Soak up the splendour of the Italian lakes
Soak up the splendour of the Italian lakes and the surrounding
Swiss mountains, on an
escorted rail holiday that centres on scenic beauty, from the stunning Centovalli Railway
route to the sublime shores of lakes Orta, Maggiore and Como.
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.
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.
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.
Our excursion today is to nearby Isola San Giulio, a charming island that floats on the surface of Lake Orta. We make our way to the pier by our hotel, where we board a boat, sailing out across the water to Isola San Giulio. Topped with a smattering of trees and an enchanting 12th century chapel that dominates the island, Isola San Giulio is home to a small enclave of Benedictine nuns, and bears the sort of quiet yet entrancing feel you might expect from such a population. During your time here, perhaps pop in to the church, to see the wonderful frescoes that decorate its otherwise humble innards. 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 exploring the pretty lake side town before continuing by boat to return to our hotel. We return to our hotel by boat.
Today is free for you to spend as you wish, in our charming hotel beside the shimmering waters of Lake Orta. Pettenasco is a tranquil base surrounded by splendid scenery; perhaps take a stroll through the pretty streets and admire the views.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Enhancing your tour
Soak up the splendour of the Italian lakes