26th June - 3rd July 2022

The Discover Northern Italy’s Secret Gems tour starts with a 4 night stay in the beautifully scenic and gloriously green Imagna Valley, which is nestled in Lombardy, just a few kilometres to the east of Lake Como’s shores. It feels like a rural and untouched oasis where you can really get under the skin of Italy and capture the essence of Italian life. From Lombardy the tour then takes you to Veneto for a 3 night stay at Castel Brando, a spectacularly restored ancient castle in the Treviso Hills. 

ITINERARY

Day 1: Depart the UK for our flight to Italy. On arrival we will be met by our local guide and coach for the transfer to the Miramonti hotel. After check-in we will have time to relax before dinner. The hotel is located within the small hilltop village of Rota d’Imagna, there are a few shops, restaurants and a pretty 15th century church close by. The hotel itself has the most wonderful views – its terrace cuts in the hillside and looks out over the rolling hills and stunning scenery of the surrounding valley. 

Days 2 -4

  • Full day guided excursion in the Imagna Valley region. There are several unique and 
    interesting attractions beyond its abundant greenery, unspoilt landscapes and mountain scenery. We will visit the unusual Cornabusa Cave Church – this spiritual sanctuary within a natural grotto has been adapted into a functioning place of worship over hundreds of years. A popular destination for pilgrimages, the church also has ties to the late Pope John XXIII. The Imagna Valley is a wonderful place to explore the region’s gastronomy – indeed, getting to know the regional specialities is the key understanding life in the Imagna Valley. The cuisine is influenced by its Alpine location and abundance of cattle, and as such many unique and delicious cheeses are produced here such as the soft and creamy  stracchino. A brilliant way to experience this craft is to visit to a cheesemaker and see how the experts do it! Lunch (Included today) will be taken in a local authentic trattoria. Located in an historic building in the village of Roncaglia, it takes pride in serving dishes from the local tradition using produce from the valley, created with age-old recipes. Tonight a light dinner will be served at the hotel.
  • Full day guided excursion to Lake Iseo Tucked unobtrusively between the larger lakes Garda and Como, this hidden gem is nevertheless the fourth largest lake in northern Italy. Loaded with the charm and beauty of its more famous neighbours, it sees just a fraction of the visitors. There will be time at leisure including a visit to a local cantina for a tour and tasting.
  • Guided excursion to Bergamo for a walking city tour. The bustling city of Bergamo is a majestic medieval masterpiece with history, culture and music at its heart. The historic core of the city sits atop a hill and is divided from the lower city by Venetian walls, which afford spectacular views of the surrounding Lombardy region. Explore the charming cobbled streets, take in the lovely architecture from different eras and visit the city’s fascinating churches, picturesque piazzas and outstanding museums and galleries. On
    return to the hotel we will have a pasta cooking lesson on how to make handmade Casonceli.
Day 5 – After breakfast and check-out we travel to Castel Brando with a stop at Padua for walking tour (1.25 hrs approx) of the city. It's an ancient city with a youthful population, Padua was once a medieval city-state that vied for power with Venice and Verona. Today, Padua is vibrant town with an authentic feel and a lovely place to stroll the streets, markets and parks, but its previous position of power is still evident in the incredible frescoes found within the town’s churches and chapels. Giotto’s extraordinary, luminous work in the Scrovegni Chapel is the jewel in the crown. Padua played a role in more recent history too, providing a stage for Mussolini’s Fascist oratory. After check-in at Castel Brando there will be time at leisure before dinner in the ‘Fucina’ Pizzeria. Dinner at the hotel.
Days 6 - 7
  • Your day starts with a guided tour of Castel Brando, then continues with a guided excursion to Vicenza.
    The architectural elegance of lovely Vicenza is almost solely thanks to one man: Palladio. During the 1500s, Palladio not only transformed this city but also influenced building styles across the whole of Europe. Classicism, sophistication and simplicity define the palazzi, villas and civic landmarks built in the Palladian style, and have been emulated far and wide. In addition to the stunning architecture, this small city bustles with lively markets, cafés and restaurants as well as interesting galleries and museums. Dinner is not included today, but we have arranged a later departure time from Vicenza to enable dinner to be taken in the city.
  • Full day guided excursion to Brassano del Grappa, famed predominately for its eponymous firewater, Bassano del Grappa’s historic centre exudes quiet charm. Explore the quaint wooden bridge over the River Brenta, interesting little churches, pretty piazzas, ceramics collections and grappa distilleries. Grappa is a fiery spirit made from the grape vines discarded in the wine-making process. During our visit a Prosecco tasting at Villa Sandi is
    included. Villa Sandi is an incredible Palladian masterpiece which dates back to the 1620s. Villa Sandi produces exceptional prosecco thanks to its traditional methods and the fertile lands surrounding the house. You can discover the opulence of the delicate, beautiful interior and enjoy a tour of the extensive wine cellars, as well as tasting of a variety of their wines. Dinner tonight will be in the main restaurant ‘Sansovino’

Day 8: Early check out of the hotel for return transfer to the airport and our return flight to Manchester. 

Our Hotels:   

The 4* Miramonti Hotel, Rota D’Imagna is an impressive spa

hotel with immaculate and tasteful rooms, and brilliant facilities include an indoor pool that advances outside to make the most of the views. The outdoor terraces are staggered down the hillside, and at the bottom is a small woodland which is lovely for a short stroll. The heart of this hotel, however, is the lovely family that run it – they have real pride in their hotel and the region, and this comes through in their hospitality and the delicious cuisine in the hotel’s restaurant.

All rooms are equipped with en-suite, internet, a mini-bar, TV, safe deposit box and a hair-dryer. Breakfast is cold buffet-style and dinner is traditional Italian cuisine.

Castel Brando Hotel is one of the largest and oldest castles in Europe with amazing views over Valmareno. Castel Brando is a national historic monument and the careful restoration has brought to light its original splendor, the beauty of a place with 2000 years of history, home for centuries to noble and illustrious venture captains or Condottieri. The hotel has atmospheric bars, terraces, wine cellar and Museum areas. A Unique funicular takes you to the hotel!

All rooms are equipped with en-suite, TV, safe deposit box and a hair-dryer. Buffet breakfast each morning served in the main restaurant

Price per person (Based on 2 Adults sharing Twin/Double Room):

  • Member Plus Adult - £1259
  • Member Adult - £1309                     
  • Non Member Adult - £1359                  
  • Single Supplement - £154 (double/twin for sole occupancy)

Price Includes:

  • Return flights from Manchester to Northern Italy
  • Return airport transfers in Italy with English speaking guide  
  • Porterage at both hotels if required
  • Welcome drink at the Miramonti Hotel
  • 4 nights half board accommodation at the Miramonti Hotel, Rota D’Imagna including Wine with dinner and tea/coffee afterwards each evening 
  • Full day guided excursions to Lake Iseo with time at leisure including Cantina tour and tasting  
  • Full day guided excursion to Imagna Valley region, visits to Cornubusa Cave Sanctuary, local cheesemaker and lunch at local trattoria
  • Full day guided excursion to Bergamo including walking tour of the city. At the hotel a Pasta cooking lesson on how to make handmade Casonceli
  • Walking tour of Padua (1.25 hrs approx)
  • 3 Nights with Breakfast and 2 nights Dinner at Castel Brando
  • A tour of Castel Brando
  • Full day guided excursions to Bassano Del Grappa including Prosecco tasting at Villa Sandi
  • Full day guided excursion to Vicenza (Dinner not included on this day)

Not Included:

  • City Tax (at this time no tax applicable, but if situation changes this will be payable locally)
  • Single Supplement
  • Drinks with Dinner at Castel Brando
  • Any items of a personal nature such as meals, drinks, etc
  • Tips (discretionary)
  • Travel Insurance

For further details and bookings, you can either use the Reservation Form or contact Bob Walker 

Please include your Name, Home Address, Contact Telephone Number, Membership Number and the Number Places Required (Member/Non-Member)