The Italian Lake District
“One could live and die here. The outlook seems designed as a balm to the eyes. … the horizon is lined with snow and the foreground alternates between the graceful and the rugged — a truly Shakespearean landscape, all the forces of nature are brought together, with an overwhelming sense of vastness.”
Follow in the footsteps of celebrated authors such as DH Lawrence and myriad other authors, composers and poets, who were all attracted by the gentle loveliness of the Italian Lake District. Not only an area of outstanding natural beauty, this part of the world is also home to some of Italy’s best wines, olives and lemons, and you will indulge in all three. This particular story is designed to give you a taste of Como and Garda, with their two distinct flavours, garnished with the romantic idyll that is the city of Verona. You will also be feasting your eyes on Switzerland as you head out on the Bernina Express, to view some truly spectacular scenery, and if that weren’t enough we have thrown in some chocolate making and eating for good measure. All that remains to say therefore is Buon appetito!
Benvenuti in Italia! Lake Como
Day 1 Lake Como
Upon arrival in Milan you will be whisked away to your hotel on the shores of glacial Lake Como. Authors, actors and other notables have loved the area since ancient Roman times and it’s easy to see why: lush alpine foothills, sparkling blue water and fairytale villages make the Lake Como region an ideal base for exploration. The rest of the day is free for you to settle in and enjoy lovely lakeside Como, followed by your first aperitivo, the most Italian of traditions. As the town of Valdobbiadene is nearby, where proseccois produced, you are in the right place for a quintessential Italian spritz. (D)
Day 2 Villa del Balbianello & Bellagio
After a leisurely breakfast this morning, we will head out to explore some of the area’s most iconic sights. A private boat ride through the calm, glistening waters will first take us to one of the Lake’s finest villas: the Villa del Balbianello and its stunning terraced gardens, where you’ll have time to enjoy the views and soak in the atmosphere. Then we’re off across the lake in our private boat to the ‘pearl’ of northern Italy, beautiful Bellagio. We’ll dock here for lunch and an afternoon of wandering and shopping through the picturesque streets of the historic center. Situated on a cape that divides the southern part of Lake Como, Bellagio has always been favored by nobility, while villas, gardens and luxury shops abound. Return to hotel at leisure on the ferry (tickets provided). (B, L)
Chapter 2: A Day in the Italian-Swiss Alps
Day 3 The Bernina Express to Switzerland
This morning we have the opportunity to enjoy a luxury of a bygone era: train travel across the Alps. We board the famed Bernina Expresstrain which will take us on a journey through lush alpine foothills to soaring peaks and mountain passes. Stunning snow-capped summits and glacial lakes surround the tracks of this slow ‘express’ train, that allows its passengers to savor every moment of the ride. We’ll disembark in St. Moritz, the jet set ski resort nestled in the Engadine region of Switzerland, where the sun shines for an incredible 300 days a year and the locals speak an ancient Latin-based language called ‘Romansch’. Since we’re in chocolate country, our first stop will be for a chocolate workshop and tasting in a renowned chocolate producer’s laboratory. Free time to enjoy the town and a stroll along its lake follows, before we return to Lake Como via private transport through more breathtaking alpine landscapes. (B, D)
Day 4 Free Day on Lake Como
Today is your day to enjoy Lake Como like a local. Take advantage of your full day ferry pass to explore even more of the lake.Stroll, relax in a lakeside cafe, sip an Aperol Spritzor caffe macchiato, enjoy a deliciously lazy Italian lunch. Summer is the season that suits the Italian Lake District the best, and today you can indulge in its stunning natural beauty and laid-back Italian lifestyle. Meet this evening for our final Lake Como dinner. (B, D)
Day 5 Bergamo & Riva del Garda
After breakfast we depart for Bergamo Alta, the charming old town of Bergamo proper and a jewel in the Italian crown. We’ll drive up to its hilltop setting and have a stroll through its cobblestoned alleyways, packed with medieval and Renaissance buildings, which attest to the town’s past grandeur. Yet this historic city is still a vibrant place, where locals go about their daily business, as bakers, butchers and other shops now occupy the street level of these magnificent edifices. Here we will enjoy a second typical Italian breakfast of cappuccino and pastries from one of its famous bakeries that line the streets; we are on vacation after all. Following our brief orientation walk, you’ll have free time for lunch and further independent exploration, before we meet up to continue on to our final destination today: Riva del Garda. Dinner this evening will be on the shores of Lake Garda. (B, D)
Day 6 Lake Garda
DH Lawrence wrote of Lake Garda that ‘the waters of this lake are the loveliest colours imaginable’ and today you will see why, as we have a private boat tour of the lake planned. Formed by glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age, this most pristine of Italian lakes offers panoramic views of the Dolomites that hold it within its embrace. Our first stop will be lakeside Malcesine, dominated by its 13th century castle. We’ll have the opportunity to stroll the cobbled medieval alleys, shop and have a mid-morning cappuccino. After Malcesine, we board our boat and head across the lake to Limone for lunch in a wonderful restaurant overlooking the water. Limone is Europe’s northernmost lemon growing region, so what better way to finish the day than with a visit to the old ‘greenhouses’ and a special tasting of homemade limoncello. We then return to Riva del Garda for a free evening.(B, L)
Day 7 Free Day on Lake Garda
Today take advantage of your one day ferry pass and enjoy the opportunity to discover yet more of Lake Garda. Perhaps a gentle stroll around Lazise or Peschiera, or a shop and bite to eat in the town of Garda. The day is yours to really sample La Dolce Vita, Garda style.
Verona: City of Love
Day 8 Verona
After a leisurely breakfast this morning we’ll depart for Verona by private transport, where we’ll check in to our hotel and then meet our guide for a relaxing walking tour of the main ancient and medieval sites, during which we’ll get to taste some of the town’s signature Sbrisolona crumble cake at the famed ‘Dolce Locanda’pasty shop. The imposing Roman Arena, gorgeous Piazza delle Erbe, and Lamberti Tower with its view over the terracotta rooftops, await.
Free afternoon to try more of the town’s local specialties and get lost in the bustling, boutique-filled cobblestoned streets of one of Italy’s most charming gastronomic and shopping centers. We’ll meet up again in the early evening for dinner.(B, D)
Day 9 Soave
This morning is free for you to enjoy independent exploration in Verona, perhaps visiting the House of Juliet or exploring the Castelvecchio museum and medieval castle. We’ll meet later in the afternoon for an unforgettable excursion to a nearby hilltop village which is home to perhaps the best known of Italian white wines: the legendary Soave. Production of the wine takes place in the fertile region that lies to the east of Verona, and today we will have the opportunity to visit one of the village of Soave’s most impressive wineries for a tour and tasting. Free time to enjoy the village with its sweeping views of the surrounding wine-growing fields before we meet up again and head to our farewell dinner. Return to Verona after dinner. (B, D)
Day 10: Departure from Milan Malpensa
We’ve boated across glacial lakes, ridden a train through the snow-capped Alps and experienced the best of what this stunning corner of northern Italy has to offer. We bid you arrivederci and alla prossima, until the next time. (B)
INCLUDED IN THIS TRIP:
Accommodation & Services:
- 4 nights in Lake Como area, 3 nights in Riva del Garda and 2 nights in Verona.
- Centrally located, upmarket hotels.
- The services of an extremely highly qualified and experienced Tour Manager who will accompany you throughout your trip.
- Transfers to and from the airport.
- Private transport, unless otherwise stated.
- All tips. For instance, tips to tour managers, local guides, restaurants and porterage (where available) are all included in the total price; one less thing to think about.
- We shall be visiting: Lake Como, Bellagio, St. Moritz, Bergamo Alta, Riva del Garda, Malcesine, Limone, Verona, Soave.
- One day Lake Como ferry pass.
- One day Lake Garda ferry pass.
Food & Beverages:
- Breakfast and either lunch or dinner, unless otherwise stated (B Breakfast, L Lunch, D Dinner).
- When lunch and/or dinner are included, alcohol in the form of wine and/or beer is provided, unless otherwise stated.
- Aperitivi, coffee and snacks where stated.
Entrances & Tickets:
- Villa del Balbianello
- Private boat on Lake Como
- Ferry from Bellagio to hotel
- Bernina Express train
- Private boat on Lake Garda
- Limone lemon grove entrance
- Soave winery
- Villa del Balbianello
- Soave winery
- private boat ride on Lake Como
- Villa del Balbianello tour
- Glacier Express train journey to St. Moritz, Switzerland
- chocolate workshop & tasting in Switzerland
- private boat ride on Lake Garda
- lemon grove visit & limoncello tasting in Limone
- Sbrisolona crumble cake tasting in Verona
- winery visit & tasting in Soave
- a surprise (we are all children at heart after all)
There are no ‘optionals’ for sale. Everything you have in the itinerary is included in the total cost.
NOT INCLUDED IN THIS TRIP:
- Flights not included. We suggest that you book flights into and out of Milan Malpensa Airport.
- Travel insurance.
- Visas, where applicable. (Please note: US and Canadian nationals do not require Visas when traveling to Europe).
Special itinerary designed by Lucy Loves Travel Ltd.
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