Alpine views and Italian history in Piedmont
Uncover the flavours, history and stunning scenery of the Piedmont region. Translated, its name means Foot of the Mountain, for good reason; Piedmont is surrounded on three sides by the Alps. It is also bordered by Switzerland and France, providing an extensive history of conflict, trade and diplomacy with Italys northern neighbours.
Your base for this seven-night Stay and Discover experience is the Agora Palace Hotel (4Q), located in the small city of Biella. Offering hospitality in the heart of the city, your hotel also boasts a roof garden terrace and stylish, newly built restaurant, Sartoria. Included during your stay is a visit to Lake Sirio, the town of Ivrea and a brewery and cheesemaker in Biella.
Included travel insurance
7 nights in hotels
12 meals: 7 breakfasts (B) and 5 dinners (D)
Local expert guide
Plus all this
Return flights and transfers
Porterage at hotel
Excursions and visits
Biella and countryside (half day)
Lake Sirio and the town of Ivrea (full day)
Lake Orta (full day)
Italys oldest brewery (half day)
Day 1 UK-Biella
Check in to your hotel and enjoy a welcome drink followed by dinner to get to know your tour manager and fellow guests. D
Day 2 Lake Orta
Following a welcome meeting with your tour manager, you will visit Lake Orta. This picturesque body of water remains off the international tourist track despite plenty of articles praising its beauty. Spend the day here, with time at leisure in the town of Orta San Giulio the steeply sloping streets of which meander down towards the banks of the lake.
On an explorative stroll, you can see the 16th-century town hall and the pale-peach parish church, Chiesa dellAssunta. The town is home to small squares reminiscent of those found in Venice, however, it is Isola San Giulio, an unmissable island on the lake, that steals the show. Following plenty of time to find a suitable caf or restaurant for lunch, enjoy an included boat crossing to the island, which is dominated by its Romanesque basilica. Legend has it that the island was populated only by snakes and monsters before San Giulio landed there in AD 390 and established a church. B, D
Day 3 Biella and countryside
Take a guided stroll around Biella. Spend some time at leisure to purchase lunch before travelling out of the city and into the pretty countryside. Your first destination will be Candela, a medieval village boasting an impressive fortified complex known as a Ricetto, surrounded by strong walls and flanked by circular towers. The narrow lanes contained within the ricetto are a joy to explore.
Back on the tour vehicle, you will travel to Santuario di Oropa, a religious sanctuary located high in the Alps and featuring an eye-catching 18th-century basilica. Pause for a cup of coffee or hot chocolate before a guided tour of the Museum of Treasures and the Royal Apartments once occupied by Queen Margherita of the House of Savoy. B
Day 4 Biella, brewery, and cheesemaker
The morning is yours to be spent at leisure, before a walk into Biella accompanied by your tour manager. First, visit Italys oldest brewery, where in their words flavour is the sum of the best ingredients and time. Lots of time. Among the list of ingredients are hops from Bavaria, barley grown in the heart of Champagne country and water which flows naturally from Alpine glaciers. Learn about the ageing process the beer spends 30 days in the brewery caves on a guided tour of the site.
Next, you will visit Formaggi Botalla, responsible for making cheese since 1947. Your tours and tastings will be followed by a trip on the small citys funicular railway, transporting passengers from the lower part of Biella (Biella Piano) characterised by its impressive cathedral to the upper area (Biella Piazzo), home to medieval and Renaissance mansions. One such mansion is the Palazzo La Marmora, once home to the Marquis of Moro Ubaldini. Return to your hotel in the afternoon and enjoy dinner at the hotel. B, D
Please note that parts of Biella are inaccessible to coaches. Therefore, walking up steep, uneven slopes may be required.
Day 5 At leisure
Spend the day exploring the city of Biella or discover treasures further afield. Alternatively, join an optional excursion to Turin. B, D
Day 6 At leisure
Consider joining an optional excursion into the Aosta Valley. Alternatively, the day is yours to spend however you choose. B
Day 7 Lake Sirio and the town of Ivrea
Enjoy a scenic drive into the Canavese Valley area of Piedmont. During the drive, you will stop at the medieval hamlet of Magnano to see the modest Romanesque Church of San Secondo.
Continue to the shoreline of Lake Sirio for a stroll to admire its camera-pleasing beauty. Popular with wild ducks, water gurnard and tree frogs, the lake may provide some natural surprises during this opportunity to stretch your legs.
Arriving in Ivrea, you will have time for lunch before a guided walking tour of this charming city. Once at the centre of production of Olivetti products such as typewriters and mechanical calculators the city was also a social project, providing workers with modern accommodation, a generous pension plan and the encouragement to take classes to learn new skills. In the early part of the 20th century, these benefits were seen as revolutionary. Enjoy a visit to the museum to learn more about Adriano Olivetti, the man responsible for this vision of production and betterment. B, D
Day 8 Biella to UK
Check out of your hotel and begin the journey back to the UK, having explored the beauty, history and flavours of the Piedmont region. B