Stresa & Lake Maggiore
We cross Lake Maggiore to explore the Borromean Islands, taste the wines of the Monferrato region, visit enchanting Lake Orta and travel into Switzerland on the scenic Centovalli Railway.
From our stunning location overlooking beautiful Lake Maggiore in the picturesque town of Stresa, we explore this magnificent region of Italy. We cross Lake Maggiore to explore the Borromean Islands, taste the wines of the Monferrato region, visit enchanting Lake Orta and travel into Switzerland on the scenic Centovalli Railroad.
Highlights and Inclusions
- First Class rail travel throughout (Standard Premier Class on Eurostar journeys with a light meal and drinks)
- 9 nights' hotel accommodation
- 15 meals, including 9 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 5 dinners, including a farewell dinner in Stresa
- Excursions to Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori
- Visit to a Monferrato vineyard, with wine tasting
- Explore the Borromeo Palace
- Lake Orta cruise
- Journey on the Centovalli Railroad
- Enjoy an authentic Italian Lunch at an 'agriturismo'
- The services of a professional Tour Manager from start to finish
Day 1 - London to Paris
We meet our group and Tour Manager at the exclusive Departure Office in St Pancras International before boarding the Eurostar for Paris, traveling in Standard Premier Class. We arrive into Paris where we spend the night. Your evening is free to explore the wonderful French capital city and to dine out in one of the many restaurants close to the hotel.
Day 2 - To Italy in First Class
Leaving Paris, we travel in First Class on the high-speed TGV service to Switzerland. Our route takes us along the verdant Rhône Valley and through the famous Simplon Pass, before heading across the border into Italy. After continuing across the beautiful Italian countryside, we arrive in the pretty lakeside town of Stresa. We stay here for seven nights at the elegant Hotel Regina Palace, where we enjoy a welcome drink on the terrace, a superb location to admire the wonderful views of sparkling Lake Maggiore. (B, D)
Day 3 - At leisure in Stresa
Today you have the chance to explore Stresa at your own pace. An ideal way to get your bearings is to enjoy a walk along the attractive, flower-filled promenade, lined with impressive villas and neatly terraced gardens. You may wish to take a boat to the colourful botanical gardens of Villa Taranto and the Sanctuary of Santa Caterina del Sasso, nestled in a rocky overhang on the lake. Alternatively, perhaps travel by cable car from Stresa up Mount Mottarone - the journey offers an amazing panorama, and on a clear day, your views from the snow-dusted peak include seven lakes as well as the Italian and Swiss Alps. (B)
Day 4 - The Borromean Islands
Today we discover two of the beautiful Borromean Islands, set in the shimmering waters of Lake Maggiore. We leave Stresa by boat and cruise to the Isola Bella for a guided visit to the sumptuous Borromeo Palace. The magnificent Baroque structure dominates the island, and after a tour of its lavish rooms we explore the alluring Italian-style gardens. The spectacular gardens are on ten terraces and include an open-air theater with geometrically designed hedging, water-lilies and citrus trees, the Azalea Garden and the 'Piano della Canfora', which is named for the 150-year-old laurel tree growing there. In the English garden, there are lotus flowers, whilst at the highest point of the garden there is a great unicorn, the symbol of the Borromeo family. 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 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 before cruising back to Stresa. (B, D)
Day 5 - Market Day in Stresa
You have another opportunity to explore Stresa at your leisure. Today the town is transformed for Market Day, and the bustling, colourful stalls are well worth a visit. Should you wish to venture further afield, why not visit vibrant Milan, the capital of northern Italy? Perhaps visit the incredible Duomo - the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, a 19th century glass-roofed shopping arcade, or Teatro alla Scala, the beautiful opera house. The stunning 2,800-seat opera theater welcomed its premier performance in August 1778, with Antonio Salieri's Europa Riconosciuta, having been built to replace another theater on the site, which was lost to a fire. Designed by Giuseppe Piermarini, the Teatro alla Scala is known for its sumptuous gilt and crimson interiors, as well as a rich history as the home of opera and ballet in Milan. For those feeling less energetic, you can make use of the excellent facilities at the hotel for a thoroughly relaxing day. (B)
Day 6 - Monferrato Vineyards
Our full-day excursion by coach takes us into the rolling countryside of the Monferrato wine region, famous for its vineyards stretching over hills interspersed with unspoilt villages. Monferrato is particularly important in the sparkling wine industry, and our day begins with a visit to a local wine producer where we have a tour of the vineyards, followed by a tasting of grappa, a regional grape brandy. We continue to an 'agriturismo' farm and enjoy a four-course farmhouse lunch of local specialties and a chance to sample some of the delicious locally produced wine. (B, L)
Day 7 - The Centovalli Railroad
Today's full-day excursion takes us on one of Europe's most scenic railroads, the narrow-gauge Centovalli Railroad, on an excursion to Locarno in Switzerland. The line threads its way across 'a hundred valleys' that give the railroad 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. (B, D)
Day 8 - Lake Orta
After a leisurely morning, we set off for Lake Orta, Lake Maggiore's smaller but no less enchanting neighbor. We enjoy a private boat cruise to the stunning Isola San Giulio, a tiny island dominated by its impressive basilica, before returning to explore the delightful Orta San Giulio, the atmospheric town known as the 'Jewel of the Lake'. Situated on a tiny promontory against the dramatic backdrop of the Alps, this lovely town is truly a gem, with cobbled streets and a piazza overlooking the lake's sparkling waters. We return in good time for our dinner this evening. (B, D)
Day 9 - Stresa to Colmar in First Class rail
We depart Stresa in the morning by train, traveling through the Simplon Tunnel and beautiful Alpine scenery over the border into Switzerland. Skirting the shores of Lake Thun, we change trains at Basel and continue on into France and our overnight stop. We reach the pretty, half-timbered town of Colmar, where we overnight. Tonight we enjoy our final dinner together in the hotel. (B, D)
Day 10 - To London
We leave Colmar by TGV for the journey to Paris. Here we cross the city by coach, then connect with Eurostar to London, where our tour concludes. (B)
Train and Hotel Accommodations
Hotel Regina Palace, Stresa
One of the finest hotels in Stresa, the 4-Star Hotel Regina Palace was built in the 'Belle Epoque' era. The hotel occupies a commanding position on the lakeside, yet is just a few minutes' walk from the narrow streets of the town. Beautifully appointed throughout, its public areas are stylish, none more so than the elegant restaurant. The hotel boasts a large pool and fitness facilities and has extensive gardens with the opportunity to eat outdoors in summer. All rooms have a jacuzzi, television, safe and minibar. Many rooms offer a lake view.
The Centovalli Railroad was originally planned to connect Locarno in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland with Domodossola in the very north of Italy. The line's opening was delayed considerably owing to the First World War, but construction was resumed almost immediately afterwards and the first services began in 1923.
The high speed Eurostar trains link St Pancras International in London with Paris and Lille in France as well as Brussels in Belgium. Eurostar's Standard Class coaches feature two seats on either side of the central aisle, most of which is arranged in an 'airline' seating configuration with drop down tray tables. There are two tables for four per carriage. Passengers traveling in Eurostar Standard Class coaches can take advantage of the Bar-Buffet which sells a range of snacks, meals, hot and cold drinks - including Champagne!
Introduced in 1981, France's TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) was the original European high-speed train. Linking Paris with Lyon, the new service revolutionised train travel and meant that traveling by air over medium and short distances was no longer seen as the best option, even for business travel. The network has expanded rapidly and today these sleek, stylish trains offer links to over 60 destinations throughout France. Operated by SNCF, the French national rail operator, TGV trains travel over specially-constructed high speed lines. The trains can achieve speeds of up to 186mph (300km/h) on most long distance routes and 200mph (320km/h) on the new TGV Est line, which links Paris with Strasbourg, Luxembourg and Basel. With the exception of shorter journeys, TGVs almost always have an on-board buffet car, serving a selection of drinks and light refreshments.
Dates & Prices
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: Departs 3rd June 2019 ($3,785), 16th September 2019 ($3,755)
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