turin, home of the 2006 Olympics. We’ll start with a private tour at one of Italy’s most esteemed chocolate moguls. Here we’ll be able to observe the full process of making designer chocolates, from the roasting of the cacao beans to the ultra deluxe packing high-end gift shop. Along the way, you’ll taste samples. Then, to wrap it up, we’ll end with a chocolate tasting. Next, we’ll head to the city’s famous outdoor market, one of the largest food markets in Italy. Stalls in this market have been handed down over generations.
Afternoon - free. Our hotel is located in the epicenter of Turin’s fashionable shopping district. The entire afternoon is free to shop-til-you-drop, or visit the city’s excellent museums which are nearby. Evening - farewell dinner in one of the city’s most sumptuous noble residences, the 17th century palace of Graneri della Roccia. The menu is traditional and features classical dishes from Piedmont, and their incredible wine list boasts a mind-boggling selection of Barolos and Barbarescos from which to toast our final goodbye to Piedmont.
Day 11: Arrivederci... Morning - bid your final ciao to Italia as the tour officially ends after breakfast. Transfers can easily be arranged to the Turin airport for flights back to the US. For those staying on, Turin offers rail connections to all major cities in Italy and other destinations in Europe. Furthermore, France and Switzerland can be both reached in a few hours.
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