Join fellow U.Va. alumni, parents and friends on this journey to one of Europe’s most popular destinations! Italy’s varied northern regions, from the romantic Lake District and dramatic Cinque Terre to beloved Tuscany and canal-laced Venice, offers a refreshing perspective on a well-known land. In the company of our congenial small group, we celebrate the Italian penchant for hospi­tality, good food, and good living. In a word, splendido!

Program Highlights

  • Relaxing three-night stay on Lake Maggiore
  • Tour the magnificent lake region including medieval Orta San Giulio and Stresa
  • Cruise to Isola Bella, with palace and gardens tour
  • Visit the Cinque Terre featuring Monterosso and Vernazza
  • Tour cosmopolitan Milan
  • Visit medieval Pisa
  • Beautiful Florence
  • Tuscany tour to San Gimignano and Siena
  • Winery visit and tasting
  • The iconic canals of Venice
  • Outstanding accommodations, including a restored villa in Tuscany


Louis P. Nelson, Professor of Architectural History

Louis Nelson is also the Associate Dean for Research and International Programs in the School of Architecture and the Director of the Program in Historic Preservation. Louis earned his Bachelor’s at The College of William and Mary and his Master’s and Ph.D at the University of Delaware. He was the recipient of the University Teaching Award in Spring 2007, the highest recognition for excellence in teaching at U.Va. Nelson’s teaching and research focuses on the close examination of evidence-both material and textual-as a means of interrogating the ways architecture shapes the human experience. His published work is best exemplified in his monograph, The Beauty of Holiness: Anglicanism and Architecture in Colonial South Carolina(UNC, 2008), winner of the 2010 SESAH Best Book of the Year Prize. He has also edited, together with Maurie McInnis, Shaping the Body Politic: Art and Political Formation in Early America (Virginia, 2011) and has published numerous scholarly articles.


Day 1 - October 7

Depart the U.S. for Milan, Italy

Depart the U.S. late today on your flight bound for Milan.

Day 2 - October 8

Arrive Milan/Transfer to Stresa

Arrive in Milan late this morning and transfer to the international resort of Stresa on beautiful Lake Maggiore. More than 40 miles long at its longest and six miles wide at its widest, the lake sits on the Italian-Swiss border and is a touch of paradise surrounded by green hills and gracious villas. There’s time to relax and settle in before joining your Tour Director and fellow travelers at tonight’s welcome dinner at our hotel. Accommodations: La Palma Hotel
Meals: Dinner (D)

Day 3 - October 9

Stresa/Isola Bella

We embark this morning on a cruise to Isola Bella, the 2015_italy_pic3beautiful Borromean island in the middle of Lake Maggiore. Fully occupied by 17th-century Palazzo Borromeo and its extravagantly landscaped gardens, the island offers lovely views of the lake and surrounding mountains. We take a guided tour of the palazzo, with its priceless works of fine art, and stroll through the flower-decked gardens then enjoy lunch together on the island. (B, L)

Day 4 - October 10

Stresa/Orta San Guilio

This morning we visit the lovely lakeside town of Orta San Giulio – dubbed “God’s watercolor” by Italian writer Piero Chiaro – with its cobblestoned streets, 16th-century town hall, and medieval houses flanking the inviting town square. After lunch on our own here, we return to our hotel for an afternoon at leisure. (B)

Day 5 - October 11

Stresa/Milan/Santa Margherita

Today we visit Milan, Italy’s commercial and financial center, and world capital of design and fashion. We see the immense Duomo, one of the world’s largest churches with 135 spires and some 3,400 statues; and Galleria Vittorio Emmanuelle, the four-story double-arcade that is one of the world’s oldest shopping malls. Then we visit the Brera Picture Gallery, Milan’s first fine arts museum and still its foremost gallery, with works by Caravaggio, Tiepolo, Tintoretto, Raphael, and other great masters. After lunch together – with the city’s signature dish of Risotto Milanese – we travel on to Italy’s Liguria region, the narrow coastal plain whose capital is seafaring Genoa. Our destination is the Italian Riviera resort town of Santa Margherita, with its palm-lined esplanade overlooking the harbor.
Hotel Metropole (B, D)

Day 6 - October 12

Santa Margherita/Portovenere/Cinque Terre

We depart this morning for nearby Portovenere, a port 2015_italy_pic2town harkening to medieval times, with its cluster of colorful column-shaped houses facing the Ligurian Sea, their backs to the surrounding mountains. We enjoy a brief walking tour of the Old Town, including a visit to the Church of St. Lorenzo. Then we board a boat for a comfortable cruise along the rugged coastline from Portovenere to the Cinque Terre (literally, “Five Lands”), the five cliff-clinging villages seemingly carved from the Apuane Alps, whose high ridges jut over the sea. Originally medieval fishing villages, the Cinque Terre were inaccessible by land for centuries; even today, no road connects all five (though walkers use an ancient footpath). We stop first in the scenic village of Vernazza, noted for its harborfront piazza (plaza), Renaissance campanile (bell tower), and labyrinthine steps that wind through the town, then continue on to Monterosso, where you have time for lunch and to explore on your own. We return to our hotel late this afternoon and dine together tonight.
Hotel Metropole (B, D)

Day 7 - October 13

Santa Margherita/Portofino

Today’s highlight is our excursion by ferry to nearby Portofino, the renowned port where the rich and sometimes famous enjoy la dolce vita by land, by sea, and aboard yacht after ever-larger yacht. Your time here is free to explore and eat lunch on your own; perhaps to shop in the chic boutiques or simply people-watch from a seat at a comfortable outdoor café. This multi-colored village boasts a jet-set reputation that far exceeds its size; still, with its seaside setting, olive groves, and palm and cypress trees it’s one of Italy’s prettiest spots. We return to Santa Margherita early afternoon and the remainder of the day is at leisure.
Hotel Metropolei (B,d)

Day 8 - October 14

Santa Margherita/Lucca/Tuscany

Moving on today, we travel south to beloved Tuscany, stopping first in the atmospheric medieval town of Lucca. We take a walking tour of this incredibly well-preserved gem, whose city walls and ramparts remain intact and a popular attraction. After time for lunch on our own, we continue on to our lodgings, a restored 18th-century villa where we dine tonight.
Villa San Filippo (B, D)

Day 9 - October 15


Today we discover Florence, city of Renaissance artists and thinkers, filled with sublime art treasures and splendid churches.  Since buses are not allowed in the historic center, we will be dropped off a short distance from where we begin our morning walking tour, which includes the Galleria dell’Accademia, home of Michelangelo’s masterpiece “The David” and his pieces for the papal tombs; the soaring Duomo, whose dome was the masterwork of Brunelleschi; and Piazza della Signoria, one of Italy’s most beautiful squares, surrounding the Fountain of Neptune.  This afternoon is free for lunch and to discover more Florentine delights on your own.  Among the possibilities:  Giotto’s Bell Tower, considered the most beautiful campanile in Europe; the Baptistry, the oldest structure in Florence; the Medici Chapels, housing the Michelangelo-designed New Sacristy; the Ponte Vecchio, the 14th-century bridge lined with jewelry shops; or visiting any number of shops selling leather goods, artful Florentine paper, clothing, and so much more.  Late this afternoon we return to our country villa, where we dine tonight.
Villa San Filippo (B, D)

Day 10 - October 16

Tuscany/Siena/Castellina in Chianti

Today we visit the walled city of Siena, whose ochre-colored buildings and ancient ramparts vividly evoke the city’s medieval past.  Fan-shaped Piazza del Campo is one of Europe’s greatest public squares; its Duomo, with pillars of black and white marble, is one of Italy’s finest, with masterpieces by Donatello and Michelangelo.  We pay an inside visit to the Duomo, also known as the Siena Cathedral, which was built in the 12th century in the Romanesque style then transformed in the 13th century to one of the finest examples of Italian Gothic.  It boasts a lantern atop the dome by Bernini, a Carrara marble pulpit, and an inlaid mosaic floor considered among the finest anywhere.  We continue on our guided walking tour then you have free time for lunch and to explore on your own – the town is packed with museums, churches, and monuments.  Then we head back to our country villa via the village of Castellina in Chianti, where we visit a local winery for a tour and tasting; only in this region is authentic Chianti Classico produced.  Dinner tonight is at our country villa.  (Please note that in Siena we must leave the bus outside the historic city center and walk into town then walk back to the bus later).
Villa San Filippo (B, D)

Day 11 - October 17

Tuscany/Volterra/San Gimignano

We encounter classic Tuscany today as we visit Volterra, one of the region’s lesser-known hill towns set in a dramatic landscape high on a bluff some 1,800 feet above the valley below and surrounded by soft rolling hills and lush woodlands. A fortress-like town, Volterra was a center of Etruscan art and commerce from the 9th century BCE through the 4th century. On our walking tour here we explore the maze of medieval alleys and see some of the white alabaster carvings for which the city is renowned. After free time for lunch on your own, we continue on to the classic hill town of San Gimignano, “of the beautiful towers” – a reference to the 13 remaining bell towers dating to the 11th century; originally 72 towers stood guard here. Still, the skyline and historic center of this UNESCO World Heritage site look much as they did in medieval times. We enjoy a brief walking tour of this town known for its churches and museums that house masterpieces of 14th- and 15th-century art; and for its smart shops and art galleries. We return to our country villa where we dine tonight. (Please note that as in Siena, in San Gimignano we must leave the bus outside the historic city center and walk up considerable hills into town then walk to meet the bus again later).
Villa San Filippo (B, D)

Day 12 - October 18


We bid farewell to Tuscany this morning as we set off for Venice, city of drama and doges, canals, and gondolas. We arrive in Venice early this afternoon, with the remainder of the day and evening free to begin discovering this wondrous, timeless city on your own.
Papadopoli Hotel Venezia (B)

Day 13 - October 19


This morning’s informal walk reveals a host of Venetian delights:  Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square), with its fantastic Basilica, deemed “Europe’s most magnificent drawing room” by Napoleon Bonaparte; the romantic Bridge of Sighs; the Rialto district with its bustling market.  The afternoon is at leisure to enjoy this timeless city as you wish.  This evening we gather for a farewell dinner to bid “arrivederci” to Italy and to our fellow travelers.
Papadopoli Hotel Venezia (B, D)

Day 14 - October 20

Tuscany / Depart Venice for U.S.

We depart early this morning for the airport and our connecting flights to the United States.


This trip involves considerable walking: uphill, on uneven or cobblestone streets, and at sites of ancient ruins.  In addition, Italy does not allow buses to enter many historic city centers, meaning that we will be walking to and from our tour bus, which must park in designated areas.  You should be in good physical condition to enjoy this trip to the fullest.

We will do our best to adhere to our printed itinerary.  Occasionally though, unexpected obstacles – or opportunities – may arise that will force us to deviate from the itinerary as written.  We would ask you to be open-minded and flexible should we vary the itinerary slightly.  In addition, please note that airline schedules are subject to change.  We will provide you with updated flight information closer to your departure.

For Land Only Guests

When you purchase the Northern Italy tour as “land only,” airport transfers and luggage handling at the arrival and departure airports at the beginning and end of the tour are not included.  However, should you be at the airport concurrent with the group of arriving Odysseys Unlimited travelers and see the signs for our motorcoach transfer, you are welcome to transfer with the group at no charge, providing additional seating is available.  Please note, however, that the motorcoach cannot wait for you; you must be aboard when the coach is leaving.  Similarly, when departing from the last hotel for your flight home, you are also welcome to take advantage of the group transfer, provided there is room and you are on board when the coach is leaving.

It is important to note, however, that a motorcoach may not be used for transfers in all cases.  Depending upon the number of guests arriving or departing, we may utilize taxis or smaller vans.  At such times, space restrictions will preclude your joining the group transfer and you will be responsible for your own transportation to or from the airport.


Price: $395 per person, double occupancy

Days 14 & 15 – October 20 & 21
No need to transfer anywhere:  you’re right at home for the next two nights at Papadopoli Hotel Venezia, your base for exploring Venice to your heart’s delight.  The options truly are endless; possibilities include admiring the fine Renaissance art in the Accademia or the striking contemporary pieces at Peggy Guggenheim’s former home.  You can wander Venice’s winding streets; sit and watch the crowds in St. Mark’s Square; or visit the colorful nearby islands of Murano and Burano.  Whatever you do, you’re sure to be enchanted by this ageless, romantic, and decidedly singular city.
Papadopoli Hotel Venezia (B)

Day 16 – October 22
Return to the U.S.
This morning you transfer to the airport for your return flight to the United States.


  • La Palma Hotel2015_italy_pic1
    Situated on the shores of Lake Maggiore, the 120-room La Palma Hotel is surrounded by lovely Italian gardens. It features a garden-view restaurant, bar, and lounges with a view of the Borromean islands.
  • Hotel Metropole
    An intimate, family-owned and operated 58-room hotel located just a short walk from the bay and a private beach, the Metropole features a restaurant, bar; fitness center with massage services and Turkish bath; and outdoor pool.
  • Villa San Filippo
    Located within the Chianti Hills surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, this 18th-century antique villa is a country retreat, part of the Italian tradition of agriturismo – the preservation of rural ways of life. Please note that because of the unique nature of this residence, room sizes vary and there are no elevators.
  • Papadopoli Hotel Venezia (also used for Optional Post-Tour Extension)
    Decorated in pastel tones and warm colors that evoke 18th-century grandeur, the 97-room Papadopoli Hotel Venezia stands in the heart of Venice’s historic city center close to both the Grand Canal and Constitution Bridge.


22 meals: 12 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 8 dinners

Program Fees

$4,495 per person, double occupancy, land only.  

A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $795 to the per person, double occupancy rates.

Price includes:

  • Exclusive departure for University of Virginia Alumni & Parent Travel
  • Small group size limited to 24 guests
  • 12 nights’ accommodations in listed properties
  • 21 meals: 12 breakfasts, 9 dinners
  • Extensive sightseeing as described in day-by-day itinerary, including all entrance fees
  • Services of a dedicated Tour Director
  • Private motorcoach transportation throughout the trip
  • Luggage handling for one bag per person
  • Gratuities for local guides, dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers

Does not include:

  • Gratuities for the Tour Director (left to individual discretion)
  • Anything that is not specifically listed as included.

Air Inclusive Prices:

$5,499 per person, double occupancy, with economy-class roundtrip airfare from New York;$5,799 from Washington Dulles

(Prices include $704 in airline taxes and departure fees.)
Prices from other gateway cities are available.

Upgrade to “Premium Economy” for an additional $995 per person (pricing subject to change)

Optional Post-Tour Extension: VENICE – ON YOUR OWN $395
Price includes: 2 nights’ accommodations at Papadopoli Hotel Venezia (Superior First Class); 2 meals (2 breakfasts); Transfer to the airport.

Extension Single Supplement:     $295

General Terms & Conditions

Please read this information carefully, as a payment of a $500 deposit per person represents your acceptance of the following Terms and Conditions.

Payment Schedule: A deposit of $500 per person confirms your reservation. The balance of your invoice is due 95 days (July 4, 2015) before departure.

Not Included in Tour Price: Airfare when purchasing a land only tour package; costs of passports and visas, if required; personal expenses such as beverages, laundry, room service, and meals not specified; airport transfers when purchasing a land only tour package; communication charges; optional sightseeing; gratuities to your Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director, which are at your discretion (suggested gratuity: $10-$15 per day per traveler); travel protection insurance. Additional baggage fees may apply and are subject to change at any time. You should confirm directly with your airline prior to departure.

Cancellation and Refunds: If you must cancel your trip, the effective date of cancellation will be upon our receipt of your written notification. Refunds for cancellations are subject to the following per person charges: Cancel 95 days or more before departure: $200 charge; Cancel 94-65 days before departure: 25% of tour price; Cancel 64-45 days before departure: 50% of tour price; Cancel 44-30 days before departure: 75% of tour price; Cancel 29-0 days before departure: No refund. If a guest makes any changes between 94 and 30 days prior to departure, Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. will apply a $100 per person administrative fee, in addition to any fees or penalties imposed by third parties. Changes are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. If your reservation changes from double occupancy to single occupancy for any reason, you will be charged the single supplement. No changes are allowed within 30 days of departure.

Upon reservation you must provide your full legal name as it appears on your passport, your date of birth and gender. In the event an airline ticket is issued with incorrect information you have provided, you will be responsible for charges associated with the ticket’s reissue.

Responsibility: The liability of the University of Virginia, as sponsor, and Odysseys Unlimited, Inc., as tour operator, is strictly limited. The University of Virginia and Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. purchase transportation, hotel accommodations, restaurant and other services from independent suppliers not under our control. We serve only as agents for these suppliers in securing tour arrangements, and therefore will not accept responsibility for wrongful, negligent, or arbitrary acts or omissions of these independent contractors, their employees, agents, servants or representatives. The University of Virginia and Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. are not liable for injury, damage, loss, accident, or delay that may be caused by events not within our control, including without limitation, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, the defect of any vehicle, or the negligence or default of any third party. All coupons, receipts, and tickets issued are subject to the terms and conditions specified by the air carriers, cruise line, and other independent suppliers. We will make every effort to operate our tours as planned, but we reserve the right to make itinerary changes as necessary. If unforeseen circumstances require us to change a hotel, we will select alternative accommodations of the same or better quality.

Health and Medical Issues: We request that you be in fairly good health to participate in an Odysseys Unlimited tour. There is a considerable amount of walking, and you must be able to get on and off motorcoaches on your own. If you require the use of a wheelchair or have other personal needs, you must be accompanied by a companion who will assist you. We reserve the right to remove anyone whose physical or mental condition, in our opinion, compromises the operation of the tour or detracts from the enjoyment or safety of the other passengers. In that event, Odysseys Unlimited and the University of Virginia assume no financial responsibility for any unused portion of the tour.

Air Transportation – Important Information: Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. includes in its tour price round-trip economy air from designated gateway cities and contracts with those airlines they feel provide the level of service, routings, and value necessary for your entire trip. While another airline may offer a more direct connection, it may be at a price unavailable at the lower group rates. You will receive your preliminary air scheduled approximately 2 ½ months prior to departure. Please note that seat assignments on your international flight are usually done at airport check-in. Odysseys Unlimited is unable to guarantee any seat assignments. Due to the nature of tour operator tickets, other restrictions apply, including but not limited to, frequent flyer mileage accrual, stopovers, alternate travel dates, upgrades, and airline taxes and departure fees. If you prefer to make your own travel arrangements, land only is available on most tours. Since international and domestic air schedules are subject to change at any time, we recommend that if you choose to make your own airline reservation, you do not purchase non-refundable tickets or those with high penalties for changes. If you choose to make your own air arrangements, Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. shall not have any liability for any loss resulting from cancellation of this tour or changes in this tour.