Despite the success and popularity of our tours to Northwest Italy, until now we had never created a longer itinerary to the region. Our many different itineraries provided an abundance of truly wonderful visits to choose from, as well as the chance to include some new places. The result is a mosaic of the absolute best, creating a rich and entirely original tour.
The three cities are an exercise in contrasts: Genoa, once a leading maritime republic of mediaeval Italy, has the largest historic centre of any European city. From its warren of alleyways and winding streets there are occasional glimpses of the port that defines the city’s history, and a little further inland grand palaces jostle for space, a reminder of former glory. Turin, the leading city of Piedmont, is more elegant than Genoa, even occasionally austere, with broad avenues and spacious piazze. No less important historically, it was once capital of Savoy and later of the kingdom of Sardinia, and also boasts delightful churches, palaces and art galleries. The wealthiest and most powerful territory in mediaeval and Renaissance Italy was the Duchy of Milan, and today it is still the richest region in the country. The legacy of this is clear in the abundance of artistic and architectural sites in Milan itself, from Leonardo’s Last Supper to the spectacular marble Gothic cathedral. It is a lively, busy metropolis where only the highest quality (and price to match!) passes approval.
Beyond the three cities, there is a chance to see something of their surrounding areas. From Portofino on the coast near Genoa to the hilltop town of Cherasco, and from the monumental palace of Venaria outside Turin to the exquisite Borromean Islands floating improbably in Lake Maggiore, there are moments of sheer beauty and charm that provide a contrast to the bustling cityscapes. In all of the regions visited food is of a high standard, but Piedmont is undoubtedly one of Italy’s most interesting regions gastronomically. Its wines are superb, the food produced there is varied and the delicious cooking ranges from traditional country fare to creatively modern cuisine. Moreover, the region is the centre of the Slow Food revolution which is transforming gastronomy in Italy and beyond.
Genoa. Begin with lunch at the hotel in Genoa. In the afternoon see palaces in the Via Balbi, one of the grandest streets in Europe, including a private visit to the Palazzo Reale which has a magnificent stairway, splendidly furnished rooms and a fine collection of pictures. First of four nights in Genoa.
Genoa. Visit some of the main monuments of mediaeval Genoa. The Cathedral of S. Lorenzo, built 12th–16th centuries, possesses many works of art and a fine treasury. Palazzo Spinola has good pictures, Van Dycks in particular. Visit the church of S. Luca with its beautifully decorated interior.
Genoa. See the Via Garibaldi, lined with magnificent palazzi, most from the 16th century. Palazzo Rosso has fine furnishings and excellent pictures. See also the adjacent church of the Annunciation and the Villa del Principe with Perin del Vaga frescoes.
Portofino. Travel out of Genoa, along the coast to the charming fishing village of Portofino. Return to Genoa for a free afternoon.
Cherasco, Stupinigi. Leave Genoa and take a cross-country route through the beautiful countryside and wine-producing area of Le Langhe. Stop in Cherasco which has a 14th-century Visconti castle for a typical Piedmontese lunch. See the magnificent royal hunting lodge of Stupinigi (Filippo Juvarra, 1730) en route to Turin. First of four nights in Turin.
Turin. A morning walk through beautiful Piazza S. Carlo, with arcades and 18th-century churches. Visit the Royal Palace, built 1660, with wonderful interiors from the 17th–19th centuries. The Galleria Sabauda, housed in the Palace, has an excellent picture collection. In the afternoon visit the cathedral and S. Lorenzo, a Guarini masterpiece.
Superga, Venaria. Outside Turin visit the votive church of Superga, a magnificent hilltop structure by Juvarra, and the magnificent royal palace of Venaria (Amedeo Castellamonte, 1659) reopened in 2007 following extensive renovation work.
Turin. A morning visit to the Palazzo Madama in the centre of Piazza Castello, now housing the City Art Museum, is followed by the Pinacoteca Giovanni and Marella Agnelli at Lingotto which has a small but excellent quality collection in a building designed by Renzo Piano. Free afternoon in Turin.
The Borromean Islands. Drive to Milan, via Lake Maggiore. Isola Bella is one of the world’s great gardens (and correspondingly popular), a wedding cake of terraces and greenery floating improbably in Lake Maggiore. The sense of surrealism is enhanced by the symbolic statuary and the flock of white peacocks. First of three nights in Milan.
Milan. See the spectacular marble Gothic cathedral and the surrounding area, site of the headquarters of the rival powers of municipality, bishop, duke and commune. Visit also the Brera, one of Italy’s major art collections. In the afternoon there is a backstage tour of La Scala and a visit to its museum, which documents the history of the opera house with portraits of composers, a wealth of historically significant instruments and much else (subject to confirmation depending on rehearsal schedules).
Certosa di Pavia. Drive out to the Certosa di Pavia, perhaps the most richly endowed monastic foundation in Italy, and mausoleum of both the Visconti and the Sforza. Some free time in Milan.
Milan. In the morning visit S. Ambrogio, a most important early mediaeval church with a very rich treasury. The Dominican friary of Sta. Maria delle Grazie was lavishly endowed by Duke Ludovico Sforza in the 1490s, the consequences including Bramante’s monumental eastern extension of the church and The Last Supper on the wall of the refectory. The tour ends by 1.00pm.
AUD $7,400. This includes: travel by private coach; hotel accommodation; breakfasts; 4 lunches and 6 dinners with wine, water, coffee; all admissions; all tips; all taxes; the services of the lecturer. Single supplement AUD $1,270 (double room for single occupancy).
Additional nights and airport transfers
It is possible to arrange additional nights at the hotels before or after the tour, and airport transfers. For this tour, travellers from Australia may choose to fly to an airport in Milan the day before the tour; MRT can provide a package for hotel and transfer between the cities. Genoa Airport is served by a number of airlines within Europe.
Programmes for the opera in Genoa, Turin and Milan will be published in the Spring of 2016. These can be offered as optional additions to the tour.
Grand Hotel Savoia, Genoa: a 5-star hotel close to the Palazzo Reale. Grand Hotel Sitea, Turin: a 4-star hotel, comfortable, elegantly furnished and very central. Rosa Grand Hotel, Milan: a smart 4-star hotel excellently located directly behind the Duomo. Rooms are well appointed in a clean, modern style.
There is quite a lot of walking required and standing around in museums. Average distance by coach per day: 36 miles.
Between 10 and 22 participants.
Tours for QAGOMA are open to all who take out a Gallery membership, which starts from as little as $49.60. Please contact Martin Randall Australasia for more information, and to book QAGOMA tours. As payment for these tours is in Australian dollars, it is not possible to book them online.
Before booking, please refer to the FCO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.