April 28 – May 4, 2019 – up to 10 spots available (iPhone photography workshops are a possibility for this week – stay tuned).
Sept 15-21, 2019 (pending) – up to 12 spots available
Sept 22-28, 2019 (pending) – up to 12 spots available
Oct 5-12, 2019 – up to 12 spots (likely with Chef Katharine Elder of Elderslie Farm)
Or check our calendar and choose any available week for your group of 8-12
2950 euros per person, double occupancy; 3400 single occupancy.
(iPhone or cooking weeks additional)
Join us for a very special experience for a maximum of 12 guests highlighting the local food, wine and stunning beauty of Northern Italy from the home base of a recently-renovated, beautiful 18th c Italian villa located between Milan and Lake Como.
Enjoy some of the most stunning scenery in Italy: lakes, mountains, hilltop villages, wine country and a visit to Milan. Lunches are at Michelin-starred restaurants most days and dinners, at the villa, feature ingredients sourced locally and accompanied by some special, mostly small-production Northern Italian wines.
Early Arrival, Lunch and Dinner at Villa (Saturday)
If you’d like to come a day early to de-jetlag, feel free to arrive on Saturday! We’ll get settled and then enjoy lunch outside on the “Portico Coperto” if weather permits! After lunch we’ll settle in and get to know the villa and each other, maybe play a game of badminton, bocce, foosball, or just relax until dinner.
Guests who have chosen to arrive today will be picked up and delivered to the villa (same times as mentioned for Saturday) and get settled in before our first official lunch all together. After lunch, our driver will take us to the beautiful nearby hilltop village of Montevecchia with views of the Val Curone to the north and the Brianza countryside to the south. If the gelato shop is open we’ll avail ourselves of its treasures. 🙂 We’ll arrive home in time for a game of bocce before dinner at the villa.
Bergamo and Franciacorta (Monday)
Lunch at Frosio
Our driver will take us to the famous Franciacorta sparkling wine region to visit the Castelveder winery for a tour and tasting. We will then stop for lunch at the superb Frosio restaurant. After lunch we’ll stop in 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 (and picking up some casoncelli, the local pasta specialty), our driver will take us back to the villa to relax a bit and then enjoy dinner together.
Como, Brunate (Tuesday)
Our driver will take us to the beautiful lakeside town of Como. If there’s interest, we can visit the interesting Como Silk Museum. If the weather is nice we can take the funicular above the city to the tiny village of Brunate and have a peek inside the pretty church in addition to enjoying the view. We’ll stop in at the gorgeous Como cathedral with its stunning tapestries and peek in a few of the shops near the square, if desired, then we’ll enjoy lunch. After lunch at either Trattoria Laghee in Cernobbio or I Tigli in Theoria, with its wall of windows into the bustling kitchen and pastry kitchen, we’ll walk along the Como Greenway to see the grounds of Villa Olmo, where our driver will pick us up and return us to the villa in plenty of time to relax a bit before dinner. (If there is interest we can include a visit to a wonderful Como outlet silk shop for scarves, ties and fabric).
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 make a stop at the ruins of Castel Grumello and take in the gorgeous view of the valley and mountains before continuing to Aldo Rainoldi or Ar.Pe.Pe winery for a tour and tasting. From there we’ll continue to nearby Ristorante Fracia, perched among the famous Nino Negri vineyards, for a wonderful lunch (and sampling of the accompanying Nino Negri wines). 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. If there’s interest, we’ll stop into the incredible Ciapponi in Morbegno on the way home and pick up some local specialties to enjoy that evening and the rest of the week. We will return to the villa in time to relax a bit before dinner.
Lunch at Obica
Our driver will take us to the new Piazza Gae Aulenti with its wonderful modern architecture. From there we’ll walk along the pedestrian Corso di Como past the marvelous Eataly and its display of all kinds of Italian food, then on to the Brera, with a peek into the Courtyard of this beautiful art museum. From there we’ll continue toward the small but beautiful San Marco church and have a look at the 12th century frescoes, then on to Piazza La Scala (the famous Milan opera house). We’ll walk through one of the oldest covered shopping centers, the amazing Galleria, and into the Piazza Duomo. Lunch is at Obica, with gorgeous views of the roof of the Duomo (and superb pizza, scharcuterie and mozzarella tastings). After lunch our tour guide will take us inside the Duomo cathedral, then to the ancient Piazza dei Mercanti and on for a visit to Castello Sforzesco and we’ll end our walk at Santa Maria delle Grazie church where we will hope to see Leonardo daVinci’s Last Supper and the beautiful cloisters of the monastery. Our driver will pick us up there and take us back to the villa in time to enjoy sunset (and bocce?) before dinner. Total walking time this day is about 1 hour and 45 minutes, or about 8 kilometers).
Lake Como – Bellagio, Villa Balbianello (Friday)
Lunch at Dac a Tra
After breakfast, our driver will take us to Bellagio where we will have lunch at Ristorante Silvio with a beautiful view of Lake Como. From there we’ll walk down the lovely path toward the lake, through the beautiful Giardini Melzi and into Bellagio. Our private taxi boat driver will deliver us across the lake to visit the grounds of the stunning Villa Balbianello. On return to Bellagio we can walk in the town a bit before heading back to the villa.
The price (double occupancy, choice of king or twins) includes lodgings at Poggio Verde Country Villa, Italian continental breakfast, all meals and wine and ground transportation (except to/from the airport). Some weeks allow arrival a day early to de-jetlag at the villa: +200 euros (includes lunch, dinner, lodging but no activities.)
A non-refundable deposit of 500 euros per person will save your spot; the balance is due 60 days before departure. When you register we will email you an invoice to pay the deposit (converted to dollars). Click here to register.
Adjustments to the itinerary will be made as needed in response to weather conditions, etc.
Hosted by: Mark and Judith Wencel
Dinners at the villa prepared by: Mark Wencel, Katharine Elder (of Elderslie Farm in Wichita) or a local chef. Groups may also choose to do all or some of their own cooking.
For more information, or to sign up, or to schedule a Wine and Food week (Taste of Northern Italy) for your group of 8-12 friends, e-mail Judith.
Coming with us? Here are some FAQs (internet, trip insurance, facilities, etc.).