Linking the small city’s upper area and the cathedral-enveloping lower part is a funicular railway.
- Isola San Giulio
Legend has it that this eye-catching island on Lake Orta was originally home to snakes and beasts until San Giulio arrived in AD 390 and founded the church which stands today.
Once a centre of industry and social reforms, Ivrea was the utopian vision belonging to Adriano Olivetti and can be visited on day four of your stay.
Visit the former capital of Italy on an optional excursion. The city is home to the 16th-century Royal Palace, overlooking one of the city’s most elegant historic squares, Piazza Castello.
Stay and Discover Tour Standard
Biella, Italyfrom £749 per person
2 passengers 7 nights Including optional travel insurance or a price reduction of £20 if not required
- Half board
Alpine views and Italian history in Piedmont
Uncover the flavours, history and stunning scenery of the Piedmont region. Translated, its name means ‘Foot of the Mountain’, for good reason; Piedmont is surrounded on three sides by the Alps. It is also bordered by Switzerland and France, providing an extensive history of conflict, trade and diplomacy with Italy’s northern neighbours.
Your base for this seven-night Stay and Discover experience is the Agora Palace Hotel (4Q), located in the small city of Biella. Offering hospitality in the heart of the city, your hotel also boasts a roof garden terrace and stylish, newly built restaurant, Sartoria. Included during your stay is a visit to Lake Sirio, the town of Ivrea and a brewery and cheesemaker in Biella.
7 nights in hotels
12 meals: 7 breakfasts (B) and 5 dinners (D)
Plus all this...
- Return flights and transfers
- No-fly option
- Porterage at hotel
Excursions and visits
- Biella and countryside (half day)
- Lake Sirio and the town of Ivrea (full day)
- Lake Orta (full day)
- Italy’s oldest brewery (half day)
Day 1 UK-Biella
Check in to your hotel and enjoy a welcome drink followed by dinner to get to know your tour manager and fellow guests. D
Day 2 Lake Orta
Following a welcome meeting with your tour manager, you will visit Lake Orta. This picturesque body of water remains off the international tourist track despite plenty of articles praising its beauty. Spend the day here, with time at leisure in the town of Orta San Giulio – the steeply sloping streets of which meander down towards the banks of the lake.
On an explorative stroll, you can see the 16th-century town hall and the pale-peach parish church, Chiesa dell'Assunta. The town is home to small squares reminiscent of those found in Venice, however, it is Isola San Giulio, an unmissable island on the lake, that steals the show. Following plenty of time to find a suitable café or restaurant for lunch, enjoy an included boat crossing to the island, which is dominated by its Romanesque basilica. Legend has it that the island was populated only by snakes and monsters before San Giulio landed there in AD 390 and established a church. B, D
Day 3 Biella and countryside
Take a guided stroll around Biella. Spend some time at leisure to purchase lunch before travelling out of the city and into the pretty countryside. Your first destination will be Candela, a medieval village boasting an impressive fortified complex known as a ‘Ricetto’, surrounded by strong walls and flanked by circular towers. The narrow lanes contained within the ricetto are a joy to explore.
Back on the tour vehicle, you will travel to Santuario di Oropa, a religious sanctuary located high in the Alps and featuring an eye-catching 18th-century basilica. Pause for a cup of coffee or hot chocolate before a guided tour of the Museum of Treasures and the Royal Apartments once occupied by Queen Margherita of the House of Savoy. B
Day 4 Biella, brewery, and cheesemaker
The morning is yours to be spent at leisure, before a walk into Biella accompanied by your tour manager. First, visit Italy’s oldest brewery, where – in their words – ‘flavour is the sum of the best ingredients and time. Lots of time.’ Among the list of ingredients are hops from Bavaria, barley grown in the heart of Champagne country and water which flows naturally from Alpine glaciers. Learn about the ageing process – the beer spends 30 days in the brewery caves – on a guided tour of the site.
Next, you will visit Formaggi Botalla, responsible for making cheese since 1947. Your tours and tastings will be followed by a trip on the small city’s funicular railway, transporting passengers from the lower part of Biella (Biella Piano) – characterised by its impressive cathedral – to the upper area (Biella Piazzo), home to medieval and Renaissance mansions. One such mansion is the Palazzo La Marmora, once home to the Marquis of Moro Ubaldini. Return to your hotel in the afternoon and enjoy dinner at the hotel. B, D
Please note that parts of Biella are inaccessible to coaches. Therefore, walking up steep, uneven slopes may be required.
Day 5 At leisure
Spend the day exploring the city of Biella or discover treasures further afield. Alternatively, join an optional excursion to Turin. B, D
Day 6 At leisure
Consider joining an optional excursion into the Aosta Valley. Alternatively, the day is yours to spend however you choose. B
Day 7 Lake Sirio and the town of Ivrea
Enjoy a scenic drive into the Canavese Valley area of Piedmont. During the drive, you will stop at the medieval hamlet of Magnano to see the modest Romanesque Church of San Secondo.
Continue to the shoreline of Lake Sirio for a stroll to admire its camera-pleasing beauty. Popular with wild ducks, water gurnard and tree frogs, the lake may provide some natural surprises during this opportunity to stretch your legs.
Arriving in Ivrea, you will have time for lunch before a guided walking tour of this charming city. Once at the centre of production of Olivetti products – such as typewriters and mechanical calculators – the city was also a social project, providing workers with modern accommodation, a generous pension plan and the encouragement to take classes to learn new skills. In the early part of the 20th century, these benefits were seen as revolutionary. Enjoy a visit to the museum to learn more about Adriano Olivetti, the man responsible for this vision of production and betterment. B, D
Day 8 Biella to UK
Check out of your hotel and begin the journey back to the UK, having explored the beauty, history and flavours of the Piedmont region. B
Aosta Valley, fortresses and mountain scenery
At the heart of the Italian Alps, Aosta Valley boasts postcard panoramas and spectacular scenery. While the area is undeniably beautiful, being so close to the French border, it has also played a strategic role throughout history. Indeed, up until the 18th century, the valley had been in French control. Several hill forts were constructed, holding up Napoleon’s army on its advance through the area. Visit one such hill fort, dismantled by the French emperor and reconstructed in the 20th century, before a hearty lunch is served at an independently owned farm, known as an agriturismo.
Your afternoon will be spent in Aosta, a town filled with Roman monuments and framed by epic mountain scenery. Sites such as Porta Pretoria and the Arch of Augustus will certainly be enhanced by the knowledge of your tour guide. Following some time at leisure, you will return to the hotel where your evening meal is served.
Optional on 7 nights itinerary
Guided walking tour of Turin
Once the capital of Italy, Turin’s architecture and style is very much its own, with miles and miles of wide streets lined with historic porticoes, built to keep off the worst of the weather for the nobility. Located on the Po River, the city was founded as a Roman military colony – the remaining walls of which are still visible today. On this walking tour, you will chart the city’s extensive history, illustrated by many of its most notable landmarks. Stand in Piazza Castello and gaze up at the 16th-century palace built for the House of Savoy and capture on camera Palazzo Madama, the first senate serving the Kingdom of Italy. Spend some free time, perhaps glancing into the shop windows on Via Roma or purchasing lunch.
Optional on 7 nights itinerary
What to explore
For a window into the history of the Biella area, look no further than the Museo del Territorio Biellese. Its collection of archaeological finds chart the settlement’s role as a centre of Gallic and Roman civilization before passing into the hands of the House of Savoy in 1379. Also housed in the municipal museum is an extensive collection of artworks with a strong connection to the area. Highlights among the collection include precious 16th-century altarpieces created by Bernardino Lanino, Gerolamo Giovenone and Boniforte Oldoni, as well as frescoes taken from the Church of Sebastiano di Ponderano.
Twenty-five miles further afield, through one of Europe’s largest rice-producing areas is Vercelli. If stopping for lunch here, risotto is the speciality, as are the agnolotti (Piedmontese ravioli) and polenta. You may also be tempted by a day trip to Milan, the cat-walking capital of the world’s design and fashion industries. A journey to Milan by car will take just under two hours. The city’s cathedral took more than 600 years to complete, illustrated by its immense and complex façade. For designer labels and high-end fashion, the Grand Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the place to be. Shopping centres have a reputation for being dull and uninteresting. The Grand Gallery consists of opulent architecture adorned with stucco artwork and ornate panelling, a visually pleasing place for retail therapy!
The Agora Palace Hotel 4Q
At the Agora Palace Hotel, you will be treated to four-star hospitality in the heart of the city. Located a short stroll from Biella’s Roman Catholic cathedral and the Zumaglini Public Garden, your hotel features a roof garden terrace, perfect for Summer evening drinks, and Sartoria, a newly built restaurant. Also appearing on the Agora Palace’s list of amenities are a fitness room and free Wi-Fi, allowing you to stay active and connected during your stay. In each room you will find a safe, minibar and en-suite bathroom, allowing you to enjoy your stay and focus on exploring the beautiful region of Piedmont.