Italy: a Cultural Walking Tour of the Barolo Vineyards and Lake Orta with Opera at La Scala

Our journey begins in the hilltop villages set amidst the Barolo vineyards of the Langhe, where we enjoy gentle walks and castle visits, enhanced by outstanding wine-tastings and Piemontese cuisine. We continue to Lake Orta, quietest of the Italian lakes, where the unspoilt historic town of Orta and the island of San Giulio are set like jewels below the Alpine peaks. 

We explore the countryside and art venues around the lake on foot and attend a festival concert in a private 17th century villa on the island. In Milan, we see the restored ‘Last Supper’ of Leonardo da Vinci and attend Franz Schubert’s rarely performed opera ‘Fierrabras’, conducted by Daniel Harding, in La Scala, the world’s most famous opera house.

HIGHLIGHTS of our Lake Orta and Barolo vineyards tour include:

  • A performance of Franz Schubert’s rarely performed opera ‘Fierrabras’ in the world's most famous opera house, La Scala, Milan
  • A chamber music concert in a private 17C villa on the island of San Giulio on Lake Orta – reached by boat
  • A guided visit to see Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ in Milan
  • Accompanying a truffle hunter and his dog on a woodland foray and enjoying a truffle lunch at the farm
  • Outstanding Piemontese food and wine, including a private wine tasting in the Castle of Grinzane Cavour
  • Country walks with views of the Alps and a visit to the Alpine Botanical Garden overlooking Lake Maggiore
  • Staying in 3 historic 4 star hotels – a 12C castle, a converted 17C convent on the lake and a superbly comfortable hotel within walking distance of the Teatro alla Scala

Guests’ comments on this trip:

‘It was a wonderful trip and I fulfilled a lifetime ambition in going to the opera at La Scala!'

‘We had a splendid holiday, with many memories to store. The Festival concerts were of superb quality, and we particularly appreciated the thoughtfulness of both the tour guide and manager.’

'This trip - the scenery, lodging, food, wine, walks, music and company - was pure joy. Its a delight to have every detail taken care of with meticulous attention, leaving us free to simply enjoy. We had a wonderful time.'

Orta La Scala
Orta stroll
Orta Alba
Orta vineyard
Orta walk
Orta cafe

DAY 1  
D included
After meeting in the early afternoon at Milan Linate airport, we travel south by road into the Langhe hills, admiring the meticulously tended vineyards en route to our four star historic hotel for the next three nights - an antique-filled 12th century castle with a swimming pool, attractive gardens and a well-known restaurant.

DAY 2 
B, L, D included 
This morning there is an optional country walk before we visit nearby Alba, a peaceful mediaeval city of tall brick towers whose centre adheres to its original Roman polygonal plan. The 14th century Duomo has outstanding marquetry choir stalls inlaid by Bernardino da Fossato in 1512. A walk through the narrow atmospheric streets reveals surprising contrasts between fashionably elegant shops and houses decorated with Renaissance terracotta reliefs. Alba has long been famed for its cuisine as well as its superb wines, and our Slow Food lunch will hopefully confirm this reputation. The rest of the day is free for relaxing in the hotel's swimming pool and garden or wandering through the village. We have an informal tasting of some of this area’s most celebrated wines (Barolo, Barbera and Barbaresco) and cheeses (tuma d’la paja, robiola) in the castle this evening.

B, L, D included
A morning exploring on foot, following trails through the vines and hazelnuts, and visiting the nearby village of Serralunga d'Alba with its concentric ground plan and splendid castle dating from 1340 (restored by King Vittorio Emanuele II in the 1870s). In nearby Grinzane Cavour, we have a wine tasting in the 11th century castle, former home of Count Camillo Cavour, before a stroll round the village of Barolo and dinner in a small restaurant, renowned for its sophisticated, French-influenced, Piemontese cuisine.

B, L, D included
After an introductory talk on truffles, we accompany a truffle hunter and his dog on a foray through the woods and later enjoy a light truffle lunch in his house, filled with mementoes of the past. Continuing to Orta, we complete the journey on foot, strolling along the charming lakeside path which leads us into Orta's pedestrianised historic centre, all cobbles and flowers – and our home for the next three nights. Our comfortable four star hotel (with air conditioning and a swimming pool) was converted from a 17th century convent and is perfectly situated right on the lakefront. After an early dinner, we board the boat for the short scenic crossing to Isola San Giulio and our concert of chamber music in the 17th century Villa Tallone: swifts wheeling in the sky and the mountains round the lake reflected in the water contribute to the unique atmosphere of this special music festival.

DAY 5 
B, L, D included
We walk the hillside above Orta today, first following the path over the Sacro Monte (a recently listed World Heritage Site, complete with 17th century life-size statues depicting the life of St. Francis), then quiet lanes and cobbled tracks up to the attractive village of Vacciago with its 17th and 18th century villas and gardens. We meander down through charming small hamlets and picnic before returning to Orta for some free time to explore, to shop for ceramics, antiques and local gastronomic specialties, or perhaps take a rowing boat out on the lake.

B, L, D included
Exploring the hills to the east of Orta, we drive up narrow winding lanes onto the heights of Mottarone. From here we follow a broad track through silver birch, gradually ascending above the tree-line to open moorland and superb views of the scattered lakes, plus the sweep of the Alps. An easy descent brings us to Gignese, where we visit the intriguing Museum of Umbrellas and Parasols. Following a rustic lunch of mountain specialities, we drive to the nearby Alpine Botanical gardens, with commanding views of Lake Maggiore. This evening we enjoy a light supper, accompanied by excellent local red wines, in a mediaeval enoteca.

B, L, D included
After a final leisurely breakfast overlooking the lake we drive to Milan, to the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, for a special appointment to view Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ before lunch. We settle into our elegant four-star hotel in the heart of the renowned Quadrilatero d’Oro and have some free time to rest. This evening we attend Franz Schubert’s rarely performed opera ‘Fierrabras’, conducted by Daniel Harding, in La Scala, Milan’s world-famous opera house.

B included
This morning, after an unhurried start, we walk through the belle époque Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and visit the magnificent, vast, Gothic Duomo, one of Europe’s most celebrated cathedrals. Private transfers to Milan Linate airport are arranged to suit flight times of choice.

Per person sharing: TBC
TBC deposit per person
TBC double for single room supplement

Only double for single rooms are available on this trip. If you are willing to share but no other suitable guest books on the trip, we regret that the supplement will be payable.

Price includes
  • All accommodation for Days 1 to 8, on a twin shared basis
  • All meals (with wine at lunches and dinners) as listed in the daily notation
  • 2 wine tastings as described
  • All land transportation in a private vehicle as described, except during free periods
  • All boat transportation as described, except during free periods
  • All entrance and sightseeing fees, except during free periods
  • Tickets for a performance of the Lake Orta Music Festival
  • Top category ticket for the opera in La Scala
  • Gratuities for hotel and restaurant staff and drivers (appreciation for tour leaders is discretionary)
Price does not include
  • Trip cancellation, medical or other insurance
  • Immunisations, prescriptions or other medical requirements
  • Passport, visa and health documentation
  • International transportation to and from Milan
  • Personal expenses (laundry, alcohol other than wine with group lunches and dinners, free time activities, etc.)
  • Meals noted as excepted in the daily notation
  • Transport and transfer of excess baggage 
  • Italian departure tax, if any

On Kudu trips you will only need money for postcards, presents to take home, the odd G & T or an irresistible ice cream. Festival and opera tickets, museum and gallery entrances, National Park fees, all meals (with a very few exceptions specified in individual itineraries), wine with lunch and dinner, access to specialist books carried by the guides, gratuities for porters and hotel and restaurant staff, boat rides, train trips, internal flights, wine tastings, 4WDs with drivers, the services of skilled local guides and trackers etc are ALL INCLUDED in the cost of your holiday. 

We are confident that, like previous very satisfied guests, you will discover that our tours give you excellent value for money.

  • 3 nights in an antique-filled 12C castle (4 star) with a swimming pool, attractive gardens and a well-known restaurant

  • 3 nights in a 4 star hotel, a former 17C convent on the lakeside (with air-conditioning and a swimming pool)

  • 1 night in Milan, in a 4 star hotel in the historic centre and within walking distance of the Teatro alla Scala


Kudu Travel reserves a block of seats for each performance, approximately 1 year in advance, and unsold seats will eventually be released.

Late bookings will be subject to an administrative fee of £ 30 per person. In addition, please be aware that it may not be possible to retrieve seats in the same category, or indeed, to obtain any tickets at all for sold out performances.

Visa and Health Requirements

Visitors from the EU, US, Australia, New Zealand & Canada require a valid passport, but not a visa, for entry to Italy. If you are a national of any other country, please check visa regulations with your nearest Embassy of Italy.

At present there are no specific and compulsory health requirements for entry to Italy. Residents of countries in the EU can only claim free (emergency) medical treatment in Italy by presenting their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). You may also wish to check the advice given to travellers by the Department of Health and the FCO

It is essential, and a condition of booking, that you protect yourself with a suitable travel insurance policy as soon as you book a trip. We can arrange comprehensive cover for UK residents. Follow this link for a quote for a policy available to UK residents.

If you are already insured or a non-UK resident, please inform us of your policy at the time of booking.

Size of party
This trip will run with a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 14 guests.