The Sumptuous Palaces and Gourmet Delights Tour of Northern Italy


Fully escorted 12 day, 11 night experience exploring the Emilia Romagna region of Italy and Lake Como

Small group maximum 10

Tuesday 19th to Saturday 30th September 2017

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 this area so very special.

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.

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

Ferrara is a compact and lively medieval walled town in the Emilia Romagna region in the north of Italy and an artistic and cultural centre during the Renaissance.

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.

A perfect spot to while away a few days and wander further afield to explore the ancient and vast Po River Delta and the many and glorious local towns where we’ll discover the home of Balsamic vinegar, Parmesan cheese, Parma Ham and traditional pastas from Bologna.

From the River Delta 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.

We’ll explore the town, sail the lake stopping to visit two of the most beautiful lakeside villas and the recently restored and fabulous Queen Teodolinda’s Chapel.


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.


  • Meet and greet at Milan airport hotel for transfer to Ferrara
  • Return transfers to Milan airport or city centre
  • 11 nights accommodation in 4 and 5 star hotels.
  • 11 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 4 dinners
  • The same 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
  • Visit to the Ferrari museum with an optional test drive
  • 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
Itinerary: Day 1 - 9
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.          

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.

The Castle dominates the landscape and offers a breathtaking view of the Valley of Parma. The castle built in 1448 was part defence and part distinguished home for the Count, Pier Maria Rossi, and his lover.

The most striking among the decorated rooms is the Camera d’oro (Golden Room), named after the pure gold that once trimmed the terracotta medallions set into the wall, whose fresco cycle dating to 1462 and attributed to Benedetto Bembo depicting a tale of courtly love and chivalry, it recounts the story of Pier Maria Rossi’s passion for Bianca Pellegrini.

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:

This morning 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 specialities.

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

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 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:        

Today we have 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.

Tonight is a very special farewell dinner at the splendid Villa Serbelloni’s 1 star Michelin restaurant. A gastronomic delight and a perfect way to end an extraordinary journey through a magical and intensely varied region of Italy. BD

Day 12:        

Group transfer to Milan Airport or central Milan.




Customized Tour:  This tour can be customized and operate on any date for a group of minimum 4.

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