“Walking the Prosecco Hills” – Veneto to the Dolomites
Please note that this is not a hiking trip, but rather the Italian art of “slow travel” experience, which includes daily walks amidst cultural wonders.
July 3 – 10, 2024
Price listed below the daily itinerary
Join our new Sparkling Adventure with bubbly fun deep into the vineyards and breathtaking mountains of Italy’s Veneto region. Wineries, llamas, spas and alps, oh my! It begins in the hidden gem of captivating beauty of the Prosecco Hills, now declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Each day we explore the unblemished scenery in meadows of wildflowers and charming historic villages. Our AFS Grape Escape is for travelers seeking something off the ordinary tourist paths in Europe.
Highlights: Prosecco sparkling wines, dry or sweet, produced by special fermentation, are the trending beverage now. Savor tastings at world-renowned wineries. Italy invented slow food and slow travel. You’ll love our Slow Walk with Llamas, perfect companions for our stroll into the foothills. Our Agro dairy & cheese tour takes us to a Buffalo Farm where mozzarella is produced. Tour the canals and piazzas of the dreamy, floating city of Venice, Italy’s most popular destination. Our home here in the province of Treviso is a stay in an enchanting castle hotel with 2000 years of history. We journey onward into pristine Alpine scenery of verdant valleys, shimmering lakes and blue waterfalls surrounded by the dramatic Italian Alps. The majestic Dolomite mountain range, famous for its peaks and diverse fauna, is another World Heritage Site for its stark beauty. Our summer base is in the glamorous town of Cortina, a home of Winter Olympics and the queen of the Dolomites National Park. Follow our mountain guides who lead us here on some of the world’s finest hiking paths among nature in her finest glory. Adrenaline seekers can opt for a magical paragliding experience off a mountain for spectacular photos. Take a cooking class at a local culinary school to savor the mouthwatering cuisines of northern Italy.
Our wellness spa Hotel Faloria offers the essence of luxury for you to immerse yourself in the healing waters of it’s expansive spa. This vacation is the perfect blend of relaxation, fitness, cultural discoveries, food and wine. It won’t come around again. Join our soft adventure into Venice, Burano, Conegliano, Zuel, Cortina and a dozen towns in between. It’s the perfect ‘aperitivo’to the extraordinary. Andiamo!
Our Glorious AFS Itinerary
Click here for the Trip Tips
July 3 – Depart USA to Venice (Details soon in Trip Tips)
July 4 – Ciao Italia!
Upon arrival, take the free hotel shuttle and settle in for a comfy stay at Courtyard Venice Airport Hotel
Address: Via Triestina 170, Venice Tessera, Italy, 30173. Ideally located 300 ft (less than a football field) from Venice Marco Polo Airport.
July 5 – Full day tour Hidden Venice & Burano
After breakfast, we head out early to maximize our time for tours. Many of you have been to dreamy Venice before but who wouldn’t want to return! We transfer to Cannaregio station to board a boat into Venice proper. Our guided tour begins in the legendary St Marks Square. On our guided walking tour, we view the famous Basilica, Doges Palace and Bridge of Sighs. Then we venture into the back alleyways for some authenticity that few tourists have yet to discover – Church of Madonna, Jewish Ghetto, the House of Tintoretto, Venetian Squero or gondola boat yard where gondolas are made and more. (We’ll give you some free time to refuel on cappuccino and explore on your own. You may get a ticket for a gondola ride or entrance into Doges Palace if time permits.)
Then, we transfer to Fondamente Nove. This up and coming quayside area is interesting to view the ordinary life of Venetians without any tourists. Here we board our vaporetto boat and cruise to the North Lagoon with exceptional views of Venice. Arrive to charming Burano. The vibrant colored houses make it a photographer’s delight. Stroll the quaint streets and then enjoy an Italian lunch fresh from the Adriatic Sea.
Afternoon transfer 50km at 1.5 hours by coach to our wonderful retreat in the Prosecco Hills. After we check in to Castle Brando, meet at the Faun Terrace for aperitivo and breathtaking views. Then get to know your fellow AFS Travelers over a Welcome Dinner of delectable cuisines.
Overnight: CastelBrando B,L,D
Castel Brando is one of the largest and oldest castles in Europe. It dominates the Prosecco hills, recently a UNESCO World Heritage Site, halfway between Venice and the Dolomites between Cison di Valmarino and Follina, elected among the most beautiful villages in Italy. CastelBrando is a national historic monument. The careful restoration has brought to light the original beauty of a place with 2000 years of history, home to nobles and illustrious leaders over the centuries. ROH (please note that historic European properties have different categories of twin bedded rooms. Run of house means our rooms may differ.)
July 6 – Buffalos & Bubblies! Borgoluce Wine Tasting, Prosecco
After breakfast, we coach to the family-run Borgoluce farm and vineyard to learn about dairy and cheese-making. The 1000-hector agricultural estate lies in the heart of beautiful Veneto region. They take food and wine seriously to unparalleled heights of internationally renowned “Prosecco Superiore” culture. See meadows, orchards, vineyards, mills and dairies working as they have with a thousand-year history in the rich soil here.
The Farm – We begin with a guided educational farm tour to learn about the principles of organic and biodynamic farming. It’s all about slow food now in Italy…pasta made from ancient grains, the finest olive oils, honey and nuts. Meet the free-range chickens, pigs and cows. At the modern Buffalo Shed, learn from the dairymen how mozzarella is produced. Explore the organic garden and small museum.
The Winery – After a walk through the estate and vineyards, we indulge in a wine-tasting experience complemented by delicious food pairings! This estate is the region where the first natural sparkling wines began. Free time to shop for a wonderful array of organic products and wines to ship home. This experience will make you passionate about food and wine.
Walking Tour – Conegliano, in the province of Treviso, is a charming town with a rich history, picturesque landscapes, and vibrant culture. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a wine connoisseur, or simply looking for a peaceful getaway, Conegliano has it all. We begin a guided walking tour from Corso Vittorio Emmanuel outside the defensive walls known as Refosso. View important monuments such as the 17th century Church of San Rocco, Piazza Cima, Fountain of Neptune, Dantes Gate, academy theater and many sites in the old town. It has some charming shops and cafés to explore. The town offers cool Vespa tours, E-bikes, picnic hikes and rafting.
Overnight: Castel Brando. B, wine tasting and snacks
July 7 – Grape Escape & Llama Trek
We start the day with a delightful hike into the Prosecco Hills to Pianezze with Slow Llama Tours. Enjoy a Slow Walk with four or five llamas through picturesque forests high in the foothills. Our guide will commentate an interesting fact about the surrounding nature of this region and you’ll get plenty of great “selfies” with your llama. After our group slow walk, you may choose to continue on your own and hike up to the charming mountain town and farm of Malga Mariech for a delicious lunch.
Onto a sparkling afternoon to Parco della Filandetta, a place of wine, nature and art. Stroll the vineyards and admire the art installation set in lush gardens. Tour the Bortolomiol’s Winemaking Cellars family estate. In the wine cellars, an oenologist will teach us about the production here of some of Italy’s finest organic wines. Time for tastings and gourmet bites. You’ll discover five of the best, from dry to sparkling Prosecco wines.
Transfer back to our hotel for your evening free. The Castel Brando, a grand medieval castle, provides a truly unique stay in a hamlet of the Prosecco Hills. The terraces offer stunning panoramic views of the valleys. The gardens are perfect for walking and horse rides. Enjoy the Roman spa, hot tub and pool. Dining halls with 16th century décor. Three restaurants, wood fire pizzas, a gelato parlor and several bars. See the wine cellars. There’s even a museum and art gallery.
Overnight: Castel Brando B, wine & snacks
July 8 – Cortina: Guided Mountain Hikes & Cooking Class
We check out and head to the town of Cortina, home of the Dolomites – there are a few alpine walks that encompass a region so entirely stunning as the circuit through the dramatic spires of the Dolomites in northern Italy. Our base is from the lively ski town of Cortina d’Ampezzo. It is flanked by the distinctive peaks of Tre Cine, the forest of alpine lakes of Sextener to the WW I bunkers in the Tofane massif. Visitors from around the world come here to hike or walk the breathtaking alpine scenery within the valleys and mountains of pure star beauty.
Glamorous resort town of Cortina – Will host the 2026 Winter Olympics! Host of the 1956 Winter Olympic Games and defined solely in terms of chic and ski, Cortina is a glitzy, glam symbol both on the Italian and international scenes it’s a top destination for mountain and nature enthusiasts, as well as those in search of winter sport activity and, in general, fun. There’s about 250 shops where shoppers can find Italian high fashion as the best of Made in Italy, in addition to local artisan goods, art, jewelry and antiques. Corso Italia, Cortina’s thriving center, is one of the best-known shopping streets on the Peninsula, always teeming with tourists admiring the shop windows and nibling in cafes with trendy locales that line the Corso.
Check into our 5-star hotel. Faloria Mountain Spa Resort, in the quaint village of Zuel, is the perfect retreat for mind, body and soul, www.floriasparesort.com. The alpine design by Flaviano Architetti is “Nordic elegance,” and our renowned chef Giovanni here has won culinary awards. Guests are offered free access to the spa areas and shuttle vans into the town of Cortina. It features a large spa area with heated swimming pool, Turkish bath, sauna and unique spa treatments. Rooms include a balcony with terrace or garden views. Our spa resort is located at the base of the Olympic ski jump near the Faloria chairlifts. Also nearby is Skyline Cortina for summer chairlifts and cable cars to explore the Dolomites!
In the afternoon, we embark on a guided hike with our mountain guides into the National Park of the Dolomites. There are countless trails from easy to difficult. We chose the best for you – the iconic Cinque Torre loop! We ride up cable cars from Refugio Scoiatti. It passes the historic WW I bunker sites. We exit at the Great War Cinque Hiking Trail. Here we do soft hiking with little elevation gain. Then we loop around the 5 famous Towers. The walk takes 1.5 to 2 hours. We break to enjoy a picnic lunch. Guides will determine an average distance of 1 to 2 miles, tailored best for our group. Some can choose to climb up higher elevation to 400 feet. Later we ride cable cars down and transfer to our fabulous mountain retreat.
Later, it’s time for cooking and good chewing. We visit Franz Joseph Stube Restaurant to learn the art of slow cooking from a team of skilled local chefs. Mangia-magia! Time to enjoy our fresh Italian dinner we crafted from scratch.
Overnight: Hotel Faloria Spa B, L, D
Set among the Dolomite mountains, this upscale 5-star hotel is near town and the Faloria cable car. Elegant rooms with wooden floors, flat-screen TVs, Nespresso machines and Wi-Fi, awarding spa and the largest private swimming pool in the Dolomites. (ROH, see above)
July 9 – Yoga, Mountain Lake, Paragliding, Venice
Early to rise with a hearty breakfast for a full day of adventure! We coach to the beautiful area of Pian de Loa and meet our yogi for a guided yoga class in the middle of a lush forest. Continue to Alpago at stunning Lake Sante Croce nestled in the alps. You’ll get your best Instagram moments here with walks around the crystal clear bluest of blue lake and then break for lunch. Adrenaline seekers – this is the paragliding capital of the Dolomites. Those interested can opt for flying off a mountain peak. You’ll be driven up to Rifugio Dolada for a briefing. At 1500 m, you gear up and enjoy a tandem ride with experienced guide over the alps. ($185. Duration two hours. Weight restriction 185 pounds. Will get an AFS headcount in December to book as numbers are limited for this popular experience and it’s so worth it.) Others can do easy flat walks, paddleboarding, kayaks, swimming or just chilling on the beach in this beautiful lake region of Italy.
Late afternoon, we had by coach around 2 Hours drive back to Venice. Check into Courtyard by Marriott hotel for overnight.
Courtyard Venice Airport Hotel, by Marriott B, L
July 10 – Arrivaderci. Departure home. (Many may want to extend on own their Italian vacation at trips end to other regions. The new trains can whisk you anywhere.)
Land price: $3295 per person twin accommodation based on 24 trip participants. Final payment due Apr 1.
Prepaid gratuities: An estimated amount of $95 will be added to final invoice to cover guides, drivers, ground services, etc., making distribution easier for you. (Single room $895 limited due to small properties and $700 deposit.)
Includes- 2 nights Courtyard Hotel Venice, 3 nights at Castle Brando with access to wellness area, 1 night five-star hotel Floria Spa Resort with access to wellness area, lunch in Burano, breakfast daily, welcome dinner at Castle, tour of Venice, Borgoluce dairy and cheese making workshop with visit to Buffalo farm and other animals, wine estate with tastings and Bortolomiol Winery, morning llama trek with Slow llama, tour of Conegliano, mountain hiking excursion with packed lunch, cooking class with dinner, yoga class, transfers by private coach and all taxes.
Not Included – Air from USA
Itineraries are prepared up to a year ahead and things can change. Modifications may be made. All rooms are run of house.
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