26 October 2016
From historic Turin and cosmopolitan Milan to soul-stirring alpine villages . . . on this fabulous tour you can enjoy a memory-making adventure that takes in time honoured traditions, local culture and even some remarkable railway journeys – all among some of the world’s most enchanting scenery in the Swiss and Italian Alps. This trip makes a great add on to any longer visit to Europe or a wonderful holiday in its own right.
Arrive in Turin and enjoy a private transfer to your pre-tour accommodation then the rest of your day is at leisure to explore this fascinating city at your own pace. Check out the latest fashions in some of the many stylish shops and boutiques and dine on authentic Italian cuisine. Milan's most famous mural, Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper, is hidden away on a wall of the refectory adjoining the Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie and is one of the world's most iconic images. To see it you must book in advance or join a guided tour.
Today you get to know Milan's stylish streets and tree-lined boulevards on a walking tour. A highlight is a visit to Turin Cathedral to see the legendary shroud. Then step inside the hallowed halls of Casa Martini to learn the secrets behind the making of famous wines and vermouths – followed by a tasting. In the afternoon you board a luxury mini-coach and take the scenic route into rural Piedmont. Your home for the night is a charming hotel in a local town, where you learn about the experiences ahead over a welcome dinner.
This morning travel into the countryside near Alba, where treasure waits to be unearthed. Claiming the title of truffle capital, this is the perfect place to hunt for these gourmet delights. Learn to spot where they grow before venturing into the woods with an expert hunter – their specially trained dog running ahead to sniff out black and white truffles. Then in Alba wander the laid-back streets of this rural town. Later stop by Barolo, home of ‘the king of wines and the wine of kings’. Tonight enjoy an authentic cooking experience back in Langhe.
Today you turn your attentions to the glitz and glamour of Milan and the Italian lakes. The first stop is Milan’s spectacular cathedral – an ornate, marble confection covered in delicate spires. Afterwards, you can take some free time to explore the city centre and check out the fashions. But it won’t be long before you hear the clear waters and mountain vistas of Lake Como calling. Your elegant waterside base tonight is on the Western shore, where you make yourself at home with a group dinner.
With a day at leisure beside the beautiful lake, how you spend today is entirely up to you. You could follow one of the many gentle walks from Lake Como into the surrounding hills, take the ferry to Bellagio, a town known as the ‘pearl of Lake Como’, or travel across the water to Varenna, a former fishermen’s village that is known for its beautiful villas. Whatever you choose to do, you will be surrounded by some of Italy's most spectacular scenery.
Today you head north through the Valtellina region, on a road edged with apple orchards, vineyards and mountain pastures. After pausing in Sondrio to explore its heritage, continue to Tirano – where a highlight of the trip awaits when you board the Bernina Express for one of the world’s iconic railway journeys. The train climbs into the mountains, passing through tunnels where views of soaring peaks and glaciers await. Your final stop is the Alpine resort of Davos, where you are welcomed to Switzerland with a warming dinner.
Today you take to the rails once more, giving you the chance to view Switzerland’s most spectacular scenery from aboard the Glacier Express. This remarkable feat of engineering includes countless beautiful bridges over gorges and between mountain passes, with pine forests and wildflower meadows stretching out below. After arriving in Andermatt, you swap the train for a mini-coach and continue on to Grindelwald, where your evening is your own.
Steep-gabled wooden chalets, sparkling lakes and green fields, rugged, snow-capped peaks . . . Grindelwald is the perfect picture of a sleepy Swiss village and it’s yours to explore today. Wander through sublime valleys, take the train to the Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in Europe, or perhaps take the cable car up to the panoramic terrace and mountain restaurant. From here, clear weather reveals panoramic views of spectacular mountains, including the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. This evening there's a farewell dinner.
Your last breakfast with your tour group is something special. First you visit a small, family-run dairy farm, where you sit down to a traditional Alpine breakfast amid unforgettable views. But your adventure isn’t over just yet. You then visit Lucerne, whose medieval old town and lakeside setting enchanted everyone from Goethe to Queen Victoria. Finally, when you reach Zurich, say goodbye amid the elegant buildings, grand squares and artisan chocolate houses of this heart-stealing city.
Standard fr £2295pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated