|8 days and 7 nights|
Italy (Milan, Maggiore Lake, Stresa, Arona)
Day 1 Stresa
Arrival in afternoon. Check-in at your hotel, then you are free to discover the new surroundings or you can relax in one of the many delightful cafés. Dinner and overnight stay in Stresa .
Day 2 Borromean Islands
We will spend a full day to become familiar with the Lake Maggiore exploring the famous Borromean islands. We will board a private boat to the elegant Isola Bella to see the 17th century baroque palace built by Carlo III of the House of Borromeo for his wife Isabella. Surrounded by terraced gardens that were inspired by the ‘Hanging Gardens of Babylon’, the palace was the scene of sumptuous and lavish parties, attended by the cream of European nobility. We then continue to Isola Pescatori, the ‘island of fishermen’, completely different with its narrow cobbled streets and pretty harbour. The island was thought to be first inhabited in the 10th century and there are now approximately 50 residents. Return for dinner and overnight stay in Stresa.
Day 3 Lake Como
In the morning we will visit Como itself, a charming and popular town perched on the waterfront of the lake, with narrow streets, artistic monuments and still surrounded by the ancient walls from the year 1192, most of which has remain unchanged. In the afternoon we venture further around the lake to Tremezzo. Followed by the stunning spectacle of the lakeside villas seen from a private boat, we pass to the elegant and exclusive resort of Bellagio. With its idyllic location on a promontory on the lake, its colourful flowers, its pastel-coloured buildings lining the lake shore and narrow cobbled streets climbing their way to the hilly centre, Bellagio is often described as one of the most beautiful sights in Italy, and when you see it you will almost certainly agree! Spend the afternoon exploring at your own pace the town, why not strolling amongst the many typically formal Italian gardens. Return for dinner and overnight stay in Stresa.
Day 4 Centovalli Railway and Lake Maggiore cruise
If you choose to join today’s optional excursion, we leave for Domodossola to take a characteristic train locally known as the "Centovalli" (100 valleys) for an extremely pleasant experience that lasts 90 minutes. We will journey through the Vigezzo valley with his spectacular waterfalls, multicolour hills, vineyards, chestnut tree forests and over high bridges to the charming Locarno in Switzerland (passport required). After a short walk in the centre of this staunchly Swiss town but resembling more Tuscany with his twisting lanes and alleys, we will catch the ferry boat on Lake Maggiore back to Stresa on a relaxing cruise which allows you to appreciate the spectacular location from an alternative viewpoint. Return for dinner and overnight stay in Stresa.
Day 5 Macugnaga and Mount Rosa
Join our today’s optional journey to the Anzasca Valley and the Alpine resort of Macugnaga, a popular destination for winter sport enthusiasts. In the summer months, mountaineers make their way to the town, a picturesque location where you can while away a few hours as you admire the glorious setting and the spectacular views of nearby Mount Rosa. After this half-day visit, enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. Return for dinner and overnight stay in Stresa.
Day 6 Zermatt and the Matterhorn
Today we will have a scenic journey across the Simplon Pass to Zermatt. Enjoy breath taking views as you cross the Swiss border into the high Alps, then take the Simplon Pass, once used by the Romans to control their northern provinces. Continuing, the road traverses towering viaducts and jaw dropping precipices before arriving at the famous resort of Zermatt, nestling at the foot of the Matterhorn. For a better view you can take the cable car or cog railway to reach 3000m and the wonderland of glaciers and summits. Alternatively you can relax in one of the many delightful cafés or take a horse drawn carriage ride. Return for dinner and overnight stay in Stresa.
Day 7 Arona, Colosso di San Carlo, Lake Orta
Join us to our final excursion to experience one of the real highlights of the entire holiday: Lake Orta, probably the prettiest of the Italian lakes, yet surprisingly one of the least known. En route, stop to Arona, a delightful city lying on the bank of Lake Maggiore. After a short tour we will see a traditional outdoor market, where you can mingle with the local people, the we will visit the Colosso di San Carlo, a monumental statue of San Carlo Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan and the only cardinal ever to refuse the offer of the papacy. This enormous 17th century bronze statue which reaches a high of 35m, was for centuries the tallest statue in the world and crowns a hill commanding wonderful views across Lake Maggiore and the surrounding countryside. We continue to the Lake Orta. You cannot fail to be captivated by the perfectly medieval charms and the exquisite scenery of the village of Orta San Giulio, a haven from mass tourism, surrounded on three sides by the water of the lake. Enjoy a boat trip to the famous Island of S.Giulio, then return for dinner and overnight stay in Stresa.
Day 8 Stresa
Breakfast and departure for return journey. End of our services.
Lake Maggiore, Lake Como, Lake Orta, Centovalli Railway, Macugnana, Locarno, Zermatt
Accommodation, depending on your option, in good 4* hotels centrally located or 3* not centrally located hotels, double occupancy rooms, as described:
7 night accommodation in hotel in Stresa on a half-board basis, drinks not included
Cruise to Borromean Isles on Lake Maggiore
Transfer by boat Tremezzo – Bellaggio on Lake Como
Centovalli train ride from Domodossola to Locarno
Cruise by ferry from Locarno to Stresa
Boat trip to the Island San Giulio on Lake Orta
Bus GT for the entire tour with arrival and departure from Milan airport, including all expenses (check point and parking fees, board and lodging for driver)
Optional visits, Optional excursion to Macugnaga and Mount Rosa