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Alpine lakes & astonishing views

From an elegant base on the shore of glittering Lake Maggiore, visit idyllic offshore isles, sumptuous villas and world-class gardens. Take a journey into the region of Piedmont, to visit Alba, a gourmet mecca, and Barolo a producer of world-class wine. Head too into Switzerland, to famous resort-town Zermatt, where one of the world's most iconic peaks, the towering, triangular Matterhorn, draws the awe-struck eye, and where there's the chance to board a train to the green pastures beneath its lower slopes.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

Spend seven nights on picturesque Lake Maggiore
Tour the exquisite offshore Borromean Isles
Journey into Switzerland to the foot of the Matterhorn
Visit Verbania’s stunning Villa Taranto gardens
Taste Italy’s fine red wine at Castello di Barolo
Discover princely Turin, capital of Piedmont on an optional excursion
Enjoy a guided tour of Alba, a gastronomic mecca

WHAT DOES THE PRICE INCLUDE?

Seven nights’ half-board accommodation at the four-star SHG Hotel Villa Carlotta, Belgirate
Return flights from the UK to Italy
Coach travel and transfers throughout
Fully escorted by a friendly, experienced Tour Manager

Your Itinerary

Day One: Fly to Italy

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.

Day Two: Included Lake Maggiore boat trip

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.

Day Three: Optional visit to Lake Como

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.

Day Four: Included tour of Alba

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.

Day Five: Rest and relax

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.

Day Six: Included visit to Zermatt to see the Matterhorn

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.

Day Seven: Optional excursion to Piedmont

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.

Day Eight: Fly back to the UK

Bid “arrivederci” to Maggiore’s beautiful shores, and transfer to the airport for the return flight to the UK.

 

PRICES

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SHG Hotel Villa Carlotta, Belgirate ★★★★

Set in beautiful gardens overlooking the lake, and now under new management, the Villa Carlotta has been welcoming guests since the 19th Century.

Further Information

Hotel transfer times

The transfer time from the airport to your hotel is approximately one hour and 15 minutes from Milan Malpensa and two hours from Milan Bergamo.

Combining hotel transfers

We sometimes need to combine transfers to and from your hotel. We always try to keep any wait to a minimum, but you may be asked to wait at the airport for up to an hour, while other incoming flights arrive, before the transfer to your hotel. Similarly, we may need to transfer you back to the airport up to three hours before your flight home departs.

Meals in Italy

Guests on half-board arrangements will be served a three-course evening meal, and can expect a first course of traditional pasta or soup, a main meat or fish course accompanied by one or two types of vegetable, and a simple dessert of fruit, cake or Italian ice cream. Breakfasts will usually consist of bread rolls, jam, cereal, ham, cheese, fruit juice, tea and coffee. Menus will vary from hotel to hotel, but choice will be more limited than in a normal restaurant. In some instances, individual guests who have booked with the hotel independently may be offered a different menu from those who are staying at the hotel as part of a package tour

Entrance fees

Since some attractions visited offer free admission to visitors at certain times of year, we do not include entrance fees. These will be payable locally where applicable. This applies to excursions that are included in the price of your holiday and to excursions booked as optional extras.

Special requirements

If you have notified us of any special requirements, please check that they have been noted and acknowledged. This is especially important with any dietary needs you may have.

Disabled access

The majority of our tours involve a certain amount of walking, including a short walk from the coach stop to the town, attraction or venue you're visiting. If you are bringing a wheelchair, please let us know at the time of booking so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

Italian hotel room tax

Some regions of Italy have introduced a room tax of between 1 € and 3 € per person per night, payable directly by the guest to the hotel on check-out. You will be advised by your Tour Manager in resort if a particular hotel is implementing this charge.

Itinerary changes

Occasionally, for operational reasons, we may have to change the order of the excursions on your holiday. The final day-by-day itinerary will be confirmed on your Final Travel Documents, which you will receive approximately three weeks prior to your departure.

Foreign Office Travel Advice

Visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice to find out the latest Foreign And Commonwealth Office travel advice for your holiday destination, as well as information about passports and visas.

Airport development fees

An Airport Development Fee has been introduced at a few UK Airports. You will be required to pay this charge at the following airports prior to checking in for your flight: Blackpool, Durham Tees Valley, Newquay and Norwich. The amount varies from airport to airport, but it is generally between £5 and £10 per person. Please visit the airport's website for further information.

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