Food and Wine of Northern Italy

We had a wonderful time exploring the wonders of Northern Italy in October and look forward to welcoming new guests (or returning guests!) for the newly-named “Taste of Northern Italy” April 18-22 or April 23-29, 2017 (or any available week for a group of 8-12). See our flickr albums.

Maximum twelve guests each week

Join us for a very special experience for eight to twelve guests as we taste the food, wine and stunning beauty of northern Italy from the home base of a recently-renovated, truly beautiful 18th c Italian villa located between Milan and Lake Como.


Poggio Verde Country Villa

Our guest chef, Katharine Elder of Elderslie Farm, and our guest sommelier, Jamie Stratton of Jacob Liquor Exchange, will team up to present wonderful regional specialties paired with carefully selected Italian wines for our meals at the villa, two of which will be wine-tasting dinners and at least one of which will include truffles.

In addition, we will have lunch at several restaurants with a Michelin star on our day trips to enjoy some of the most stunning scenery in Italy – lakes, mountains, hilltop villages and wine country. We will also take a day trip to Milan to see the Last Supper and the Duomo and perhaps do a bit of shopping or visit nearby art galleries.

Airport pickup, Montevecchia. Lunch at the villa.

Our driver will meet you at Malpensa airport (watch for the “Poggio Verde” sign) and will escort you and your bags to the villa.  After a welcome glass of sparkling Franciacorta wine,  you will have time to unpack, make yourself comfortable and explore the villa and grounds. We will slide right into villa living with a lunch at home. Our driver will then take us to nearby scenic Montevecchia Alto with its quaint church at the top of a staircase with extraordinary views of the Val Curone (regional park). We may avail ourselves of a gelato at the tiny but excellent gelateria in the village. We may make a quick stop at the tiny cheese shop nearby and take a few minutes to enjoy the stunning view from the top of the ridge near the cheese shop. The day ends with a delicious dinner at the villa, accompanied by the first of many new Italian wines we will try this week.

Bergamo. Lunch at Frosio
Our driver will take us down into the little town of Barzanò to the beloved pastry shop, Fumagalli, for a cappuccino and “brioche” (the yummy Italian version of a croissant) before getting on the road to Bergamo, one of the most beautiful hill towns in Italy. After visiting the stunning Renaissance and Roman sites of the city with our excellent guide, our driver will take us to Frosio in nearby Almé for a lunch of innovative cuisine in the beautiful dining room of this 18th century villa. We will return to the villa in time to relax or play a game of bocce before dinner.

Piemonte (Barolo). Lunch at Rabaya (Oct 22) or Le Torri (Oct 29)
This is an ambitious day trip but well worth the 2.5-hour drive there and back in the comfort of our Cazzaniga bus. This area, called Langhe e Roero, is a UNESCO World Heritage site with an absolutely beautiful landscape of rolling hills, vineyards, hilltop villages, world-class wines (Barolo, Barbaresco, etc.) and fantastic food. We will arrive in the area in time to visit a winery, then we will have lunch followed by another winery visit. If we have time, we will stop at the stunning hilltop village of La Morra. We’ll have dinner with wines from Piemonte when we return to Poggio Verde.

Como, Mantero Outlet, Cernobbio, Brunate. Lunch at Trattoria Laghee

After breakfast, our driver will take us to Como for a visit to the Old Town, and possibly a ride up the funicular to the charming town at the top (Brunate). We’ll then pop up to Cernobbio for a more casual lunch at a favorite of ours, Trattoria Laghee, and a little walk around the lovely small lakeside town. If there’s time to visit the grounds of the Villa Olmo or the magnificent Villa d’Este hotel, we will. Our driver will then take us to Mantero, a well-known Italian producer of luscious silk scarves and ties, for some bargain silk shopping in the small shop before heading back to Poggio Verde we’ll relax while Katharine puts the finishing touches on our wine-tasting dinner. (See a blog post about this day for more photos.)

Valtellina (Aldo Rainoldi) Lunch at Ristorante Fracia

After breakfast we will head north along the east side of Lake Lecco and then turn east into the gorgeous and steep wine-growing area of Valtellina. We will have a tour of Aldo Rainoldi then our driver will take us to the nearby Ristorante Fracia perched among the famous Nino Negri vineyards. If time permits we will walk in the surrounding vineyards. This area is also known for its superb Italian cured meats, such as bresaola and speck, and some tasty cheeses are produced in this region, as well. We’ll stop into Sala Cereali on the way home and pick up some local specialties to enjoy that evening. We will return to the villa in time to relax a bit before dinner.

Day in Milan. Lunch at Joia

Our driver will deliver us to the very impressive, brand new Piazza Gae Aulenti. We’ll wander up the pedestrian street, possibly stopping in for a visit to “Eataly”, home of an amazing array of Italian foods on our way to the wonderful Brera Museum. From there we will walk to the Valsecchi Bagatti House Museum and have a peek in the beautiful courtyard before continuing on through the “Giardini Pubblici” to our restaurant, the innovative Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurant, Joia.

After lunch our driver will take us to the Santa Maria delle Grazie church where we will see Leonardo daVinci’s Last Supper and the beautiful cloisters of the monastery. We’ll then walk to the Biblioteca Ambrosiana and stop in at the tiny Santa Maria Presso San Satiro church with the amazing trompe l’oeil apse, walk through the Renaissance Market and to the magnificent Duomo Cathedral. From there we will walk through the famous Galleria to the Piazza La Scala. Our driver will pick us up near there and take us back to the villa in time to enjoy sunset before our second wine-tasting dinner. (If you look at the map, please note that we will be driving from Joia to Santa Maria delle Grazie. Total walking time this day is about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or about 6 kilometers).

Lake Como: Bellagio, Villa Carlotta, Villa Balbianello. Lunch at Grand Hotel Tremezzo
Our driver will take us up the eastern side of Lake Lecco to the stunning village of Bellagio with views of Lake Como to the east, north and west. After wandering around a bit and taking in the view, we will be picked up and delivered by our “taxi boat driver” across the lake to the Grand Hotel Tremezzo where we will enjoy a wine tasting lunch in the beautiful cellar, which they are opening specially for us. The hotel is next to the gorgeous grounds of the Villa Carlotta so if there is time we will take a peek in the gardens (which we will be able to see from the lake as we approach). Next stop will be the magnificent Villa Balbianello. We’ll visit the stunning grounds and take in the breathtaking views, then we will be delivered back to Bellagio where we’ll catch our bus back to the villa for one more wonderful dinner together.

The price of $2950 per person, double occupancy (choice of king or twins), includes airport pickup and dropoff, all transportation (to/from the airport and to/from activities), lodgings at Poggio Verde Country Villa, our Italian continental breakfast, all meals and wine. Everything but airfare and your personal purchases is included. A $500 non-refundable deposit will save your spot; balance is due 120 days before departure.

The order of the day trips will change slightly for each trip. Adjustments to the itinerary will be made as needed in response to weather conditions, etc.

Hosted by:
Judith Wencel

Guest Chef: Katharine Elder of Elderslie Farm
Guest Sommelier: Jamie Stratton of Jacob Liquor Exchange

Terms and Conditions

For more photos, see our blog and Flickr page.

For more information e-mail Judith Wencel.