Relax on the shores of Italy’s largest lake
Picturesque, peaceful, and perfectly placed for our visits to Verona and Venice, the lakeside town of Desenzano forms the ideal base for a wonderful holiday with a delightful setting on the shores of tranquil Lake Garda - one of Italy's best-loved lakes.
Our holiday begins at our St Pancras Departure Office, where we board the Eurostar to Paris. From here we continue by rail to Turin, where we overnight. We have dinner together this evening.
We continue on this morning by rail across Northern Italy to the shores of Lake Garda. We arrive in the bustling town of Desenzano, located on the wide, sea-like southern shores of Lake Garda, Italy's largest and most popular lake. We spend the next seven nights here at the friendly Hotel Desenzano, run by Gigliola and her family. Gigliola is well known to Great Rail Journeys' customers for her warm Italian welcome. We dine in the hotel this evening.
This morning, we take a short cruise across the lake by boat to picturesque Sirmione. The town occupies a peculiar position on a thin and craggy peninsula jutting 4km into the lake. Surrounded on three sides by water, Sirmione is one of Lake Garda's most delightful towns. The narrow winding lanes and pretty piazzas of Sirmione are mostly pedestrianised, which makes strolling through the town a pleasure. A panoramic walk leads out around the promontory, and on a clear day you can enjoy great views over the lake and towards the mountains in the north.
There is free time in Sirmione to explore the imposing Rocca Scaligera - a 13th century castle surrounded by a large water-filled moat that dominates the Old Quarter of town and offers beautiful views over Lake Garda from the ramparts.
Spend a day at leisure in Desenzano, which has been a popular tourist destination since around the 1st century BC, when wealthy families from Verona began to visit the lake for holidays. Today the town continues to delight visitors with its beautiful architecture and views of the Alps to the north. The compact centre is filled with pretty squares lined with charming pavement cafés and restaurants, offering the perfect opportunity to relax with a glass of wine and savour some delicious local cuisine.
Travel by rail to the glorious 'Floating City' of Venice, which sits on a shimmering lagoon and is famed for its gondola-filled waterways, twisting lanes and undeniable romantic atmosphere.
A private boat transports us along the Giudecca Canal, giving us our first chance to soak up the atmosphere of the unique city. Arrive at St Mark's Square, one of the most beautiful city squares in the world, overlooked by St Mark's Basilica. We are greeted by a local guide who introduces us to the city on a walking tour, leading us around the quaint streets and small squares to visit some of Venice's main sights. The afternoon is free to explore. You could view the Bridge of Sighs, cross the famous Rialto Bridge, discover the historic Jewish Quarter or visit the magnificent domed 'Santa Maria della Salute' Church. Or, perhaps indulge in a quintessentially Venetian activity with a gondola ride along the famous waterways.
Spend another day exploring the narrow streets, medieval castle and picturesque waterfront in Desenzano. As today is market day, why not make your way to the Old Town where you will find the main square filled with stalls selling locally produced food and crafts. You might prefer to explore further afield with a visit to stylish Milan. Here, you can visit wonderful sights, including the incredible Duomo - the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, and the famous 'Teatro alla Scala' opera house.
Cruise across the waters of Lake Garda today to the wooded Isola del Garda, the biggest island on the lake, which is dominated by an impressive neo-Gothic villa, the Villa Borghese-Cavazza. A superb example of neo-Gothic architecture, the villa was designed by the architect Luigi Rovelli at the beginning of the 20th century, and still proves just as splendid to modern visitors. The island is still to this day home to the Cavazza family, and often guided tours are run by the Countesses themselves. Explore the exquisite villa and extensive gardens with a guided tour, seeing exotic plants jostling for position amongst verdant foliage and beautifully manicured terraces which run down to the water. We end our visit with an aperitif of local wine in the stunning surrounds of the island.
Travel by rail today to beautiful Verona - a city of Roman ruins, medieval buildings and Italian romance, and the setting for Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. On our guided tour of this UNESCO World Heritage city, we stroll into Verona's historic heart to see Juliet's balcony and the great Roman Arena. There is free time following our tour to explore at your own pace. You could take a tour of the Roman Arena itself, or discover the remarkable Gothic architecture of the Scaligieri tombs, a series of Gothic monasteries where the remains of the Scaligieri family, former rulers of Verona, are interred. Alternatively, you could spend some time perusing the designer shops on the fashionable Via Mazzini.
After breakfast, travel by rail to Turin, where we spend the night. On Day 10 continue by rail to Paris for the Eurostar back to London.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
NEW FOR 2020: Inclusive Luggage Transfer
Enhancing your tour experience
Please note: This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.
of travellers would recommend this tour
based on 67 verified reviews
Logistics, organisation excellent little disappointed in location of hotel and did not agree with its 4 star categorisation
An excellent holiday with a good group and an excellent tour guide in a lovely part of Italy
Itinerary & Tour Manager (Maggie) very good
Because it was.xxxxxxxxxxxx
Well organised courier was informative and always available.Hotel was comfortable and well maintained.Trips were varied and and well run to interesting places.
Well organised, good itinerary, excellent tour manager
I had a great time everything ran smoothly and apart from the last hotel in Strasberg the accommodation was great.
Everything was well planned and Justine, our Tour guide was very knowledgeable and caring
Excellent trip really enjoyed
Wonderful. The right amount of free time & trips. Well organised.
Relax on the shores of Italy’s largest lake