About your Host:
Bob Morse will be your host on this Northern Italian Tour. He currently teaches advanced Italian part-time at the Scuola Italiana di Portland, Oregon. He taught Italian language, culture, and literature full-time at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana for nine years, after earning his Master’s degree in Italian from the University of Virginia in 2007.
Bob played on University of Pennsylvania Ivy League and Big Five champion basketball teams. Drafted in the third round in 1972 by the NBA’s Buffalo Braves, Bob opted to play professionally in Italy and France. In nine seasons of playing forward for the Pallacanestro Varese team, he won ten Italian and international titles and led the Italian League in scoring six times. In recognition of his contributions to the city on and off the court, the City Council made him an Honorary Citizen of Varese, his Italian “hometown”. He was named to the Penn Athletics and the Big Five Halls-of-Fame. In 2016, the Italian Basketball Federation nominated him as a candidate for the FIBA Hall-of Fame.
Bob looks forward very much to accompanying you on your journey of exploration of these areas he knows and loves: their spectacular natural, artistic and architectural beauty, the cultural and historical highlights, and the delicious cuisine of the Northern Italy, as well an interesting up-close and personal view of Italian basketball in the city so close to his heart, Varese.
Varese is a lovely provincial capital (population circa 80,000) in the Lombardy region of Italy. It is rarely visited by American tourists. Varese lies nestled in the heart of the Italian Lake country, north of Milan and just south of Switzerland, centrally situated between Lakes Maggiore and Como in the Alpine foothills. In fine weather, it offers beautiful vistas of the Italian and Swiss Alps. Varese’s nickname is the Garden City of Italy because of its many stunning Liberty (Art Nouveau) villas and their lovely surrounding gardens.
*Please click on each day to view daily itinerary.
Fly from the USA to Milan
Upon your arrival at Milan Malpensa airport, you'll be picked up and transferred to Varese. After check-in at your hotel, the group will meet for a welcome talk and dinner. Sleep in Varese at Art Hotel or similar
This morning you'll head to Sacro Monte (Italian for “Holy Mountain”). It lies only few miles north of Varese, among the pre-Alps. From its peak, on clear days, you can enjoy a breath-taking view of the Alps and of the many lakes that make this region so famous. Your local guide will explain to you why Sacro Monte has been recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site and introduce you to its 15th century church, chapels and terracotta statues. In the afternoon, you’ll enjoy a walking tour of Varese, before going back to the hotel for some relaxation time. In the evening, the Italian League Basketball Game will surely entertain you. Sleep in Varese at Art Hotel or similar
Today we are off to Bellinzona in the Italian-speaking Canton of Ticino, Switzerland. Its three medieval castles (UNESCO World Heritage Site) protected this gateway to the Alpine passes, strategically important since ancient Roman times. The castles will take you back to the 1400’s when the Duke of Milan’s soldiers and Swiss confederates fought in shining armour. As we walk along the battlements, visit secret rooms through thick wooden doors, we can imagine how life was once lived there. After lunch, we will visit the Villa della Porta Bozzola, a 16th century country villa remodelled in the 1700’s to be an aristocratic residence. Nestled in the wooded Alpine foothills a half hour northwest of Varese, it features impressive formal Italian gardens with stairs, fountains, statues, and water features. Sleep in Varese at Art Hotel or similar
Today you will make your way east to Abano Terme, stopping en route to visit the beautiful city of Verona, setting of the love story of Romeo and Juliet. You will take in Juliet’s balcony and explore the city center, and will have time to meander through Erbe Square’s central market and Verona’s many characteristically small streets. If you like to shop, you will have time to do so at your own pace. After lunch, you will head to your luxury hotel in Abano Terme, your base for the next four days. This little city is the largest and oldest thermal resort in Europe, and near to Padua, Venice, and Ferrara. Albano Terme is the ideal place to relax after a day’s sightseeing. Leafy, with numerous parks and gardens, it is truly a spa town, dedicated to rest and healing. At the same time, its quiet pedestrian streets offer interesting shops, cafes, and restaurants.” Sleep in Abano Terme
This morning it will be a short drive to Padua, where you will discover one of the greatest masterpieces of Giotto, the famed Cappella degli Scrovegni. After a pleasant walking tour in the city center you will return to Abano Terme, where you will have time to enjoy the thermal spa of our hotel. Sleep in Abano Terme
This morning you will reach the famed Renaissance city of Ferrara, a perfectly preserved historical center and UNESCO World Heritage site. One of the most famous family dynasties in Italy, the Estes, made Ferrara their home, and they spent a fortune building the Castello Estense here. You will visit the city and enjoy a lunch of great local specialties before heading back to Abano. Sleep in Abano Terme
This morning you will climb aboard the barge Burchiello for an unforgettable cruise down the historic Brenta river from Padua to Oriago. You will start from the old city’s river port, and explore the enchanting land that was once the summer playground of the noble and rich from Venice. There are more than 50 beautiful villas built along the river, among which are Villa Giovannelli, Villa Barchessa Valmarana, Villa Mira and Villa Widmann. You will return to Abano in the afternoon, with time for relaxation. Sleep in Abano Terme
Today we will leave Abano for Salsomaggiore Terme. En route we will visit Bologna, the home of the western world’s oldest university and a long-time European capital of culture. You will marvel at the awesome Piazza Maggiore and the city’s two unique medieval towers, the symbols of Bologna. You will also stroll under the famous “portici” and enjoy an amazing meal in a region known for tortellini, tagliatelle, lasagna and, of course, Bolognese meat sauce. Sleep in Salsomaggiore Terme
Today you will reach the countryside just outside Modena, where you will visit an amazing family-owned production of balsamic vinegar. True balsamic vinegar is made from a reduction of pressed and cooked Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes. The resulting thick syrup, called mosto cotto in Italian, is subsequently aged for a minimum of 12 years in a series of seven barrels of successively smaller sizes. Traditional Modena vinegar is one of the most delicious dressings ever conceived, and it is so valuable it once constituted an integral part of a young bride’s dowry. You will also sample the very tasty Parmigiano Reggiano cheese that is produced in the area – and the best combination possible: Parmigiano with Balsamic Vinegar. A few minutes drive from our first stop, is Maranello, headquarters of Ferrari cars and home of the Ferrari Museum. You will visit this very special museum, which hosts a vast collection of cars and all that’s important in the history of this world-famous brand. Sleep in Salsomaggiore Terme
After a relaxed morning you will leave Salsomaggiore and will reach a very special lunch spot, one of Bob’s favourite. After lunch and a wine tasting at a great local winery, you will head North towards Milan. En route you will stop to visit the famous Certosa di Pavia, an ancient monastery which is considered one of the most beautiful of Europe. You will end the day near the airport, so that you can easily fly out the next morning. If you wish spending more time in Italy, you might consider a three-day trip extension in Venice. Sleep in near Malpensa Airport
Today, your tour is officially over after breakfast. Your airport hotel has a shuttle bus that will take you to the airport at a time convenient for your flight back to the US.
*The schedule might change in order to adjust to the schedule of the LBA regular season
3 nights in Varese
4 nights in Abano Terme
2 nights in Salsomaggiore Terme
1 night near Milan Malpensa airport
Total: 10 nights, 11 days
$ 3,950 per person in double room
$ 650 single supplement