8 nights from £1,095pp.
Selected departures May to September 2012.
You'll love this tour if you like:
- Stunning lake and mountain scenery
- Quaint lakeside villages
- Lively Italian street markets
- Sacred religious sites
- Boat trips - on Lake Orta and Maggiore
This wonderful tour was our first tour by train to Italy and focuses upon Italy's beautiful lakes from our base on pretty Lake Orta. Tour highlights include three of Italy's (and one of Switerzland's) most striking lakes - Orta, Como, Maggiore and Lugano. You will also visit Varallo, the tranquil Santuario D'Oropa, a complex of religious buildings and a hospice, Monte Rosa, the highest mountain in Switzerland and second largest in Europe, the charming resort of Stresa and Lake Maggiore's stunning Borromean Islands with spectacular mountain and lake scenery at every turn.
One of the tour's most appealing features is our base at Lake Orta staying at the charming family run 3-star Giardinetto Hotel, situated in lovely gardens right on Lake Orta with fantastic lake views. Dinner is included here every night in its lakeside restaurant offering excellent local cuisine and stunning views.
ItineraryDay 1: Travel by Eurostar from St Pancras or Ebbsfleet to Paris and transfer by coach to your hotel for an overnight stay right next to the Gare de Lyon with the balance of the day free to enjoy some of Paris’ inexhaustible sights and dinner in one of its many superb restaurants (not included).
Day 2: Travel by TGV to Novara. On arrival transfer by coach to your hotel (approx 1.5 hours) for check in for 7-night stay on Half Board basis. Balance of day free to enjoy the hotel’s gardens and facilities.
Day 3: A full day free to enjoy the delights of the hotel and Lake Orta.
Day 4: A full day tour of three lakes – Maggiore, Como and into Switzerland to see Lugano – with plenty of stunning scenery and stops at picturesque lakeside villages and towns.
Day 5: Travel by boat to Omegna for the colourful local market. Evening winetasting at the the hotel before dinner.
Day 6: Varallo is famed for its 15th century church of Santa Maria delle Grazie that houses a superb collection of beautifully-restored frescoes depicting the life of Christ. The town also boasts an extraordinary religious community founded in the 15th century, Sacro Monte, set high up at an altitude of 610m reached by a long staircase or cableway.
Day 7: Another glorious day of scenery as we head up to Italy’s 2nd highest mountain, Monte Rosa and the pretty mountain village of Macugnaga, founded in the 12th century by the Swiss Walser people, that offers wonderful Alpine views and charming mountain architecture.
Day 8: We have saved perhaps the best day until last as we head to the chic lakeside resort of Stresa and to Maggiore’s historic and beautiful Borromean Islands. This group of three islands in the lake, easily reached from the quayside at Stresa, comprise Isola Bella, location of the splendid 17th century Palazzo Borromeo, Isola Madre, a beautiful botanical garden and Isola dei Pescatori, a picturesque fishing village.
Day 9: Transfer to Novara station for return TGV to Paris and onwards by Eurostar to Ebbsfleet or St Pancras.
NB: Exact order of itinerary may vary according to local conditions and tour manager's discretion
- Return Eurostar and TGV from St Pancras or Ebbsfleet to Novara via Paris
- 1 nights' accommodation at the 3-star Mercure Gare de Lyon on bed and breakfast basis
- 7 nights' accommodation on dinner (set menu), bed and breaskfast basis at the 3-star Giardinetto Hotel, Lake Orta
- Winetasting at the hotel
- Transfers in Paris and Italy
- Full touring itinerary as detailed in the itinerary
- Tour manager throughout
- Single room supplement
- Room upgrades - only twins/doubles available: Standard lake view or Superior lake view
- Standard Premier/1st Class upgrade on Eurostar/TGV. On the Eurostar this constitutes upgraded seating and light meal with complimentary drink with upgraded seating only on the French railway leg
- Holiday insurance
- Meals other than those stated
- Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, telephone calls etc
- Porterage and gratuities.
Places of Interest
Lake Orta and the Hotel Giardinetto
One ot Italy's least visited lakes, Lake Orta is unjustly ignored as it is one of the most beautiful, and delightfully set in the foothills of the Alps. The lake's main town is Orta San Giulio, just 3 or 4 km from your hotel, which has a beautiful historic centre containing handsome palazzi and pretty houses wth decorative wrought-iron balconies. In the main square is the town hall, a frescoed building dating from 1582 standing on arcades and a host of restaurants with outdoor terraces, perfect for a lovely relaxing lunch. Elsewhere, visit the 15th century church of Santa Maria Assunta with a richly-decorated interior of 17th century frescoes and (energy permitting) the amazing Sanctuary of Sacro Monte - high above the town- that was built between 1591 to 1770 and contains 21 chapels in which a variety of scenes from the life of St Francis are depicted in life-size statuary. Another delight is the tiny island reached from the town by boat, Isola San Guilio, with a pretty church containing a 12th century pulpit. Market day in the lake's other main town, Omegna, is a delight too and reached by boat which departs directly from the hotel. For a true slice of Italian life this excursion should not be missed.
Three lakes – Maggiore, Como and Swiss Lugano
A wonderfully scenic introduction to this area is a full day tour of the three principal lakes of the region with plenty of refreshment stops at delightful lakeside villages and stunning lake and mountain views at every turn. Each lake has its own character and style whilst all offer wonderful scenery and are lined with elegant villas and pretty villages with typical local architecture.
The small town of Varallo is famed for its 15th century church of Santa Mariadelle Grazie that houses a superb collection of beautifully-restored frescoes depicting the life of Christ, painted in the early 16th century by Gaudenzo Ferrari. The town also boasts an extraordinary religious community founded in the 15th century, Sacro Monte, set high up at an altitude of 610m reached by a long staircase or cableway. This lovely complex of buildings houses a 19th century Basilica dell'Assunta and 40 chapels dotted around it representing the sacred sites of Jerusalem.
Monte Rosa is Italy's second highest mountain and overlooks the picturesque Ayas and Gressoney valleys. This day promises another glorious day of scenery as we head up to the pretty mountain village of Macugnaga, founded in the 12th century by the Swiss Walser people, that offers wonderful Alpine views and charming mountain architecture.
Stresa and Lake Maggiore
We save perhaps the most memorable day until last as we head to the chic lakeside resort of Stresa and to Maggiore’s historic and beautiful Borromean Islands. This group of three islands in the lake, easily reached from the quayside at Stresa, comprise Isola Bella, location of the splendid 17th century Palazzo Borromeo, Isola Madre, a beautiful botanical garden and the picturesque fishing village at Isola dei Pescatori.