Tour description

ITALIAN LAKES SMALL GROUP TOUR

You’re about to experience 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.

TOUR ITINERARY & INCLUSIONS: 12 DAYS/11 NIGHTS
  • Guaranteed departures group travel: small, intimate group limited to 14 participants only!
  • More than 15 included sightseeing tours & cultural experiences
  • Tour of MILAN with its historical treasure,including the DUOMO and Madonna delle Grazie
  • 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 DEI PESCATORI and ISOLA BELLA, with a guided tour of its 17th century baroque villa
  • Take the cable car from Stresa to MONTE MOTTARONE for gardens, stupendous views and pleasant walks
  • Lake cruise to stunning BELLAGIO with a private visit to the enchanting VILLA DEL BALBANIELLO and its inspirational gardens
  • Take a scenic train ride to LOCARNO aboard the Centovalli Express
  • SIRMIONE & LAKE GARDA
  • Guided walking tour of medieval VERONA
  • Visit to the Swiss lakeside town of LUGANO
  • 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 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 19 seats motorcoach
  • Included gratuity for city guides
  • Tour city guides as per itinerary in Milan, 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, 3 lunches (main meals include regional wine, mineral water, local coffee or tea only)
  • Arrival and departure: The tour will begin with transfers from Milan Linate airport to the center and end with a transfer to the airport in Verona at scheduled times
  • 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
  • TUSCANY POST EXTENSION TOUR: 9 days/8 nights starting from EUR 3,200 per person
  • VENICE POST EXTENSION TOUR: 4 days/3 nights starting from EUR 1,000 per person
OUR UNIQUE ACCOMMODATIONS
ITALIAN LAKES SMALL GROUP TOUR ITINERARY

 

MAJESTY OF THE ITALIAN LAKES TRAVEL ITINERARY

ITALIAN LAKES SMALL GROUP TOUR

SMALL GROUP TOUR LIMITED TO 12/14 PARTICIPANTS ONLY

DAY 1: WELCOME TO MILAN & THE 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-forward 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.  You’ll also visit the Duomo, the fourth largest cathedral in the world, and the Madonna delle Grazie. Stop over for lunch at one of the cafes and then browse around Milan’s splendid 19th century shopping mall, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. After an included foodie experience, head for Piazza della Scala, which is flanked by the world-renowned Opera house. Depart Milan to the off the beaten path LAKE ORTA where you will spend the first two nights near the captivating medieval village of ORTA SAN GIULIO staying at the family run “HOTEL SAN ROCCO” or similar. This evening meet your local tour director and fellow travelers for a welcome drink followed by an included feast of flavors in a local tavern. Overnight stay in ORTA SAN GIULIO

DAY 2: THE TREASURES OF ORTA SAN GIULIO & THE ISLAND OF ST 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. We will end the day visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site of SACRO MONTE, a sanctuary built in 1591 on the rise above Orta followed by an included Italian pizza lunch.The remainder of the day is at leisure for more explorations.Overnight stay in ORTA SAN GIULIO

DAY 3: ARONA, NEBBIOLO WINERY,VILLA TARANTO IN VERBANIA & STRESA

Your transfer to STRESA and LAKE MAGGIORE features a stop to the village of ARONA to view the huge 17th-century statue of SAN CARLO BORROMEO which was placed there in honor of its illustrious citizen. A 35-m (115-ft) stairway leads to the top, from where there is a fine panoramic view. Continue to the heart of the GATTINARA countryside, famous for its NEBBIOLO WINE where we will visit a well-known winery for a wine tasting accompanied by local products. Next, you’ll see the stunning late 19th century VILLA TARANTO in the charming town of VERBANIA. 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. After enjoying lunch on your own, you have free time to make your own discoveries. Continue to the delightful town of STRESA for your next three nights at the historical “GRAND HOTEL DES ILES BORROMEES“ or similar. Your evening is capped off with an included dinner in a local tavern. Overnight stay in STRESA

DAY 4: AMAZING STRESA,BORROMEO ISLANDS & CABLE CAR TO MOUNT MOTTARONE

Explore Lake Maggiore’s jewel-like BORROMEOS ISLANDS by private boat today. First stop is ISOLA MADRE, where you can stroll among lush terraced gardens that tumble to the lake-shore. Next, enjoy an included lunch in the tiny fishing village on ISOLA DEI PESCATORI followed by a visit to ISOLA BELLA, home of the grand 17th century PALAZZO BORROMEO. The remainder of the day is at leisure, or you can join an included cable car ascend to MOUNT MOTTARONE where you will reach 1491 meters in 20 mins. This mountain separates Lake Maggiore to Lake Orta. At 18.30 meet your tour guide and the rest of the group for an included Italian aperitif. Dinner is on your own. Overnight stay in STRESA

DAY 5: THE CENTOVALLI RAILWAY & LOCARNO IN SWITZERLAND 

Today’s excursion takes you on one of Europe’s most scenic railways, the narrow-gauge CENTOVALLI RAILWAY, on a discovery trip to LOCARNO in Switzerland.A picturesque train clatters along the valley, over deep ravines and gushing waterfalls, alongside thick forests and through sleepy villages during the journey from DOMODOSSOLA to LOCARNO. On arrival in Locarno, you are free to have lunch and explore at your leisure the picturesque old town with its attractive subtropical gardens filled with palm trees, exotic flowers and lakeside promenades. Later we cruise back down Lake Maggiore to Stresa (weather permitting), a splendid way to take in your surroundings on the homeward journey.Overnight stay in STRESA

DAY 6: COMO,THE SILK MUSEUM & MENAGGIO

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. We will also visit the popular SILK MUSEUM where it is possible to see the whole silk manufacturing process, from silkworm breeding to finishing it. 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. From here we continue to the lake town of MENAGGIO, your base for the next three nights at the central “GRAND HOTEL MENAGGIO” or similar. Your evening culminates with an included dinner in a traditional, family-run restaurant. Overnight stay in MENAGGIO 

DAY 7: LA DOLCE VITA IN BELLAGIO, VILLA BALBANIELLO & VILLA CARLOTTA

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 lunch on your own, 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. We will end the day with a visit to the stunning VILLA CARLOTTA at Tremezzo, with its exquisite landscaped gardens as well as the sumptuous late-Baroque villa. Overnight stay in MENAGGIO

DAY 8: LAKE LUGANO & UNESCO CASTLES OF BELLINZONA  IN SWITZERLAND 

Leaving Lake Como behind, today’s adventure takes you across the Swiss border to LUGANO. Surrounded by mountains and fronting Lake Lugano, this lovely town enchants with natural beauty and architectural charm. Here we will enjoy together a scenic boat tour followed by a sightseeing stroll. You’ll see the ornate Palazzo Civico (Town Hall) and the main shopping street, Via Nassa. Departing Lugano, you’ll visit 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. This evening enjoy more free time to explore on your own. Overnight stay in BELLAGIO

DAY 9: TAPESTRY OF CULTURES: BERGAMO,FRANCIACORTA WINERY & SIRMIONE

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 village of BERGAMO. After a sightseeing tour of this medieval charmer, you’ll continue to Italy’s best-known wine making regions, FRANCIACORTA where we’ll visit a local winery a tasting of their wines accompanied by a delicious lunch. You’ll stay for the last three nights in Sirmione at the central “HOTEL OLIVI” or similar. Overnight stay in SIRMIONE

DAY 10: HIGHLIGHTS OF VERONA 

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. In the early afternoon, drive to SIRMIONE for a guided tour of the charming historical area, where you’ll admire the town’s maze of narrow streets, attractive cafes, elegant shops, villas and churches. We end the day with a walk to the CATULLO CAVES, the ruins of a villa thought to be the residence of the Roman poet Catullus. Overnight stay in SIRMIONE

DAY 11: DOLCE FAR NIENTE IN SIRMIONE

Spend the morning at leisure, then in the early afternoon, join us on a boat ride (duration 1.5 hr.) to visit the most beautiful and remarkable corners of the town of Sirmione. Admire the scenery from the vantage point of the boat, including beautiful villas and vineyards on the lakeside hills. Sail around San Biagio Island and Garda Island. See the ancient Roman Grottoes of Catullus and the former home of beloved Greek-American soprano, Maria Callas. Gaze up at the Rocca di Manerba, from which cliffs dramatically plunge into the lake. In the evening celebrate your Italian Lakes 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.Personalize your adventure with a Pre-and Post Trip Extension: TUSCANY POST EXTENSION TOUR: 9 days/8 nights starting from EUR 3,200 per person: VENICE POST EXTENSION TOUR: 4 days/3 nights starting from EUR 1,000 per person

2020 ITALIAN LAKES SMALL GROUP TOUR DATES & PRICING

2020 TOUR PRICE: € 4,900    SINGLE SUPPLEMENT:  € 1,300    currency converter 

Prices are per person based on double room occupancy


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