Fly to Italy and transfer to your hotel on beautiful Lake Maggiore. In the evening, depending on your arrival time, perhaps take a stroll along the promenade that fringes the lake, before enjoying dinner.
Today you’ll explore beautiful Maggiore, Italy’s second largest lake, mountain-backed and famed for the beautiful gardens that line its shores. Board a water-taxi or steamer for the crossing to the, idyllic Borromean Islands. Visit stunning Isola Bella, with its 17th-century Baroque palace and water gardens, charmingly picturesque Isola dei Pescatori, inhabited by a community of fishermen and a perfect stop for a lunch of lake fish.
A perfect day is completed with a visit to Verbania, where the world-famous gardens of Villa Taranto, created by an ex-pat Scotsman, are even more stunning than those of the islands’. Return to Belgirate for dinner after a wonderful day.
Today is free to enjoy the delights of Belgirate. Wander past the elegant villas that line the shore, or to climb to the ancient church of Santa Maria that overlooks the area. Alternatively board another lake steamer to travel further afield, to enjoy a leisurely lunch in the sunshine or a delicious ice cream on the water’s edge.
An optional excursion today is to beautiful Lake Como. Head into Lombardy, to discover another of Italy’s most picturesque regions, enjoying visits to exquisite Bellagio and elegant Como Town before returning to Belgirate for the evening.
A second included excursion sees you head south on a panoramic tour of Langhe, where the UNESCO-protected hillsides are covered in cascading vineyards and hazelnut groves. Enjoy a tour of Alba, with its historical centre and 100 towers, best known for being the gastronomic home of precious white truffles and dark chocolate.
After a fascinating few hours, head further south, where the vineyards of Barolo produce the ‘king of Italian wines’. No visit to the area is complete without enjoying a glass of wine at Castello di Barolo, an enoteca within the turreted walls of the ancient castle – the final highlight of an enjoyable day.
Relax today and enjoy the hotel and its surroundings. Why not return to nearby Stresa, where sumptuous villas and hotels, many set in exquisite parks and gardens, line the shore. The piazzas and tree-lined squares are filled with the bustle of the cafes and – this being Italy – any number of gelataria. Take the cable car up to modest-by- Alpine-standards Monte Mottarone, from where the views of the distant ‘proper’ Alps are simply stunning.
Saving the best till last, today’s included excursion is to world-famous Swiss resort Zermatt, towered over by the craggy pyramid of the Matterhorn. Travel via the Simplon Pass into Switzerland, climbing high into the Alps, hoping for clear skies to catch your first sight of perhaps the world’s most photographed peak. Take the optional journey on the famous Gornergrat Railway, an experience enjoyed by countless passengers for over 100 years, heading through alpine meadows to the summit station. From here, on a clear day, some 29 peaks – including of course the Matterhorn – and great glaciers form an unforgettable view. Head out on a mountain trail or simply take in the view before enjoying lunch in the mountain restaurant. Return to Belgirate this evening.
A final day to soak up the atmosphere of this idyllic corner of the world brings the chance, perhaps, to enjoy a last cruise on the water, or a long leisurely lunch. Alternatively join our optional excursion to the stately capital of Piedmont, Turin. The city sits nestled at the foot of the Alps and boasts a Baroque heart at glittering odds with its industrious reputation. Wander down via Roma, with its ultra-chic stores, cross grand Piazza San Carlo with its elegant facades, and perhaps pause for coffee and a pastry in any number of ornate, traditional cafes. Petrol-heads might head for the city’s predictably fine motor museum - Fiat once employed over 120,000 of its inhabitants - while the curious might check the cathedral, where the Turin Shroud is kept under lock and key. A farewell dinner is served in the hotel this evening.
Bid “arrivederci” to Maggiore’s beautiful shores, and transfer to the airport for the return flight to the UK.