NORTHERN ITALIAN LAKES SMALL GROUP TOUR
You’re about to experience the scenic splendors that await you in the Italian lakes region. Northern Italy meets Switzerland in an enchanted region of azure lakes,soaring mountain peaks,and charming medieval towns. From the snowy slopes of the Alpine Milky Way region to villas framed by gazebos and mould-breaking art and architecture, Northern Italy is as action-packed as it is artful. The glacial lakes of Lombardy-where fishing boats bob in tiny harbors while palaces float in the Borromean Gulf-have been a popular spot since Roman times.Meanwhile, artists,celebrities and moneyed Mitteleuropeans have been lured here since the days of the Grand Tour,by world-class art, an embarrassment of culinary riches,cult wines and a slew of sophisticated cities.
Writers from Goethe to Hemingway have lavished praise on the Italian lakes,dramatically ringed by snow-powdered mountains and garlanded by grand villas and exotic, tropical flora.
You’ll experience the very best of this scenic corner of Europe on this unique travel program.
- Guaranteed departures group travel: small, intimate group limited to 12/14 participants only!
- More than 15 included sightseeing tours & cultural experiences
- Tour of MILAN with its historical treasure,including the DUOMO
- Visit to one of Italy’s most romantic lakes, charming LAKE ORTA and the delightful 14th century medieval village Orta San Giulio
- Cruise to the enchanting islands visiting ISOLA MADRE and ISOLA BELLA, with a guided tour of its 17th century baroque villa
- Evening boat ride with dinner to ISOLA DEI PESCATORI
- From Como, take the cable car to BRUNATE and admire the city from above
- Lake cruise to the enchanting VILLA DEL BALBANIELLO and its inspirational gardens
- HANDS-ON-COOKING on LAKE MAGGIORE
- Enchanting SIRMIONE & LAKE GARDA
- Guided walking tour of medieval VERONA
- The magic of LAKE MAGGIORE & the delightful town of STRESA
- Tour of the hill town of BERGAMO, northern Italy’s most enchanting medieval town
- Visit the enchanting lake towns of BELLAGIO and VARENNA
- The evocative SANTA CATERINA HERMITAGE
- Visit popular UNESCO World heritage sites
- Enjoy ‘la dolce vita’ with ample leisure time for exploring local sights and delights
- Dine at authentic and highly recommended local restaurants and trattorias that will leave lasting memories
- Exceptional local tour director, experienced to accompany you throughout your journey
- Entrances to main sites are included
- Transportation on tour, via private air-conditioned 21 seats motorcoach
- Included gratuity for city guides
- Tour city guides as per itinerary in Milan,Orta San Giulio,Stresa,Bergamo,Como,Verona,Sirmione
- City taxes and service charges at all hotels and restaurants
- Transfers while overseas, baggage transfers and porters are included
- Included regional meals: All breakfasts, 4 foodie experiences, 4 dinners, 5 lunches (main meals include regional wine, mineral water, local coffee or tea only)
- Arrival and departure: The tour will begin with transfers from Milan Malpensa airport to the center of Milan and end with a transfer to the airport in Verona at scheduled times.
- We suggest arriving a day or two before your tour begins to allow ample time to get over jet lag and be well-rested for the first few days of your tour.
- Activity level: Light/Moderate
- Terms & conditions/Single supplement: (View here) & FAQ ( View here)
- Trip Interruption and Cancellation Insurance is not included. We highly recommend Travelex-Insurance.com to protect your vacation.
- Purchase of European Travel & Health Insurance is strongly recommended
MAJESTY OF THE ITALIAN LAKES TRAVEL ITINERARY
NORTHERN ITALIAN LAKES SMALL GROUP TOUR
SMALL GROUP TOUR LIMITED TO 12/14 PARTICIPANTS ONLY
DAY 1: WELCOME TO MILAN & CAPTIVATING LAKE ORTA
You’re about to experience the scenic splendors that await you in the Italian Lakes region and the Swiss Alps. After breakfast, you’re off on a walking tour of fashion MILAN, the style capital of Europe. You’ll see the Castello Sforzesco, a Visconti fortress redesigned by Leonardo da Vinci and now a remarkable art museum. Walk through the delightful Brera District with its small shops, cafés and old masters painting gallery which gives the district its name. You’ll also visit the Duomo, the fourth largest cathedral in the world and Piazza Mercanti.Head for Piazza della Scala, which is flanked by the world-renowned Opera house (museum interior included).After an included street food experience,stop over for lunch at one of the cafes and then browse around Milan’s splendid 19th century shopping mall, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.Depart Milan to the off the beaten path LAKE ORTA where you will spend the first two nights in the captivating medieval village of ORTA SAN GIULIO staying at the family run “HOTEL SAN ROCCO“. This evening meet your local tour director and fellow travelers for a welcome drink followed by an included feast of flavors. Overnight stay in ORTA SAN GIULIO
DAY 2: PICTURE PERFECT ORTA SAN GIULIO
LAKE ORTA is the westernmost lake in the lower Alps region,characterized by soft hills and possibly the most charming of Italian lakes.Villages are dotted around the lake,along the shore or perched among green terracing.This morning our expert guide will introduce you to the history of tranquil ORTA SAN GIULIO, located on a promontory in the middle of the lake.There is a very northern Italian magic about Orta San Giulio,one of the prettiest old lakeside towns you’ll find anywhere.We will board a boat to take us to the tiny island of ST GIULIO, dominated by the 12th century BASILICA, full of vibrant frescoes mostly of saints.A light lunch is included today in a local restaurant.The remainder of the day is at leisure, maybe join your tour manager for an optional visit to the SACRO MONTE, spectacularly set on wooded hillside above the lake,with views across to the Isola di San Giulio.This Unesco World Heritage site is a devotional path comprising a series of frescoed chapels illustrating the life of St Francis of Assisi.Overnight stay in ORTA SAN GIULIO
DAY 3: PIEDMONT BACKROAD GATTINARA,NEBBIOLO WINERY & MAGICAL SANTA CATERINA HERMITAGE
Your transfer to LAKE MAGGIORE features a stop to the heart of the GATTINARA countryside, famous for its NEBBIOLO WINE where we will visit a well-known winery for a tasting of their local wines accompanied by local products. Next, we discover the charming backroad village of Gattinara for an included light lunch in a popular restaurant.Board a private boat for a visit to the SANTA CATERINA HERMITAGE, one of the most evocative and fascinating places on Lake Maggiore.Spend the next three nights in the delightful town of STRESA staying at the historical “HOTEL DES ILES BORROMEES” or similar.Dinner is on your own this evening.Overnight stay in STRESA
DAY 4: AMAZING STRESA & THE BORROMEO ISLANDS
Explore Lake Maggiore’s jewel-like BORROMEOS ISLANDS by private boat today.First stop we will visit ISOLA BELLA, where you’ll wander up the 10 terraces of the gardens,where peacocks roam among the scented shrubs,statues,and fountains,for a splendid view of the lake. This is also the home of the grand 17th century PALAZZO BORROMEO with its rooms where famous guests,including Napoleon and Mussolini, stayed in the 18th century splendor.Continue to ISOLA MADRE, where you can stroll among lush terraced gardens that tumble to the lake-shore.The remainder of the day is at leisure.A pizza dinner is included for a casual and fun evening.Overnight stay in STRESA
DAY 5: COOKING EXPERIENCE & VILLA TARANTO BOTANICAL GARDENS
Today is a super fun-day where you will have the opportunity to take part in a special HANDS-ON-COOKING class by a local chef, as he shows you how to make some simple Italian recipes that you’ll enjoy for lunch.Afterwards,continue to the lake town of VERBANIA for a visit to the stunning late 19th century VILLA TARANTO.With its rolling hillsides of purple rhododendrons and camellias, acres of tulip flowers and hothouses full of equatorial lilies it is considered one of Europe’s finest botanical gardens.In the evening enjoy a boat ride to the ISOLA DEI PESCATORI for an included dinner in a local restaurant.Overnight stay in STRESA
DAY 6: COMO & THE SILK MUSEUM
Leaving Stresa behind, your next sightseeing stop is COMO, on the gorgeous blue-green lake of the same name.Highlights of your tour include the marble-faced CATHEDRAL, the multi-hued town hall, and the “new “city walls, rebuilt in 1162.During your free time, you may consider taking a funicular from the harbor to the small hillside village of BRUNATE to take in stunning views over the lake.After an included street food experience,visit the popular SILK MUSEUM where it is possible to see the whole silk manufacturing process, from silkworm breeding to finishing it.The lake town of MENAGGIO is your base for the next three nights at the central “GRAND HOTEL MENAGGIO” or similar. Dinner is on your own this evening.Enjoy la Dolce Vita!!Overnight stay in MENAGGIO
DAY 7: A CRUISE TO BELLAGIO & VILLA DEL BALBANIELLO
In the morning we explore the elegant and delightful resort of BELLAGIO which, with its idyllic location on a promontory on the lake, is often described as the most beautiful town in Italy.Once the haunt of European monarchs, today the attractive, pastel-colored buildings, faded by decades of sunshine, line the lake shore and narrow cobbled streets and lanes climb their way to the hilly center. Lake Como is famous for its extravagant villas. After time on your own for lunch, we tour the beautiful VILLA DEL BALBANIELLO, one of the finest villas surrounding the lake. Originally built for a cardinal, the statue-lined balustrades fringed with flowers that outline the gardens of this 1784 villa have caught the eye of many film directors.At 18.30 meet your tour guide and the rest of the group for an Italian “apericena” accompanied by a local aperitif.Live as a local!Overnight stay in MENAGGIO
DAY 8: A TASTE OF SWITZERLAND: UNESCO CASTLES OF BELLINZONA & LAKE LUGANO
Today’s adventure takes you across the Swiss border to the CASTLES OF BELLINZONA, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.These massive medieval fortifications loom above the town, guarding an alpine pass and are strikingly Italianate in feel.Departing Bellinzona,you’ll visit LUGANO. Surrounded by mountains and fronting Lake Lugano, this lovely town enchants with natural beauty and architectural charm. Here we will enjoy together a sightseeing stroll where you’ll see the ornate Palazzo Civico and the main shopping street.Spend the rest of the evening at leisure.Overnight stay in MENAGGIO
DAY 9: TAPESTRY OF CULTURES: BIBLICAL BERGAMO & THE MAGIC OF LAKE GARDA
Departing Lake Como this morning, you’ll head for the lovely LAKE GARDA, declared one of the most beautiful places on earth by many writers and poets. En route, you’ll visit the walled hill-top town of BERGAMO. Our expert local guide will lead us on a walking tour of the old upper town of Bergamo known as Città Alta, a completely intact walled city with one of the most beautiful main squares in all of Italy, Piazza Vecchia, surrounded by a breathtaking collection of medieval and Renaissance architecture.Continue to the charming lake town of SIRMIONE for your last three nights at the central “HOTEL SIRMIONE” or similar. Overnight stay in SIRMIONE
DAY 10: SWEET VERONA & VALPOLICELLA WINERY
VERONA is a vibrant trading center, the largest city in the Veneto region and one of the most prosperous in northern Italy.Today we have a guided walking tour in order to appreciate it at its best, discovering its ancient center, with many magnificent Roman ruins and fine palazzi built of rosso di Verona, the local pink-tinged limestone.Explore VALPOLICELLA’s scenic vineyards and historic wineries during an included wine tasting accompanied local products in a popular local winery.Rest of the day is at leisure.Overnight stay in SIRMIONE
DAY 11: ELEGANT SIRMIONE
Your day begins with a discovery tour around the Garda Lake with an inclusive boat ride of the peninsula of SIRMIONE .Following this you will have the rest of the day at your own pace in the charming historical area, where you’ll admire the town’s maze of narrow streets, attractive cafes, elegant shops, villas and churches.You might also visit the CATULLO CAVES, the ruins of a villa thought to be the residence of the Roman poet Catullus. In the evening celebrate your Italian Lakes District adventure with an “Arrivederci dinner” sharing travel memories and toasting new friends.Overnight stay in SIRMIONE
DAY 12: ARRIVEDERCI NORTHERN ITALY
Morning transfers to Verona airport or train station. You might also consider our new 8 Days Small Group Tour to discover TURIN,LE LANGHE & BAROLO REGION
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