Milan is a magnet for designers, artists, photographers and models, but the city's history goes back to when Gauls defeated the Etruscans in 400 B.C., and when in 222 B.C. it became part of the Roman Empire. In the 1300s, the Visconti family brought a period of glory and wealth to the city, and it was during their reign that the amazing Duomo, which became the symbol of Milan, was built. Even though Milan is an ancient city with a medieval center, it is complemented with baroque palazzos and high design contemporary architectural masterpieces and the world of fashion and glamour.
The poetic Northern Italian Lakes district is a place of romance, a playground of the glitterati for decades. Lake Como is framed against a delightful backdrop of majestic mountains that seem to slide into the water, hidden by deep blue shadows, except for the high peaks awash in apricot alpenglow. The towns and the opulent villas lining the water's edge seem to float on the mirror smooth lake, as they echo a bygone era and the mild climate supports the vibrant colors of Alpine wildflowers and lush semi-tropical gardens cascading down to the lake. Nowhere else do stunning scenery, mellow air and rich history come together with such romantic results.
The timeless beauty of Venice has put painters and poets under its spell for centuries. The city is filled with fabulous architectural wonders: the stunning Doges Palace, the Rialto Bridge, Piazza San Marco, the grand palazzos along the Grand Canal, the rich churches upholstered with masterpieces. But the real magic of Venice is in its moonlit canals, in the music of Vivaldi, light reflected on the water, the secret passageways in the maze of narrow streets, the barely audible splashes of water, the ever-present scent of candles in Byzantine churches, silent gondolas at sunrise, shimmering and delicate Prosecco wine, and in the translucence of the sea captured in Murano glass.
The Venice and the Italian Lakes Tour offers an intimate, in-depth look into Northern Italian history, art and cuisine. Accompanied by passionate and knowledgeable local guides, we'll experience the most magical aspects of Milan, Northern Italian Lakes and Venice. In Milan, we'll walk among the stone forest of spires and statues on top of Milan's Duomo, dine at a historic cafe in Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II, and see Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper. In Lake Como, we'll visit opulent villas and gardens cascading down to the lake, take a private boat cruise, tour Bellagio and Varenna and admire vistas of the gentle hills and the rugged Alps. In Venice, we'll take a romantic gondola ride, attend a Vivaldi music concert, marvel at the opulence of the Doges' Palace and St. Mark's Basilica, discover our favorite Titian at Frari Church, find our "secret" canal-side walk and the perfect Murano glass masterpiece. We'll stay at a palazzo hotel on a canal, sample local Prosecco wines and the amazing Venetian cuisine while listening to stories of forbidden love, intrigue, spies and courtesans.