Northern Italy

Sumptuous Palaces, Gourmet Delights and Venice Biennale


Fully escorted 16 day boutique small group travel tour to Northern Italy exploring the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, Lake Como and the Venice Biennale

Small group maximum 10 with no single supplement

10th to 25th September 2019

You’ve visited the must see sights of Venice, Florence and Rome and now you’re ready to soak up some authentic northern Italian culture and discover what makes the Emilia Romagna region so special.  Join us on our boutique small group travel tour to Northern Italy as we explore this wonderfully varied region in depth.

Ferrara provides the perfect base to delve into the heart of this area. As we’ll be staying here for 7 nights you’ll have plenty of opportunity to soak up the ambience and discover your own favourite areas of this stunning UNESCO World Heritage city.

Being off the beaten track of most international tourists makes discovering this beautiful old town even more rewarding and personal.

Estense Castle, Ferrara

Estense Castle, Ferrara

With its broad streets, numerous 14th and 15th century palaces and 9kms of ancient walls it’s a fabulous town to explore on foot or by bicycle. Ferrara is known as the city of bicycles.

We’ll head further north and spend a few days in Bellagio, stunningly located at the mid-point of Lake Como known for its dramatic scenery surrounded by the rugged forested foothills of the Alps.

Our final destination will be Venice where we’ll spend 4 days exploring this extraordinary and beautiful city and enjoying the highlights of the Biennale.

As with all Big Yellow Suitcase boutique small group travel tours the pace will be leisurely, we’ll go off the beaten track, meet some locals and enjoy fabulous food and wine


For our boutique small group travel tour to Northern Italy we have selected comfortable and charming 4 star hotels  providing excellent and friendly service.

7 nights in Ferrara at Hotel Duchessa Isabella & Spa , an 8-minute walk from Castello Estense (14th-century moated castle), this elegant hotel in a 16th-century brick villa with gardens is 9 minutes from the ornate Ferrara Cathedral.

The hotel has just 25 rooms and an in-house modern spa, sauna and Turkish bath perfect for a little pampering and ‘me time’.

4 nights in Bellagio at the Hotel du Lac

This family run hotel is located right on the lake front in the heart of Bellagio with some rooms featuring balconies and exquisite views across the lake. The hotel restaurant offering local specialties is a popular spot for lunch and dinner.

4 nights in Venice – hotel tbc

Boutique small group travel tour to Northern Italy Inclusions:

  • Meet and greet at Milan airport hotel for transfer to Ferrara
  • Return transfers to Milan airport
  • 15 nights accommodation in 4 and 5 star hotels.
  • 15 breakfasts, 9 lunches and 8 dinners including wine, beer and soft drinks
  • English speaking guide for the entire tour
  • 25 seater air conditioned motor coach for all transfers and excursions
  • Pasta making class
  • 2 dinners at Michelin star restaurants
  • Entrance fees to all included excursions
  • Tips for drivers and guides
  • Visits to the Soragna Palazzo, Estense Castle, Castello di Torrechiara, Farnese Theatre, Schifanoia Palace
  • Visits to producers of balsamic vinegar, parmesan, mortadella and other gourmet homemade products
  • Day visit on foot or by bicycle to the Camacchio Valleys
  • Ravenna, Bologna and the Archiginnasio
  • Mantua and the magnificent Palazzos Te and Ducale
  • Walking tour of Como and villas of Lake Como
  • Villa Reale and Queen Teodolinda’s Chapel in Monza
  • Entry and guided visit to the highlights of the Venice Biennale
  • Boat and walking tours of Venice
  • All tips and gratuities
Itinerary: Day 1 - 16

Days 1 – 7    Ferrara

Day 1:       Arrive at Milan Airport Hotel for a group transfer to Ferrara.

En-route we’ll stop at the incredible Soragna Palazzo, one of the world’s most precious and sumptuous private properties home to the last descendant of the Meli Lupi family, Prince Diofebo Meli Lupi.

Soragno Palazzo

Soragno Palazzo

We’ll journey on to Polesine Parmense, a small village on the River Po where we’ll stop for a leisurely lunch in a typical de charme restaurant. The restaurant is famous among gourmets for its precious homemade ‘culatello di Zibello’ ham and other cold cuts. We’ll have a chance to visit the cellars where all these ‘goodies’ are aged for among others some very famous clients such as Prince Charles and Armani.

polesine parmense

Late afternoon we’ll arrive in Ferrara to check into our hotel and enjoy an evening at leisure.            

Day 2:   After a leisurely breakfast our guide will lead us on a walking tour of Ferrara including the Estense Castle which dominates the city. Erected in 1385 the Castle is surrounded by a moat and features four massive bastions.

You’ll then be free to explore further on your own – rent a bike and ride the medieval city walls or find a seat at a café or return to the hotel and enjoy the garden or spa.


This evening we’ll visit the ancient Jewish Ghetto for dinner and enjoy some traditional Jewish specialties.         BD 

Day 3:     Today we’re heading out in the country to meet the owner of a dairy producing the famous Parmesan cheese. And before enjoying a lunch of local delicacies at a beautiful country inn our guide will take us on a tour of the Castello di Torrechiara, regarded as the most impressive of the Italian castles.

After lunch we’ll travel on to explore the town of Parma and visit the famous Farnese Theatre before heading back to our hotel for an evening at leisure. Our local guide will be very happy to suggest the perfect spot for cocktails as you watch the locals enjoy their daily passeggiata (evening stroll). BL

Day 4:           Today we’ll stay in Ferrara with a morning visit to the Schifanoia Palace home to the remarkable fresco cycle lining the Room of Months. These frescoes created in the 14th Century are a showpiece of the brilliance of colouring and interpretation by the leading masters of the time.

The rest of the day is at leisure to wander this fascinating city or perhaps cycle around the 9 kms of old city walls working up an appetite for our very special dinner tonight at a local Michelin 1 star restaurant. BD

Day 5:            A day of very different experiences with a morning visit and tasting of the precious Balsamic vinegar followed by lunch featuring dishes made of the same.

After lunch we’ll be heading to the Ferrari Museum with the possibility of a test drive.

Evening at leisure to return to a favourite café or restaurant or just join the locals for the evening passeggiata and a cocktail or two. BL

Day 6:       Our destination today is the Camacchio Valleys, a vast wetland home to a vast variety of flora and fauna and a culinary tradition founded on eels.

Camacchio Valleys

Walking or cycling around these wetlands we’ll watch the fishermen at work, see how many bird varieties we can spot and admire the wonderful array of flora.

This afternoon we swap the natural world for the man made and equally beautiful. See the breathtaking mosaics housed in some of the most significant Early-Christian and Byzantine monuments of Ravenna.

With a late afternoon return to our hotel your evening is at leisure.BL

Day 7:     Today, it’s all about pasta. We’re off to Bologna, the home of the best home-made pastas and an opportunity to try our hand at making our own pasta which we’ll enjoy at lunch along with other local specialties.

Our final stop for the day is the Archiginnasio, built in 1563 it housed the University halls until 1803 when Napoleon transferred the University to the Palazzo Poggi.

Tonight we’ll share a farewell to Ferrara dinner. BLD

Days 8 – 11     Bellagio, Lake Como

Day 8:       After breakfast we’ll check out of the hotel and head to Mantua to visit the Palazzo Te and Palazzo Ducale before lunching on the local specialty delicious pumpkin ‘tortelli’.

These two Palazzos are breathtakingly beautiful with Palazzo Te being described as ‘a milestone in the history of human art’. This enchanting building is home to interiors of spectacularly fine decorations, frescoes, stuccoes and carvings. Superlatives don’t do justice to these very fine buildings.

Palazzo Te

On arrival at our hotel in Bellagio you will have free time to explore this stunning little town on the banks of Lake Como. You’ll be spoilt for choice for dinner tonight all within a short stroll of the hotel. BL

Day 9:         A day of leisure to fully explore the lakeside gardens and narrow streets and stunning retail stores of Bellagio or if shopping is not your thing then join us on ‘The Greenway’. This is a 10km walk on the opposite bank of the lake which leads from Colonna to Cadenabbia. The route follows the ancient route which used to link Como with the countries situated north of the Alps. A relatively easy walk which takes about 3 ½ hours. B

Day 10:         Board our private boat for a lake tour stopping at two of the most beautiful villas along the lake. We’ll head to the city of  Como for a walking tour and lunch before returning to our hotel late afternoon.   Evening at leisure. Still many great restaurants to try and we’ll happily recommend our favourites or sit and relax with a cocktail and watch the sun set over the lake and mountains. BL

Day 11:         The highlight today is an opportunity to explore the Villa Reale with its huge enclosed park, one of the largest in Europe and described as the Versailles of Italy.



Whilst in Monza we’ll also visit the Cathedral with its remarkable treasures which includes the iron crown and the recently restored and fabulous Queen Teodolinda’s Chapel which was completed in 603.

This evening we’ll enjoy a gastronomic delight with dinner at the splendid Villa Serbelloni’s 1 star Michelin restaurant. A perfect way to farewell Lake Como.  BD

Days 12 – 16    Venice         

Day 12:       After a leisurely breakfast we’ll transfer to Venice where our guide will take us on a local walking tour before sharing a group dinner in a local restaurant.  BD

Day 13:       Our expert guide will provide an overview of this year’s Biennale highlights.  The day will be spent visiting some of the exhibits with a break for lunch.  Evening at leisure.  BL

Day 14:        A morning tour of Venice by boat exploring the quiet back canals of the city.  Lunch will be followed by a walking tour of the medieval Jewish quarter, a visit to the Venetian glass maker and discovering the occasional Tintoretto along the way.  This evening is at leisure.   BL

Day 15:       At your leisure, visit other recommended exhibits, do some last-minute shopping or continue your exploration of this one of a kind city.  Every corner reveals another wonder.  Tonight we’ll meet for our farewell dinner.   BD

Day 16:      Group transfer to Milan Airport.  B


Customized Tour:  This tour can be customized and operate on any date for a group of minimum 6

Tour costs:

No single supplement.

Not included airfares to and from Milan Airport.

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