Trip or Vacation Premier Host

Insider’s 6-Day Wine & Culinary Tour Of No. Italy & So. Switzerland

Sun, April 27, 2025 (Departure Date)

Cost: $4,675 per person based on double occupancy $695 single occupancy upcharge


This will be a comprehensive, week-long wine and culinary tour beginning in Lake Garda in northern Italy and ending in Lake Lugano in southern Switzerland. Please scroll down to read the specifics but in the meantime, dates and registration info is directly below. Hope to see you on one of these!

April 27 - May 02, 2025 (Sunday through Saturday)

Tours max out at around 50 people. We will add additional tours (all Sunday through Saturday) on subsequent weeks if we get the demand. Keep in mind that the weather is milder and the crowds are thinner earlier in the season but if these dates don’t work, but later ones do, please email us back with your preferred dates and we’ll give you priority status if we’re able to add them. And just a heads up that we cannot do the week of June 15-21, 2025 (all the rooms in Lugano are already booked due to a huge medical convention) or anything after July 05, 2025 as that’s the start of high season and prices (and temperatures!) go up exponentially.


Please RSVP by clicking on the “Contact The Host” button in the box on the right and responding with the following information.

1. Full names

2. Cell phone numbers for everyone and best date/time to call for your credit card info

3. Email addresses for everyone in your party

4. Whether you want one or two beds in your room


$4,675 per person based on double occupancy

$695 single occupancy upcharge


20% non-refundable initial deposit due July 15, 2024

40% non-refundable second deposit due 180 days before tour start date

40% non-refundable final payment due 90 days before tour start date


Our contracts are in euros and Swiss francs. If either currency’s exchange rate exceeds 1.15 at the time of the tour we reserve the right to adjust the price accordingly.


1. Six nights lodging (4 nights in Italy + 2 nights in Switzerland)

2. Transportation to all venues beginning Sunday night and ending Saturday morning

3. Six breakfasts

4. Five lunches

5. Five dinners including one at a Michelin Star restaurant

6. All winery tours and tastings

7. Scenic private boat tours on Lake Garda and Lake Lugano

8. Funicular transportation in Switzerland

9. Luxury bus transportation with an on-board restroom within Italy and to Lugano

10. Luxury Sprinter transportation within Switzerland (as the roads are too windy and narrow for a bus)


1. Airfare and ground transportation getting to Lake Garda

2. Optional extra drinks

3. Dinner on Tuesday (but you probably won’t be hungry!)

4. Ground transportation and airfare leaving Lugano


This tour involves some walking that at times will be quite steep and on rocky terrain or uneven cobblestone streets. Please do not make a reservation for this tour if this is going to be an issue.


I cannot even begin to stress how strongly I recommend that you get trip insurance. I’ve made arrangements with a very reputable local travel professional that I’ve known for years that can provide that service if you don’t have your own travel agent. He can also help with discounted flights and pre and post tour accommodations. If you’re interested, I will provide his information once you sign up.


Upon registration you will be required to email back a hold harmless agreement.


Make sure your passport is valid for at least six (6) months past your return date.


Please try to keep menu aberrations to an absolute minimum ... but definitely let us know when you RSVP (not after the tour starts!) if you’re allergic to anything or have any other dietary restrictions.


While we don’t anticipate having to make any changes to the itinerary, we reserve the right to do so at our discretion if necessary.


While we don’t anticipate having to make any increases to the cost of this trip, many of the vendors are unable to give firm prices at this time due to the volatile nature of things in general. I consulted my crystal ball and have done my absolute best to anticipate cost increases and have already factored them in on our end. I’m actually hoping to be able to adjust the price downward as we get closer to the tour dates but also please be prepared for the possibility of a minor price increase ... although I don’t think that’s going to happen!


The tour will start in Lake Garda in Italy and end in Lake Lugano in Switzerland. The hotel we’re staying at in Lake Garda is easy to get to and is about an hour train trip from either Venice or Milan. I’ve made arrangements with that hotel for discounted rates if you want to arrive a day or two early. From there we’ll head east to Amarone country and then south to Reggio Emilia (Parmesan Reggiano and aged balsamic) before turning west past Parma (ham) and reaching Salsomaggiore (thermal springs) for the night. The next day we’ll continue west through Gavi (famous Italian whites) before reaching Alba (truffles) for the night. The next day will be spent eating and drinking our way through Barolo culminating with a Michelin Star restaurant dinner that evening. The next day we’ll head north towards Switzerland with a few well-timed winery stops along the way. After those we’ll make a beeline straight to Lake Lugano where our lakefront luxury hotel in Paradiso awaits. After checking in we’ll walk three blocks to a funicular that will take us to the top of a peak with 360-degree views of the lake. After taking in the views, we’ll have a private dinner at the top in a restaurant with equally amazing views before taking the funicular back down to the hotel for the night. The next day we’ll take Sprinters to Morcote where we’ll visit a winery with its own castle and restaurant where we’ll have lunch. After lunch we’ll drop down to the harbor of this quaint village where our private yacht will take us on a scenic tour of the lake before dropping us off in front of our hotel for our finale dinner. I thought this would be an awesome place to end the tour as many of you will want to extend your stay in this region but it’s also super easy to catch a train back to Milan (and from there pretty much anywhere in Europe).

So here's the itinerary. A few of the venues are still slightly tentative so we do reserve the right to make a few changes if necessary but, by and large, it’s pretty accurate.


The tour will start at Hotel Acquaviva in Sirmione located at the southern end of Lake Garda. For those of you who want to arrive a day or two early to explore this beautiful area on your own before the tour starts, I’ve made arrangements for discounted room rates at this lakefront hotel. It has its own private beach right on the lake, a huge pool and a thermal spa. On Sunday afternoon we’ll have a meet ‘n’ greet happy hour/orientation in the hotel bar. After that we’ll walk across the street to a dock and board a boat for a private tour of Lake Garda (with bottles of ice-cold Prosecco on board, of course!). After the boat tour we’ll walk back to the hotel for a 4-course wine-pairing dinner including our signature Grand Marnier caffe correttos with dessert before retiring for the night.


After breakfast our favorite Italian bus driver Federico (who many of you will remember from our Tuscany tours and who I’ve been in weekly contact with all these years) will pick everyone up in a luxury motorcoach.

First stop will be Ottella, an architecturally spectacular winery about twenty minutes south. We’ll have a tour and tasting there before heading east to Buglioni Winery.

Known for their high-end Amarone wines made with the Ripasso method of drying the grapes before fermentation, we’ll tour their huge drying loft before walking to their restaurant located right on the property in a restored, centuries-old, stone farmhouse. We’ll start with a vertical tasting of 2004, 2015 and 2020 Classico Amarones before a multi-course lunch of local specialties culminating with dry-aged, wood-fired T-bones similar to the bistecca alla Fiorentina steaks we enjoyed in Florence on our Tuscany tours back in 2018. Should be a lunch for the record books.

After a most satisfying lunch we’ll head south towards Parma. We’ll visit Medici Ermete Winery which is located halfway between Reggio Emilia and Parma. In addition to producing Lambrusco, the famous Italian sparkling wine, they also produce spectacular artisanal balsamic vinegars. We’ll tour their facility where you can see the miniature barrel aging rooms and experience the intoxicating aromas of maturing balsamic firsthand. Afterwards we’ll have an extensive selection of rustic northern Italian appetizers paired with several kinds of Lambrusco and 12, 18 and 30-year-old balsamics. (I’m predicting the highlight will be the vanilla gelato drizzled with 30-year-old balsamic!)

After yet another satisfying pairing we’ll head west to the village of Salsomaggiore where we’re staying in an old-school, five-star hotel for the night. This area is known for its thermal springs and our hotel has an extensive spa with steam rooms, pools and hot tubs located in its cavernous basement. After checking in we’ll meet at the bar for a local wine tasting along with a simple charcuterie board as I doubt anyone will have room for a big dinner after our huge lunch and secondary “mini” lunch. After that you can take a stroll through the village if you’d like or just head straight to your room for the night.


After breakfast we’ll pack up and head west to Castello di Luzzano. This unique winery literally straddles a ridge-top boundary that divides Lombardy on the west from Emilia-Romagna on the east. Because the soils are different in each territory on either side of the ridge, this allows the winery to produce two distinct styles of wines from two different terroirs. After a quick winery tour we’ll sit down to my favorite way of eating: at a long table with lots of authentic local appetizers served family-style and paired with four different wines. The bites will be small but there will be lots of them so I guarantee you’ll be as stuffed (or not) as much as you want to be when it’s over. (And it will be most folks’ first opportunity to try “bortellina,” an insanely addictive, soft, chewy, crepe-like “bread” perfect for rolling around cold cuts. I actually loved it so much that I couldn’t stop eating it plain and can’t wait to share that simple “peasant-like” yet gourmet experience with you all.)

After yet another satisfying lunch we’ll continue west to Gavi, home of the Cortese grape and one of Italy’s most famous whites simply called Gavi. Here we’ll visit Broglia Winery in the hills of Gavi where we’ll relax in their garden with a tasting of their namesake whites paired with an assortment of artisanal focaccias.

From there we’ll head to Alba, the truffle capital of the world, which will be our home for two nights. After checking in to our hotel, we’ll meet in the lobby bar for optional no-host cocktails if you wish or you can walk two blocks to the Alba Centro Storico. I doubt anyone will be hungry enough for a “real” dinner so I thought it would be fun for everyone to explore this old historical part of town. It has many bars and bistros if you want to grab a drink or a small bite, or you can just leisurely walk off some calories while exploring the ancient alleyways. This will be the only night of the tour that you’ll be on your own so relax, meet up with some new friends and enjoy the evening until you want to come back to the hotel for the night.


Today is Barolo day! After breakfast we’ll head about fifteen minutes south to the actual town of Barolo where we’ll visit two wineries. You’ve got an epic day of tasting some of the finest Barolos in the world ahead of you. First, a horizontal tasting (all same vintage and same varietal and same winemaker but from different vineyards) and second, a vertical tasting (all same varietal and same vineyard and same winemaker but from ascending vintages).

First stop will be at Poderi Gianni Gagliardo, a small winery that overlooks the eastern hills of Barolo. After a quick cellar tour and a visit to their panoramic overlook where you’ll be able to see all of the vineyards the wines you’re about to taste came from, we’ll adjourn to a barn outfitted with long tables for the tasting. Here we’ll taste three 2020 Barolos (which they’re sandbagging just for us as normally they would have been long sold out by 2025) from the La Morra, Fossati and Lazzarito vineyards respectively. Same grape (Nebbiolo, of course), same winemaker, same vintage ... just different vineyards and terroirs. Should be an amazing experience in the difference location can make ... even though in this case the vineyards are less than a few kilometers apart.

Next we’ll go to Damilano Winery ten minutes away where we’ll have a quick tour before heading five minutes away to Locanda in Cannubi, the legendary restaurant located right in the heart of Cannubi vineyard with sweeping views of the western hills of Barolo. (Locanda in Cannubi is closed on Wednesdays but they’re opening just for us so don’t you feel special!)

Anyway, Cannubi vineyard is one of the most famous, if not the most famous, vineyard in Barolo. Before lunch we’ll start with a vertical tasting of Damilano’s 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019 Barolos sourced exclusively from Cannubi vineyard. Doesn’t get much better than this folks. (And, you guessed it. They’re sandbagging these wines just for us.) This time it will be same grape (Nebbiolo again), same winemaker, same vineyard but different vintages so it promises be yet another amazing experience to taste the difference that vintage and bottle age can make.

After the formal tasting we’ll sit down for an elaborate yet typical and simple lunch featuring lots of traditional Piedmontese dishes paired with more Damilano wines whilst overlooking the western vineyards including Michele Chiarlo’s famous Cerequio vineyard. After a leisurely lunch we’ll head back to the hotel for the rest of the afternoon so you can get caught up on stuff back home or take a pre-dinner siesta or spend some more time exploring Alba Centro Storico.

After a relaxing afternoon we’ll head to Michelin Star restaurant 21.9 Flavio Costa nearby on the outskirts of Alba. Located on the grounds of Tenuta Carretta winery, Chef Flavio Costa is known for his modern, fresh, light cuisine. We’ll enjoy a leisurely five-course seasonal dinner paired with the wines of Tenuta Carretta before heading back to the hotel for the night. (In case you were wondering why the restaurant is called 21.9 it’s in honor of Flavio’s twin daughters born on 21 September 2009.)


After breakfast we’ll pack up and say good-bye to Alba and start heading north towards Switzerland. En route we’ll make our first stop just outside of town at Enrico Serafino, an historic winery that specializes in premium quality methode champenoise sparkling wines. (Bubbly for breakfast, anyone?!) We’ll do a walking tour though the entire winery (including a live demonstration of their fascinating automated riddling machine) with a different glass of bubbly at each stop. We’ll end in their cavernous cellar with a glass of their super-premium bubbly.

After that we’ll continue heading north to the town of Lessona to visit Proprieta Sperino winery for a tour, tasting and lunch. Like Barolo, Nebbiolo is the predominate grape varietal grown here. When I was there on recon the winery and adjoining restaurant were under construction but you could already tell that this is going to be a state-of-the-art facility. Completion is slated for the end of this year so everything should be finished in time for our visit next year.

After lunch we’ll continue heading north into Switzerland to our final destination of Paradiso on Lake Lugano. We’ll do a real quick check in to our amazing hotel located right on the lake before leaving almost immediately.

But this time it will be on foot. We’ll walk three blocks to the base station of the Monte San Salvatore funicular. The funicular will be closed but they are graciously opening it just for our group so we’ll have the entire train to ourselves. The breathtaking ride takes about twelve minutes and is just over a mile long with gradients up to 61 degrees. (90 degrees is straight up vertical so you can imagine how steep the tracks are!) When we get to the top there will be a table set up for us as we get off the funicular with glass of Rose for everyone. Here you have two choices. You can either go straight to the restaurant and enjoy the spectacular views there before dinner, or for the more adventurous, you can take the steep, five-minute hike to the top of the mountain. There’s a small chapel at the peak with stairs going to its rooftop deck where you will be able to take in jaw-dropping 360-degree views of the lake.

After those who took the hike return in about 15-20 minutes, they’ll join everyone already at the restaurant. Like the funicular, the restaurant is also normally closed at this time but they have graciously agreed to open just for us. We designed a simple, peasant-style dinner with a different local wine paired with each of the three courses. And I’ve got a special surprise cocktail/dessert as a finale that I know everyone will love! (Without giving too much away it’s called the “Chris Greyhound!”)

After dinner we’ll take the funicular back down to the lake and walk back to the hotel for the night.


After breakfast we’ll head to Morcote, a picturesque lakefront village about twenty minutes south. We’ll have to split up into smaller groups and take three Mercedes Sprinters there as the roads are too narrow and windy for the big bus.

Once there, we’ll go straight to Castello di Morcote, a beautiful winery built on the grounds of the local castle. We’ll tour the now abandoned castle with its spectacular views of both Italy and Switzerland before heading to the winery for a quick tour, tasting and light appetizers. From there the Sprinters will take us to their secluded restaurant nestled into the hilltop just above the winery for a traditional Swiss lunch paired with their wines.

After lunch we’ve got a real treat for everyone. Rather than take the Sprinters back to the hotel, they’re going to drop us off in the harbor of Morcote below where a private yacht will be waiting for us with bottles of ice-cold prosecco on board. It’s a huge yacht that can easily accommodate well over 200 people but we’ll have it all to ourselves. We’ll take a leisurely two-and-a-half-hour cruise north past our hotel in Paradiso, then past the actual town of Lugano, and then a little further north to an area called Gandria where you’ll be able to see all of the gorgeous waterfront villas there. From there we’ll make a U-turn and head back to Paradiso where the boat will drop us off at the dock literally across the street from our hotel.

We’ll walk back to the hotel and have some free time for a couple of hours before meeting in the garden for pre-dinner, no-host cocktails if you’d like.

Then for our finale dinner I thought it would be fun to do something casual instead of a formal sit-down meal. So, after optional cocktails in the garden the hotel is throwing us an informal BBQ also in the garden with traditional Swiss stuff like bratwurst, cervelat, speck, chicken, rösti, grilled vegetables, salads, sauerkraut, potato salad, gelato, carrot cake, etc. etc. And, of course, the local wine will be free flowing. Should be a fun way to end the tour while sharing new memories with new friends!

After dinner you’re free to go back to your room for the night or extend the conversation in the hotel bar or perhaps take a stroll along the lake. If you opt for the stroll make sure you walk about five minutes north and then turn around to look back at the mountains as you’ll be able to see the outline of the lit-up rails of the funicular which will really put into perspective just how spectacular yesterday’s ride was!


The tour is officially over after breakfast Saturday morning but I suspect some of you will want to extend your stay here for another day or two. (And yes, I will make arrangements for discounted hotel rates for those of you who want to stay longer.) When you’re ready to head back, simply take the local train to Milan or Zurich and from there you can go pretty much anywhere in Europe via train or fly back to USA. If commitments back home allow, I definitely recommend taking advantage of this opportunity to do some additional pre and post tour exploring if at all possible! Hope to see you on one of these tours!



Get to Lake Garda on your own any time before evening (or a day or two before). Check into Hotel Acquaviva any time before the orientation.

02:30pm meet at Hotel Acquaviva in Sirmione in Lake Garda for orientation

03.30pm DEP hotel: walk to boat dock close to hotel

04:00pm board boat for tour of Lake Garda

06:00pm boat back to boat dock close to hotel

06:30pm ARR hotel on foot

07:00pm dinner at hotel restaurant included

09:00pm down for the night at Hotel Acquaviva


07:00am breakfast at Hotel Acquaviva

08:30am DEP Hotel Acquaviva

09:00am ARR Ottella Winery for tour + tasting

10:30am DEP Ottella

11:15pm ARR Buglioni Winery for tour + lunch w/ tasting

01:45pm DEP Buglioni Winery

03:30pm ARR Medici Ermete for balsamic tour, lambrusco tasting + heavy apps

06:00pm DEP Medici Ermete

07:00pm ARR Grand Hotel Salsomaggiore

07:30pm appetizers and wine in the bar area; spa open until 8:30

09:00pm down for the night at Grand Hotel Salsomaggiore


07:00am breakfast at Grand Hotel Salsomaggiore

09:00am DEP Grand Hotel Salsomaggiore

10:30am ARR Castello di Luzzano for tour + lunch

01:00pm DEP Castello di Luzzano

02:30pm ARR Broglia Winery in Gavi for tour

04:30pm DEP Broglia Winery

06:00pm ARR Hotel Calissano in Alba

06:30pm optional no host cocktails in lobby bar

07:00pm explore historic Alba Centro Storico; no host dinner on your own (if you’re even hungry!)

09:00pm down for the night Hotel Calissano in Alba


07:00am breakfast at Hotel Calissano

09:00am DEP Hotel Calissano

09:30am ARR Poderi Gianni Gagliardo for horizontal Barolo tasting

11:15am DEP Poderi Gianni Gagliardo

11:30am ARR Damilano for quick winery and barrel room tour

12:30pm DEP Damilano

12:45pm ARR Locanda in Cannubi for vertical Damilano Barolo tasting + lunch afterward

02:45pm DEP Locanda in Cannubi

03:15pm ARR Hotel Calissano for siesta time before dinner

06:15pm DEP Hotel Calissano

06:45pm ARR 21.9 Flavio Costa for dinner

08:45pm DEP 21.9 Flavio Costa

09:00pm ARR Hotel Calissano in Alba and down for the night


07:00am breakfast at Hotel Calissano

08:30am DEP Hotel Calissano

09:00am ARR Enrico Serafino

11:00am DEP Enrico Serafino

12:45pm ARR Proprieta Sperino for tour + lunch

03:15pm DEP Proprieta Sperino

05:15pm ARR Hotel Bellevue in Paradiso, Lake Lugano, Switzerland to check in only

06:00pm DEP Hotel Bellevue on foot

06:15pm ARR Funicolare Monte San Salvatore; take funicular to the top

06:30pm Rosé reception at top; hike to panoramic viewpoint or just go to restaurant

07:00pm dinner at the restaurant at the top

09:00pm take the funicular to the bottom

09:15pm walk back to Hotel Bellevue

09:30pm ARR Hotel Bellevue for the night


07:00am breakfast at Hotel Bellevue

09:00am DEP Hotel Bellevue in 3 Sprinters

09:30am ARR Castello di Morcote for castle, winery tour + tasting

11:30am lunch at Castello di Morcote

01:15pm DEP Castello di Morcote

01:45pm yacht picks everyone up in Morcote for a scenic cruise to Gandria area

04:15pm boat drops everyone off in Paradiso across the street from Hotel Bellevue

04:30pm free time until finale dinner at Hotel Bellevue

06:30pm optional no host cocktails at Hotel Bellevue

07:30pm casual finale BBQ at Hotel Bellevue

09:00pm down for the night Hotel Bellevue for the night


07:00am breakfast at Hotel Bellevue (tour over)

(most people will take the train from Lugano to Milano or Zurich and then leave from there)

Hope to see you on one of the trips!



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