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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 into Switzerland, to the famous resort-town of Zermatt, where one of the world's most iconic peaks - the towering, triangular Matterhorn - draws the awe-struck eye, and where you'll have the chance to board a mountain train and ride through alpine meadows to the summit station.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

Touring Lake Maggiore's exquisite Borromean Isles
Crossing into Switzerland to stop at the foot of the Matterhorn
Verbania’s stunning Villa Taranto gardens
Tasting some of Italy’s best red wine at Castello di Barolo
Discovering Turin, the capital of Piedmont, on an optional excursion
A guided tour of Alba - a food-lover's paradise

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 the 17th-century Baroque palace and water gardens on Isola Bella, and stop in charmingly picturesque Isola dei Pescatori, inhabited by a community of fishermen and a perfect place fror a lunch of lake fish.

Round off your day 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 on the islands. Return to Belgirate for dinner after a wonderful day.

Day Three: Optional visit to Lake Como

Today you're 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 and enjoy a leisurely lunch in the sunshine or a delicious ice cream on the water’s edge.

You'll also have the opportunity to join us as we head into Lombardy on an excursion to Lake Come. Discover another of Italy’s most picturesque regions, aand enjoy visits to exquisite Bellagio and elegant Como Town before returning to Belgirate for the evening.

Day Four: Included tour of Alba

Your second included excursion takes you 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 white truffles and dark chocolate.

After a fascinating few hours, head further south to the vineyards of Barolo, which produce the "king of Italian wines". No visit to this region is complete without enjoying a glass of wine at Castello di Barolo, an enoteca within the turreted walls of the ancient castle. It's the final highlight of a really enjoyable day.

Day Five: Rest and relax

Relax and enjoy the hotel and its surroundings, today. 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 gelataria. Take the cable car up modest (by Alpine standards) Monte Mottarone, from atop which 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 takes you to the world-famous Swiss resort of Zermatt, beneath the craggy pyramid of the Matterhorn. Travel via the Simplon Pass into Switzerland, climbing high into the Alps, hoping for clear skies so you can catch your first sight of the mighty mountain peaks as you go. Once in Zermatt, why not join an optional journey on the famous Gornergrat Railway, and heading through alpine meadows to the summit station? From here, on a clear day, some 29 peaks – including the Matterhorn – and great glaciers offer visitors 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

You have one final full day to soak up the atmosphere of this idyllic corner of the world. Why not enjoy a last cruise on the water, take a long leisurely lunch, or join our optional excursion to the stately capital of Piedmont, Turin? This ancient city nestles at the foot of the Alps, and boasts a Baroque heart at glittering odds with its modern reputation for industry. Wander down Via Roma past 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 visit the cathedral, where the Turin Shroud is kept under lock and key. A farewell dinner will be served in the hotel this evening.

Day Eight: Fly back to the UK

Leave Maggiore’s beautiful shores behind, and return to the airport to board your flight back 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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