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Lake Maggiore and Swiss Mountain Railways


Lake Maggiore one of Italy's most naturally spectacular spots

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2020 Tour code: LML20


Days 1-3 - London to Baveno

Meet your Tour Manager at our dedicated London St Pancras Departure Office today, ahead of our journey on the Eurostar to Paris, transferring onwards by rail to the lovely French town of Dijon, where we overnight.

On Day 2, we take a short walk to the station for our train to Lausanne, before continuing our journey to Baveno on the shores of beautiful Lake Maggiore. This delightful town enjoys fine views of the Borromean Islands, and its wonderful atmosphere has played host to many notable visitors over the years, including Winston Churchill, who spent his honeymoon here in 1908.

On Day 3, you are at leisure to explore your new surroundings. Why not take a short boat ride to Stresa? The boat ride over is, in itself, a delightful excursion, as you glide over the rich azure of the long lake and enjoy the exquisite surroundings of the rolling hills and mountains that make up the beautiful lower Alps. In Stresa, you can find some beautiful villas that epitomise the air of elegance of Italian architecture particular to Lake Maggiore. The Villa Ducale, built in 1770, a gorgeous palladian style mansion that exudes decadence, whilst the incredible Villa Pallavicino is set amongst a beautiful array of verdant landscaping. The honeycomb of pretty cobbled streets at the centre of Stresa are a pleasure to explore, and pretty shaded squares provide the perfect place to stop and enjoy a coffee.

  • Day 1 - Dinner
  • Day 2 - Breakfast, Dinner
  • Day 3 - Breakfast
Day 4 - Isola Bella

Today we enjoy an outing to the aptly named Isola Bella, a beautiful island that enjoys a spot surrounded by the splendour of the lake. Once a rocky island, home to a small community of fishermen, this lovely jewel in the crown of Lake Maggiore now boasts ornate gardens and an elegant palace. The island underwent its first dramatic change during the 17th century when Carlo III Borromeo hired an architect to design the castle-type building as well as a beautiful casino.

It is from Carlo that the island got its name, when he decided to name it in honour of his wife, Isabella. The idea for a casino was later replaced by plans for the now famous gardens after Carlo died and his sons took over the planning. Their dream was to make it appear as though the island was a ship sailing across the lake.

We take an informative guided tour of the palace, where we view the domed 'Salone delle Feste' (the Party Room), the 'Sala da Ballo' (Ballroom) and the 'Sala della Musica' (the music room). This is followed by time to view the gardens in which you may find the spectacular 'Giardino del Amore', as well as an open-air theatre, built with a variety of statues including a unicorn, the symbol of the Borromeo family.

Afterwards, we travel over to Isola dei Pescatori where you are at leisure, perhaps to explore the numerous little boutiques and gift shops, or to enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. As the name of the island suggests, this is a place where you can find some delicious fish dishes.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Isola Bella
Days 5-6 - The Centovalli Railway

We make our first exploration into Switzerland today and venture to Domodossola, where we board the wonderful Centovalli Railway, or 100 Valleys railway. Named due to the myriad of glorious scenery through which it passes, we enjoy our time on board in panoramic carriages as we journey past rushing waterfalls and deep ravines before arriving in Locarno, on the tip of Lake Maggiore in Switzerland.

There is plenty of free time to enjoy beautiful Locarno, an idyllic Swiss town with a distinctly Italian feel. In fact, the official language of Locarno is indeed Italian, and here you can find some excellent examples of Italian architecture that were no doubt influenced by its neighbouring Italian towns. The colourful houses and pretty piazzas make for a delightful day of exploration. We make our way back to Baveno by boat, delighting in the dramatic surroundings as Switzerland meets Italy within the lake. The following day is at leisure.

  • Day 5 - Breakfast, Dinner
  • Day 6 - Breakfast
Centovalli Railway
Day 7 - Zermatt and the Matterhorn

Discover more of spectacular Switzerland today with a journey to Zermatt, via Brig. Boarding the train in Domodossola, we travel through some of Europe's most awe-inspiring scenery by rail to Brig, then climb to Zermatt, a delightful and completely traffic-free Alpine town. Dominated by skiers in the winter and by hikers in the summer, Zermatt is a town that uses it's magnificent setting to its highest advantage. Though most typical kinds of transport are indeed banned, it is actually possible to see some delightfully quirky electric cars in Zermatt. This has the added benefit of the surroundings being quieter than most tourist towns, so it is even easier to immerse yourself in the dramatic landscape that surrounds you.

Here, there is plenty of time to wander along the winding streets and pretty chalet-style houses, all of which enjoy a lovely setting under the iconic pyramid-shaped peak of the Matterhorn before we return to Baveno by rail.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Days 8-9 - Basel and London

Today is your final day in Italy and you spend it completely at leisure to relax and enjoy your surroundings at your own pace. You may choose to take advantage of the hotel facilities, or perhaps further discover quaint Baveno.

On Day 9, we travel by rail from Domodossola to Basel, then continue on to Paris to take the Eurostar, ending our tour in London this evening.

  • Day 8 - Breakfast
  • Day 9 - Breakfast