ITALY 2023

Ten Days in Piedmont, Italy

Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera!

JUNE  12 to 22, 2023 (new dates as of September 12, 2022)
AUGUST 28 to SEPTEMBER 7, 2023

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 • Private 3-Course Italian Cooking Class • Escort Services of tour guide Al Sibilo • Visits to, and VIP Tastings at Wineries • Private Chocolate Tasting • First Evening Introductory Wine Tasting in Turin • Private Chocolate Tasting • Private workshop on Vermouth cocktails • Guided History Walks • Italian Language Lesson • Truffle Hunt • Bocce Tournament • A Day Visit to the Home of ‘Slow Food’ including a Special Cheese Tasting • Private Coach Travel in Piedmont • Private Coach Transfer to Milan (Malpensa airport) for Non-stop Return flight… and a few surprises!

“An exceptional all-round gastronomical, cultural and just plain fun tour!

(Note: Move the arrows under the top photo on this page to see all photos)

Everything about Piedmont is wonderful – 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 – 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 uncrowded – 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 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 of course, there will be an enoteca (wine bar) visit or two, as well as 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. 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.

 

“What a wonderful experiences! Numerous and varied vineyard and winery tours, great food, interesting country trips and an outstanding cooking class. Everyday we had wonderful experiences that one would not get if on a large commercial tour. We saw, learned, and tried so much, in such a relatively short time, but never felt rushed. Another success story. This was our 3rd trip with Billy & Kato, and each one just as great as the others. Everyone should experience at least one of their tours.” The Wellings, Ottawa

 

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 bicycle ride over the beautiful Langhe Hills, and a day trip to Bra, home to Slow Food and Eatily establishments worldwide. Dinners are served by people who never heard of the word ‘moderation’ two with winemakers, are truly feasts 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 the very gulpable Dolcetto, the rustic and heartwarming Barbera, and the charming Barbaresco. Red wine and pizza never tasted so good – rest assured, you will not miss your favourite Cabernet! For white wine, you’re sure to fall in love with the delicious Arneis – perfect refreshment.

 

“The vacation of a lifetime. The accommodations and meals were first class but what made the holiday so special was Billy and Kato’s intimate knowledge of the Piedmont area. At virtually every locale we visited they were greeted like old friends and we were treated like valued guests rather than tourists. This allowed us to experience the region in a way that the average person could never duplicate on their own. Highly recommended.” The Seybolds, Prince Edward County

 

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.

 

INTRODUCING YOUR AMAZING TOUR GUIDE FOR ITALY – AL SIBILO

Our 2023, and future Piedmont Italy Tours, will be conducted by Al Sibilo. We made this decision not because we didn’t enjoy every minute in beautiful Piedmont. We wanted to free up a bit of time to have a better work-life balance, and Al came along at the perfect time. While we have designed and are responsible for the tour, Al will be our ‘consigliere’ on the ground. He has met all the contacts we’ve established over the years, and we guarantee that his tour will meet our standards of excellence, excitement, and fun. Maybe even more so!

We met Al and his wife, Carolyn, on our Portugal tour in 2018, and immediately connected to his positive outlook on life, his curiosity, and of course his love of food, wine and travel. They live in Alberta, where Al has been actively involved in community leagues, local politics and Rotary International. After a successful career in insurance, Al is now coaching and mentoring other business owners and executives part-time through his consulting practice. Part of his learning about wine involved following Billy’s Best Bottles since 1991, and he agrees that the best way to understand wine is to tune in to what wines work with a particular situation. “I don’t have a favourite wine, but I have many favourite memories where wine was consumed!”

We feel 200% confident that you will be in the best hands in Italy with Al and we are thrilled to pass the torch to him. “As with wine, the most memorable trips involve the people with whom we share the experiences, which is why I am very much looking forward to leading Billy’s Best Bottle tours in Piedmont.”

“The end of one journey is simply the start of another” José Saramago, Journey to Portugal

 

 

Ten Days in Piedmont, Italy

JUNE 12 to 22, 2023 (new dates as of September 12, 2022)
AUGUST 28 to SEPTEMBER 7
, 2023

Maximum 18 participants


COST
Standard room: $6,950 per person, based on double occupancy in Canadian currency, including all taxes

Superior room in Barolo region: Add $350 pp (2 available)
Deluxe room in Barolo region: Add $495 pp (2 available)
Single supplement: Add $1,495

 


TRIP INCLUDES:

Escort services of tour guide Al Sibilo
10 nights at 4 star accommodation: 3 nights in Turin, 7 nights in Barolo region (spa services available)
10 hearty breakfasts
8 dinners with wines, including one special 5 course Barolo wine pairing dinner
5 lunches with wine
3 course Italian cooking class
Private Chocolate Tasting
Visits to, and VIP tastings at wineries
First evening introductory wine tasting in Turin
Private chocolate tasting
Private workshop on Vermouth cocktails
A ‘Slow Food’ day in Bra’ with special cheese tasting
Guided history walks
Private truffle hunt
Bocce tournament
Sparkling wine reception upon arrival
E-bike rental
All private coach travel in Piedmont
Private coach to Milan (Malpensa airport) for non-stop return ‘official’ flight
…and a few surprises!

NOT INCLUDED:
Airfare
A few meals not mentioned above
Arrival transportation from Turin airport to hotel
Gratuities
Personal items and drinks
Travel and medical insurance


OFFICIAL FLIGHTS TO BE CONFIRMED

TO BOOK

Email katowake@gmail.com with ITALY 2023 in the subject headline.
Expressing interest does not automatically guarantee a spot. We will keep you informed by email.
We will confirm your spot and give further instructions regarding your $500 non-refundable deposit.

Should you be interested and have emailed us, we will confirm your spot (one way or the other) by the end of OCTOBER 2022.

We expect everyone to be in good physical shape – able to easily walk for a few hours a day – and to participate in every daily excursion.

We work with Ellison Travel and Tours, our official partner with TICO #2392471
Billy’s Best Bottles reserves the right to make changes in the itinerary.


CANCELLATION POLICY

Your $500 pp deposit is non-refundable.
Final payment is due 90 days prior to the tour, and is 100% non-refundable.

FYI: Tours will be cancelled or postponed if Canadian “˜Do Not Travel’ advisories apply to the destination, or if Ellison Travel & Tours deems it unsafe to travel, in which case, all monies paid will be transferred to a future travel credit.

 

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 might not a fitting image.

 

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.

 

READ ALL TESTIMONIALS HERE!

 

“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

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