2017 “Discover Northern Italian Lakes” – Hidden Gems Tour

Another UNIQUE Cooking Passions “Small-Group” Cuisine & Culture Journey

Orta View Isola

– BOOKED OUT –
Currently accepting “Expressions of Interest” for our September 2019 tour.

DISCOVER NOTHERN ITALIAN LAKES – HIDDEN GEMS EXPERIENCE

8 Days / 7 Nights
Date : Wednesday 20 September 2017 to Wednesday 27 September 2017

PRICING
€3945 per person  (Double or Twin Occupancy)
€4995 per person (Single Occupancy)

*ALL INCLUSIVE LAND CONTENT including 7 nights Luxury Lake View Accommodation; Two Meals Daily including two Michelin dining experiences; Food & Wine Experiences; Two Cooking Demonstrations & Lunch; All Land Transportation, All Private Guided Tours and Private Group Escort

Cooking Passions “Small Group” Cuisine & Culture Journeys
Cooking Passions Cuisine & Culture Journeys have been designed so that you can make the most of your precious time, as we have done all of the “behind the scenes” research to scope out the finest luxury hotels, local transfers, sights, restaurants, spas & excursions, so you don’t have too. 
Each of our tours are designed so you can do as much or as little as you like, while allowing you plenty of free time to explore and immerse yourselves in the sights, shopping, relaxation and eating that YOU want to experience (we’ll be happy to provide suggestions and tips on some of our favourites from our previous trips). So all you have to do is book your preferred flight, pack a bag & a sense of adventure, and join us for an unforgettable and luxurious Italian Cuisine & Culture experience!!
Join Nico & Belnda Moretti of Cooking Passions Cooking School as they escort a small group of 12 travellers to share their “hand-picked” hidden secrets & gems of luxury lakeside hotels; mouth-watering regional restaurants and cucina italiana cooking classes (traditional and Michelin-starred) in the enchanting Northern Italian Lakes Districts of Lago di Como in Lombardia and Lago d’Orta in Piemonte in Italy’s North.
Lago di Como (Lombardia)

Varenna Lake Villa B

The blue-green waters of the lake and grandeur of the Italian Alps, makes Lago di Como one of the most beautiful places in the world and one of Italy’s most popular and celebrated lakes. Villa Balbianello (above) is one of the many famous villas with a spectacular location on the lake.
Away from the lake’s more bold and glittering tourist towns such as Bellagio (pop. 3000) and Menaggio (pop. 3200) is the picturesque & quaint village of Varenna (pop. 800). Nowhere else on Lago di Como brings you so close to the peace & tranquility of the lake, with delightful terraced cafes and restaurants perched right on the water’s edge along Varenna’s picturesque lakeside promenade.

Varenna Lake Cafe

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Lago d’Orta (Piedmonte)

Orta View Across SS

This hidden gem of a lake is one of our favourite places in Northern Italy. A quiet and idyllic village on a crystal clear mountain lake, with views towards the Northern Alps, it has become our “screensaver” photo (above) since our first visit in 2011. Surrounded by lush woodlands and spectacular mountain vistas, the unassuming Lago d’Orta doesn’t swarm with tourists like it’s nearby celebrated lakes of Lago di Como and Lago Maggiore, making it the perfect location to feel like one of the locals.

Orta Walk Sunset

The tiny lakeside village of Orta San Giulio (pop. 1000) is an idyllic and picturesque place filled with cobbled laneways to stroll and medieval squares to sip aperitivi and watch the locals pass by.

“Discover Italian Northern Lakes” Tour Highlights

TOUR ITINERARY

Day 1 – Wednesday 20 September 2017 – Arrival

Private Transfer to Varenna – For ease of convenience, we have arranged for your own Private Airport Transfer upon your arrival into Milano’s Malpensa or Linate Airports, or your own Private Transfer from Milano Centrale, should you have arrived into Milano prior to the tour start date. The transfer between Milano & Varenna is about 90 minutes.

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Hotel du Lac (Varenna)
The Hotel du Lac is a romantic villa covered with flowers, right on the lakefront in the medieval part of Varenna. It was built in 1823 and transformed into a 4-star hotel in the middle of the twentieth century. The renovation has conserved the old charm of the villa. It’s original name is “Casetta Teodolinda” as the former Lombard Queen used to use it as her summer lakeside residence.
14:00pm – Check into Varenna’s best hotel, the 4-star Hotel du Lac, where we have arranged for your deluxe lakeview room (the best rooms in all of Varenna) with uninterrupted views across Lago di Como to Bellagio and beyond. We will provide you with complete Arrival Options at our “Discover Northern Italian Lakes” Pre-Trip Briefing. Once you have  settled in, the afternoon is at your leisure to explore the charming village of Varenna and it’s pleasant lakeside promenade lined with cafes and bars.
18:00pm – Aperitivi WelcomeMeet on Hotel du Lac’s lakeside terrace for a glass of Prosecco to toast the commencement of our time on Lago di Como

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19:00pm – Welcome Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel du Lac Varenna

(Included Meals : Aperitivo, D)

Day 2 – Thursday 21 September 2017 – Italian Cooking Class & Lake Como Cruise

am – Breakfast at your leisure in Hotel du Lac’s lakeview dining room.
10:00am – Group pick-up for the short drive to Ristorante Il Caminetto for a corsa di cucina (cooking class) with Chef Moreno Maglia, where we will learn some classic traditional dishes from the Lombardy region in the charming environment of Moreno’s centuries old regional restaurant.

 

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12 noon – Cooking Class Lunch
pm – Remainder of the afternoon at your leisure. Enjoy some quiet time on your balcony overlooking the lake while watching the sunset over Bellagio. For a little exercise, walk to the top of Varenna to view the Castello Vezio.
17:00pm – To get a close up look at the beauty of Lake Como, we have arranged for a private cruise of the lake where we will enjoy a glass of Prosecco while taking in the sights of some of the lake’s most beautiful villas.

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19:30pm – Tonight we will visit one of Varenna’s local pizzerias for a few slices of pizza with the locals.
Accommodation: Hotel du Lac Varenna

(Included meals: B, L, D)

Day 3 – Friday 22 September 2017 – Bellagio – “The Pearl of Lake Como”

am – Breakfast at your leisure in Hotel du Lac’s lakeview dining room.
09:00am – Group departure for the short ferry ride to the popular tourist lake town of Bellagio, know as “The Pearl of the Lake”.

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Bellagio
The beautiful town of Bellagio is characterised by century-old buildings and lakeside villas, stone lanes and picturesque cobbled stairways filled with shops showcasing the finest in Italian wares. Spend the day seeing some of Bellagio’s sites such as the magnificent Villa Melzi (above) constructed in the early 1800’s and its expanse of English gardens on the shores of Lake Como.

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13:00pm – Group Lunch at Bellagio’s Ristorante La Punta

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pm – Departure from Bellagio at your leisure. Stay on a little longer after lunch for a stroll around the town, then catch the return ferry to Varenna at your leisure. Remainder of the afternoon and evening at your leisure.
Accommodation: Hotel du Lac Varenna

(Included meals: B, L)

Day 4 – Saturday 23 September 2017 – Free Day on Lago di Como

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am – Breakfast at your leisure.
Today is a free day for you to further explore Varenna or the other beautiful towns & sites of Lago di Como such as Mennagio, Tremezzo and Como at your leisure. We are happy to provide suggested itineraries for you.
18:00pm – Aperitivi time before a Group Dinner at a local Varenna restaurant.
Accommodation: Hotel du Lac Varenna

(Included meals: B, D)

Day 5 – Sunday 24 September 2017 – Lago D’Orta (Piemonte)

am – Breakfast at your leisure.
10:00am – Checkout from Hotel du Lac and Group Transfer to Lago D’Orta in Piedmonte.
12 noon – Visit to Cascina Diodona, an amazing country restaurant located in the rolling hills of the Alps of Lombardia. Cascina Diodona is set amongst 5 hectares of orchards and forests of chestnut and oak trees. We will enjoy a pre-lunch aperitivo in the cascina’s wine cellar before a wonderful lunch of classic regional dishes of pastas and their famous spit-roasted delicacies from Lombardia.

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Cascine is a term used in the Lombard and Po valleys of Northern Italy since the 16th century to describe a working farm estate. Cascina Diodona is an historical farm which has been restored to one of the region’s finest restaurants and function centre.
15:00pm – Depart Cascina Diodona for Orta San Giulio
16:00pm – Check in to our hotel, the 5-star lakeside Hotel San Rocco, where we have arranged for your deluxe terraced lake-view room with uninterrupted views of the pristine Lago D’Orta and the enchanting tiny Isola San Guilio (San Giulio Island). Also known as “The Island of Silence”, Isola San Giulio is dominated by the 12th century Basilica San Giulio from where the “Via del Silenzio” (The Way of Silence), a single footpath, which encircles the island.

 Orta View Isola

Hotel San Rocco
Set on the shores of picturesque Lago D’Orta, Hotel San Rocco is surrounded by the ancient walls of a monastery and boasts the best views of any hotel in Orta San Giulio, of the lake and it’s island. The hotel was an enclosed convent for nearly 150 years until it was restored into the hotel in the late 1960’s. It’s most recent renovation in 2012 has transformed all of the rooms with an elegant minimalist style and combined it with a host of modern comforts. The rooms we have selected all have uninterrupted lake-views towards the beautiful island.

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The lake itself is the highlight of the town as it’s waters are crystal clear. There is a beautiful lakeside promenade of approximately 3 km that clings to the shore of the lake, making it an excellent way of experiencing the lake and the majestic mountain vistas that surround it.

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pm – Evening at your leisure. Wander the quaint cobbled streets and alleys of Orta San Guilio before settling into a wine bar for a quiet drink. If you are hungry, we can let you know about a favourite little wood-fired pizza restaurant tucked away behind Orta’s medieval waterfront square, Piazza Motta.
Accommodation: Hotel San Rocco

(Included meals: B, L)

Day 6 – Monday 25 September 2017 – Michelin Star Italian Cooking Demonstration and Lunch

am – Breakfast at your leisure

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11am – Today we will meet with one of Piedmonte’s incredibly talented chefs, Chef Fabrizio Tesse, at his Michelin-starred restaurant Locanda di Orta. Situated in one of Orta San Giulio’s oldest mansions, Chef Tesse, who for many years was Antonino Cannavacciuolo’s sous chef at Villa Crespi, was awarded Italy’s Espresso Magazine’s “Most Sensational Debut Restaurant” in 2013. NL Locanda terrazza Fabrizio Tesse 232x329

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13:00pm – Lunch following our cooking demonstration on the beautiful Locanda Del Orta terrace overlooking Lago D’Orta.
pm – Remainder of the afternoon and evening at your leisure. Take a walk to the summit of San Nicolao above San Giulio to visit Sacro Monte, a fascinating UNESCO Heritage listed site dedicated to St Francis of Assisi. Began in 1583 and ending in 1788, the series of 20 chapels dedicated to the saint include many well preserved artworks by some of the most talented painters and sculptors of the period. The landscaping of the pathway leading down to the village was designed in line with ornamental criteria to match the architecture of the complex. In the evening enjoy the calm and serenity of the village of San Giulio at night.

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Accommodation: Hotel San Rocco

(Included meals: B, L)

Day 7 – Tuesday 26 September 2017 – Free Day and Villa Crespi “Two-Michelin Star” Final Group Dinner

am – Breakfast at your leisure.
Free Day to explore the incredibly peaceful village of Orta San Guilio. Enjoy a walk along the crystal clear lake’s walking path or take one of the local boats to visit the lake’s  Isola San Guilio (San Giulio Island). The peaceful “pedestrian-only” island is dominated by the 12th century Basilica San Giulio from where the “Via del Silenzio” (The Way of Silence) encircles the island. After visiting the Basilica, wander along the Via del Silenzio where there are a few cafes, galleries and shops, before taking the return boat journey to Orta San Guilio.

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18:30pm – Group departure for the short scenic walk along the lake to the stunning Moorish-inspired Villa Crespi 5-star luxury hotel for our Final Group Dinner in their 2-starred Michelin awarded restaurant.

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Villa Crespi
Built in 1879 by the Lombard industrialist Benigno Crespi, who made his fortune by trading cotton in Italy’s booming textiles industry, Villa Crespi is Benigno’s opulent indulgence to moorish architecture. This extravagant Relais & Chateaux hotel is set upon lavish gardens with breathtaking Moorish interiors within. Chef Antonino Cannavacciuolo is one of Italy’s most acclaimed Michelin chefs. With his talented team, we will indulge in a Michelin-starred degustation in the plush surrounds of Villa Crespi’s opulent restaurant.

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Accommodation: Hotel San Rocco

(Included meals: B, D)

Day 8 – Wednesday 27 September 2017 – Arrivederci and Departure

am – Breakfast at your leisure.
10:00am – Check out from Hotel San Rocco. We have arranged for your own Private Transfer to either Milano’s Malpensa Airport or into Milano Centrale, to suit your onward travel arrangements after our week together. Please let us know at your earliest your preference for either a transfer to the airport or to Milano.  Further details will be provided during our Pre-Trip Briefing.
BOOKINGS & BOOKING DEADLINE
To secure your places, please contact Nico Moretti at nico@urbanprovider.com.au or 08 9228 0507, and we will forward you a 2017 Discover Northern Italian Lakes Booking Form. 
Booking Deadline : 01 February 2017 (or until places remain available)
Booking Deposit : An $AUD800 non-refundable BOOKING DEPOSIT is required to hold a booking for the tour, at the time of your reservation.
Final Payment : Payment in full is required at least 90 days prior to departure (Payment Due: 19 June 2017)
We look forward to sharing with you our hidden gems of Italy’s stunning Northern Italian Lakes. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate in contacting us.
Grazie,
Nico & Belinda Moretti

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Dear Nico & Belinda, Thank you thank you thank you for putting together such an amazing tour. It exceeded all my expectations and have told so many friends, work colleagues and patients about the wonderful time Denise and I had. So many highlights and you just made it all happen. Looking forward to seeing all the happy snaps and also to catching up. Hugs…Glynnis

Hi Nico, Belinda & Sue, Hope all is well with you.  Thanks again for a memorable experience and wonderful company!!!!…not mention the food experience.  I will never be the same; I love the tips I picked up and will use them.  My friends are expecting great things so hope they will not be disappointed.  Best Wishes and Warm Regards…Mary Ann

To Dear Nico & Belinda, immense thank you for what has to be the absolute best week’s holiday that Glyn and I could have ever been on for our first holiday together as sisters.  The places you chose, the care and attention to detail, but most of all the wonderful kind and considerate way you both interacted with all of us of varying ages and physical ability.  The food, I am still raving about and have been extolling your virtues as tourist guides in seeking out the very best places to eat,  I was continually surprised by the venues and the wow factor every time, from Morena’s 400 year old Cantina to Villa Crespi and everything in between. From me to you both a huge thank you for allowing me to enjoy such a wonderful experience, the memories that I take from my Itallian week will be lasting and treasured. Please pass on my love to Susie and of course to both of you. Hugs…Denise