Pavia, Genoa, La Spezia
Late morning arrival in Pavia and check-in to hotel. Visit the city’s historic centre and see the church of Santa Maria del Carmine, considered one of the most beautiful examples of Longobard Gothic architecture as well as the Longobard Basilica di San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro, Visconteo Castle, (home to the Municipal Museums), the Medieval Towers, the elegant Piazza della Vittoria, which with its underground market is the pulsating heart of the city, the Basilica of San Michele Maggiore in which both Berengario and Federico I, known as Barbarossa, were crowned. Also admire Borgo Ticino, a picturesque village full of colorful houses on the banks of the Ticino River; and the Covered Bridge- or PonteVecchio – that crosses it.
Departure for the Certosa of Pavia, a magnificent Carthusian monastery only a few kilometers from Pavia. The Certosa comprises the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Graces, the large and small Cloisters and the Doge’s Palace, home to the Certosa Museum which is open to visitors. Continue onto Corteleona to visit Corteleona Palace, a magnificent royal residence built by King Liutprando, and then proceed to Belgioioso and its famous castle, originally the residence of Galeazzo II Visconti,later transformed by the princely Barbiano family into a small palace suitable for elite guests; aristocrats and the most famous intellectuals of the day. Don’t miss a walk in the castle’s wonderful grounds. Departure tor Genoa, with arrival late in the afternoon. Check-in at the hotel before proceeding to the quaint seaside village of Boccadasse for a visit and dinner in one of the typical restaurants there.
Visit of the city and a short stroll around the historic centre ending with a walk along the 16th century Strada Nuova, now called Via Garibaldi, taking in some of the 42 Rolli Palaces: PalazzoTobia Pallavicino, Palazzo Lomellino, Palazzo Bianco, Palazzo Rosso, Palazzo Giacomo & Pantaleo Balbi and the Palazzo Grimaldi Spinola di Pellicceria, the only residence with its original home furnishings, and the Royal Palace Museum known tor its Throne Room,Ballroom and Mirror Gallery. Possibility to request and book a visit to the Crown Princes’ Apartments.
A guided, morning tour of the Prince’s apartments in the Palazzo del Principe, Genoa’s largest and most sumptuous noble residence, ending in the monumental gardens where festivities honouring illustrious guests once took place in the afternoon, visit the Genoa Aquarium with its new Cetacean Pavilion, designed by Renzo Piano, followed by a guided tour around the city’s 30 certified historic shops that are true architectural gems and guardians of traditions. An opportunity to buy excellent local products in top quality shops in the city’s medieval backstreets.
Today’s final destination is La Spezia, but with a first stop in the famous bay of Portofino tor a coffee and “focaccia” in the piazzetta before continuing on to the Cinque Terre, the focus of the day’s explorations. Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vemazza and Monterosso -along with Portovenere – can all be visited on foot using the spectacular paths that connect them, although taking the train is another option as is going by boat, a year-round possibility tor those who love the sea that offers yet more unforgettable views. In the afternoon, proceed to Lerici to visit the village itself, the Oratorio di San Rocco, the Church of San Francesco and its impressive Castle, home of the Geopaleontological Museum, featuring footprints of dinosaurs and thecodonts that lived more than 200 million years ago.
Guided tour of La Spezia and Sarzana. Walk around La Spezia’s historic centre, visiting the Municipal Museum of Ancient Art and the Archaeological Museum in the Castle of San Giorgio included. Possibilty to visit the pride of the city, namely the Naval Museum inside the old military arsenal. Continue on to Sarzana in the afternoon to explore its historic centre, starting out at the Cathedral of Santa Maria and proceeding along Via Mazzini and the Antica Via Francigena to get to the Piazza del Comune, ending the tour with a visit of the magnificent Sarzanello Fortress.
Check-out and return to starting point.