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New! 2018 Northern Italy: The Alps, Dolomites & Lombardy

Milan • Tirano • Franciacorta • Verona • Bressanone (Dolomites) • Bassano del Grappa

15 Days from only $4595 including international airfare

Activity Level:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderate

New Itinerary

Take a look at the destinations you’ll discover on our new Northern Italy adventure

Courtesy Small World Productions
Genoa and the Italian Riviera

Trace Italy's Ligurian coast with travel expert Rudy Maxa, and discover the best of the Riviera.

Courtesy of Rodrigue El Hajj
Italy Cinque Terre

Dramatic cliffs, sparkling waters, and brightly colored houses bedeck Italy's Cinque Terre.

Courtesy Small World Productions
Italy’s Veneto and Dolomites

Immerse yourself in the beauty and culture of Northern Italy alongside travel expert Rudy Maxa.

Courtesy Small World Productions
Milan and Lake Como
Join travel expert Rudy Maxa on a journey through one of Italy’s most stunning regions—featured on our pre-trip extension
Courtesy Small World Productions
Venice

Peek behind the mask of Carnival and get to know the real Venice by meeting a few lifelong locals.

New Stories, New Inspiration

Take a look at the films that inspire filmmaker David Conover—and preview the stories to come.

Climate Change & Travel

Travel with David Conover to see how people—from street protesters to Heads of State—respond to a changing climate and ocean.

Produced for CuriosityStream
Big Picture Earth Trailer

David Conover's newest television series takes us from Stonehenge to Petra, from Iceland to the Oracle at Delphi ... and beyond.

Sharing Travel Moments

Hear why visual storytelling helps to build a conversation about the world from filmmaker David Conover.

Harriet Lewis: Traveler to Traveler

Hear what real travel means to Harriet—unique experiences, connecting with others, and learning about yourself .

Solo Traveler Experience

Meet a solo traveler who shares her reasons for exploring the world with Overseas Adventure Travel.

The O.A.T. Experience

See what you can expect when you travel in your small group on the road less traveled with O.A.T.

Travel Protection Plan

Learn about the benefits of O.A.T.'s plan—and how you can protect your entire trip investment.

FROM
$4595
15 DAYS
$307/DAY
including international airfare
14 DAYS FROM $3795 Land Adventure Only
Extend Your Trip
 
 

ATTENTION
This trip features long flights and/or multiple connections. Learn More »

 

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Find the Adventure That’s Right for You

Our Activity Level rating system ranks adventures on a scale of 1 to 5 to help you determine if a trip is right for you. See the descriptions below for more information about the physical requirements associated with each rating.

Activity Level 1:

1 2 3 4 5

Easy

Travelers should be able to climb 25 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 1-2 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last at least 1-2 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 2:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Easy

Travelers should be able to climb 40 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 2-3 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for at least 2-3 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 3:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderate

Travelers should be able to climb 60 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 3 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 3 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 5,000 to 7,000 feet.

Activity Level 4:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Strenuous

Travelers should be able to climb 80 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 4 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 7,000 to 9,000 feet.

Activity Level 5:

1 2 3 4 5

Strenuous

Travelers should be able to climb 100 or more stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 8 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 10,000 feet or more.

Itinerary Overview

Witness the awe-inspiring landscapes and cultural treasures of Northern Italy on a journey from the fashion capital of Milan and romance of the Lombardy Lakes to the snow-covered Alps and towering pinnacles of the Dolomites. Discover the enchanting juxtaposition of Italian and Austrian culture in this scenic region of woodlands, vineyards, and lush valleys dotted with medieval villages. Along the way, meet fishermen and farm families, see what puts the sparkle in Franciacorta wines, and experience the legends of the Ladins, a unique culture hidden deep in the valleys of the Dolomites. And ride through the majestic Alps into Switzerland aboard the legendary Bernina Express, one of the world’s most breathtaking rail journeys. Discover the exquisite landscapes and Renaissance splendor of what many consider Italy’s most picturesque region. 

Day-to-Day Itinerary

  • 5 nights from only $1495

    Experience the splendor of Liguria, the crescent-shaped home of the Italian Riviera. After a night in Genoa, the ancient maritime capital, fall under the spell of the Cinque Terre, a quintet of UNESCO World Heritage Site villages perched high over the sea.  

    View Extension Itinerary
Milan Bassano del Grappa Expand All
  • Fly overnight from the U.S. to Milan, Italy.

  • Upon arrival in Milan, an O.A.T. representative will meet you at the airport and escort you to your hotel. After some time to relax from your flight, we’ll gather for a Welcome Drink and briefing, and a chance get to know the members of your group, including travelers who took the Genoa & Cinque Terre pre-trip extension. Then, we’ll enjoy a short walk to get acquainted with our surroundings. Dinner is on your own. 

    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:

    After breakfast, we’ll set off on a walking tour of Milan. The capital of Lombardy and Italy’s second largest city, Milan was an important trading center for more than two millennia, and once served as the capital of the western half of the Roman Empire. Today, it’s a vibrant, fashion-conscious metropolis with a population of 1.3 million. Our discoveries include Duomo di Milano, Milan’s magnificent Gothic cathedral. One of the world’s largest churches (it can seat 10,000), the white-marble Duomo covers an entire city block and has some 3,200 statues and 135 spires adorning its extravagant façade—more than any other building in the world. We’ll also stop at Castello Sforzesco, a centuries-old fortress now home to notable galleries and museums, as well as Michelangelo’s final unfinished statue, Rondanini Pietà. Then, after a stroll past the luxurious shops lining Via Montenapoleone, Milan’s most prestigious fashion avenue, you can enjoy lunch on your own.

    This afternoon, we visit the quaint Brera neighborhood and walk the cobbled streets of the Quadrilatero della Moda, Milan’s world-renowned fashion district. Or, you can choose to break off from the group and explore the city’s many artistic treasures on your own. Later, we’ll learn about local politics during a meeting with a member of Lega Nord (Northern League) before sitting down to an apericena, a Milanese tradition featuring buffet items at a restaurant with panoramic views of the city.

  • After breakfast, we’ll depart Milan and journey north to Tirano in the heart of the Alps. Along the way, we’ll stop in Bergamo, a picturesque northern Italian city divided into Lower Town (the more modern Città Bassa) and the medieval hilltop Upper Town (Città Alta), framed by Venetian walls. After a funicular ride up to Città Alta, we’ll journey underneath the city walls to explore secret tunnels and a massive ancient cistern (Fontana del Lantro) that brought water to Bergamo for a thousand years. Back above ground, we’ll soak in the Renaissance charm of Piazza Vecchia (Old Square), explore the quaint quarter of San Viglio, and take in sweeping views of the Lombard plain from atop Il Campanone, the 12th-century bell tower. Lunch is on your own in Bergamo, and you may wish to try a local dish like casoncelli, a type of ravioli stuffed with spicy sausage.

    After departing Bergamo, we’ll stop for coffee in Lecco, a picturesque resort town on the southern tip of Lake Como. At the waterfront area, we’ll enjoy panoramic views of the rugged mountains and pristine waters of Italy’s third largest lake before continuing on to Tirano, arriving in the early evening. After an orientation walk to familiarize ourselves with this charming village in the Valtellina valley split by the Adda River, we’ll enjoy dinner together at a local winery.

  • After breakfast, we’ll experience the customs and traditions of everyday Italian life in the Valtellina Valley. Set in the Alps near the Swiss border, the lush valley is renowned for its natural beauty, wine, and regional cuisine. Blanketed in orchards and terraced vineyards, Valtellina winemaking traditions pre-date even the ancient Romans. A specialty of the region is a salted, dried beef called bresaola, and our first stop will be a meeting with a farm family that has been producing this richly-flavored culinary favorite for three generations. Then, we’ll hike through a vineyard, meet with a local farmer, learn about the famous red wines of the region, and discover how stone walls are used to create the precipitous terraced vineyards of the valley. After a farmhouse lunch, we’ll return to Tirano for some leisure time.

    Later, we’ll learn more about life in the Valtellina Valley when we join a local family for a Home-Hosted Dinner.

  • After breakfast, we’ll board the Bernina Express (also called the “Red Train”) for a full-day excursion across the Alps and into Switzerland. One of the few rail journeys designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Bernina Express is not just the world’s highest Alpine crossing (reaching an altitude of 7,400 feet), but also the steepest, with gradients up to 7%. Panoramic glass windows on the train make for unimpeded views, so we can just sit back, relax and enjoy the unfolding Alpine scenery as we travel over bridges and viaducts, through tunnels, and past glaciers, picturesque villages, alpine meadows, and vineyards.

    After crossing the border into Switzerland, we’ll depart the train at Morteratsch station, where we’ll enjoy a boxed lunch and take a few steps onto the icy surface of Morteratsch, the third longest glacier in the Eastern Alps. Then, back aboard the Bernina for our return journey, we’ll make another stop at Alp Grum, a station along a wide curve of tracks for some local refreshments at the bar and to take in panoramic views of the Alps and the Poschiavo Valley. Our train returns to Tirano late this afternoon—although any hearty travelers are welcome to set off on a hike (of approximately one hour) from Alp Grum to meet the train at the next station.

    Dinner is on your own this evening.

  • After breakfast, we depart Tirano and head to Lago d’Iseo, the least known of the Lombard lakes, and the Franciacorta wine region. Along the way, we’ll stop in Edolo to witness sweeping views of Val Camonica, an ancient valley in the central Alps noted for its Stone-Age rock carvings. Then, at the lakeshore town of Solzano, we’ll take a ferry to Monte Isola, a large island in the middle of Lago d’Iseo. Europe’s largest lake island, cobbled and car-free Monte Isola is dotted with medieval hamlets and picturesque fishing villages. The fishing tradition here dates back to the 15th century, when islanders were granted special fishing rights by the duke of Milan. After a stroll through the village of Peshiera Maraglio, we’ll meet with a local fisherman to learn about the method of drying fish on wooden racks, and visit a workshop to see how the handwoven fishing nets are repaired. Then, we’ll have lunch at a lakefront restaurant where we can admire views of the crystalline waters, fishing boats, and surrounding mountains.

    After lunch, we’ll take a local bus to the village of Cure, where we’ll take a brief hike up to the sanctuary of Madonna della Ceriola, a 13th-century church constructed at the island’s summit. Then, we’ll take a ferry ride back to Lago d’Iseo and drive to our nearby hotel. Dinner this evening is at a local restaurant.

  • After breakfast, we’ll stop a local market to pick up ingredients for our cooking lesson later in the day. Then, we’ll discover how Franciacorta produces some of the best sparkling wines in the world. Unlike other popular Italian sparkling wines like Prosecco, Franciacorta wines are hand-harvested, fermented in wooden casks, and aged by law for 18 months. After a walk through one of the vineyards that dot the lush hills of this bucolic region, we’ll visit a local cantina (winery) to tour its historical cellar and learn about the methode champenoise method used to produce the wine’s “sparkle.” Then, we’ll enjoy a wine tasting accompanied by freshly-baked artisanal specialties.

    The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to relax at our lodging, a restored 17th-century farmhouse—or you may wish to rent a bicycle to explore the surrounding countryside and vineyards. We’ll regroup this evening for an Italian cooking lesson using the local ingredients we gathered earlier—and reap the rewards of our efforts at dinner.

  • After breakfast, we’ll transfer to Verona, the city made famous by Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet—and second only to Rome in the number of ancient Roman ruins. Our morning walking tour features the romantic courtyard of the House of Juliet and an outside view of Arena di Verona, the grand Roman amphitheater built in the first century A.D. With seating for 30,000, the Arena is still in use today and renowned for its presentations of open-air opera performances. After strolling through the market at Piazza delle Erbe (the old Roman forum), the rest of the day is at leisure to explore the elegant squares of Verona at your own pace. Lunch and dinner are on your own.

  • After breakfast, the day is yours to explore Verona independently, with lunch and dinner on your own. Or, you may join a full-day optional tour to explore nearby Mantua, an ancient city known as la bella addormentata—the sleeping beauty—by the locals. This optional excursion features a boat ride to view Mantua from its magical lakes, a guided tour of the courtyards and gardens of the magnificent Palazzo Ducale, lunch at a local restaurant, and leisure time in Mantua before returning to Verona in the late afternoon.

  • After breakfast, we journey north to the valleys, meadows, and towering peaks of the Italian Dolomites. Our first stop is Trento, noted in history as the locale of the Council of Trent, which began the Counter Reformation and brought half of Europe back to Roman Catholicism in the mid-16th century. Our discoveries include Castello del Buonconsiglio, a mighty fortress in the heart of the city that was home to Trento’s bishop-princes from the 13th century until 1801. After lunch on your own, we’ll head to nearby Ciucioi to visit a romantic hanging garden built in 1860.

    Our northern journey continues to Bressanone (also known as Brixen), the oldest city in the Alto Adige. Upon arrival, we’ll have an orientation walk along the medieval streets of this Austrian-influenced city founded in 901. Later, we’ll enjoy dinner together in a local restaurant.

  • After breakfast, we’ll travel to Ortisei, a small Alpine village in the Val Gardena that is a center of Ladin culture. An ethnic minority of about 35,000 people living in five valleys in a corner of the Dolomites, Ladins developed their own language—unrelated to German or Italian, it’s the oldest language of Italy’s Alpine region. We’ll meet with locals who are preserving this unique linguistic tradition and thousand-year-old culture at the offices of the world’s only Ladin-language newspaper. Then, we’ll do some hiking in the “land of the Ladins” and witness some of the magical landscapes that inspired British writer JRR Tolkien. We’ll also visit San Cristina, an idyllic village surrounded by towering peaks, where we’ll spend some time at a local farm, have lunch at a family-run agriturismo, and take a funicular ride to the top of a mountain for panoramic views of the Dolomites. We’ll arrive back in Bressanone late this afternoon.

    Dinner is on your own this evening.

  • After breakfast, we’ll explore the South Tyrol, an idyllic enclave of picturesque villages, medieval castles, and rolling hills. An Austrian territory for centuries, some 70% of South Tyroleans speak German as their first language. We’ll enjoy our first glimpse of Italian/Austrian culture in the village of Fortezza, home to a massive 19th-century fortress, followed by Italy’s northernmost city, Vipiteno, an enchanting mountain town dating back to the 14th century with narrow streets, Tyrolean architecture, and charming shops. After lunch at a local restaurant in Vipiteno, we’ll return to our hotel in Bressanone with the remainder of the day at leisure. Later, we’ll regroup to celebrate bellissima northern Italy during a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.

  • We depart Bressanone after breakfast, leaving the towering peaks of the Alps for the enchanting hills of the Veneto region. In the valley of Sugano, we’ll do some hiking along the scenic shores of the Brenta River, followed by a light lunch at a local restaurant. Then, we’ll visit Bassano del Grappa, a history-rich town associated with the fiery liqueur made from the remains of the winemaking process. But while grappa has been made here for centuries, the town was actually named for nearby Mount Grappa.

    After a stroll through the arcaded streets of Bassano’s Old Town, we’ll stop at Ponte degli Alpini, the covered pontoon bridge designed by architect Palladio in 1569. Mount Grappa was at the front lines in two World Wars, and the bridge was destroyed and rebuilt many times—and after World War II, Italy’s elite Alpine troops, the Alpini, raised funds for its most recent incarnation. We’ll learn about Bassano’s military history at a museum located inside a tavern on the bridge—where we may also wish to enjoy a sip or two of Bassano’s namesake spirit.

    This evening, we'll enjoy dinner at our hotel.

    • Meals included:

    We depart our hotel this morning and transfer to the airport for our flight home. Or, begin your Venice extension.

  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Venice

    4 nights from only $1495

    Cap off your Italian adventures with three nights exploring the cobblestone streets and captivating canals of Venice. Take a stroll through the lanes of the city’s ancient Jewish Ghetto, hop on a ferry to a colorful island on the Venice Lagoon, and discover the hidden charms of Italy’s most romantic city.  

    View Extension Itinerary

Click below to read our Travel Planning Guide on Northern Italy: The Alps, Dolomites & Lombardy

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