Upon the request of several former travelers— who had travelled to Italy before, but had never had the experience of viewing the Sacred Shroud — we have organized this special spring tour.
The Shroud is arguably the most famous, mysterious, studied, and debated relic of the Christian world. It is exhibited every few years, the last time being in 2010—and prior to that in 2000.
During this tour, we will view the relic and learn its history, but we will also do much more. We’ll discover the beauties of Turin, former capital of the Savoy Kingdom, and first capital of unified Italy.
Next, we’ll drive to the coast for a two-night stay in quaint and picturesque Noli, with visits to Final Borgo, San Remo and the incredibly beautiful Hanbury Gardens.
We will then enjoy a three-day stay in Novara. Once there, we’ll take day trips to Lake Lugano in Switzerland, the mystical sanctuary of the black Madonna of Oropa, and the Piedmontese wine country around Gavi. We will end the tour in Milano.
After your arrival in Turin, you’ll have a few hours to relax before joining your fellow travelers for a welcome prosecco. You’ll then enjoy your first great Italian dinner at a lively “trattoria.” Sleep in Turin.
Home to the Italian Royal family for centuries, Turin hosts a number of remarkable buildings such as: Mole Antonelliana, the symbol of the city; the Royal Palace, which now houses a beautiful museum; and the Cathedral, which preserves the famous Shroud of Turin. After a walking tour of the center, you’ll sample delicious hand-made chocolate and then meander through a few of the world’s finest coffee and pastry shops and shopping streets. We’ll make sure to try delicious bicerin—coffee mixed with chocolate and whipped cream, before heading to the spectacular Egyptian Museum. It’s the second best in the world, after The Cairo Museum. We will have the rest of the afternoon free. Sleep in Turin.
This morning, we will view the Holy Shroud. While we’ll have a ticket for a specific time, it will still take almost an hour for us to get near the relic. The slow walk to the relic will be a small pilgrimage in itself. In the afternoon, we will visit the National Museum of Cinema, which is located in the very distinctive Mole Antonelliana. There, we will also enjoy a breathtaking view of the city. Sleep in Turin.
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Today, we’ll visit the UNESCO site of Venaria Reale. This Royal residence was created in the 1600s as a hunting lodge for the king. In the 1700s, it was transformed into a very impressive palace, surrounded by beautiful gardens and parks. Some of the most important architects and artists of the time worked in the creation of this huge complex. During the world wars, it was overtaken by the military and converted into barracks. It was only at the end of 1997—when it was declared a UNESCO site—that European Community and State funding made it possible to start restoration. This undertaking is the biggest restoration project to ever reach completion in Europe. The palace reopened to the public in 2007. In the afternoon, you can either enjoy some time off, or join us for a visit to the National Car Museum. The museum reopened in 2011 after huge structural renovations and it is now the best of its kind in Italy. It traces the history of automobiles from the end of the 1800s to contemporary and futuristic models.
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Today, we’ll explore the lesser-known side of the Italian Riviera; the side that borders today's France. We will stop in Sanremo, famous for its music festival and cultivation of flowers. Then, we will drive up the steep Ligurian Mountains to reach the village of Bussana Vecchia. This medieval village was inhabited until a violent earthquake hit in 1887. At the end of the 1950s, artists from all over the world flocked here and established a vibrant community based on the ideals of common property and inspirational creativity. After a pleasant lunch in Bussana Vecchia, we will reach the promontory that divides today’s Italy from France. Then, we’ll visit the beautiful Hanbury Gardens. In the second half of the 1800s, an Englishman named Thomas Hanbury bought the estate. Hanbury transformed it into one of the most famous botanical gardens in the world. Today, the University of Genova manages and maintains the gardens. Energy permitting, we will also enjoy a visit to Balzi Rossi; a small but meaningful archaeological museum and home to the burial caves of Cro-Magnon remains. Tonight, we will have a seafood feast and sample several local specialties. Sleep in Noli.
Today, we will drive to a part of Piedmont known as “Gavi”. In Gavi, we will visit an incredible chocolate shop, where we will sample several different kinds of chocolate and pralines. Next, we’ll enjoy lunch and a wine tasting at one of the most beautiful estates in the region. Then, we’ll drive to our final destination for the day, the city of Novara. Sleep in Novara.
This morning, we will reach the spectacular Sanctuary of Oropa, near Biella. There, we’ll embark on a very special tour of the main church, where we’ll view the worshipped and beloved Black Madonna. We will also visit the treasure museum and ex-voto galleries. Weather permitting, we’ll walk on the Sacred Mountain (UNESCO site) and take in the 12 chapels decorated with human-size, multicolored terracotta statues that represent the life of the Madonna. After a delicious late lunch of Piedmontese specialties, including a famous local polenta dish and sharp herb liqueur, we’ll make our way back to Novara and its beautiful San Gaudenzio basilica. Sleep in Novara.
Today, we’ll reach the scenic Lugano Lake. Once there, we’ll learn more about the local history and politics, and visit the city of Lugano. Next, we’ll board our boat for a relaxing cruise along the lake, which will allow us to discover several of the smaller villages which dot its shores. In the late afternoon, we’ll make our way to Milano, where we will check in at our hotel. Sleep in Milano.
If your departure is scheduled for this morning, you will make your way to the airport. If you are staying one more day, you’ll explore Milano with one of our great local guides. You’ll stroll through the heart of the city and to the famed Duomo and La Scala Theater. You’ll also have plenty of time to shop and admire the gorgeous walking area around the Galleria. In the afternoon, you’ll be able to visit the “Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci, or one of the other impressive museums of the city (including the Brera painting gallery and Castello Sforzesco). Sleep in Milano.