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Lake Maggiore, Lake Como, Lake Orta, Asti and the Langhe: Gardens and Tastings

Day 1: Arrival at your hotel, welcome drink, dinner.


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 park, a masterpiece of Italian gardens, laid out on ten stepped terraces descending to the water. 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 lake fish specialties at one of the island’s many restaurants and then explore the village before re-boarding for Isola Madre to visit the largest of the Borromean Islands, now an extensive botanical garden, and famous for its extraordinary flowering of camellias, azaleas and rhododendron. Tour the 16th century Palace, with its  reconstructed period rooms that recreate the atmosphere of yesteryear. Back to Stresa by private launch and then by coach up to the hills above town to visit the Alpinia Botanical garden, located about 800 meters above sea level at Alpino di Stresa, on the slopes of Mottarone. The garden covers an area of about 40,000 meters2 and offers a spectacular view over the Borromeo Gulf. It is home to more than 1,000 alpine and sub-alpine plant species, including examples from the Caucasus, China and Japan. Return to the hotel for dinner.


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 Scottish Captain Neil McEacharn, it has over 20,000 varieties of plants, many rare, 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 the coach for the short drive to Orta and a guided tour of this charming medieval village: Piazza Motta, on the lakefront just opposite the island of San Giulio, has always been the heart of the town with its “Palazzotto” dating back to 1582 and elegant sixteenth and seventeenth-century townhouses with small wrought iron balconies, testament to the local artisans of the period, line its picturesque lanes. 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. It was then enlarged several times and completely rebuilt between the XIth and XIIth centuries. The adjacent nineteenth-century building houses a community of Benedictine nuns. Return to Orta by private launch; free time for lunch.
In the afternoon visit a private garden situated directly on the lake, famous for its camellias and azaleas as well as its landscaping, which makes it interesting to visit any time of the year. 
The day ends in Ghemme (about an hour by coach), production area of the famous Nebbiolo-based DOCG wines: Ghemme, Gattinara, Sizzano, Fara and Boca. Meet a local producer for a guided visit of the ancient Castello/Ricetto; to see the cellars and enjoy a wine tasting, each glass paired with a typical local product, including the well-known gorgonzola cheese. 
Return to the hotel by private coach. Dinner.


After a buffet breakfast at the hotel, meet your guide and transfer by private coach to Ascona, an attractive town on Lake Maggiore in Canton Ticino, Switzerland. There, board a scheduled public ferry to cross over to the Isle of Brissago for a visit to the famous exotic garden which covers an area of about 5 acres and includes more than 1,500 different species of plants. Return by boat to Ascona, then continue by coach to Como. Free time for lunch. Visit the Cathedral (1396-1770), a magnificent summary of four centuries of architecture, impressive for the harmonious fusion of styles, and stroll around the historic center, followed by a short cruise to admire the patrician villas along the shores. Continue on to Tremezzo and visit beautiful Villa Carlotta, a neoclassical “art museum”, with a garden containing over 500 species of plants and flowers from all corners of the world, especially famous for its extraordinary flowering of azaleas and rhododendron.  Return to the hotel by private coach for dinner.


After a buffet breakfast at the hotel, meet your guide and depart for Asti by private coach, about a 2-hour drive, for a short guided tour of the historic center of this beautiful city, known worldwide for its wines and cuisine, but unfortunately much less so for its artistic beauty. Discover the city by walking the narrow streets of the medieval center between towers and palaces and visiting still- intact 5th to 17th-century monuments, like the Collegiate Church of San Secondo and the complex of San Pietro: cross the famous Palio squares and then take a walk under the Art Nouveau arcades lined with elegant shops and traditional cafés.
From Asti move on to the picturesque village of Barolo, center of the production area of one of Italy’s most famous wines, for a guided visit of an historical winery, followed by a tasting of the renowned local wines paired with cheeses and cold cuts. Then a short walk to WIMU, the new multimedia museum dedicated to wine, housed in the Falletti castle, for a one hour tour. Transfer by coach to the town of Grinzane Cavour to visit the castle/museum there, with free time for tasting and purchase of local products (including truffles). Depart for the hotel with photo stops along the scenic hills of the Langhe on the drive back. Dinner. 

Day 6:  After a buffet breakfast at the hotel, check out and departure

Subject to availability and time permitting, the following optionals can be arranged on Days 1(arrival) and 6 (departure): visit to a local nursery or private garden; shopping at an outlet of Italian designer brands; private or group cooking class.

The price includes:

6 days/5 nights
5 HB in 3-5 star hotel
4 FD tour guide/tour escort 
Entrances: Isola Bella, Isola Madre, Alpinia Garden, Villa Taranto, Isola di Brissago, Villa Carlotta, private villa, WIMU
Private boats: Borromee Islands, Isola di San Giulio
Ferry: Isola di Brissago, Lake  Como 
Tasting: Wine tasting with local specialties 

Tel. +39 0323 1981000
Fax. +39 0323 1970474
  • Duration: 6 gg
  • Price: From 445 €
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