Fly to Italy, meet your tour manager and transfer to Riva del Garda, to your newly refurbished 26 bedroomed hotel in the delightful old town of this stylish and elegant lakeside resort. Rest and relax after the journey and, dependent on your arrival time, enjoy a first dinner, either at the hotel or in one of a host of restaurants and trattorie throughout the town.
Spend the morning getting to know your surroundings. Riva, the most northerly of the Lake Garda’s resorts, is a stylish and elegant town, which served as an important port and link between the Alpine north and Mediterranean south for centuries. In addition to its delightful restaurants, bars and cafes, clustered around the harbour, the town boasts a fascinating civic museum within a shore-side moated castle.
After the chance for a light lunch overlooking the harbour, this afternoon you’ll board a coach for the short journey up to Nago, a beautiful village overlooking the lake,set beneath the ruins of Penede Castle. Here, in a converted former military fortress, the delightful Forte Alto (Old Fort) restaurant is presided over by well-known celebrity chef Marcello Franceschi, whose reputation is for combining the flavours of Trentino cooking into beautifully presented modern dishes.
Enjoy a welcome drink and learn the story of the fortress and the restaurant, before donning your apron to cook alongside Chef Marcello, who will reveal the secrets behind regional speciality Carne Salada, a pressing of beef infused with herbs and spices. You’ll also join in the preparation of regional breads and pasta, as well as a signature dessert before, taste buds awakened, you sit down for a fine meal, accompanied with paired wines and finished with coffee. You’ll return, no doubt happily well fed, to Riva this evening.
A second day of gourmet exploration sees you journey into the heart of the rolling Valpolicella wine-growing area north of Verona. Close to the beautiful village of Fumane and its famous prehistoric cave, the agriturismo farm of Costa degli Ulivi sits in an elevated position surrounded by vineyards and olive trees.
Learn how the estate produces high quality wines and olive oil using natural methods. Over a delicious three-course lunch of regional specialities, you’ll sample three of the celebrated Valpolicello wines - Classico, Ripasso and most famously Amarone - all of which have raised the standards of grape-growing in the area. After an opportunity to buy some wine to take home, as well as some of the farm’s home-made jams, marmalades and honey, return once again to Riva for the evening.
Today is free to spend at leisure in Riva. You can board a ‘tourist train’ for a relaxed tour, or climb the town’s 13th-century clock tower for a much more energetic view of things. The lakeside promenade winds its way around the shore to Torbole, three kilometres away, with the sight of the windsurfers providing a colourful backdrop on the water. Riva’s busy port is the place to board several lake steamers, not only to visit the nearby resorts of Limone, Torbole and Malcesine, but, also aboard a fast hydrofoil, to explore the distant southern reaches of the lake. No doubt a long lunch or enjoyable evening meal - or both - might form part of the day’s pleasures.
The final included ‘foodie’ excursion sees you head beyond the lake’s southern shores to the village of Borghetto sul Mincio. This heart-stoppingly beautiful village lies with its equally enchanting neighbour, Valeggio, on the banks of the Mincio River, which divides the Veneto from Lombardy. Dotted with ancient watermills and colourful, flower-decked houses, Borghetto is not only celebrated as one of the prettiest villages in Italy, but is famed in culinary circles as the birthplace of the Love Knot tortellini. At the well-known I Giardini di Borghetto restaurant, you’ll learn about the legend behind the pasta shape, and see a demonstration from celebrated local tortellini chef ‘Ivana’. Afterwards, you’ll enjoy a lunch of - of course - tortellini and Sbrisolona, an almond and hazelnut cake made to an historic Lombardian recipe - accompanied by a glass of local Bardolino wine.
After a chance to wander the pretty streets of Borghetto and Valeggio, re-board the coach to journey back to Riva for a last evening.
Bid “arrivederci” to your hosts and transfer to the airport for the return flight to the UK, at the end of a marvellous tour crammed with culinary experiences.