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.