Flavors of Northern Italy

Travel in the company of a small group of alumni and friends from September 9 - 17, 2017, for an intimate, nine-day journey to the culinary and cultural heart of Northern Italy.

PastaExplore a region of Italy brimming with exquisite local wines, specialty ingredients, soul-satisfying signature dishes, and the wonderful Italians who conjure them with time-honored techniques.

Settle in to a beautiful, family-owned wine estate outside Verona within reach is a connoisseur’s pick of centuries-old wineries, artisan producers, and extraordinary historic sights. With each day highlighted by exclusive experiences, you’ll access authentic Italy, learn from local Italians, and most of all, revel in la dolce vita—the joyful celebration of food, friends, and life.

Space is limited, and will be shared with participants from a cosponsoring alumni association. Please contact the Alumni Travel Study Program office at (866) 325-8664, or at travelstudy@columbia.edu for more details and to reserve your place today.

Dates & Prices

Trip Dates: September 9 - 17, 2017

Price: from $3,995 per person based upon double occupancy

Single space is  limited. If available, the single rate is $5,695. Please contact us to check single availability prior to sending your reservation, or to inquire about possible roommate options.


Days 1–2: En route from U.S. / Arrive in Verona, Italy
Welcome to Italy! Transfer to your charming Italian farmhouse on a historic, country wine estate. Located just outside Verona, you will spend the next seven nights surrounded by olive trees and vineyards. Meet your traveling companions for a welcome drink followed by dinner.
Overnight: Borgo San Donino (D)

Day 3: Verona
Explore Verona, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a city with a long and colorful history and artistic architectural landmarks. Begin your guided sightseeing with views of the Renaissance Gates of the 16th century, the 14th-century Castelvecchio Bridge, followed by Roman monuments. Continue walking alongside your guide to the city center with stops at the Roman amphitheater, the Piazza delle Erbe, Juliet’s balcony, and more. Lunch is on your own, followed by free time to further experience romantic, bustling Verona. Finish the day by returning to Selva Capuzza for wine tasting and dinner.
Overnight: Borgo San Donino (B,D)

Day 4: Valeggio sul Mincio / Valpolicella
After breakfast, head southwest to the tiny town of Valeggio to spend time in a family run pasta factory and restaurant, learning the art of preparing fresh tortellini in a pasta filled shop. This morning will also include a visit to Parco Giardino Sigurtà—extraordinary and lush gardens that span 600,000 square meters, extending to the edges of the hills by Lago di Garda. Purchased in 1941 by Dr. Carlo Sigurtà, it presently features a maze, a sundial, 18 ponds and lakes, an herb garden, and countless blooming flowers and trees.

Following lunch, head to the small village of Marano in the hills of Valpolicella to meet winemaker Giuseppe Lonardi, one of the best producers of Amarone in Italy. His daughter, Silvia, assists in the wine production, while Chef Vittorio runs a tiny bistro near the winery. Enjoy a tasting where he will demonstrate a sumptuous, 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 sit down to a freshly prepared meal that includes the Amarone risotto.
Overnight: Borgo San Donino (B,L,D)

Day 5: Vallagarina / Lago di Garda
This morning, 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. Your leisurely drive takes you along the shores of Italy’s largest lake, Lago di Garda. Later this afternoon, get your sweet tooth ready for a dessert-focused, cooking class at Selva Capuzza. Sample your hand-made treats after another delicious dinner.
Overnight: Borgo San Donino (B,L,D)

Day 6: Modena / Mantua
Today, set off for Modena to visit Simone Caselli. This award-winning producer of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena will give a private tour before we compare the tastes of aged balsamic vinegars and sample a buffet of regional flavors. Afterward, visit beautiful Mantua and 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. Tonight, enjoy a light dinner at Selva 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 a family-run, artisan cheese maker in the Roncá municipality for a demonstration and sampling of some of the best local products. Visit the San Martino tower, marking the site of an important historic battle and providing views stretching to the waters of Lago di Garda. Enjoy some free time back at the estate before a dinner featuring 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 8: Sirmione
This leisurely morning is highlighted by a pasta cooking class at your estate. Prepare and taste some typical dishes of the region. In the afternoon, you may relax and enjoy the Selva Capuzza property or venture into nearby Sirmione for last minute shopping or sightseeing. A special farewell dinner marks the end of a fabulous week.
Overnight: Borgo San Donino (B,L,D)

Day 9: Depart Verona
After breakfast, guests departing during the suggested times will take a complimentary transfer to the airport for flights home. (B)

B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner, R = Reception

Program Extension: Add Days 9-12 in Venice
Revel in the gloriously romantic and enchanting atmosphere of the "Floating City." Your small group (up to 10 guests) will delight in exploring the classic treasures of this remarkable region. A living museum itself, take time to wander and discover Venice’s rich layers of history and art, stopping for bite-sized cicchetti along with the locals, and perhaps enjoying an opera or sunset gondola ride.

Program Activity Level - Moderate
Activities are generally not very strenuous, however, we expect that guests can enjoy two hours or more of walking, are sure-footed on cobbled surfaces, and walk up and down stairs without assistance. On the estate, unpaved roads and pathways separate its various structures, and walking is required to get from one building to another and to reach the restaurant. Historic city centers are usually more accessible by foot than vehicle, and sometimes it is not possible for your motor coach to drop you off at the hotel and site entrances. Due to the structure of some buildings, facilities for the disabled may be limited. Also, dexterity to use kitchen tools and participate in lessons is not necessary, but adds to the enjoyment of this program.

Program Highlights:

  • In the famed Valpolicella and Trentino wine regions, visit picturesque vineyards, discover local varietals, and enjoy exclusive tastings and presentations.
  • While chefs and producers divulge secrets of their crafts, sample the best of Northern Italy’s specialties like gnocchi di pane, savory spiedini and sweet sbrisolona.
  • Take in the area’s layered history, with visits to Verona’s 2,000-year-old Roman arena, the magnificent medieval Castelvecchio along the River Adige, and the lush gardens of Parco Giardino Sigurtà.
  • See Palazzo Ducale— a UNESCO World Heritage Site—which was the royal residence of the Gonzaga family from 1328 to 1707.Experience the panoramic beauty at captivating Lago di Garda—Italy’s largest lake.

What's included:

  • Seven nights accommodations at a historic, family-owned country farmhouse amidst a wine and olive oil-producing estate
  • 7 breakfasts, 5 lunches, and 7 dinners incorporating a variety of Northern Italian preparations and ingredients, plus regional wines served with lunches and dinners
  • Visits to vineyards and cellars in the famed Valpolicella and Trentino wine regions with exclusive presentations
  • Cheese making demonstration and tasting in the heart of Lessinia, home to a delicious variety of Italian cheeses
  • A visit to a tortellini producer to learn how to craft tortellini from experts, pasta- and dessert-making classes, and a polenta-making demonstration during a visit with a renowned winemaker
  • A special visit near Modena for a tasting of fine and aged Balsamic vinegar—and a convivial meal with the maker
  • A stop at Palazzo Ducale, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Guided visits to Verona's famed Roman amphitheater and other important historic sites
  • All gratuities to guides, drivers, porters, and hotel staff
  • All lessons, presentations, and tastings, as well as excursion transportation and entry fees
  • Airport transfers for guests arriving and departing during the suggested times

What’s not included:
Airfare; Taxes; passport, visas and associated fees if required; personal expenses such as laundry and telephone calls; accident/sickness, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance; excess baggage charges on aircraft; transfers and baggage handling to/from hotel on day of arrival and/or departure if you  if you are arriving earlier or later than and/or departing earlier or later than the scheduled group transfer(s); any overnight on land due to flight schedule(s); meals, alcoholic or other beverages and all other services not specifically mentioned in the “Included Features” section of the program brochure.

Please call us toll-free at (866) 325-8664 or email us at travelstudy@columbia.edu for more details.