The first part of this journey is by paddle-steamer along the full-length of Lake Luzern to Fluelen, during which the twists and turns of this magnificent lake yield wonderful new views through the historic heart of the Swiss Confederation. After lunch on board, we switch seamlessly to the Gotthard line through the Swiss Alps, with its spiral railway tunnels and spectacular mountain scenery viewed from the panoramic coach, before reaching the shores of Lake Maggiore in warm, laid-back Italian-speaking Switzerland.
The Italians do food very well indeed and this tour gives us typical and special cuisine in both traditional and unexpected venues, accompanied of course by delicious wines. We even visit production of two universally-respected products from the Parma region and learn hands-on about making pasta. But it's not just about food - we also visit four important cities which offer varied history, architecture, museums and galleries as well as their own culinary specialities.
Florence - Cradle of the Renaissance.
Its museums, palaces and churches house some of the greatest artistic treasures in the world and so many of these are outstanding architectural masterpieces in their own right. Wander some of the oldest streets in the city until you reach the Arno River, cross the Ponte Vecchio, and enjoy another historic side of Florence with a further choice of lovely local restaurants. If you grow temporarily weary of museums and monuments, head outdoors to the Boboli Gardens or climb the hill to the church of San Miniato al Monte for memorable views, but do also enjoy the coffees and ice-creams that the Italians do so well.
There is no dress code, so you may be able to take less than you first think, but do include suitable layers for weather variations. Look after your personal belongings very carefully throughout our journeys and don't forget your European Health Insurance Card whenever travelling in Europe.