The Italian Lakes have an enduring, beguiling beauty - it’s impossible not to be seduced. Travelers traversing the Alps wind down from snow-capped mountains to be greeted by a Mediterranean burst of color: gardens filled with rose-red camellias, hot-pink oleanders, lemon trees and luxurious palms surrounding cerulean blue lakes. Fishing boats bob in tiny harbors, palaces float in the Borromean Gulf, rustic churches cling to cliff faces and grand belle époque spas and hotels line the waterfront. No wonder European aristocrats, Arab princes and Hollywood celebrities choose to call this home.
Here's a day-by-day itinerary of the trip.
Milano – Arrivals
Arrival day – a private Mercedes minivan will transfer you from Milan Airport up to the famous and beautiful Italian Lake District. Slip into lake time as you gaze out at the beauty of the Italian Lakes. There’s time to relax and freshen up, perhaps take a nap, before joining us for welcome drinks on the terrace, followed by a lovely dinner.
For the first two nights we are staying at the beautiful L'Aqua Resort on Lake Orta, the first stop on your Ligurian Riviera tour.
The Italian Lakes
Today we’ll enjoy breakfast in the hotel before heading off from the hotel’s private dock for a cruise of the lake. We’ll visit Isola San Giulio with its tiny medieval streets and atmospheric stone houses, dating from centuries ago.
Then we’ll head to the town of Orta San Giulio for lunch and an explore of the artisan shops of the village. Later we’ll board our private boat taking us back to the hotel –a perfect introduction to the Italian lake district. Dinner tonight is on the terrace. It is a casual evening with a choice of pasta dishes just for us.
Lake Maggiore –Stresa –Como
We head east today to the neighboring lakes of Maggiore and Como. Again, we’ll be on the water as we travel by elegant speed boat from Stresa to Isola Bella.
Explore the magnificent, terraced gardens and exquisite island setting. We’ll return to Stresa after lunch and continue eastwards to Lake Como. As we drive along the lake shore you can see George Clooney’s spectacular lakeside villa (sadly not open to the public)! Enjoy the exquisite views as we make our way to the charming town of Bellagio (reached by an old-fashioned ferry). There is free time to appreciate and enjoy this stunning lakeside town. Then we continue our journey through the Italian Lake District to Lago d’Iseo (Lake Iseo).
For the next two nights, we’ll stay at the 4-star Araba Fenice Hotel - overlooking Lake Iseo.
Iseo –Franciacorta –Iseo
Lago di Iseo is the home to Riva Speedboats (often featured in James Bond movies). We will meet the family that restores these boats and enjoy a boat ride in a vintage Riva Mahogany speedboat. This is truly La Dolce Vita -Italian style.
Then we continue to Franciacorta for a sparkling wine tasting of ‘Italian Champagne’. One of the most famous brands is appropriately called ‘Ferrari’. We’ll head back to the lake for a restful evening and time for a swim in the hotel pool.
Iseo –Sirmione -Villa Cordevigo (Lake Garda)
Today we head to Sirmione the scenic peninsula surrounded by the crystal-clear waters of Lake Garda. Enjoy the quaint town with draw bridge entrance and castle and grab a bite to eat on your own today. Maria Callas had a villa here. This afternoon a boat trip on Lake Garda allows you to enjoy this exquisite lake from the water.
This evening we check in to our Relais and Chateau Villal for the remaining 3 nights of the tour.
We will be staying at the fabulous Villa Cordevigo, a luxury 18th century country house that's been converted into a 5-star hotel, just a short drive from Lake Garda.
Today starts with breakfast at Villa Cordevigo. Then it is time to stretch the legs and head off on a wonderful bike ride through the local countryside. There’s even a couple of e-bikes for those preferring a gentler ride. We’ll cycle through the local countryside and make a couple of surprise stops en route. Lunch will be a picnic in the park.
There’s time to relax and enjoy the spa and pool this afternoon. Again, there will also be transport to/from Verona for those wanting to enjoy a little free time and shopping in the romantic city of Romeo and Juliet.
Tonight, is the Farewell Dinner and Tasting Menu created by the chef at Villa Cordevigo to celebrate our final night together. It’s sure to be a memorable experience of flavors and creativity as we think back on our week together living "La Dolce Vita"!
Sadly, it's time to say our fond farewells after a magnificent week on the lakes. A private minivan or Mercedes car transfers will be available to Verona Airport (just 30 minutes away) with connecting services via Frankfurt and Munich and beyond.
An exclusive lakeside resort on Lake Orta. You'll be staying at a luxury hotel complete with views to die for, an outdoor beach club and pool, hot tubs and a spa. The bistro serves first rate cuisine from Piedmont.
Verdict – you'll just love it!
The Araba Fenice Hotel on Lake Iseo boasts an infinity pool, a whirlpool and a solarium directly on the lake. Soak in the incredible views as you savor the rich Italian sourced using local farms and providers.
Villa Cordevigo is a magnificent country house surrounded by vineyards and elegant ‘parco’. There is a beautiful outdoor pool, elegant and spacious rooms. Why not borrow one of the villa's bikes for a leisurely ride through the stunning countryside.
Janet Simmonds is a British-born tour guide and writer with a special affinity for the history, culture and art of the Mediterranean, especially Italy. She studied Geography and Art History at the University of Oxford and has spent most of her adult life traveling extensively. Several times a year she leads small groups to different parts Italy, most recently Venice, Verona and Sicily.
“Italy offers one the most priceless of one’s possessions - One’s own soul”
Let's be honest, the Italian Lakes are as scenic as they are idyllic. Crystal clear water flanked by mountains and vineyards, mild climates, pretty towns, great food and fantastic shopping… these lakes have got a lot to showcase. The most popular times to visit are spring, through to autumn.
Everything specifiied in the itinerary
All meals (except where indicated), including beer & wine with dinner.
Accommodations at unique, 4-star or better hotels
All transportation during the trip (except where indicated)
Expert Guides and Trip Leaders
A small group experience
Trip includes transfers on arrival from Milan to first hotel (Day One of tour)
Departure transfers on last day of the tour to Verona or Venice Airport
International Round Trip Airfare
Additional wine, beer, and/or spirits beyond what’s offered at meals
All personal souvenirs
Travel and Medical Insurance (required)
You'll want to fly into the Milan International Airport.
The trip officially starts on the evening of September 2nd, but if you are traveling across an ocean to get to Milan, you may want to consider arriving a day early so you have time to relax and get acclimated to the local time zone. If you do decide to arrive early, please let us know and we will take care of booking your room for you and make sure that you are kept in the same room as you will be in when the trip starts.
We will have a zoom call about 6 weeks before the trip starts to discuss all that information and give you a packing list. Here is a great website that we love that will help you with packing and travel trips.
Italy· September 2 - 8 2023· 6 nights