Best of the Italian Lakes
Soak up the splendour of the Italian lakes and the surrounding Swiss mountains on a 10-day escorted rail holiday that centres on scenic beauty.
Upon arrival in Turin, relax with a welcome dinner to meet your fellow travelers. Then it's off to Pettenasco, on the shores of Lake Orta. This quiet and historic area will serve as your home base for this trip, which circles the area with new adventures each day. The first sparkling lake you'll visit is Lake Maggiore, where you'll embark on a boat ride to the Borromean Islands. Next you'll have time on your own to explore Isola San Giulio, an insland in Lake Orta which is home to a small enclave of Benedictine nuns. After a free day in Pettenasco, you'll head to Lake Como at the foothills of the Italian and Swiss Alps. Here you will explore the small peninsula town of Bellagio. Then gear up for a full-day adventure on the narrow-gauge Centovalli Railway as you travel to Locarno in Switzerland. You have a final day to relax near Lake Orta on your own, before wrapping up this splendid adventure.
Highlights and Inclusions
- Journey on the Centovalli Railway
- First Class rail travel unless otherwise described (Standard Premier Class on Eurostar journeys with a light meal and drinks)
- 9 nights hotel accommodations
- 17 meals, including 9 breakfasts and 8 dinners
- Lake Orta and free time in Pettenasco
- Guided tour of Milan
- Lake Maggiore
- Orta San Giulio
- Lake Como with a visit to Bellagio by boat
- The services of a professional UK Tour Manager from start to finish
Day 1 - To Turin
Our tour begins today at our dedicated Departure Office in London St Pancras, where you meet your group and Tour Manager. From here, we travel by Eurostar to Paris, enjoying a light meal and drinks as part of our Standard Premier Class experience. On arrival in Paris, we change trains and continue to Turin by rail, where we overnight. We enjoy our first dinner together in the hotel this evening. (L, D)
Day 2 - Lake Orta
After breakfast today, we continue our journey by rail, travelling via Milan to Stresa. On arrival in Stresa, we transfer by coach to Pettenasco, a delightful town on the shores of Lake Orta, and our home for the next seven nights. Lake Orta is one of Italy's lesser-known treasures, and offers a quiet charm, with unspoilt Pettenasco a tranquil and historic destination. The Alps prove a fine backdrop for the town, adding to its attractive appeal alongside the sparkling waters of the lake. We stay at the 4-Star Hotel L'Approdo, situated close to its own private beach, with stunning waterfront views. (B, D)
Day 3 - Lake Maggiore
Today we take our first excursion to one of the blissful Italian lakes, starting with the shimmering waters of Lake Maggiore.Having welcome visitors since the 19th century, Lake Maggiore and its surrounding villages have a 'Belle Epoque' feel in their design, with pretty promenades and sunbaked villas adding to the charm of already alluring lakeside resorts. Our time here includes a visit to the stunning Borromean Islands, which are only accessible by boat. Starting at Stresa, we first explore Isola Bella, home of the exquisite Borromeo Palace. Here, we have a guided tour of the sumptuous palace and its immaculate grounds, soaking up the splendour of its Baroque architecture and lavish interior design, all set within magnificent Italian-style gardens. Our next stop is the tiny Isola dei Pescatori, a permanently-inhabited island - by fewer than a hundred people - of narrow cobbled alleyways and pretty buildings. It is thought to have been first inhabited in the 10th century, and today there are approximately 50 permanent residents on the island. It boasts a fine selection of restaurants in which to enjoy lunch, with many menus loyal to the island's rich fishing heritage. We enjoy an afternoon exploring the charming island at leisure, before cruising back to Stresa, from where we return to Pettenasco. (B, D)
Days 4 & 5 - Orta San Giulio
Our excursion today is to nearby Isola San Giulio, a charming island that floats on the surface of Lake Orta. Topped with a peaceful wood and an enchanting 12th century chapel that dominates the island, Isola San Giulio is home to a small enclave of Benedictine nuns. After free time to discover the wonders of the island under your own steam, we continue by boat to Orta San Guillo, where we enjoy some free time. On Day 5, we venture to the ever fashionable city of Milan. After a guided tour, you are free to explore the city at leisure.(Day 4 - B, D, Day 5 - B)
Day 6 - Lake Como
Our excursion today takes us to another of Italy's best-loved lakes, the incredible Lake Como. Located in the foothills of the Italian and Swiss Alps, Como is Italy's deepest lake. Set within picturesque, almost fjord-like, scenery, Lake Como has, for centuries, been a popular destination for Italians escaping the heat of the cities, and as a result there are many historic and beautiful villas lining the shores, such as the Villa Carlotta and the Villa D'Este. The area's beauty has made it hugely popular with celebrities, who have chosen to make Como their second or third home, while Lake Como has featured as a location for the recent James Bond film, Casino Royale. We first transfer by coach to Cadenabbia, a village on the shores of the lake, where we join a boat to Bellagio, a charming peninsula town that juts out into the lake. Bellagio has magnificent views across the crystal blue waters, and is one of the oldest tourist towns in Italy. Though the entire of Lake Como area is renowned for its intrinsic ambiance, Bellagio in particular has always stood out due to its unique location. You are free to explore Bellagio at your own pace, before continuing by boat to Como, on the southern tip of the lake. You have free time to explore; take in the 12th century city walls and historic city centre with a stroll, or perhaps visit the cathedral, a grand building that dominates the town. Alternatively, this may be the perfect opportunity to simply sit in a local café with an espresso - with its relaxed atmosphere, Como is a prime spot for people-watching. (B, D)
Day 7 - The Centovalli Railway
Today's full-day excursion takes us on one of Europe's most scenic railways, the narrow-gauge Centovalli Railway, on an excursion to Locarno in Switzerland. We start with a coach transfer from our hotel to Domodossola, where we board this wonderful train for a delightfully scenic Standard Class journey across the border to the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland. The line threads its way across 'a hundred valleys' that give the railway its name, all the while passing through outstanding scenery of idyllic landscapes. We pass over deep ravines and gushing waterfalls, and alongside thick forests and through sleepy villages during the journey. On arrival in Locarno, you are free to have lunch and explore at your leisure. As well as a picturesque Old Town, Locarno has beautiful subtropical gardens filled with palm trees and exotic flowers, lakeside promenades and great shopping under the arcades of the Piazza Grande. Later we cruise back down Lake Maggiore to Stresa - a splendid way to take in your surroundings on the homeward journey. We then return to Pettenasco by coach, in time for dinner at our hotel this evening. (B, D)
Day 8 - Lake Orta
Your final day by Lake Orta is free to relax. Nicknamed by some in-the-know Italians 'La Cenerentola' ('Cinderella'), the lake has the reputation of an overlooked, yet far more beautiful sister to some of the better-known bodies of water in the Italian lake district. This evening, we enjoy a farewell dinner together at our hotel, providing the opportunity to share our favourite experiences from a delightful lakeside holiday. (B, D)
Days 9 & 10 - Return to the UK
We bid a fond farewell to Italy today, as we transfer to Stresa by coach. From here, we travel by rail to Dijon, where we overnight. On Day 10, we complete our journey by rail, travelling to Paris, where we board the Eurostar to London. On arrival, our tour concludes. (Day 9 - B, D, Day 10 - B, L)
Train and Hotel Accommodations
Hotel L'Approdo, Pettenasco
Our base in Pettenasco is the 4-Star Hotel L'Approdo, a superb property that boasts an enviable position on the shores of Lake Orta. The hotel is surrounded by beautiful views, in a setting overlooked by mountains and peering across the waters of stunning Lake Orta. Perhaps take a dip in the outdoor pool (open seasonally) to unwind and soak up the panoramic scenes of Lake Orta, or stroll through the hotel's charming gardens. Additional on-site amenities include a bar with lounge space, perfect for a nightcap; a restaurant, serving Italian cuisine; and a range of spa services, including massage therapies (payable locally). The hotel also boasts a well stocked wine cellar, allowing a wonderful compliment to your evening meal, or to enjoy afterwards in the bar. Complimentary Wi-Fi and bottled water, air-conditioning and a telephone are included with each en-suite room at the Hotel L'Approdo.
The Centovalli Railway was originally planned to connect Locarno in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland with Domodossola in the very north of Italy. The line's opening was delayed considerably owing to the First World War, but construction was resumed almost immediately afterwards and the first services began in 1923.
Dates & Prices
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: Departs 5th June 2019 (£2,095), 18th September 2019 (£2,095)
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Prices are correct at the time of publication, however are subject to change at time of booking. Prices are land-only, per person based on double occupancy.
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