curated food tours & Group TRaVEL in italy

Northern Italy:
Milan, Lake Como, Lake Garda, & Franciacorta Wine Country

SEPTEMBER 30-OCTOBER 7, 2018

 

 

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CUSTOM ITALY ITINERARIES

Our 2018 Italy Group Trips

 
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JUNE 30-JULY 7 || SOLD OUT!

On this Northern Italy group trip we'll stay at a boutique hotel for 4 nights in Milan and then 3 nights in Franciacorta at a sweeping Relais & Châteaux property. 

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SEPT. 9-15 || SOLD OUT!

One day shorter, this Northern Italy itinerary will start at a boutique hotel for 4 nights in Milan and then 2 nights in Franciacorta at a stunning Relais & Châteaux property. 

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SEPT. 30 - OCT. 7 || 7 NIGHTS

We'll still stay in Milan for 4 nights then farther east to Lake Garda to stay at an historic villa for the last 3 nights of this Northern Italy trip. 

GROUP TRAVEL IN NORTHERN ITALY

Andiamo in Italia!

Join us for a curated group travel experience in the Northern Italy region of Lombardy. This custom Italy itinerary is a mix of city and countryside as we head from chic Milan to Northern Italy's Lake Region, and the off-the-radar Franciacorta wine region. This boutique group travel experience includes private dinners, street food tours, cooking classes, aperitivi, wine tours, day trips, and boutique hotel accommodations.

Salt & Wind Travel Spain Trip by Christine Davis
Salt & Wind Travel Italy Trip by Christine Davis

GET TO KNOW THE NEW MILAN

Travel To Milan

 

 

Milan is often overshadowed by more popular Italian cities, but, to us, it's currently the most creative and international city in Italy. A unique mix of old and new — classics like the Last Supper alongside indie businesses — Milan is a blend of all we love in Italy right now. In the past few years, Milan has become Italy's innovative hub as creatives from across the country head there to work in design, media, tech, fashion, and food. In short, it's the place to learn what's new in Italy right now.

 

ITALY WINE TOURS

Wine Tasting In Franciacorta

Just an hour east of Milan along the shores of one of the smaller lakes in Italy's Lake District -- Lake Iseo -- lies the wine region of Franciacorta. Some of Italy's premier sparkling wines are produced in Franciacorta, but this wine is relatively unknown in the U.S. On our day trip to Franciacorta, we'll give you a peek into this up-and-coming Italian wine region.

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ITALY'S LAKE REGION

Stay On Lake Garda

We don't like to play favorites when it comes to Italy's Lake Region but, if we had to choose, we'd likely say Lake Garda. Yes, Lake Como is regal with a history that includes the Gauls, Romans, and classically had a spot on the itinerary known as Grand Tour of Europe. And Lake Iseo is small but so quaint with shores surrounded by vineyards and some of the best biking in Northern Italy. But Lake Garda is one we love! From the glacial cliffs of the North to the lemon groves on the west and the historic towns to the south, it has a bit of everything. We'll stay shoreside at one of our favorite hotels in the Italian Lakes region. 

 
Salt & Wind Italy Trip: Milan Streetcar
Campari Soda Camparino Milan
Salt & Wind Italy Trip: Wine Country
Milan Piazza Del Duomo
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Salt & Wind Italy Trip:  Fall Produce
Salt & Wind Italy Trip:  Piazza del Duomo Milan
Salt & Wind Travel Italy Trip by Christine Davis
Salt & Wind Trips Italy Polenta
Salt & Wind Italy Trip:  Aida Mollenkamp Milan
Salt & Wind Italy Trip:  Lake Iseo View
 
 
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All In The Details

Your Trip Includes...

What's included in a Salt & Wind group travel experience:

  • Boutique hotel accommodations with complimentary wifi in Milan

  • 4-star hotel accommodations with complimentary wifi on Lake Garda

  • A meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant

  • All meals listed in the itinerary (plus 1 alcoholic drink at each lunch and dinner)

  • Hands-on cooking class with host and chef, Aida Mollenkamp 

  • Street food tour conducted by the regional food experts 

  • Market tours and indie boutique visits with local creatives

  • A group concierge to help with any extra events you may want to plan

  • A group photographer so you can enjoy the moment

  • Group transportation from the Lakes to Malpensa airport and to/from all events listed 

  • Professionally shot 10 edited group photos daily 

  • Tips for all meals, hotels, and drivers

  • A few gifts from some of our favorite food & travel brands

  • A couple surprises! (You didn’t think we’d tell you every last detail, did you?)

What's not included in a Salt & Wind group travel experience:

  • Any incidental expenses in Italy

  • Tips for photographer, concierge, and trip host

  • Required travel insurance

  • Any extra excursions or events you plan with our concierge

  • Transportation from your home to/from Milan, Italy

  • Ground transportation from Milan area airport to Milan hotel

  • Alcohol except for 1 alcoholic drink at both lunch and dinner

 
Salt & Wind Travel Italy Trip by Christine Davis

Sample Italy Itinerary

Each group travel experience is unique so we don't have a one-size-fits-all Italy itinerary. That said we work with the same partners to guarantee quality across all our trips. All our Italy itineraries include first-rate restaurants, street food tours, wine tasting, shopping, and a few surprises. For visuals check our Instagram for previous Italy travel.

Our Italy group travel experience kicks off in the evening on Day 1 so we suggest you plan to arrive in Milan by midday.  If you want to arrive earlier or stay later, we can help book additional nights in Milan (not included in the listed rate) so you're well rested (see FAQs for more details). 



Salt & Wind Travel: Milan Italy Tour

ARRIVAL IN ITALY

Day 1: Travel To Milan

ALL DAY // ARRIVE IN MILAN

Land in Milan and transfer to the hotel. 

3:00 -6:00 PM // CHECK IN & Free Time

Relax at the hotel. Walk the neighborhood. Or have our concierge arrange an excursion.

6:00 PM-7:30 PM // WELCOME APERITIVO

Meet your fellow travelers at a welcome happy hour. 

8:00 PM-10:00PM // CHIC Milanese dinner

Dine near the hotel at a chic Milanese restaurant. 

EVENING // OVERNIGHT IN MILAN


Salt & Wind Travel: Milan Farmers Market Tour

MILAN MARKET VISIT & SHOPPING TOUR

Day 2: Milan

7:00 - 10:00 AM // BREAKFAST AT THE HOTEL RESTAURANT

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel restaurant at your leisure 

10:00 AM -11:30 PM // FARMERS MARKET VISIT & walking TOUR (OPTIONAL) 

Visit a local farmers market and get an overview of Milan

12:00 pM -1:30 PM // MODERN MILANESE LUNCH

Head to one of Milan's latest trendy spots for lunch

2:00 -5:00 PM // Free Time

Relax at the hotel. Walk the neighborhood. Or have our concierge arrange an excursion.

5:00 PM-8:00 PM // SHOPPING TOUR & aPERITIVO

Explore local boutiques and aperitivo before dinner

8:00 PM-9:30PM // CHic Milanese dinner

Dine in the shadow of the Duomo

EVENING // OVERNIGHT IN MILAN


Salt & Wind Travel Italy Trip by Christine Davis

LAKE COMO tOUR

Day 3: Lake Como Day Trip

7:00 - 8:00 AM // BREAKFAST AT THE HOTEL RESTAURANT

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel restaurant at your leisure 

8:00AM // DEPART FOR LAKE COMO

Board private transportation for Lake Como

9:30 AM -1:30 PM // LAKE COMO CRUISE & Villa VISIT

Cruise Lake Como on a chic boat and do a private guided visit of a villa

1:30 -3:00 PM // LAKESIDE LUNCH

Lunch like a local at one of the chicest spots on the lake 

3:00 - 3:30 PM // TOUR BELLAGIO TOWN 

Visit the famous town of Bellagio, see the botanical gardens, or just grab a coffee and relax

3:30 PM // DEPART FOR MILAN

Board private transportation for Lake Como

5:00 - 7:30 PM // Free Time

Relax at the hotel. (Or have our concierge arrange an excursion.)

8:00 PM // CONTEMPORARY MILANESE DINNER

Have an easy (and quick) dinner of fresh farm-to-table fare

EVENING // OVERNIGHT IN MILAN


Salt & Wind Travel Italy Trip by Christine Davis

MILAN STREET FOOD & APERITIVO

Day 4: Milan

7:00 - 10:00 AM // BREAKFAST AT THE HOTEL RESTAURANT

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel restaurant at your leisure 

10:00 AM -2:00 PM // food tour OF MILAN

Get a look into the city's history through its most delicious food.

2:30 - 6:30 PM // SHOPPING TIME (OPTIONAL) OR FREE TIME

Time to shop along one of the city's most famous shopping streets

7:00 PM // APERITIVO + LAST MEAL IN MILAN

Do a classic Milanese aperitivo followed by dinner

EVENING // OVERNIGHT IN MILAN


Salt & Wind Travel: Lake District Visit

ITALY LAKE TOUR & COOKING CLASS

Day 5: Head to Lake Garda

7:00 - 10:00 AM // BREAKFAST AT THE HOTEL RESTAURANT

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel restaurant at your leisure 

9:30 AM // CHECK OUT & DRIVE TO Lake Iseo Or Lake Garda

Leave Milan and head east to the Lake Iseo or Lake Garda.

12:00 - 1:30 PM // LOCAL LUNCH

Have lunch in a local cafe. 

2:00 - 6:00 PM // CHECK IN TO HOTEL & FREE TIME

Check in to the hotel in Lake Iseo or Lake Garda and relax. 

6:00 PM - 10:00 PM // COOKING CLASS IN A PRIVATE VILLA

Have a hands-on cooking class in a private villa. 

EVENING // OVERNIGHT oN LAKE GARDA

 


Salt & Wind Travel Italy Trip by Christine Davis

NORTHERN ITALY SLOW FOOD TOUR

Day 6: Lake Garda

7:30 - 10:00 AM // BREAKFAST AT THE HOTEL RESTAURANT

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel restaurant at your leisure 

10:00 AM -12:00 AM // SLOW FOOD TOUR

Visit one of the only Olive Oil mills in Northern Italy and learn about local Slow Food products.

12:30 - 2:00 PM // lunch

Lunch lakeside with classic local food

2:30 - 5:00 PM // Free Time

Relax at the hotel. (Or have our concierge arrange an excursion.)

5:00 PM - 9:00PM // LOCAL DINNER

Have a chic dinner at a local restaurant.

EVENING // OVERNIGHT oN LAKE GARDA


Salt & Wind Travel Italy Trip by Christine Davis

FRANCIACORTA WINE TASTING & MICHELIN DINNER

Day 7: Wine Tasting In Franciacorta

7:30 - 10:00 AM // BREAKFAST AT THE HOTEL RESTAURANT

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel restaurant at your leisure 

10:00 AM -12:00 PM // WINE TASTING

Wine tasting at a classic local winery

12:30 -2:30 PM // WINE TASTING & Lunch

Lunch at a local winery

4:00 - 7:30 PM // Free Time

Relax at the hotel. (Or have our concierge arrange an excursion.)

8:00 PM // MICHELIN-STAR DINNER

Dinner a Michelin-starred meal for our last night together.

EVENING // OVERNIGHT oN LAKE GARDA

 


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dEPARTURE FROM MILAN

Day 8: Head to Malpensa Airport

7:00 - 10:00 AM // BREAKFAST AT THE HOTEL RESTAURANT (OPTIONAL)

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel restaurant at your leisure 

9:00AM // CHECK OUT + DRIVE TO MALPENSA

Guests heading to Malpensa airport will depart at this time. The drive takes 2-3 hours FYI.

11:00AM // CHECK OUT + DRIVE TO MALPENSA

Guests heading back to Milan will depart at this time. The drive takes 2-3 hours FYI.


Italy Hotel Accommodations

Hotel Senato Milan

Previously the private home of the Ranza family, this 43-room boutique hotel opened in mid 2015. With a chic design and top-notch hospitality, you could easily spend your day enjoying the curated cocktails at the bar or in the private patio. Its prime location near the famous shopping district of the "Golden Rectangle," around the corner from the Modern Art Gallery, and less than a 10 minute walk from the Duomo means you can make the most of your free time. 

 

Grand Hotel Fasano, Gardone, Italy

Set on the shore of Lake Garda, this chic boutique hotel dates back to 1888. One the western shore of Lake Garda, in the town of Gardone, the property has a fantastic location set 1.1 km from the Vittoriale degli Italiani estate and 1.5 km from the gardens of Giardino Botanico Fondazione André Heller. There are also 3 restaurants and a chic bar, as well as a spa, 2 pools, a gym and saunas.

 

L'Albereta Hotel, Lake Iseo

This Relais Chateau property is set back from Lake Iseo and has sweeping views of the Franciacorta wine region. The sprawling property -- with 38 rooms, an onsite winery, a spa, a terrace, a lounge, and bar — has a chic but classic country style.

 
 

I HAVE A FEW QUESTIONS...

Northern Italy Group Travel FAQs

So, you have a few questions? Well, we've got answers!


WHY NORTHERN ITALY?

Why do you travel to Lombardy?

As Italy's second largest city and its fashion and finance capital, Milan needs no intro. Yet the city is not nearly as popular among tourists who often write it off as too modern or too serious. But, to us, Milan is fascinating because of its duality: it's a metropolis that's just as European as it is Italian. Wander the city and you'll see Italian influences in food, architecture, and culture, but you’ll also hear a mish-mash of languages as bankers close deals over espresso and designers stroll local boutiques. 

And the time to visit Milan is right now. Hosting the 2015 World Expo — during which nearly 22 million visitors descended on the region — ushered in an era of modernization in Milan . Skyscrapers shot up in the Isola neighborhood, the canal area of Darsena was redeveloped, new museums and restaurants opened. The gist? If you haven’t traveled to Milan recently there's a lot to see from the traditional (the Duomo and La Scala) to the modern (unique architecture, indie design, and chic boutiques).

I've never heard of the Franciacorta wine region. What's that all about?

Here’s the deal with Franciacorta: it’s that perfectly quaint Italian wine region you’ve dreamt of but never heard of. Our founder discovered this sleepy wine region and couldn’t stop raving about its glorious vineyards and it’s beautiful Alpine lake backdrop.

Among Franciacorta’s high points? It is one of the only regions in Italy making sparkling wine in the traditional (aka Champenoise) method, it’s a getaway for the chicest of Milan residents, it's set against a glacial Alpine lake, and there's a lot to do from biking tours to hiking  trips to wine tours and cooking classes. We’ve been waiting patiently to blow the top off on this best-kept-secret of Italy, and we’re finally ready to share this little slice of heaven exclusively on our Salt and Wind group travel experiences.

ITALY GROUP TRIP ATTENDEES

What sort of traveler would enjoy the Italy group trip?

Our Northern Italy group trip is curated for the easy going food lover who enjoys the cross-section of high and low tourism. We’ll be mixing the two often to create an authentically Italian experience for our travelers, meaning one day will be lunching on a pizza in the streets of Milan and the next will be doing dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant. The days are packed with oodles of activities, and some surprises are in store, so high energy, get-up-and-go attitudes are encouraged. An open-minded traveler who is sympathetic to the changing environment of a foreign country will have the best time.

How many guests are there total? Who else is going on this trip?

We cap our group travel experiences at 12 guests and then there are 3 to 5 staff with us at any given time (that's counting the driver, the photographer, concierge, tour guides, and our founder/host, Aida Mollenkamp). This makes for a big enough group to keep it lively but small enough you don't feel like you're actually part of a group.

We encourage you to bring a friend, significant other, or family member, because we price our trips for double occupancy rooms and we think it's always more fun to have a roomie you know. That said we love adventures solo travelers and welcome them with open arms!

TRIP DETAILS

How much driving is involved?

We’re exploring two completely different sides of Italy on our group trip, getting an inside look at one of its largest cities, and uncovering the local’s best-kept-secret that is the Franciacorta wine region. 

The entire itinerary takes place within the region of Lombardy (about 100 mile radius) so there’s never too much car time. And, we do our best to break it up so you never have to be in the car for more than 2 hours at one time. Of course, unforeseen circumstances or traffic could cause delays but we’ll do our best to keep it under control. 

How much walking is involved?

To us, the best way to get to know a city is by walking it. That said, while we're in Milan, we'll plan on walking anywhere from 1 to e miles daily, weather permitting. We go at a leisurely pace and it's all flat so it's never too overwhelming; however, we can always call a cab or Uber if you're tired! When we're in the countryside, the best way to get around is by car so you'll only be walking to get around wineries or around the town where we're staying. 

Can I bring a friend or significant other with me?

Please do! Rooms for the Northern Italy are priced for double occupancy to make it super simple. Just indicate when you book that you would like to room together so we can arrange it for you!

Are food and drinks covered?

For the most part, yes! All wine tastings and meals listed in the Italy itinerary are included (including 1 alcoholic drink at each lunch and dinner). Our seated meals will be served either family-style, as a fixed menu, or as tasting menus, which allows our restaurant partners to service our large group in a consistent manner. Please inform us in advance of any food allergies or dietary restrictions.

What kind of food and drink will there be? 

Regional Italian Food

When it comes to Italian food: there is no "one" Italian food but rather tens of regional styles that come together as the food we call "Italian." Over the course of our Italy trip you'll get to know the food from Lombardy as we visit markets, do street food tours, shop at gourmet stores, and dine at various Italian restaurants. 

Here's the lowdown on Lombardy: the region's proximity to the Po River means it smackdab in the middle of Italy's "rice bowl," so you'll see risotto (almost) everywhere you turn. While southern Italian food ingredients are largely seafood, tomatoes, olive oil, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, the food of Lombardy has historically about the land, so the main ingredients are lots of beef, veal, cream, grains, butter, and Grana Padano.

Milan is known first and foremost for the iconic local dishes Veal Milanese and Risotto Milanese, but there are a ton of regional dishes you’ll see throughout our trip from the local casonsei pasta, the addictive sbrisilona almond cake, carpaccio di Bresaola, various type of polenta, panettone (a Christmastime cake), and amaretti cookies. In addition, the region of Lombardy has a ton of local ingredients from the better known — Grana Padano and other cheeses and local cattle — to the more hyper regional — including a salumi only made on the island of Lake Iseo and a Slow Food-protected salt-cured fish.

When we're traveling to Northern Italy in the Fall, expect a lot of seasonal flavors - we’re talking squash, chestnuts, mushrooms, truffles, and game – in the more classic restaurants. The more modern restaurants aren’t quite as rigid about seasonality and flavors so you’ll still see light appetizers and fish well into the Fall.

Regardless of the season, our Northern Italy itinerary has a mix of meals so that by the end of the week you’ll have a mix of classic and modern and richer and lighter meals. We do our best to balance it all so you never have one day where you’re too hungry or too full. 

Types Of Alcohol

Milan is ground zero of Italian aperitivo (or happy hour) culture, which means cocktail hour is taken seriously. From classic liquors (Aperol, Campari, Zucca, Carpano, Ramazzotti) and classic cocktails invented in Northern Italy (like the Negroni, Americano, and Spritz, to name just a few) to seasonal modern cocktails, there is a lot to sip.

Lombardy is also home to or nearby some really amazing wine regions home to wines like Barolo, Asti, Amarone, and, of course, Franciacorta so you’ll have many wines to choose from on almost any wine list. The Franciacorta wine region specializes in premium sparkling wine so we’ll mostly drink that during wine tastings in wine country. However, there are also locally-produced still wines if you want to mix it up! 

Will I need extra spending money? Should it be Euros?

If you would like to shop for yourself, there will be a few opportunities to do so. Anything you shop for is to be paid by you, separately. We will make various ATM stops so you can pull out some euros. Oh, and be sure to your bank know your leaving the country.

I don’t speak Italian, is this a problem?

Absolutely not! All of our partners speak Italian and our host, Aida, is a highly proficient at Italian.

There’s a lot here — how busy will I be?

We want you to really get to know the areas we’re traveling; however, we know that you’re on vacation and will want downtime. That said most days will have a few hours of activities, but, to keep it doable, we don’t usually start until around 10AM and we try to pepper in a fair amount of free time in the afternoon. All activities are optional though there are no refunds for activities you opt to not attend. 

What is the weather like? What should I pack?

Northern Italy's weather is similar to the East Coast of the United States. We head there in the Spring and Fall when the temperatures ranges from the high 40s at night to the low 70s during the day and it does rain every so often. We recommend packing lots of layers, some rain gear, and a few scarves and hats.

ACCOMMODATIONS

We have partnered with hotels that meet the Salt & Wind standards of service. 

Room Options

Double Occupancy

Double occupancy pricing is the price for (1) person to stay in a shared (i.e. double) room. In other words, each person staying in that room will pay the posted double occupancy rate. If you're a couple or friends traveling together, please know that you'll each pay the double occupancy rate. Please indicate if you want two separate beds or one bed so we can plan accordingly.

Single Occupancy

Need some alone time? We hear you. That's why we offer single occupancy rooms. The single occupancy rate is what you will pay to have the room all to yourself. 

Roommates

If you do not have a travel partner, you can purchase single occupancy and have the room all to yourself. Please contact us at travel@saltandwind.com to discuss further. 

How many Americans will I run into? 

The fact that Milan and Northern Italy is a lesser-visited corner of Italy by Americans? That means it’s not (yet) as touristy as better known towns like Venice, Rome, and Florence. Of course, in the summertime there will be more tourists overall than in the colder months. 

LOGISTICS

Do I have to get to and from the airport by myself?

Upon arrival in Italy, you are responsible to get FROM the airport to Milan; however, included in your trip fee is car service back to the airport or Milan on the last day.

Contact us at travel@saltandwind.com once you have your flights and we can help arrange car service on the front end of the trip if you so desire.

 

I don’t live close by. Can you book my flight?

The trip price does not cover airfare from your hometown to Milan, Italy, but we can help! Just ask and we'll connect you with our Salt & Wind travel agent who can assist you with flight and other travel details.

I need more time off! Can I add additional days on to the trip?

Great! We plan to add on day trips or trip extensions to the trips in the near future. For now, you can use our concierge (for an additional fee) to arrange additional tours, restaurants, or hotel nights. And, if you want to stay longer in Italy or Europe, we can help you get preferred rates with our hotel partners.

SAFETY & PRECAUTIONS

I gotta ask...is it safe?

Our team members have all spent an extensive amount of time traveling, drinking, eating, shopping and hanging out in all of the locations we will visit.  We would not be running trips there if we didn’t think it was safe, but we urge you to check the U.S. State Department website to make your own determinations. You can also enroll in the STEP program for travel warnings and updates.

As with any unfamiliar location, we urge you to take precautions against pickpockets and to minimize traveling with unnecessary valuable goods, like high-end jewelry. All of the hotels we partner with have their own security and safes.

Not to be a downer but what happens in case of a medical emergency?

This area of Italy has a long history of U.S. tourists so the quality of care is excellent. You can also look into buying a MedeVac such as AirMed if you want to be taken somewhere else for medical care.

Do you recommend trip insurance?

Yes, we actually require travel insurance for each and every traveler. There are a variety of services for providing trip insurance and note that many credit cards (such as Chase Sapphire and American Express) include the service as part of a trip purchase. Please check with your credit card to confirm. 

Does Global Entry help with expediting customs?

If you travel a lot, you'll want to look into the CBP Global Entry program, which allow you to have expedited customs experience. Global Entry is used anytime travelers return to the U.S. from an international trip and it help expedite customs and border patrol, so you'll be able to use it above and beyond the Salt & Wind trip too! Also, FYI, Global Entry enrollment includes TSA Pre Check so you'll get both when you apply.

PRICING & PAYMENT

For a specific trip's pricing please visit the "Reserve" section of the site.

For more specifics on payment, head to our general FAQs and be sure to take a look at our Booking Terms and Conditions for the fine print.

FURTHER QUESTIONS?

Have additional questions? Contact us at travel@saltandwind.com