Overseas Adventure Travel
Northern Italy: The Alps, Dolomites & Lombardy +
The Swiss Alps Pre-Trip Extension
June 12 through July 4, 2023


Click on the above link buttons that will take you directly to a particular page or area of the review; or you can just click through to the next page at the bottom of each page.
Page 1 – Lucerne, Switzerland
Page 2 – Lucern & Bern, Switzerland
Page 3 - Bern & Zermatt, Switzerland

Page 4 – Lecco, Italy (Includes Milan)
Page 5 -
Lecco & Tirano, Italy
Page 6 - Tirano & Sulzano, Italy
Page 7 - Sulzano & Trento, Italy
Page 8 - Trento & Bressanone, Italy
Page 9 -
Bressanone & Mogliano Veneto, Italy


Day 13 – Tirano, Italy (Continued)

We next walked back into the town to meet a resident who told us about how he used to farm in the area.  We all watched while he showed us the baskets they used to harvest grapes as well as how he used a scythe to cut grass and weeds.


He also showed us how they sharpened the scythe by hammering it. 

Across the street from where he lived was his previous 700-year-old home.  We went into the basement where he had wood stored and a cooking area.

He invited us to see the house’s upper floor, but I passed.  I didn’t feel that comfortable climbing the narrow steps or walking around the wood balcony.  Some did and enjoyed the experience.


When we returned to the house for our lunch, everything was almost ready for us.


The meal and homemade wine were very good. 


After the meal, Claudio entertained us with some music.  He was a very good singer.  He called on a lady in our group, Liz, to sing a song with him.  He sang Put Your Head on My Shoulder.  Liz worked it and put her head on his shoulder.  It was a lot of fun.  


He sang some other songs for us also.  We were having a great time.  It was then time for dessert and coffee.


When the meal and festivities were over, it was a bit sad to leave.  We had enjoyed our visit so much.  Amy gave us the choice of going back to the hotel or visiting the Basilica of the Madonna of Tirano.  The bell tower is from the 12th century and church from the 16th century.  It was built on the spot where they said that the Madonna appeared before a local resident in 1504.


Amy told us that if we would have to walk back to the hotel from the basilica, which wasn’t a big deal.  We were so glad that we got to see it.  It was an incredibly beautiful church.






There was so much intricate sculpting on every wall and pillar.


The massive wooden organ was something else.  So large and so gorgeous.


There was a separate small room we had to enter to see the statue of the Madonna of Tirano.  It was very close quarters and only about 2-3 people could be in it at a time.



We passed by a building with an interesting fresco on the side. 

When we got back to the hotel, we decided to rest a bit after our busy day.  We wanted to be refreshed before what we hoped would be a great dinner.  We had a 7:00 PM reservation at the Parravicini Restaurant & Wine Bar that Amy had recommended.  It also had excellent reviews on Yelp.  We would be sitting outside, which worked out great since the eating area was totally shaded.  The temperature had been in the upper 80’s much of the day, but the lower humidity, light breeze and shade made it very comfortable. 


Amy had told us that we needed to see the restaurant’s cellar.  I asked if I could see it and went down to a lovely restaurant wine bar.  I loved the vaulted rock ceiling.


We arrived early so we could have a drink before dinner.  We had found that very few bars carried whiskeys, but all of them had gin.  So, we both ordered gin & tonics.  They were nicely presented and looked so good.


We shared a delicious appetizer, Savoy cabbage stuffed with warm tomino cheese, kataifi paste and porcini mushroom.

For our main course I had the rack of lamb, herb sauce and polenta.  Cathy had lasagnetta with saffron pasta, basil pesto, green beans, potatoes and parmesan fodue.  It was probably one of the best racks of lamb I’ve ever had.


For dessert, we had Apple cake on cream milk and pistachio crème brûlée with raspberry ice cream.


It was an absolutely outstanding meal!  All of our group that ate there raved about their meals.  We were so happy that Amy had told us about it.  It was a very memorable dinner.


Day 14 – Tirano, Italy

This was the day we would finally get to ride the train just outside our window.  We were going back to Switzerland for the day on the famous Bernina Express train.  The train is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It crosses the Swiss Alps at the 7,391-foot elevation Bernina Pass.
We left the hotel and walked across the street to the train station, where we met our guide for the trip, Michele.  We had our whisper devices that allowed us to hear information about the train, where we were, what we were seeing and what we were going to do.  I don’t think he stopped talking during the full hour and a half train ride.  He didn’t let us get bored.


The train was very comfortable with large windows.  The 18 of us had the whole car to ourselves.  Plus, we were right next to the first-class car that didn’t have anyone in it, so we could go back there to get photos through those windows too.

On our way out of town, we passed by the back side of the cathedral.  It was so pretty with the sun shining on it.

As would be expected, the train ride was just an amazing experience of majestic views.  The photos help to remember kind of what we saw, but there is no way to reproduce the awesome scenery we saw that day.  That could go for so much of this wonderful three-week trip. 





We saw glaciers and so many glacial lakes.  The beautiful weather and clear blue skies added to the experience.



We got off the train so we could go further up the mountain to Diavolezza on a gondola.  It would take us up to almost 10,000 feet. 

Before getting on the gondola, everyone took turns having their photos taken with a bighorn sheep.

It was a huge gondola that could take a maximum of 102 passengers. 

We stuffed into it with the hopes of having a good window view.  I was right in front, which turned out to be a bad spot for photos, but good for seeing directly in front of us.  The reflection was bad, but I was able to get a photo of another gondola coming down and glacial lake before reaching our destination.


We would be having lunch at this stop, so we were able to leave stuff at the dining tables, so we could enjoy our visit better.


It was a very nice facility to stop at.  People were on the viewing platform taking photos of the mountains and two glaciers that could be seen from there. 


Michele and Amy took photos for everyone with the mountain backdrop.

Some people walked out on the snow to go further up for different views.  Some people, not in our group, chose to jump in a hot tub.


When it was time for lunch, we had a great view of the mountains from our table.

Lunch was a mixed grill with several types of sausage.  It went perfectly with the German beer.


When we came back down on the gondola, I stood by a side window, which was much better for taking photos.  I was able to get a glacier and some glacial lake pics.



Lower on the mountain, there were a bunch of snow making machines waiting for summer to end.

When we got back on the train, I was on a different side most of the time, so I could view scenery I missed on the way there.  I had seen the fence type snow catching devices to prevent avalanches, but not the ones that looked like slatted posts.  They were always on the higher ground.


We continued our beautiful journey.




On the way to the gondolas, I had missed getting a photo of what Michele called stone igloos. He said that they were 250 years old and were used for cold storage.  I got them this time.


When we got back to the hotel, we were looking forward to our home-hosted dinner.  When the time came to go, we were broken into smaller groups so that no one family would have too many people to deal with. We had 6 in our group, Jennifer, Alex, Alyce and Chuck.  We were having dinner with the Panezzia family.  The husband, Silvano, and their son both brought cars to take us all to their very nice home.

We met the wife, Lee, when we went into the house.  We were very surprised that she had no accent at all.  She could have been raised in Kansas for all we know.  She told us that she went to an international school, which helped her to speak with no accent at all. 

Below is a photo of Silvano, Lee and their son.


Lee took showed us around the house and then took us to the kitchen where she told us what she was making for us.  She, of course had buckwheat bread, a staple of the region.  She served us a delicious vegetable soup with the bread for a first course, along with a very nice local wine.

For dinner we had a typical dinner of meats, cheese, veggies and a cucumber salad.  Then after we had started eating that, she brought out a vegetable frittata.  We had ice cream and blueberries for dessert.  They also served us something we have never had before, orangecello.  It is like limoncello but orange flavored.  It was so much better than its lemon flavored cousin.



While we were eating, we mentioned that we had been to Borgo Baruffini the previous day.  Silvano said that we could see the town on the hill from his house and that his mother had lived there.  How about that?

They had a nice view of the valley too.

We chatted about so many topics during the meal and afterwards.  Silvano and Lee were such lovely hosts and very enjoyable people to be with.  We learned about their lives, how they met, where they have worked, what they like to do, etc.  We, of course, shared our life stories too.  We had such a great time with them. 
After dinner, Silvano took us out to show us his gardens.  He used to have a lot of orchards but has cut way back since he is mostly retired from farming.  He had so much to look at.  He might have cut back, but there was still plenty to do with what he still had.


We hated to leave, but we had to get back to pack since we were going to a different town the next morning.  We love the home hosted dinners that OAT provides.  But it is always sad to leave the lovely people you meet, since you know you will most likely never meet them again.  We can just be so thankful that we had the opportunity to bring them into our lives for a little while.It was a great end to an awesome day.

Day 15 – Transfer to Sulzano, Italy

This morning we would be leaving Tirano and going to a hotel on Lake Iseo.  It was a 3-hour drive, but we would have a couple of stops on the way.  Once again we were seeing lovely scenery along the way.


Our first stop would be in the town of Edolo.  We had driven an hour and it was time for a break.  Amy took us to a coffee shop, where she bought us all coffee or another drink.  It was a very nice coffee shop, and they made a wonderful cappuccino. 


After coffee, Amy wanted to show us this cute town.  There was a very dramatic statue of an Eagle attacking a deer.




We were enjoying our walk when we came to some wooden statues.

Amy said that they were from an art festival that was held in the town.  They were interesting pieces of art.  These pieces had been there since the 2015 festival.  The wood held up well.


We next came to the Church of Giovani.  It was built in 1535 AD.

The most stunning feature of the church is the almost 500-year-old frescoes. 



After the short tour, we headed back to the bus to go to the town of Franciacorta.  In about an hour and a quarter we were at the Bersi Serlini winery.  This winery, like others in the area, specializes in making Franciacorta sparkling wine.


We first took a walk in the vineyards while our winery guide told us how the grapes are raised and harvested.  It was still too early for us to taste the grapes because they won’t be harvested until September/October.


We next went into the winery facility where we met our guide, Marco.  He knew everything about how to make their wine.

He first talked to us and then took us into the cellar to see the barrels and vats.  It is a pretty good size operation.


He showed us the bottles in racks that have to be partially turned every day for several weeks to get the sediment to the top where they remove it.

After learning about the wine production we headed to a long table for a wine tasting and lunch.


Marco talked about the three wines we would be tasting.  He described them fully.  He then told us that the wine tasting would be a blind tasting.  He put blindfolds on us and told us that we would try each wine.  After we tried them all, he would ask who thought that taste number one was a particular wine he had described.  Then he asked for the other two.  Then we went to the next wine he had described and the next.  It was kind of fun, but much more difficult than we thought it would be.

We then had a light lunch of several tasty items.  It worked out well since it was almost 2:00 PM by the time we ate.  We didn’t want to spoil our dinner with too much food for lunch.


The drive to Sulzano, Italy on Lake Iseo only took about an hour.  We were staying at the Hotel Rivalago.  It was quite a nice hotel right on the lake.



We were quite happy with the room and bathroom.  We were most pleased that we had a great air conditioner.



The only minor issue was that we didn’t have a view of the lake from our window.  Since we were only going to be there for two nights and not in the room very much, it wasn’t a big deal.
In the middle of the lake was the island of Monte Isola.  It is the largest island in Europe.  We would get to visit it the next day.  At the far left end of the island was a castle that can barely be seen in the island photo, but I was able to zoom into it.


Once again, Amy gave us an orientation walk.  We walked along the narrow street and stopped in front of some posters on the wall.  She wanted to show us an event that happened there in 2016 called the Floating Piers.  This walkway between Sulzano, Monte Isola and San Paolo.  It must have been quite a sight.  Amy actually walked on the pier.
The pier was 753,000 square feet of yellow fabric carried by a floating dock system of 226,000 high density floating cubes.  The project cost $17,000,000.  The money was raised by the famous artists who came up with the idea by selling things related to the project like original sketches and art with the pier.  Rather creative!



We had an included dinner at the hotel that night.  We had a salad and a choice of Veal with tuna sauce or Eggplant parmigiana.  The food was good, but they were appetizer portions not meals.  Also, there was no dessert.  It was most disappointing.


After dinner, we went out to enjoy the view of the lake.  The sun was getting ready to set.  Others were also waiting for it to go down.  It was the only sunset photo I took the whole trip.


With this just being a two night stop, we would only have one full touring day from Sulzano.


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