Northern Italy, "The Passion of Our Lord", Croatia

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Day 1 -  USA / Milan, Italy   
We will provide a group air fare rate from JFK International Airport in New York. Depart from JFK International Airport, USA on our overnight flight into Milan, Italy, dinner and overnight onboard.    Anyone coming from other parts of the US join the group in New York or in Milan, Italy.  Time schedule to be announced.  Alternatively, we can assist you in making your air travel reservations if you wish.  

Day 2—Milan / Biella
Morning arrival in Milan’s Malpensa International Airport.  We will be met by our motor-coach and taken to our hotel in Biella; a city rich in architecture, art and archaeology.  After check-in and some time to freshen up we will have an afternoon walking tour of Biella will be followed by dinner in a lively restaurant located in the Medieval village of Piazzo. Overnight in Biella. (D)

Day 3—Biella / Turin / Biella / Visit to the Holy Shroud
Depart for Turin in the morning and explore the city’s major monuments, including Piazza Castello. A highlight of the day will be the Cathedral and Museum of the Holy Shroud—this sacred relic was last on public display in the spring of 2010.  Later we will visit the Royal Palace of Turin or Palazzo Reale. It was the royal palace of the House of Savoy, the last King of Italy; exiled in 1946 and properties seized by the State after World War II. In the reign of Emmanuel Filiberto, Duke of Savoy (1528–1580), the site was once part of an old Bishops palace in the center of the new capital of Savoy;Turin. The old Bishops Palace thus became the seat of power and was greatly expanded by Emmanuel Filiberto in order to house his ever expanding collections of art, animals, marbles and furniture. Emmanuel Filiberto died in Turin August 1580 and the Savoyard throne was handed on to his son. The Chapel of the Holy Shroud, with its spiral dome, was built in the west wing of the palace, joining the apse of the cathedral of St. John the Baptist to accommodate the famous Shroud of Turin which belonged to the family from 1453 until 1946.  Dinner and overnight in Biella.  (B,D)

Day 4 —  Biella/Roppolo/Ricetto Di Candelo/Biella
This morning after breakfast, we travel to the village of Roppolo to visit a castle on the hills

overlooking Lake Viverone and to visit its ''Serra'' wine cellar for a tasting of Piemonte's

sparkling wines and grappa. We then continue to Ricetto di Candelo, a Medieval fortified

village built between the 13th and 14th centuries to protect food supplies, as well as the

farmers' possessions in times of danger. Lunch is included in a typical local restaurant.

While walking in the long ''rue'' (streets) paved with river cobblestones, between the high

walls and the vigilant towers, time seems to have stopped and visitors can lose themselves

among hidden courtyards, frescoed walls and dark storerooms of objects which are evidence

of how hard people worked long ago. Overnight in Biella. (B,L)

Day 5 —Biella / Oropa  Sordevolo & The Passion Play
An exciting day of discovery awaits you as we drive to the Sacro Monte di Oropa (Sacred Mountain of Oropa). It is one of the nine  Sacred Mountains of Piedmont and  Lombardy; a UNESCO  World Heritage Site. The 12 chapels, plus  another  seven  nearby,  create  a  devotional path  and inside each chapel is a depiction of scenes of the Virgin Mary’s life. The path culminates  on top of the hill with the Crowning of Mary. After visiting the sanctuary, we return to Biella.  Enroute a stop will be made at a local grappa mill where we can enjoy a grappa tasting with some treats.  Return to Biella for some free time before we depart for  Sordevolo & The Passion Play, also home  to the Church of Santa Marta and  it’s museum. This evening we will be awed by the  Passion  Play  staged  and performed by  Sordevolo’s villagers  every  5 years.  The  performance takes  place  in  a  4,000 square meter open space;  a reconstructed corner of Jerusalem dating back  to 33  A.D:  Herod's  Palace,  Sanhedrim, Pontius Pilate's Praetorium, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Cenacle, and  Calvary.  Prior to the play dinner (included) will be at a local restaurant.  Overnight in Biella (B,D)

Day 6—Biella / Lake Como
Today we depart the region of Piemonte and head west to the region

of Lombardia to the magnificent glacier lake Como, our stop for the

next 4 nights.   Lake Como has been a popular retreat for aristocrats

and wealthy people since Roman times, and a very popular tourist

attraction with many artistic and cultural gems. It has many villas

and palaces (such as Villa Olmo, Villa Serbelloni, and Villa Carlotta).

Many famous people have or have had homes on the shores of Lake

Como; Matthew Bellamy, Madonna, George Clooney, Gianni Versace,

 Ronaldinho, Sylvester Stallone, Richard Branson, Ben Spies, and 

Pierina Legnani. Lake Como is widely regarded as one of the most

beautiful lakes in Europe.  Late afternoon will be at leisure to take in

the breathtaking views of this nirvana on earth.  Several boats and hydrofoils each day travel all the way up the lake from Como to Colico stopping at most of the towns en-route. There are also frequent service between the 'triangle' of towns in the centre of the lake - Menaggio, Bellagio & Varenna. Dinner on your own and overnight in Como. (B)

Day 7—Como / Milan / Como
This morning we depart for the amazing city of Milan. Milan is the main industrial, commercial and financial centre of Italy and a leading global city.  Its business district hosts the Borsa Italiana (Italy's main stock exchange) and the headquarters of the largest national banks and companies. The city is a major world fashion and design capital. This morning we explore the vibrant city through an enjoyable guided tour that includes Sforzesco Castle and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. The tour will end at the amazing Duomo, Milan’s famous cathedral. Some free time to window shop in Milan, home to some of the most famous and beautiful boutiques. Late afternoon, return to Lake Como for dinner and overnight. (B,D)

Day 8—Como / Bellaggio
Today after breakfast we will travel to Bellagio by private boat; called the ''Pearl of the Lake'', Bellagio's world class hotels and restaurants provide the perfect place to soak up the lake's famous panorama.  After a short walking tour we will all meet for lunch in a local restaurant, afterwards you will have some free time before returning to Como. The village is characterized by century-old buildings, stone lanes and picturesque cobbled stairways filled with shops showcasing the finest Italian wares. We end the day with a guided walking tour of Como’s city center.  Dinner is on your own and overnight in Como. (B,L)

Day 9—Como Free Day at Leisure / Optional Excursion to EXPO 2015 World’s Fair of Milan -TBA
Today is natural rising and breakfast at leisure.  This day is totally free to do as you please.  Your tour director will have suggestions for you if you wish.  You may want to take the water bus up and down the lake, getting off at different stops to see some of the other villages.  From Como city, you can take the “funicular” up to Brunate, high up above the lake.  Brunate is a quaint little village where all the houses  and buildings resemble Swiss Chalets.   Here you can have lunch or simply a glass of wine or a coffee and view this magnificent Lake from high above,  Some of you may wish to take the train into Milan and spend your day shopping in the fashion capital.  Tonight we will all meet for a beverage before dinner so that departure instructions can be given.  This evening will be a farewell dinner with wine at local restaurant with regional cuisine. Overnight in Como. (B,D)

Day 10—Como / Milan /USA
Departure days come all too soon when the past days have been in such gorgeous and breathtaking area as Piemonte and Lombardia, basking in the sun of the majestic Alps.  Today after breakfast we depart Como for Malpensa International Airport in Milan for our journey home.  Along with us we carry fond memories of the trip of this  wonderful trip to the Passion Play, the Piedmont Alps and the magnificent great Lake of Como. As we board our trans-Atlantic flight home. we say “Arrivederci” (see you again) rather than Good-Bye to this glorious land called Italy.

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