Imagine getting truly off the beaten path while visiting France and Italy. This journey will combine the passions of our hosts, Dai Crisp and PK McCoy of Lumos Wine Company, with prehistoric petroglyphs, good food and wine. This will be a truly unique anthropological, cultural, and culinary journey that will take you back and forth between bordering regions in France and Italy. From Barolo to Barbaresco to Gavi wines to the lesser traveled Vallée des Merveilles, this trip will be a delightful surprise to seasoned travelers and first-time visitors alike.
Fly from US to Turin, Italy
Upon your arrival in Turin, you will be picked up and transferred to your hotel in the city center. After time to rest and relax, the group will meet for a welcome talk and dinner. Overnight in Turin
Today we will enjoy Turin and its many fantastic buildings such as Mole Antonelliana, the symbol of the city, the Royal Palace, and the Cathedral, which preserves arguably the most famous Roman Catholic relic in the world – the Shroud of Turin. We will stroll through the city center with a great local guide and sample delicious hand-made gianduiotti chocolate and meander through a few of the world’s finest coffee and pastry shops. You will be introduced to bicerin, the famous coffee, chocolate and cream drink. Overnight in Turin
Piedmont’s culinary and wine-making traditions are world famous, and the next two days are dedicated to unveiling the delectable treasures of its countryside! From Barbaresco to Barolo, our visits will also include sampling the local cuisines including a tasting at an organic creamery and sheep farm that produces “formaggio del pistone.” We will also enjoy a tasting of the unique Ravera chocolate and experience a fun cooking class where you will learn to make the celebrated Piedmont dish of Ravioli del Plin. Overnights in countryside near Alba
Today we will start our adventure of exploring the many petroglyphs and prehistory of this border area between France and Italy after a stop along the way at the famous market of Cuneo. After our morning in Cuneo, we drive into France to the Vallée des Merveilles. It will be a very dramatic change of scenery as we enter this mountainous region where we will literally be off the beaten path as we explore the valley. More than 30,000 petroglyphs have been found and catalogued after their first discovery in the 19th century by the amateur archaeologist, Clarence Bicknell. We will be brought into the park by off-road jeeps before a light hike to find some of the most famous petroglyphs of this area, depicting horned animals, daggers, axes, suns, stars, spirals, and other symbols, which we will try to decipher. Overnights in Tende, France
Today we will leave the mountains and head to the coast. Our first stop will be in the charming French village of Saint Agnes that sits above the coastal town of Menton. Besides its charm, Saint Agnes is the location of WWII fortifications built to defend the bay below. We will then stop in the Italian coastal town of Balzi Rossi with its scenic views and anthropological museum on our way to Menton. After arrival, you will have time to explore the French Riveria town of Menton. Overnight in Menton, France
Today we will visit the medieval French village of Eze perched high above the sea. You will enjoy the spectacular view of Villefranche-sur-Mer and SaintJean-Cap from the Moyenne Cornich before visiting the historic center of Eze and along with its exotic botanical gardens. Next we will venture to the small nation of Monaco where you can take a stroll through the glamorous streets of Montecarlo. We will visit the Estate rooms at the Prince’s Palace of Monaco along with a visit the Cathedral where Princess Grace Kelly and her husband Price Rainer III are buried. Overnight in Menton, France
Today we will take a short ride back over the border to visit the fabulous Villa Hanbury and Gardens situated above the town of San Remo. After our visit to the villa, we will venture to the village of Bussana Vecchia. This medieval village, likely founded by the Romans and inhabited until 1887, was destroyed by a violent earthquake and abandoned. In the late 1950s, artists from all over the world established a vibrant artist community. After a pleasant lunch in Bussana Vecchia, we will visit the Toirano caves, where traces of prehistoric settlements and 10,000 year-old footprints have been found. We will learn about the witch trials that took place in this area 100 years before Salem's. We will then head to our hotel on Italian Riveria in a village near Genoa. Overnight in coastal village on the Italian Riveria
Today we will enjoy a boat ride along the Ligurian coast starting in Santa Margarita with stops in Camolgi and Portofino. We will enjoy a tasting of the region’s famous cheesy focaccia while taking in the stunning views. Just in time for a lovely stroll through the historical center, we will visit Genoa on our return. Time permitting, we will continue our anthropological explorations with an exhibition on the creation of blue jeans where we will see artifacts made from this material over 500 years old. Overnight in coastal village on the Italian Riveria
It will be a spectacular end to our trip with a wine tasting lunch on a beautiful estate in in the Gavi wine region where you will sample its internationally recognized white wines. This region is also well known for its praline and chocolates which you will be able to sample at a local producer. We will say our goodbyes this evening upon arrival at our hotel near Milan Malpensa.
For those flying out today, we can arrange for a transfer to the airport using the hotel shuttle or you can continue your journey with a 3-day extension to the Italian Lakes region.
2 nights in Turin, Italy
2 nights near Alba, Italy
2 nights in Tende, France
2 nights in Menton, France
2 nights on Italian Riviera
1 night near Milan Malpensa
Total:11 nights, 12 days
$4,985 USD per person (double occupancy, 12 minimum)
Single supplement: $1,140 USD