Pick up the keys of your rental car and be free as a bird on this journey through France, Switzerland and Italy. You will start your road trip in the beautiful city of Lyon and have the chance to taste its wonderful local cuisine (one of the best in France). Then you will drive and cross the border to discover Switzerland and breathe the pure air as you will approach the top of Europe. Then your road will bring you South to explore Italy, passing though lovely little town but also world famous cities like the romance capital of Venice. After experiencing the ‘Bella Vita’, you will cross the border again to discover the South of France and the magnificent region of Provence where you will discover the secrets of centuries of history. Of course we can book for you numerous excursions, activities, tours and unique experiences during your trip, so please do not hesitate to ask us.
The itinerary has been created by our local agency with one idea in mind: to inspire you. Every element can be adapted to your needs and interests, from duration to accommodation and activities.
You start this wonderful road trip in Lyon. A city known for its famous ‘Bouchons’ restaurants and delicious food. The city you see has a reputation as the French capital of gastronomy. So be sure to try the local specialties before leaving. But Lyon is not just food…with its 162 classified historical buildings, from Middle Age to XVIIIth century, discover thanks to the architecture, all the history of the city. From food professions to silk artists, the traditions of Lyon are still alive and continue to be handed down from generation to generation.To help you discover this wonderful city, what about a Best-of Lyon during a half-day tour. This private tour will be ideal for exploring the city in all its dimensions in order to understand the secrets behind its history. From meeting point to meeting point, this cultural and gourmet itinerary skillfully combines art and gastronomy according to pure Lyon tradition.
Cross the border of France and drive to Lucerne. Enjoy Lucerne’s beautiful lakeside setting of impressive mountain views and picturesque medieval town squares lined with fountains and historic houses. Walk the medieval battlements and explore cobbled alleys and hidden garden courtyards. You can end your day at one of Lucerne’s many restaurants and try the delicious typical Swiss dish of Roesti – a combination of fried grated crispy potatoes and gruyere cheese.
From German speaking Lucerne, you will drive to Ticino. Switzerland’s Italian speaking canton. Continue through the mountains to Lugano, which is a town of parks and flowers, villas and sacred buildings. With Mediterranean flair, it offers all the advantages of a world-class city combined with the flavor of a small town. The historic city center, with its squares and arcades, is traffic-free and home to numerous Italianate Lombardy style buildings. Numerous parks invite you to laze around and enjoy the atmosphere while the lakeside promenade of the Belvedere Gardens boasts countless sub-tropical plants and modern works of art.
Cross the border into Italy and relax for a while on the shore of Lake Como before continuing to the great city of Milan where you will stay overnight. The regional food here gives its name to several dishes. Minestrone alla Milanese and Risotto alla Milanese. Try OssoBuco and the Tortelli di Zucca (pumpkin fritters) with the sparkling red or white regional wine Franciacorta. Milan is renown as one of the world capital of design and fashion, its Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in the Piazza Duomo is reputed to be the world’s oldest shopping mall. The biggest and greatest example of Gothic architecture in Italy is the Milan Cathedral. Whilst in Milan see Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”
Today you will leave Milan and drive to the pretty town of Bergamo. Its original location was a defensive hilltop, protected by stout walls, and now known as the Citta Alta (upper town) where you will find most of the historic buildings and tourist sights. After Bergamo, you will drive to Lake Garda. The largest lake in Italy. Your journey then continues to Verona, where its Roman Amphitheater (commonly known as The Arena) is one of the biggest, holding over 22. 000 spectators, and best preserved. Here every year the opera Aida is performed with live elephants.
In front of the Arena is the Piazza Bra, a huge square with such interesting buildings as the Palazzo Berbieri (the Town Hall) and Gran Guardia Palace. Among these beautiful buildings are many bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. From Verona, travel to the town of Vicenza, noted for its splendid churches and palaces, many designed by Andrea Palladio, and then on to Venice, the City of Water, often cited as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Typical food of the region is the bigoli (a type of spagehetti), risotto with chicory, excellent fish dishes including shellfish, dried cod, sardines, and the black spaghetti made with squid ink. Accompany this with the wines of the district, the rose or red sparkling Valpolicella and Bardolino.
To be in Venice is to be a believer in fairy tales, for the only way to get around this 1.500-year-old city is by foot of by water. Take the classical Venetian gondola or motorized waterbuses which ply regular routes along the major canals between the city’s islands. You will be awed by the magical beauty of this city filled with palaces and art. Wander the alleyways and bridges, stroll across the Bridge of Sighs – connecting the Doge’s Palace with the prisons where prisoners would suffer their final torments as they view Venice for the last time – relax in the Piazza San Marco in the very heart of Venice, which opens up on to the Grand Canal. With its water-lapped palaces, its panoramic view across the water from the Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) it is precisely as Canaletto painted it.
You will surely be awed at the Basilica whose exterior is richly decorated by marble and mosaic and the relics of St. Mark resting in the main alter. There are numerous beautiful churches, palaces and museums, many fine shops and restaurants serving excellent food. The Ghetto (Jewish quarter) I a hauntingly beautiful and secret corner of the Canneregio district close to the bustling Strada Nuova. To explore Venice and learn about its secrets, the best way is with a guide by your side. Today you can enjoy a private tour to St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace. During your tour you relive the rise and fall of the Venetian Republic and can enjoy an in-depth exploration with a historian guide.
Leave Venice for the beautiful drive to Ravenna, once the seat of the Roman Empire. The historic center is mostly pedestrian. Mosaics hold the pride of place in Ravenna’s vast artistic heritage. The material used was so resistant that these 5th and 6th century mosaic pictures are exceptionally well preserved and can be admired today as they were when the artist first formed them. Drive from Ravenna and take the opportunity to visit one of the smallest states in the world (61sq.km/23sq.mi) the Republic of San Marino which stands in an admirable site on the slopes of the jagged sandstone ridge of Monte Titano. This ancient republic strikes its own coinage, issues its own postage stamps and has its own army and police force. San Marino is believed to have been founded in the 4th century by a pious mason, Marinus, who was fleeing from the persecutions of the Emperor Diocletian. San Marino produces a very pleasant wine, Moscato.
Leave San Marino for the beautiful drive to the peaceful town of Assisi, rich in its religious heritage. Situated on the slopes of Monte Subasio, it’s a perfect town for wandering and exploring and it is here that we have arranged your overnight stay. The town’s picturesque narrow lanes conceal so many surprises - a hidden restaurant, a faded fresco, a stunning view. For hundreds of years Assisi has been dominated by the unpretentious figure of St. Francis, whose followers filled this little town with churches, monasteries and shrines. The grandest of these is the Basilica di San Francesco, built to honor the humble saint who lies in its crypt. You will find a friendly, welcoming atmosphere and many excellent restaurants.
Leave Assisi for your drive to the highest of the Tuscan hill-towns, Montepulciano, which is encircled by walls and fortifications. On to the gentle, mystical and passionate city of Siena. As you stroll through its narrow streets, lined with palaces and mansions, you become enlivened with the clay colored (hence the color, burnt siena) and medieval past of this beautiful city. The famous Piazza del Campo is shaped like a fan, paved with brick and encircled by a ring of stone slabs. This is the site of the famous Palio horse race held every July and August. The drive from Sienna to Florence is a land of pastoral and vine-clad hills, the home of Chianti Classico.
If you’ve ever desired to understand the main components of an Italian menu or feel confident when perusing a wine list, we invite you on a gourmet tour. This tour will allow you to demystify the intricacies of Tuscan cuisine. You will visit a local market and pick up some premium cheese and cured meat but also crack the Italian wine code with a professional sommelier by tasting an array of wines from the Tuscan region and beyond.
Drive by the flourishing vineyards and olive groves of the unique Tuscan countryside to the hilltop medieval towers of San Gimignano. In the heart of the town are four fine squares, each with its own historic buildings. Drive through the glorious Tuscan countryside to the ancient town of Arezzo. Visit the Piazza Grande, the most noteworthy medieval square in the city. Drive on to the quiet town of Cortona, whose ramparts cling to the steep slopes of a hill clad in olive groves. From the Piazza del Duomo see the lovely view over the valley. Then back to Florence and a traditional Tuscan dinner - try the bistecca (grilled steak) or fagioliall’ucelletto (beans with quail). A notable red wine is the Nobile di Montepulciano, and Vernaccia di San Gimignano is a favorite white wine.
Leave the beautiful and ancient city of Florence for the delightful Tuscan town of Lucca, one of Tuscany’s best-kept secrets it has some of Italy’s finest medieval and Renaissance architecture protected by massively thick walls. Wander through the town’s squares and streets and visit the antique markets. It is in Tuscany that Italian cooking was born. Try the region’s famous soup ribollita and the area’s most popular wine, Chianti. From Lucca drive the short distance to Pisa. Although it is known worldwide for its Leaning Tower it has more than 20 other historic churches and several palaces.
Take the coast road to Italy’s greatest seaport Genoa – a city of surprises and contrasts where the most splendid palaces stand beside the humblest alleyways. In central Genoa is the Piazza de Ferrari, around which are the Opera and the Palace of the Doges, as well as a house where Christopher Columbus is said to have been born. Other interesting landmarks include the Palazzo Rosso and the Old Harbor which is now transformed into a mall. While in Genoa try some of the region’s dishes; polenta, creamy Gorgonzola and Panettone, a fruitcake with raisins and candied lemon peel.
Leave Genoa for a very pleasant drive along the coast of the Italian Riviera to the capital of the Riviera di Ponente San Remo, which boasts a pleasure boat harbor, casino and racecourse. It is also the main Italian flower market and exports millions of roses, carnations and mimosa worldwide. A short drive along the Mediterranean coastline brings you to Ventimiglia the border with France and the fascinating principality of Monaco. In the 13th century the House of Grimaldi, descended from a Genoese nobleman, took power in Monaco, Antibes and Nice and built castles at Grimaud, Cagnes-sur-Mer and Antibes.
The present Prince Albert II of Monaco (son of the late beloved Grace Kelly) is a descendant of the Grimaldis. The world’s smallest French speaking country, it takes less than one hour to walk the width of Monaco. Enjoy its exceptional location between mountain and sea, and its beautiful gardens. From there take the magnificent Grande Corniche from which you will get grande sweeping views down to the Mediterranean and arrive in Nice.
With its beautiful beaches, lovely seaside promenade, diverse shopping, splendid dining and lovely art-deco facades, Nice is the playground of the rich and famous. Thanks to your guide you will learn all the secrets of Nice and discover the local life and the best of the local specialties.
The Old Nice, the old town, is loved by the nicois people and they are very proud of their local history. It is very Italian here, the colorful houses and buildings such as on the flower market.
Go to the Cours Saleya where all the locals go and meet, taste some local specialties such as the “pan bagnat” sandwich or the “socca” cheek pea specialties. Stroll along the colorful fresh food and flower market. Drive along the famous road of Nice main attraction Promenade des Anglais road and enjoy beautiful sceneries. Discover Nice plaza Massena and its very nice gardens and fountains.
You will also discover the Cote d’Azur – The Blue Coast – as you follow the Mediterranean coastline and visit the glamourous cities of St Tropez, Antibes, Juan-les-Pins and Cap-Ferrat.
Leave Nice for the short drive to the town of Grasse, the perfume capital of the world, with lots of outlets to buy the fragrances. From here, you will drive through the valley of Castellane to the magnificent Grand Canyon du Verdon, whose gigantic rock cliffs are the result of the erosion of the Verdon river. Deep, compact, wild and beautiful, rich in flora and fauna, the scenery here is astonishing. The villages have maintained their old-fashioned Provencal appeal and you will be warmly welcomed. As you drive through magnificent natural beauty you will arrive, discover the color and sensation of Aix-en-Provence, with the golden stone of its facades and the transparent green of the fountains. Built and developed around its dual identity of a town of water and art, it was founded in 123 BC by the Roman consul SextiusCalvinus.
A tour of this wondrous town is a chance to travel in time, with its architectural and cultural heritage accessible to everyone, treasures that you will discover simply by walking around this beautiful town. Leave Aix-en-Provence for the picturesque village of Les-Baux-de-Provence. Just inside the entrance of this village are narrow cobblestone streets, terrace cafés, and souvenir shops. Admire the surrounding countryside as your drive takes you to the pretty village of St Remy de Provence, which is encircled by a 14th century wall which is still in use today. St Remy is a busy active village where you can purchase regional pottery including some influenced by Van Gogh, who lived here.
Protected by its ramparts, the historic core of Avignon is a lively center of art and culture, thanks to its architectural and artistic heritage. During the 14th century, Avignon was the capital of the Christian world and the temporary home of the Popes. The grand Palais des Papes is an impressive site to visit. See the bridge Saint Benezet from the popular song Sur le Pont d’Avignon and enjoy the many parks and gardens. This location is also the opportunity for you North with a private guide and to discover the famous vineyards of Chateauneuf du Pape and taste its wonderful wines.
You will drive to the train station to drop off your vehicle. Your tour ends today, leaving you with many unforgettable memories. Continue onwards on your journey, or prepare to return home.
Thank you for visiting, we hope to see you again soon.
The price reflects this specific tour itinerary and is designed to give you an idea of the budget required for this destination. Throughout the trip-planning process, our local agency will tailor your itinerary around your budget.
|Price per person||£3,010|