Flavors of Northern Italy

Trip Highlights

  • With your small group (maximum 19 guests), enjoy seven nights accommodations at a historic country farmhouse amidst a wine and olive oil-producing estate.
  • Join intimate cooking classes with locals who share their families’ histories and favorite recipes.
  • Take in the area’s layered history, with visits to Verona’s 2,000-year-old Roman arena and the magnificent medieval Castelvecchio Bridge.
  • In the famed Valpolicella and Trentino wine regions, visit family-owned and -operated vineyards, meeting the esteemed vintners and discovering their unique varietals. Partake in exclusive tastings and presentations, and how wine-making traditions have been passed down through generations.
  • Admire the panoramic beauty at captivating Lago di Garda—Italy’s largest lake.
  • Delight in a cheese-making demonstration and tasting in the heart of Lessinia, home to a delicious variety of Italian cheeses.
  • See Palazzo Ducale di Mantova—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—which was the royal residence of the Gonzaga family from 1328 to 1707.
  • Meet a renowned winemaker who specializes in creating Amarone. Then retreat to a nearby restaurant for a polenta-making demonstration, featuring Amarone, and dinner.
  • Enjoy a special excursion near Modena for a tasting of aged balsamic vinegar during a convivial meal with the property’s owner and his family.
  • Relax during a boat tour around Lago d’Iseo, featuring mesmerizing clear water and stunning mountain scenery, followed by touring on land.
  • Explore the 16-century cellars of Mosnel winery and learn how painstaking attention to detail produces wines of consummate elegance and complexity.

 

Journey to the culinary and cultural heart of Northern Italy to discover exquisite wines, specialty ingredients, satisfying cuisines, and charming local artisans.

For nine days, we will make our home in Borgo San Donino near the Veneto and Emilia Romagna regions and the site of the 1859 battle for Italian independence. There, Luca Formentini and his family will welcome us into their charming farmhouse on the Selva Capuzza wine estate, a four generation labor of love and hard work. Look forward to award-winning wines, delightful accommodations, and generous Italian hospitality.

Each day, you will experience authentic Italy and revel in la dolce vita—the joyful celebration of food, friends and life!

Exclusive departure: This departure is considered exclusive. The participants are U-M travelers, consisting of alumni, family, and friends.

Itinerary

Day 1 – En route from U.S.

Day 2 – Arrive in Verona, Italy / Province of Brescia

Welcome to Italy!

Transfer to Selva Capuzza—a charming Italian farmhouse on a historic, country wine estate in the Province of Brescia—which will be home base for this week’s adventures. Escape the bustling Verona motorway and experience a striking atmospheric dichotomy as paved roads transform into seemingly endless vineyards dotted with towering cypress trees.

For those arriving at Borgo San Donino—Selva Capuzza’s appartamentos—warm greetings await, making each guest feel as if they’ve visited countless times before. The property evokes romantic dreams, where every aspect ignites the senses. Remarkable vine-covered stone walls, fresh countryside air, and songbirds trilling lively lilts all set the stage for the exciting days to come.

Settle into your accommodations before meeting fellow travel companions to stroll through the vineyard to Cascina Capuzza, Selva Capuzza’s restaurant, for a welcome drink and dinner.

Overnight – Borgo San Donino (D)

Day 3 – Verona

Today, explore Verona, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a long, colorful history and infinite artistic architectural landmarks. Meet with a local guide for a panoramic tour around the city to view the Renaissance Gates of the 16th century and various Roman monuments.

Then set out by foot for a guided walk along the meandering Adige River, crossing the 14th-century Castelvecchio Bridge—an iconic photography opportunity—toward the city center. Stop for an inside visit at San Zeno Basilica to admire its Romanesque architecture, centuries-old frescoes, and exceptionally detailed 12th-century bronze doors.

Continue on to Piazza delle Erbe, where the courtyard is surrounded by quaint cafés being mindfully watched over by the Statue of Dante, and saunter the cobblestone streets to capture a glimpse of Juliet’s balcony.

After lunch on your own, rejoin the group for an inside visit to the Roman amphitheater—Verona’s best preserved Roman monument. Once an arena that hosted jousting matches and carnage-filled gladiator games, the current structure—impacted by numerous earthquakes throughout the years—serves as an open-air theater for operas and modern music performances.

Late this afternoon, return to the property to refresh and gather at Selva Capuzza’s winery for a tasting before another lovely dinner at Cascina Capuzza.

Overnight – Borgo San Donino (B,D)

Day 4 – Valpolicella

Today, visit a charming, family-run pasta shop and restaurant to learn the art of preparing fresh tortellini. Descend into a stone-walled cellar for a cooking demonstration, and hear the mythical legend behind this simple pasta’s genesis before trying your hand at the unique folding technique. Return back upstairs for a lovely lunch featuring a tasting of a variety of tortellini and ravioli paired with wine.

If time allows, stop for a brief visit to Borghetto beside the Mincio River. This splendidly diminutive village features a single entry point—the Visconti Bridge. After crossing the bridge, one feels transported into a world of centuries ago. Adorable cafés line the exterior of aged stone buildings, overlooking ancient watermills and the rushing canals below. Amble through the narrow cobble streets to discover the various shops and picturesque surrounding hillside scenery.

Afterward, head north to the hills of the Valpolicella area to meet winemaker Giuseppe Lonardi, one of the best producers of Amarone in Italy. Tour the winery before sampling a few varietals, including Giuseppe’s special blend, Privilegia.

After the tasting, take a short stroll through the bucolic neighborhood to a tiny bistro to meet Chef Vittorio. Gather around his kitchen work table while he demonstrates how to create slow-cooked, Amarone-infused risotto. As it’s stirred over a wood fire, observe the finer points of making polenta, learn about other seasonal and regional fare, and then enjoy a freshly prepared dinner featuring the decadent Amarone risotto.

Overnight – Borgo San Donino (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Marano / Lago di Garda

After breakfast, enjoy a special dessert-focused cooking class at Selva Capuzza. Your hand-made treats will be ready to sample after tonight’s delicious dinner.

Then, head north to the de Tarczal estate in the mountainous Trentino region of Northern Italy. Renowned for centuries for the quality and variety of its distinguished grapes, this prestigious, small, family-operated vineyard specializes in classic local varietals. Enjoy a tour of the cellars, wine tasting, and lunch in “la Vineria,” featuring the gastronomic products of Trentino.

The leisurely return drive to Selva Capuzza delivers you to the shores of Italy’s largest lake, Lago di Garda, in the lively medieval village of Malcesine. Wander the sloping avenues featuring a myriad of boutiques and restaurants up to stately Scaliger Castle to capture the panoramic views over the majestic azure water below.

Overnight – Borgo San Donino (B,L,D)

Day 6 – Modena / Mantua

This morning, set out for Modena to meet Simone Caselli, an award-winning producer of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena. During a private tour, visit the old attic where the Caselli family story of creating balsamic vinegars began and still remains a part of the continuing tradition today. Then retire to the tasting room to compare the characteristics of three aged balsamic vinegars followed by lunch, including an array of homemade regional dishes featuring various Aceto vinegars.

Afterward, stop at beautiful Mantua for an inside visit to Palazzo Ducale, the former noble residence of the Gonzaga family. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this building is one of the most important Renaissance monuments in Italy. Peruse the museum, or venture into Mantua’s main plaza for a bit of free time before returning to Selva Capuzza.

This evening, enjoy a light dinner at Cascina Capuzza.

Overnight – Borgo San Donino (B,L,D)

Day 7 – Roncá

Today, discover the culinary delights of the Lessinia region, known for its lush pastures, olive groves, and cherry and chestnut orchards. Visit La Casara—a family-run, artisan cheese shop in the Roncá municipality. Enjoy an up-close cheese-making demonstration and venture into the cheese cellar before settling into the tasting room for a sampling of La Casara’s savory creations.

This afternoon, visit San Martino tower—a monument positioned on the site of an important historic battle. Traverse the winding incline to reach the top for a 360-degree view of the vast countryside stretching to the waters of Lago di Garda.

Tonight, a special farewell dinner at Cascina Capuzza marks the end of a fabulous week.

Overnight – Borgo San Donino (B,L,D)

Day 8 – Sirmione

This morning offers a special treat—a lively cooking class featuring pasta and dessert recipes. Roll up your sleeves and get ready to prepare a variety of traditional gnocchi and spaghetti, sauces, and treats popular in this region. Then gather together to taste your creations during a jovial, relaxing lunch.

In the afternoon, you may relax with leisure time at Selva Capuzza or take the short trip to Sirmione—an idyllic resort town at the tip of a peninsula in Lago di Garda. Spend free time roaming the enlivened cobble streets, sip a cold apéritif at a waterfront café, or peruse the plentiful boutiques for last-minute souvenir shopping.

Later, dinner at Cascina Capuzza features a variety of slow foods—a food movement started in Italy emphasizing an integrated approach uniting the enjoyment of growing, preparing and eating food with responsibility, sustainability, and harmony with nature.

Overnight – Borgo San Donino (B,L,D)

Day 9 – Depart Verona for U.S.

Today, guests departing during the suggested times will take a complimentary transfer to the airport for flights home. Guests continuing on the optional post-tour will depart by train to Venice.(B)

B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

 

Show Full Itinerary

Your Journey

Flavors of Northern Italy

By participating in an Alumni Association of the University of Michigan travel trip, you have stated that the Alumni Association has the exclusive right to use video and other visual/audio portrayals of You or Your likeness taken during Your trip in any medium of any nature whatsoever for any purpose, including advertising or promoting the services of the trip without any compensation being paid to You. Any such portrayal or likeness shall be the exclusive property of the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan.

(9 days)
Starting price: $3,995
Deposit per person: $850
Europe
Orbridge
Type: Land, Exclusive U-M Departure, No Single Supplement

You must be an Alumni Association member to travel with us. Questions? Email Michigan Alumni Travel at alumnitravel@umich.edu.

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