Eleven Days in Piedmont, Italy
Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera and Billy!
SEPTEMBER 4 to 14, 2020 (leaving Toronto September 3) CANCELLED due to COVID
or SEPTEMBER 15 to 25, 2020 (leaving Toronto September 14) CANCELLED due to COVID
“An exceptional all-round gastronomical, cultural and just plain fun tour!”
Escort Services of Billy Munnelly and Kato Wake • 10 Nights at 4-star Accommodation (spa services available) • 10 Hearty Buffet Breakfasts • 8 Wonderful Dinners with Wines from the Piedmont Region • One Very Special 5-course Barolo Wine Pairing Dinner • 5 Fabulous Lunches with Wine • Several Wine Tastings with Billy • Private 3-Course Italian Cooking Class • Visits to, and VIP Tastings at Wineries • First Evening Introductory Wine Tasting in Turin • Private Chocolate & Vermouth Tastings • Guided History Walks • Italian Language Lesson • Truffle Hunt • Bocce Tournament • Sparkling Wine Reception upon Arrival • Day Trip to the Home of “Slow Food” • A Special Cheese Tasting • Brunch at a Classic Turino Cafée • Private Coach Travel in Piedmont • Private Coach Transfer to Milan (Malpensa airport) for Non-stop Return flight … and a few surprises!
(Note: Move the arrows under the top photo on this page to see all photos)
This will be our 10th tour to the Barolo region in Piedmont. We just love everything about the place – beautiful cities, towns and countryside, amazing food and wine, and nice people. Everyday! When we first decided to offer Piedmont as opposed to the more popular Tuscany – it felt risky, but we wanted a less touristy experience, and we’ve always ‘gone our own way’. Plus I wanted to share my love of Barbera, the best everyday red on the planet.
We like how Piedmont has managed to remain ‘real’ and relatively un-crowded – small towns and wineries are as charming as they were decades ago. And we lucked-out finding the perfect small hotel, in the perfect hill-top town.
Our stable of Piedmont restaurants and wineries now treat us like family, and make us feel special. With a twinkle in the eye that says “welcome back, let’s have a great time”. Visiting in September we feel the buzz of the harvest with tractors hauling loads of grapes up and down the hills, plus it’s still warm enough to relax by the pool, or in the sunny courtyard.
Our tour starts with three nights in the classical city of Turin – the country’s former capital, and often described as the ‘Paris of Italy’. You’ll see the sights, palaces, museums and an amazing hill-top monastery west of the city. Of course there will be an enoteca (wine bar) visit or two, a private chocolate & vermouth tasting, and the first of many delicious Italian dinners (feasts!).
On day four we’ll move to the just mentioned family-run, hotel in the prettiest hilltop village of the Barolo region. Expect classical elegance with a bright modern feeling – our kind of place! All rooms overlook the garden or pool, breakfasts are a treat, and the bar never closes. From here we’ll experience the wine, food, culture and heartbeat of one of the world’s most beautiful and unspoiled wine regions – recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Our days in the country will be filled with a hands-on cooking class, a truffle hunt, a tour of a former king’s hunting lodge, a hike through ‘Woods of Thoughts’, bocce games, picnic lunches, and café carousing. Not forgetting a day visit to the home of “Slow Food” in Bra, with a special tasting of 10 cheeses, another delicious lunch, followed by a visit and tasting at the Wine Bank. Dinners are served by people who never heard of the word ‘moderation’ – one with a winemaker is truly a feast of pleasure. Yes, my friends, expect lots of fun.
Barolo is just one of the delicious wines of the province of Piedmont, and you’ll also meet other characters such as the rustic and heartwarming Barbera, and the charming Barbaresco. For white wine, you’re sure to fall in love with the delicious Arneis – perfect refreshment. Your introduction to Dolcetto will take place at a creative wine blending class. Red wine and pizza never tasted so good. Rest assured, you will not miss your favourite Cabernet!
This tour is in keeping with our rule of travelling less, but doing more. We will be immersed in all that’s wonderful about Italian history, art, culture and beauty – simply by visiting just one city, and one wine region. Both of which are delightfully free of tourist mobs. While food and wine are the focus – it is Italy, we also include fun, recreational, and cultural activities between meals. It’s an action packed trip, but at a leisurely pace – wine in hand. Italian style.
Eleven Days in Piedmont, Italy
SEPTEMBER 4 to 14, 2020 (leaving Toronto September 3) CANCELLED
or SEPTEMBER 15 to 25, 2020 (leaving Toronto September 14) CANCELLED
Maximum 19 participants
Standard room: $5,495 per person, based on double occupancy in Canadian currency, including all taxes
Superior room in Barolo region: Add $250 pp (SOLD OUT)
Deluxe room in Barolo region: Add $350 pp (SOLD OUT)
Single supplement: Add $1,295 (limited availability)
Escort services of Billy Munnelly and Kato Wake
10 nights at 4 star accommodation (spa services available)
10 hearty breakfasts
8 dinners with wines from the Langhe region, including one special 5 course Barolo wine pairing dinner
5 lunches with wine
Several wine tastings with Billy
3 course Italian cooking class
Brunch at a classic Turino Cafée
Visits to, and VIP tastings at wineries
First evening introductory wine tasting in Turin
Private chocolate & vermouth tastings
Guided history walk
Private truffle hunt
Sparkling wine reception upon arrival
“Slow Food” Day in Bra with special cheese tasting
All private coach travel in Piedmont
Private coach to Milan (Malpensa airport) for non-stop return ‘official’ flight
… and a few surprises!
A few meals not mentioned above
Arrival transportation from Turin airport to hotel
Personal items and drinks
Travel and medical insurance
This is a LAND ONLY TOUR beginning in Turin and returning from MILAN
GETTING THERE: 3 SEP AC #872 Depart Toronto 4:45pm Arrive Frankfurt 6:20am
4 SEP Lufthansa #9520 Depart Frankfurt 8:25am Arrive Turin 9:40am
RETURNING: RETURN FLIGHT TO BE CONFIRMED (updated April 18, 2020)
GETTING THERE: 14 SEP AC #872 Depart Toronto 4:45pm Arrive Frankfurt 6:20am
15 SEP Lufthansa #9520 Depart Frankfurt 8:25am Arrive Turin 9:40am
RETURNING: RETURN FLIGHT TO BE CONFIRMED (updated April 18, 2020)
1. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with ITALY 2020 in the subject headline.
2. Kato will email you back to confirm, and then send you a direct link to fill out a form with Ellison Travel and Tours.
3. To confirm your spot, you will need to complete this form, and send a cheque deposit of $500 per person. (We will email you full details.)
• Your deposit will be deducted from your invoice but will not be refunded should you cancel. (See cancellation policy below.)
• Billy’s Best Bottles reserves the right to make changes in the itinerary.
FYI: Due to uncertain future currency rates, your invoice for this tour will permit a price increase of no more than 7%. Once your tour is paid in full, the price advertised is locked in, and no further price increase will be allowed.
Your $500 pp deposit is non-refundable.
Up to 90 days prior to departure – 50% refund, excluding your non-refundable deposit. However, should we find someone to fill your spot, full refund, excluding your non-refundable deposit.
Less than 90 days to departure – no refund. However, should we find someone to fill your spot, full refund, excluding your non-refundable deposit.
HOW DO WE DIFFER FROM OTHER TOURS?
We must start by telling you that we never set out to conduct tours. However, after a few trials with friends we sensed that there was an interest in our style of travel. Found a niche as they say. Original and generous were the two most used words we heard to describe what we offered, and not surprisingly as our itineraries were of our own making. We did not see the point of taking people to over-crowded ‘guide book’ places. It is impossible to catch the ‘feeling’ of a place when you’re lost in a sea of fellow travellers. We still deliver WOWs, but without the hassles and crowds. And ‘generous’ might have something to do with how much wine we were pouring.
We have sought out parts of a country that offer a sense of the whole, thereby delivering the experience without long travel times. Spending less hours on the road attempting to ‘see it all’ gives us more quality time in towns, galleries or cafés. Feet on the ground as opposed to bum on a bus, seeing better over seeing more.
Most of the experiences we offer are either not available off-the-street, or would require a lot of work to secure.
We love the time at table so most evenings we all dine together, at a hand-picked restaurants where we have arranged something special – for an experience not available to the general public. You can expect everything from gourmet to rustic with seating in small groups for an intimate experience. But we’re not opposed to a little rowdiness! We stay at smaller, non-chain hotels away from the tourist bustle.
Have to admit we are not huge history buffs, but we do allow enough free time for those who want to visit churches and museums. Think of us as the anti Trip Advisor – seeking instead the alternative – the unexpected. The kind of tour you’d imagine from a local, as opposed to a Tour company. If you have never travelled with a group before, fear not. Think of the possibilities for fun with a group – ‘adult camp’ as Kato calls it. It may be the best party you ever attended.
Expect to eat and drink too much – and love every minute of it.
In each of our destinations we concentrate on the things that are special or unique: rural pubs in Ireland as they are the hub of a community, historic grandeur combined with sleek contemporary design in Portugal, and the effortless, indescribable sense of style in France. Crafting beauty in everything is Italy’s great skill, and that includes food and wine. We ask that our travellers take the time to know something of, and respect the culture we are visiting – your comfy Adidas and litre of Pepsi are not a fitting image beside a French bistro.
WHO SHOULD TRAVEL WITH US?
Those with a love of adventure and social interaction are obvious candidates. On the physical side, good walking ability and drinking stamina are not only essential, but mandatory. Meals are on the European clock– starting late and finishing late – celebrating time at the table. Basically we invite people who are interested in stepping outside their comfort zone and embracing a European experience. Filling the eyes, bellies and imagination with things unfamiliar. We welcome people who come hungry for activity and participation – please do NOT come with us if you want a conventional ‘sightseeing’ tour with no participation on your part.
Finally a word on why we do not publish detailed, daily itineraries. One reason is we like to remain flexible and work around weather and local events. But more importantly, we believe that the best travel experiences are built around daily surprises – a trust between the host and the guests. Those who have travelled with us have said that they enjoyed the surprise element as it kept them ‘in the moment’. We ask that you greet us with enthusiasm, a trusting open mind, good health, and an empty wine glass (not for long!).
Every tour we’ve run has ‘sold out’ and many guests are repeat offenders.
“From the moment we arrived, we were treated to first class food, accommodation and hospitality. Every day was a new adventure from hiking through a vineyard to dining in a winemaker’s cellar. By far the best organized trip that we’ve been on – well-paced and the perfect group size.” B & H Purvis, New Hamburg, Ontario
“Had been to Italy several times. But this was my first small group travelling ever. Piemonte came vividly alive with Kato and Billy. Relationships, food, wine, learning, and conversation– all rooted in local ambience and warm personalities. Did someone say there’s a Portugal trip too?” Bill Roberts, Prince Edward County
“Doesn’t matter which tour you choose, they are all unforgettable! Just returned from our 4th trip with Billy and Kato, our 2nd to Piemonte! If you want to really experience food, wine (and other assorted libations), first rate accommodations, people, territory, history and downright fun, then join one of their adventures.”
Wendy & Wayne Rider, Stratford
“Absolutely fantastic trip. Billy and Kato are the perfect hosts ensuring unforgettable wine tastings, meals and local experiences. The element of “surprise” around the daily activities added to the fun. Great way to meet and make new friends. After 2 months we are still raving to friends and family about how wonderful everything was from start to finish. Would highly recommend this trip.” The Culhanes, Ottawa
“I can say without qualification, that my experience of your Italian Wine tour far exceeded anything I could have imagined. Just outstanding in every way. Congratulations!” Wally Anderson, Simcoe
“This was our 15th professionally conducted wine trip, and while the previous ones were all fabulous, none were better than our Piedmont trip with Billy and Kato. They are a fun and caring couple who do everything to ensure you have a good time. We would highly recommend them.” The Chapmans, Oakville
“Kato and Billy took us to parts of Italy in the Piedmont wine country which I would never have discovered on my own. We stayed in top-notch accommodation, and the beautiful rolling hills of vineyards topped by ancient castles were a sight to behold! We saw it all – including grape harvesting, VIP winery visits, and a fantastic 3 course cooking class. I had a superb time with a wonderful group of people. Thanks to Billy and Kato – our imaginative, inclusive and generous hosts!” D Troop, Prince Edward County
“Again, what a wonderful trip – the Barolo Tour was our second trip with Billy and Kato. Travelling with B&K is not a tourist trip, but an experience that you don’t forget – great food, great wine, and you see and do things that tourists don’t get to do. Most of all, have lots of fun with new found friends.” Don and Sue Scott, Ottawa
“The Italian Wine Tour was FIRST CLASS! Billy & Kato thought of everything. It was interesting & fun filled. I’d go again in a heartbeat.” Mary Anne Perkins, Milford
“Exceptional all round gastronomical, cultural and just plain fun tour. I can’t think of a better way to experience the Piedmont wine country than joining Kato and Billy. The variety of wine tastings and daily activities are a testament to their thorough advance research and genuine desire to assure a wonderful memory for all. ‘La dolce vitae’ indeed.” Brenda Smith, Ottawa