After exploring Switzerland’s St Moritz area, experience one of the most spectacular alpine train trips in the world – the Bernina Express to Tirano. A cruise on Lake Como takes you to the picturesque waterfront villages of Bellagio and Tremezzo, home to the must-see Villa Melzi and Villa Carlotta. There are several guided hikes included, but not without opportunities to unwind. The walk to Morteratsch Glacier is easy, and there’s flexibility on some days if you’d rather spend more time relaxing. Explore Lake Garda from many angles. In the north, it’s bordered by impressive rocky cliffs; in the south, by vineyards and olive groves
For centuries, the Italian lakes have inspired poets, artists and travellers with their majestic beauty. You’ll find it hard to resist the charm of this region as you walk through vineyards, olive groves, and past luxurious villas – oh and maybe George Clooney!
Breakfast Included: 7 Lunches Included: Dinner Included: 1
Arrive in Milan, Italy's second largest city and the capital of Lombardy, and the country's wealthiest province. No activities are planned until tonight's group meeting, so you may arrive at any time. Your hotel is centrally located and close to all the major sights. After the meeting the evening is yours to spend as you please. Perhaps enjoy some dinner in a local traditional restaurant.
Milan / Como / Menaggio
Enjoy a walking tour of Milan this morning. See the Gothic Duomo, the city's most famous building – walking in between the sculptures on its roof is an amazing experience. Walk through the beautiful Galleria, to the Teatro alla Scala, arguably Italy’s most famous opera house. Explore some shops in the fashion district, and visit the medieval castle and its beautiful park. Lunch is optional today – you can choose to eat in a local restaurant or pick up a ‘panino’ if you prefer. In the early afternoon you will drive north to Lake Como (Lago di Como), an area of stunning beauty, full of unique and evocative landscapes. Stop en-route for a stroll around the medieval town centre of Como. There will be time for a drink, either on Como's amazing town square or along the lake shore, before driving around the eastern side of the lake. Strewn with elegant villas and crowned by an old castle, Menaggio will be your base for the next three nights.
Lake Como / Tremezzo / Bellagio / Menaggio
In the morning, you will travel to the lakeside village of Tremezzo and explore the splendid Villa Carlotta and its beautiful gardens overlooking the lake. Take another boat to the central part of Lake Como to visit the pretty village of Bellagio, the Pearl of the lake, situated on the Punta Spartivento (literally the point that divides the wind), where the two arms of Lake Como meet. With inspiring views of the lake and the distant mountains, brightly painted houses adorned with flower-filled balconies, a bustling waterfront and a maze of meandering cobblestone streets, Bellagio is a delightful place to explore. Embark on a short walk through the countryside – past picturesque fishing harbours and beautiful villas. Enjoy a picnic lunch en route, on the beach or just along the lake shore. Or perhaps you’ll want just to relax and eat in a trattoria somewhere in the village. End your walk in the gardens of beautiful Villa Melzi. This grand white villa sits just back from the water and its surrounding estate is filled with a plethora of rare and exotic plant life. Another ferry ride takes you back to charming Menaggio.
Lake Como / Menaggio
Today is a free day for you to enjoy all Menaggio and the surrounding area has to offer. Depending on your energy levels there are a number of different routes in the area. A great option is for you to take a short ferry ride to the city of Varenna, deemed by some to be the most romantic town of Italy. From here a short walk heads to the castle of Vezio, and the remains of this military fortress, which was used as sighting tower in the days of Queen Teodolinda. Alternatively you may prefer to relax and see the sights of pretty Menaggio, or get active and head to the mountain hut above Menaggio, situated on the southern slope of Mount Grona. The walk is challenging in sections but the visual rewards are spectacular with peerless views of Lake Como and the surrounding mountains. The first portion of the walk goes through forest and pastoral land, before heading steeply uphill to the 'Rifugio' itself. This is a great scenic setting to enjoy a picnic lunch. There are plenty of other walks to be enjoyed. Make sure you ask your leader for suggestions.
Chiavenna / Switzerland's St Moritz Area / Bernina Express / Tirano
After an early breakfast, head out for a day in the majestic mountains – partly in Italy and partly in Switzerland. Drive to Chiavenna, north of Lake Como, where you can take a stroll and do some shopping if you like. Upon entering Switzerland, travel along a wonderfully panoramic road and stop at Passo Maloja, then continue to the famous St Moritz area which is full of beautiful lakes. You will then take an easy excursion to the Morteratsch Glacier at 2000m above sea leavel, where you can choose to enjoy a picnic lunch while taking in the incredible views. You will return to Italy on the Bernina Express, a small local train that operates directly from Morteratsch. This rail trip is renowned as one of the most spectacular in the world – a highlight for many travellers. Travel past mountain peaks and glacier lakes before descending steeply into the valley. Arrive in Tirano and retire for the night.
Lake Garda / Limone / Riva del Garda
Drive to Lake Garda (approximately 4.5 hours). This route takes you along some of Italy’s famous mountain chains, including the Dolomites. Your base is at the most northern point of the lake, in the charming small town of Riva del Garda. You will stay in the medieval town centre among the colourful painted houses. On your way to Riva del Garda visit the local acetaia in the hamlet of Cologna di Tenno, a farm which produces balsamic vinegar. Taste their produce whilst taking in the panorama of Lake Garda spread out in front of you. After settling into our accommodation your private bus will bring you to Limone, a village named after the many lemon groves that surround it. Walk up through the old cobbled streets to the edge of town, where the landscape changes from Mediterranean to alpine. Visit an old Limonaia (Lemon Farm) – Limone was the world's northernmost point for citrus groves grown for commercial purposes: hundreds of thousands of lemons were exported mainly to Germany, Poland and Russia, thus guaranteeing many jobs and considerable profits for the area. It's worth spending some time strolling along the steep and narrow lanes of the old centre of Limone. There's the option of a direct bus back to Riva, or to spend more free time in Limone and return to Riva by boat along the coast. If you like, you can dine with the group tonight under the medieval arches of Riva del Garda.
Lake Garda / Riva del Garda
Today discover the great and varied landscapes around Lake Garda. Take a boat from the northern and more alpine side of the lake to the southern side (which has a more Mediterranean feel), passing many photogenic villages en route. Go ashore in the town of Garda itself, nicknamed the ‘Pearl of Lake Garda’. It is dominated by its ‘rocca’ (rock), complete with an abbey and the remains of a medieval castle. You will take a short and leisurely walking tour through the village to buy some picnic supplies before climbing up towards the abbey, where, after a steep but short and pleasant climb, you will be rewarded with beautiful views over the lake. Here you will have the chance to enjoy an optional picnic at an incredibly scenic spot. Those wishing to opt out of this walk can wander around the medieval alleys in town, enjoy lunch in Garda or relax on the lakefront. There's also an optional afternoon walk along easy terrain to the peninsula of San Vigilio. There is a fairytale-like feel to this small medieval hamlet. You may wish to spend some time here on the lake, have a drink or relax in the park. In the late afternoon, travel back to Riva del Garda by bus and take in views of the lake's eastern side.
Riva del Garda / Verona
After breakfast, travel by private minibus from Riva del Garda to Verona. You will arrive at around 10am. Your trip comes to an end on arrival at Verona train station. From Verona you can travel easily by rail to other major destinations in Italy. For train schedules, can check the national rail site trenitalia.com. If you wish to remain in the Italian Lakes Region, additional accommodation can be booked at our hotels in Riva del Garda or Verona. Please enquire when booking your trip.