The Italian lake district is defined by contrasts; from the tranquil shores of Lake Maggiore to the Swiss elegance of Lake Lugano and finally to the sophistication of Lake Como. The limpid blue waters, the snow-capped peaks and elegant villas have attracted travellers since the 17th century when it was an essential stop on the Grand Tour. The area is famous for its unsurpassed natural beauty, romantic hotels, opulent villas and gardens that conjure up images of a gracious past. During the day we take trails that rise from the lake shore to meander through lush alpine meadows to forgotten villages which are often only accessible on foot. In the evenings we dine by candlelight on terraces overlooking the water and stay in charming lake-side hotels.

Days 1, 2 & 3 Cannobio: Stay in a picturesque lake-side village, visit beautiful Romanesque churches; explore the undiscovered Valle Cannobina with its green glacier-fed river and the visit the tiny hamlets of Cavaglio, Gurro and Crealla; marvel at views of snow-capped Swiss mountains; stay in a charming restored 14th-century town house.

Day 4 Porlezza: Travel by ferry across Lake Maggiore; picnic at a 10th-century hermitage; lunch at a mountain chalet, try polenta with gorgonzola or trout straight from the stream; tutored tasting of the excellent wines of Piemonte.

Days 5, 6 & 7 Varenna:  Discover the beauty of Villa del Balbianello, one of the most romantic villas on Lake Como; hike across the valley linking Lake Lugano and Lake Como; explore the cobbled streets of Bellagio, “the pearl of Lake Como”; visit the gardens of Villa Melzi and Villa Serbelloni; stay in a restored 16th-century villa.

Italian Lakes: tour details

7 nights / 8 days
Moderate 8 – 16 km/day over hilly and mountainous terrain. The trails are well-surfaced mule trails or alpine trails, through woods with easier and more strenuous options available.
Cannobio / Como
Seven nights accommodation in comfortable, charming hotels; all breakfasts and meals as listed in the itinerary; all activities listed in the itinerary; all transfers, tips and gratuities; the services of a professional tour guide.

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