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home > GRAND TOUR OF THE LAKES / 8 days

GRAND TOUR OF THE LAKES / 8 days

Lake Maggiore, Milan, Lake Orta, Lake Como, Lake Lugano and Train Centovalli Express

Day 1: ARRIVAL 

Arrival at your hôtel on Lake Maggiore, welcome drink and dinner

Day 2: STRESA: BORROMEO ISLANDS

After a buffet breakfast at the hotel, meet your guide and transfer by private launch to Isola Bella, the most famous of the Borromeo Islands. Visit the 17th-century palace, rich in history, art and culture, and its extraordinary landscaped grounds, a masterpiece of Italian gardens, laid out on ten stepped terraces descending to the water’s edge. Free time for shopping and exploring the island. Then on to Isola dei Pescatori, the centuries’old working fisherman’s island, with its picturesque lanes and alleyways, typical dwellings and the small church dedicated to San Vittore. Free time for lunch to try delicious lakefish specialties at one of the islands restaurants and explore at leisure. Afternoon transfer by private launch to Isola Madre to visit the largest of the Borromean Islands, with its extensive botanical garden, aviary and exotic peacocks and pheasants freely roaming the grounds. Tour the 16th century Palace, its  reconstructed period rooms recreating the atmosphere of yesteryear. Back to Stresa by private launch and return to the hotel for dinner.

Day 3: MILAN: VISIT AND SHOPPING
 
After a buffet breakfast at the hotel, transfer by private coach to the city of Milan. Upon arrival, meet your guide and begin the tour, which includes the world-famous La Scala Theatre, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele and the gothic Cathedral, all impressive symbols of the city. 
The tour begins at the Castello Sforzesco, the ancient residence of the Visconti and Sforza families, now home to museums and temporary exhibitions. Then a short walk to the impressive square of the extraordinary Duomo, the largest and most complex Gothic building in Italy. The Cathedral’s rich exterior, with more than 2000 statues, rises over 108 meters to the sky, its roof decorated with a “forest” of 135 spires crowned by the famous gold Madonnina. Pass through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the city’s historic “drawing room”, stroll along the elegant streets, like Via Montenapoleone, symbol of Milan’s reputation as the global capital of sdesigners fashion. 
Free time for individual shopping and lunch. In the early afternoon, before returning to the hotel, a visit to the city’s Monumental Cemetery, started  in 1866, with its ornate tombs, sculpted by the most renowned artists of the time, a veritable open-air museum. Departure from Milan with optional stop at an outlet on the way back, a shopper’s paradise with designer names at bargain prices. Return to the hotel and dinner.

Day 4: VILLA TARANTO - BOTANIC GARDEN  AND LAKE ORTA 

After a buffet breakfast at the hotel, meet your guide and transfer by private coach to Verbania for a  guided tour of Villa Taranto, one of Italy’s richest botanical gardens and a major tourist attraction on Lake Maggiore. Transformed in 1931 by Scotsman Captain Neil McEacharn, it has over 20,000 varieties of plants, many rare and imported from all over the world. The garden covers an area of 20 hectares and is crossed by 7 km of paths. An uninterrupted show of spectacular blooms dazzles visitors from April to October. The tour lasts about 2 hours. Re-board your coach for the short drive to Lake Orta, the ancient “Cusius”, situated west of Lake Maggiore, and rich in history and monuments. Free time for lunch and shopping followed by guided tour of this charming medieval village: Piazza Motta, on the lakefront just opposite the island of San Giulio, the heart of the town with its “Palazzotto” dating back to 1582, and narrow lanes lined with elegant sixteenth and seventeenth-century townhouses with their characteristic wrought iron gates and balconies, testament to the local artisans of the period. The tour continues by small private motorboat across to the island of San Giulio, known for its Romanesque basilica founded, according to tradition, by the saint at the end of the fourth century. Enlarged several times over time, it was completely rebuilt between the XIth and XIIth centuries. The adjacent 19th-century building houses a community of Benedictine nuns. 
Return to Orta by private launch and then back to the hotel by coach. Dinner.

Day 5 : LAKES COMO AND LUGANO (SWITZERLAND) 

DOCUMENT REQUIRED: valid identity card to cross border

After a buffet breakfast, departure from the hotel by private coach for the trip north along Lake Maggiore, via Locarno, host to the famous summer film festival on the Swiss shore of the Ticino Canton, to the elegant city of Lugano. Visit Parco Ciani and the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, one of the most significant in the area, with its finely painted frescoes. After a brief orientation tour, free time for shopping and lunch. In the afternoon departure for Como, famous for its silk production and still one of the city’s most important industries. Free time to visit the Cathedral (1396-1770), a magnificent summary of four centuries of architecture, noted for the harmonious fusion of different styles, and then a short cruise to admire some of the beautiful patrician villas overlooking the lake. 
Departure from Como and return to thé hotel. Dinner.  

Day 6: THE HERMITAGE OF SANTA CATERINA DEL SASSO, THE ROCK OF ANGERA AND THE STATUE OF SAN CARLONE

After a buffet breakfast, walk to the landing to board a private launch across the lake to  the Hermitage of Santa Caterina, a 12th-century monastery and unique monumental complex consisting of two convents and a church perched on the side of a sheer cliff,  like the secret treasure some great granite giant. Visit the former Dominican monastery and the 16th-century church, the chapels; see the antique olive and grape press, and hear about the miracle of the “shrine, all the while contemplating the beautiful views over the lake and enjoying the serene and peaceful atmosphere of the sanctuarye. Back by boat to Stresa with free time for lunch and shopping. 
Transfer by coach along the lakeshore to the lovely town of Arona and the colossal statue of Saint Charles Borromeo. 
Continue on to Angera and visit the medieval Rocca Borromeo, original residence of the Borromeo family. Since 1988, it has housed the charming Doll Museum and Collection of antique children's fashion, a  journey into a past of precious lace and linens, needlepoint and crochet, with over 1000 items on exhibit in an evocative medieval atmosphere.
Private coach back to the hotel and dinner.

Day 7:   THE PANORAMIC CENTOVALLI TRAIN AND LOCARNO (SWITZERLAND)

DOCUMENT REQUIRED: valid identity card to cross border

After a buffet breakfast, departure by private coach to the town of Domodossola. Here, board the characteristic sCentovallis, train for a pleasant hour and a half scenic ride through the Vigezzo Valley, also known as the “Painters’ Valleys. Journey past uncontaminated forests, pristine waterfalls, and spectacular cliffs, as well as vineyards, small villages, and the town of Re, famous for the shrine dedicated to Our Lady of the Blood.
Continue on to Locarno in Canton Ticino (Switzerland), an attractive city on the shores of Lake Maggiore, and host to the famous international film festival. Guided tour followed by free time for lunch and afternoon for shopping and exploring on your own. Return by scheduled public Locarno-Intra ferry (about 2 hours) and then board private coach back to the hotel for dinner 

Day 8: DEPARTURE

After a buffet breakfast, check-out and departure.
The price includes:

7 HB in 3-5 star hotel on Lake Maggiore
6 FD tour guide/tour escort
Entrances: Villa Taranto, Isola Bella, Isola Madre, Rocca di Angera
Private boats for: Borromee Islands, St. Catherine’s Hermitage, Orta San Giulio, Lake Como mini-cruise,
Ticket: Centovalli Express (train + public ferry)

Tel. +39 0323 1981000
Fax. +39 0323 1970474
  • Duration: 8 gg
  • Price: From 525 €
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