Made in Italy

Italian Design

Made in Italy: Fashion and Design
in Milan and Como

May 31 – Jun 8, 2014

Tour some of Italy’s most renowned areas of applied arts on this new tour to Milan’s trendy design districts.

CALL 855-330-1542


Made in Italy: Fashion and Design in Milan and Como

Italy has long been a trendsetter in fashion and automobile design. When you add architecture, furniture, and interior spaces to the already rich creative tableau, you have the hottest, most sought-after design in the world. “Made in Italy” is not just a label, but a statement of where function meets fine art. Join us for an exclusive look at some of Italy’s most renowned areas of applied arts on this new tour to Milan’s trendy design districts and Como, located in the stunning Lake District.

milan_duomoYou’ll explore Italy’s world of fashion on visits to Missoni and Dolce & Gabbana, yet discover interior spaces and furnishings at the showrooms of Artemide (lighting), Alessi (utensils), and Boffi (kitchens and baths). Come to understand the sweeping designs of aerodynamically inspired racing cars at the Zagato headquarters. At the Triennale Design Museum you’ll learn about the history of Italian design and see the most significant objects from across all design fields. Our Smithsonian expert, plus industry professionals and artists in Italy, will guide our explorations, discussing the evolution of post-modern Italian design.


Zagato Design and Beyond

Zagato_logoFrom Turin we headed to Milan. Our first stop was at Zagato design. Hidden away in the outskirts of Milan we toured their car collection showing some cutting edge design for top brands. One of their latest models with its wrap around panoramic windows received mixed opinion from the group. Jonathan had warned us on the bus about their designs – you either love it or you don’t.


We paused for another hearty lunch in the center of Monza. I was very happy with my enormous plate of cured Italian meats. I can’t get enough of it when I’m in Italy (along with gelato!) In the afternoon, Francesca, a motorbike racing journalist gave us a tour of Monza race track, including the hospitality suites, the media rooms, tv monitor room, the office of notorious Bernie Ecclestone and we all got to stand on the podium. Pretty exciting stuff even without the roar of the Formula one cars in action. In the parking lot we spotted a few more Lamborghinis and then a fleet of historic cars drove by.

22Our final visit of the day was a private car collection on the outskirts of Milan. The owner had told us not to expect much – a few cars in a garage and I’d asked him to have some water ready for our thirsty group. When we arrived we were blown away by the collection and the owner had laid on a party. He’d invited some key people in the car world and a beautiful reception with (more) food and prosecco. Yet again j had to be mother and drag them away from their fun!

Two hours later we arrived at Lake Garda. The sun was setting over Sirmione, our final destination, it was beautiful. Our bus could not enter the historic city but a short walk provided yet another car viewing opportunity – several cars in the Mille miglia were doing manoeuvres in front of us!


Now we are on the bus returning to Sirmione after a visit to the Lamborghini factory this morning. Due to the 50th anniversary celebrations last week we’d not been able to visit.

Tomorrow is our final day and dedicated to the Mille miglia. Lots of fun things are planned, I just hope the weather holds.

Above the Tuscan Rooftops: Top Panoramic Siena Views


Warmer weather IS actually going to stick around one of these days, and when it does, we’ll be prepared! While wandering the alleyways of Siena, bounded by the medieval buildings and Gothic architecture that define its character, we want to be able to gain perspective on exactly where we were and will be (allowing ourselves to be) lost within the city. Instead of using a map to decipher where exactly you are within Siena’s 17 contrade (districts), it’s best to understand it from the top – above (and on) Siena’s Tuscan rooftops. Put down the map. Now wander yourself to one of these three outdoor rooftop spots where panoramic views await you (and your cameras, of course).

Siena Cathedral: Roof tour now open!

Open to the public for the first time in the spring of 2013, passages to the rooftop of the 13th-century Siena Cathedral offer views of the red-tiled Tuscan roofs and Siena’s city and countryside charm. While going up for maintenance purposes, the Cathedral staff discovered the magnificence of the view and decided to make it more accessible. The journey (or workout) to the top is not for everyone, though! You have to be willing and able to climb the series of spiral staircases and internal walkways to reach the breathtaking rooftop views, otherwise the ascent alone may be too breathtaking! Visitors must reserve tickets in advance.


View from the rooftop tour of the Siena Cathedral

HotelHotel Villa Elda

This three-star hotel sits atop a hill just outside of Siena’s city center, which is about a ten minute walk to Piazza del Campo. The serenity of the Villa and its ideal location make the stay at the Hotel delightful. Even if you’re not staying here, it is worthwhile to wander up to the rooftop terrace where it is possible to experience a 360-degree scenic view of Siena and the Tuscan setting.

Palazzo delle Papesse
Address: Via di Città 126 Town Centre near Piazza del Duomo
Phone: 0577 2 20 71
Price: adult/child €5/free
Hours: 12:00-19:00 Tue-Sun

Built between 1460 and 1495, Palazzo delle  Papesse is a contemporary art gallery within medieval walls that offers both permanent and changing contemporary exhibitions. The rooftop of Palazzo delle Papesse presents a 360 degree panoramic view, overlooking Siena and the nearby surroundings. The second floor also contains a terrace, which opens to a view of the Duomo and Siena rooftops.

Smithsonian Journey’s Italian Auto tour just gets better and is filled with some magical ‘ah’ moments.

ModenaSaturday we were still in Modena and visited several private car collections. In the late afternoon we drove past the Lamborghini factory – it was swarming with people for the 50th anniversary celebrations – our group understood why were not visiting till later this week. That evening we toured the Lamborghini Family museum and the owner and nephew to the founder, Fabio Lamborghini came and signed souvenirs for the group and had his photo taken with various members. His part of the show concluded with him roaring off in his own Lambo (that’s the lingo!)

1From Modena we headed across northern Italy to Turin. It was a gorgeously clear day and a lovely drive with the snowcapped alps welcoming us into Piedmont. We even had two Lambos lined up at our brief restroom stop. Perfect planning! Our first stop in Turin was at the Lingotto. After lunching on delicious Italian treats in the Eataly Food Emporium we went onto the top of the Lingotto building (originally the FIAT factory) and stood on the roof top test track. Spectacular weather and clear views across the city to the mountains. We had a very thorough tour of the car collection at the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile. And our final visit was at the FIAT Centro Storico – the original FIAT headquarters, with a lovely art deco facade and inside a great collection of old cars including some of the iconic 500 and wonderful photos and posters.

BertoneAnd as if we hadn’t had enough cars today – the Spanish Grand Prix took place today. We had a private room set up to show the replay at 9 pm. Not quite all of our group made it to the end, but many did.

Designer Tom TjaardaMonday morning – design day. Another beautiful sunny day as we drove north out of Turin. Stile Bertone has been designing cars for all the luxury brands for just over 100 years and that is where we were headed today. We were greeted by the head of design. He gave a wonderful tour of the Bertone museum full of passion about what makes a great piece of design. Then out in the garden there were two prototypes that the group all drooled over as he opened it up and showed all the different features. It was hard to drag the group away from this fantastic tour but it was also in the most idyllic setting – parkland, surrounded by trees, very tranquil on a sunny day. From this very small friendly designer we visited Pininfarina – a very slick large design corporation. After a fascinating presentation we viewed a couple of prototype Ferraris. I confess I can’t keep up with the different models and features – needless to say my group might be forgetful about a logistical tour detail but they know which car they saw and where! We returned to Turin in the afternoon and visited with a charming American designer, who has lived in Turin most of his life. He has designed for many of the great names and gave us a very personal talk about his design experience.

Falling in Love with Ferrari

photo[6]Smithsonian Journeys’ has hit an all-time high for offering travelers exclusive behind the scenes access!  During the first day of their Passion Sculpted in Steel tour of Northern Italy yesterday, the group got into the Ferrari factory for a private tour.  This factory is the mecca of all car factories and many of the  clients on this tour are fans and owners of this unique marque.

photo[3]Here is a personal account from our Program Manager, Emma, who is on tour with the group…

Before we knew it, we were  entering building after building to see where the engines are made and  watched the fascinating production line putting the body work together  until body and engine are “married” as the lines of Ferraris glided

over our heads. I thought we needed some resounding opera music but one of the clients said “oh this is like a beautifully choreographed ballet!” He was right, it was an amazing show watching the different processes, every twenty minutes the car moved to its next station for the next stage in its creation. We saw the the upholstery department too and the range of materials and styles. Everything is personalized to the customers desires – which would explain the price tags on these babies and the fact that it takes 3000 employees over a year to get the car from order to delivery to the client.

photo[2]The Ferrari factory is also an amazing village – with lots of green  spaces inside and outside the buildings, employees are treated very well, the temperature is very controlled inside the buildings as is the waste, all powered by solar energy and noise levels were very manageable – until we got to the private client’s car storage area. A couple of models had to be moved  – the guide ran out of the garage, I guess she hears the roar of those engines enough – but to my group it was music to their ears. A Ferrari engine makes a unique sound, quite unforgettable. It was a fitting end to a fabulous three hour tour. We also saw the Fiorano test track and the Formula One race cars. I don’t think we could have asked for a better start to this tour. Its only day one. Tomorrow we can Pagani and Maserati and much more.

ferrari-autosStay tuned for more accounts from Emma on Smithsonian Journeys’
Italian Auto tour!

A Gem of A Jog in Siena

jogging1With some free time to exercise and such a gorgeous day, I asked our language teacher, Elena, what are the best outdoor activities in Siena.

An avid jogger herself, she recommended  the Foretzza Medicea where the air is clean, the trail uncrowded, and most of all…the views are spectacular!  During the jog around the perimeter of this massive fortress, you see the Duomo, the hills of Tuscany, and the rooftops below…

There is still time to book on our September trip to Siena where we explore art, history, neighborhoods, cuisine, wine, and the hills of Tuscany together!


Happy Quinquatrus!

Minerva_courtesy_of_VromaToday on the Ancient Roman calendar marks the Quinquatrus – a celebration of Minerva.  It is especially appropriate then to celebrate her here at Academic Travel Abroad where we offer educational tours and study abroad experiences because Minerva was a goddess of learning and scholars.

The festival commemorating Minerva continued in Rome for five days. The first and most important day, was the consecration of her temple on the Aventine and the following days consisted of gladiatorial contests, a display of wild animals,  plays, orators, poets, and the consultation of fortune tellers.

Make sure to wish your teachers a very happy Quinquatrus today!