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Since we love mountains and hiking we signed up for the Northern Italy: The Alps, Dolomites & Lombardy tour offered by OAT. And since we love Paris and haven't visited Venice together, we added days before and after the tour.


Our favorite city never fails to enchant. We decided to spend three nights here on our way to Italy.

We arrived on May Day which is an important holiday in Europe. We took the prearranged Black Car service through Paris-Shuttle which is a private car. No traffic or people on the streets. In fact, street near the hotel was blocked off as police were expecting the Yellow Vests, Black Bloc and others to be protesting. Also many metro stops and places were closed.

I've somehow missed the Museum of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy which is an old-school display of bones and fossils. So after our jet-lag abated a bit we headed to the Metro to visit the museum.

Sylvia and I had just seen an exhibition at the de Young Museum covering Monet's later years which put a damper on our plans to visit the Marmottan Museum. We decided to visit Giverny instead which was a splendid Spring experience.

Paris Gallery

Milan is the economic hub of Italy, but has a long history as a republic and religious center. We've passed through here before, but didn't take the time to see the sights.

Our tour began in Milan with a walking tour through the old square and elaborate Duomo.

Milan Gallery
Lake Iseo

On our way to Pilzone on Lake Iseo we visited a winery in Franciacorta, known for its sparkling wines. The lake is almost equally divided between the Provinces of Bergamo and Brescia. Lake Iseo retains a natural environment, with its lush green mountains surrounding the crystal clear lake.

We visited Monte Isola an island town in the middle of Lake Iseo. There are plenty of walking paths, villas, hotels, and restaurants on this car-free island.

Iseo Gallery

Verona is one of the main tourist destinations in northern Italy, because of its artistic heritage and several annual fairs, shows, and operas, such as the lyrical season in the Arena, the ancient amphitheater built by the Romans.

We began our visit to Verona with a walking tour from the Adige River to Piazza Della Erbe. The following day we had a day trip to Garda and an olive oil farm. Upon returning we walked, shopped and explored the city before having pizza in an outdoor café.

Church of Saint Anastasia

The Church of Saint Anastasia in Verona is a Gothic church that was built in the 13th century. Construction began in 1280 on the site of an earlier church of the Lombard period. The new church was largely completed by 1400.

The church is dedicated to the virgin saint Anastasia of Sirmium, a fourth century martyr. Since 1307, it has had the dual dedication, along with Anastasia, to St. Peter of Verona, the first Dominican martyr and co-patron of the city.

Verona Gallery

Tirano is the gateway to the Swiss Alps.

We traveled along Lake Como, stopping at Bellano and Varenna, on our way to Tirano. We enjoyed a gelato lesson on our walk through Varenna. As the gateway to the Alps, local weather is critical to good views and hiking. Sadly our clear days were spent indoors and our train trip to Switzerland was a white-out.

Tirano Gallery

Brixen is the third largest city and oldest town in the province, and the artistic and cultural capital of the valley. It is located at the confluence of the Eisack and Rienz rivers, 25 miles north of Bolzano and 28 miles south of the Brenner Pass, on the Italy-Austrian border.


We visited Trento on the way to Brixen, which is a very charming city. The town of Brixen was hosting a water-light festival in the evenings, with fabulous light displays projected on buildings and fountains. We did get to see Ötzi the iceman in Bolzano which was fascinating. Our "hike" in the Dolomites was a bust due to weather, but on the way out of town we did get a side-tour to see the mountains from afar.

Brixen Gallery

Our final tour stop was at Villa Contarini Nenzi, a lovely quiet sanctuary outside of Venice.

Along the way to the villa we stopped at an apple orchard for a home-hosted lunch.

Treviso Gallery

Venice is one of the major tourist destinations in all of Europe. It is situated on a group of 118 small islands that are separated by canals and linked by over 400 bridges.

We began our visit by taking a vaporetto from the Venice airport to our hotel on the northwest island. Since the weather was good we toured the New Ghetto and its synagogues. Afterwards we took the hotel's shuttle boat to San Marco Square. Saturday we took a walking tour that included the Doges Palace. We visited the other three museums on San Marco Square the next day. And finally we took another walking tour to lesser known areas of Venice - in the rain.

Venice Gallery