Immerse yourself in the true essence of life in northern Italy’s fabled Lake District, an impossibly picturesque setting that has inspired poets, composers, artists and philosophers for centuries.
For one full week, enjoy charming accommodations in the belle-époque Palace Hotel in the heart of lovely Como and just steps away from the local market. Cruise by private boat on Lake Como, Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta. During expert-guided excursions and time on your own, explore beautiful villages and artistic and architectural treasures. Visit Bellagio, Villa del Balbianello, Stresa, the Borromean Islands and the Sacro Monte di Orta, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Spend a day in Milan, to visit the Duomo and Teatro alla Scala, and see Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece The Last Supper. Enriching lectures and the exclusive Village Life® Forum with local residents provide personal perspectives. An exceptional value, this exclusive, small-group travel program offers not only the best way to experience one of the world’s most enchanting destinations, but also the convenience of unpacking only once! Verona and Venice Post-Program Option.
Tour highlights and included features
- Seven nights in the charming Palace Hotel on the shore of southern Lake Como
- Full buffet breakfast each morning
- Three dinners in the hotel and one dinner in a traditional restaurant, featuring northern Italian specialties with Italian wine
- Welcome Reception in the hotel
- Walking tour of Old Como
- Spectacular, full-day scenic tour of Lake Maggiore, featuring a private cruise of the Borromean Islands
- Full-day excursion to Milan to visit the world-famous Teatro alla Scala, the exquisite Duomo and UNESCO World Heritage‑designated Santa Maria delle Grazie, with a specially arranged viewing of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper
- Private boat cruise across Lake Como to medieval Bellagio
- Walking tour in the beautiful medieval village of Orta San Guilio, and a guided tour of the fresco-adorned chapels dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi on Sacro Monte, a UNESCO World Heritage site
- Excursion by private boat to Lake Orta’s island of San Giulio, including a visit to the 12th-century basilica, renowned for its medieval pulpit made of black Oira marble
- Transfers and luggage handling abroad for participants whose arrival(s)/departure(s) coincide with the scheduled group transfer(s)
- All excursions and visits, as outlined above, with experienced local guides
- Gratuities to local guides and drivers on included excursions and transfers
- Complimentary bottled water is provided on coaches during excursions
- Hospitality desk in the hotel
- The services of an experienced Gohagan & Company Program Director throughout the program
- Complimentary use of a state-of-the-art audio headset for each participant during guided excursions
- Travel document wallet and pre-departure information
- Automatic $250,000 flight insurance policy for each participant ticketed on flights by Gohagan & Company
Dates May 26 – June 3, 2018
Cost $3,695* (Airfare is not included. All prices are per person, based on double occupancy, and early booking deadlines. Dates, itineraries, and prices are subject to change.)
Contact Addie Natalie
800-852-TOUR (8687), ext. 3
May 26 Day 1 - Depart the U.S. or Canada
Depart the U.S.
May 27 Day 2 - Milan, Italy/Como
Arrive in Milan, Italy, and transfer to Como, the perfect “home” for our soggiorno (sojourn) in the spectacular mountainous Italian countryside. Check into the charming Palace Hotel on the shore of Lake Como, and join your traveling companions for a Welcome Reception and dinner in the hotel. (R,D)
May 28 Day 3 - Como
Founded by the Romans in 196 B.C., Como has been internationally known for its silk-weaving industry since silkworms were first imported here in the 14th century. At one time, Como was the largest European silk producer—dyeing, weaving and designing fabrics shipped to the fashion houses of Milan, Paris and London. Walk along winding cobblestone passages past medieval towers and walls, Renaissance palaces and churches, neoclassical 19th-century villas and small family-owned negozi (shops) leading to the Piazza Cavour and the tranquil lakeside promenade. See the magnificent Duomo di Como, considered to be the most beautiful cathedral in Lombardy—it took nearly 400 years to complete and reflects a seamless blend of Gothic and Renaissance styles.
During time on your own, peruse the fresh fruit and vegetables in the three-times-weekly outdoor market, a local tradition for centuries.
Meet Como scholar Fabio Cani, who will present a lecture on his luogo natio (hometown) and share his expertise of historical, cultural and contemporary Lombardy. (B,D)
May 29 Day 4 - Lake Maggiore/Borromean Islands/Stresa
Italy’s second-largest lake forms a natural boundary between the regions of Lombardy and Piedmont and is a close rival to Lake Como as the most remarkable in the Italian Lake District. Lake Maggiore’s mild climate allows gardens to grow rare and exotic plants in the beautiful landscape beneath the high Alps, particularly on the remarkable Borromean Islands. From Stresa, embark on a private boat cruise across the deep, clear waters and cruise among Lake Maggiore’s enticing islands graced with elegant villas and striking natural beauty. Isola Bella, Isola di San Giovanni, Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori are collectively known as the Borromean Islands, named after the powerful and influential Borromeo family. Visit the exquisitely preserved Isola Bella, commissioned by Count Carlo Borromeo III in 1632 as a magnificent Baroque retreat dedicated to his wife, Isabella. Walk through the island’s splendid Italianate gardens, where white peacocks stroll among the seasonal blaze of roses, gardenias, azaleas and rhododendrons. Tour the 17th-century Palazzo Borromeo, filled with priceless masterpieces by such artists as Tiepolo and the sculptor Canova, and see the spectacular grotto, decorated entirely with mosaics of marine life.
Return to Stresa for some time at leisure. An 18th- and 19th-century “Grand Tour” of Europe was considered incomplete without a visit to Stresa to experience its spectacular mountain views, tropical gardens and the resplendent glistening waters of Lake Maggiore. A young Ernest Hemingway, recuperating here during World War I, was inspired to make it the setting for Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley’s reunion in A Farewell to Arms. (B)
May 30 Day 5 - Milan
Recognized as the capital of the design and fashion worlds, Milan has an ancient cultural heritage and legacy that blends its ornately preserved palaces, churches and museums with vibrant contemporary life, an abundance of haute cuisine, art and operatic traditions. Enjoy a full-day excursion to this fantastic city to visit the world-famous Teatro alla Scala opera house, Milan’s exquisite Duomo—the world’s largest Gothic cathedral—and the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Santa Maria delle Grazie to experience the genius and beauty of Leonardo da Vinci’s renowned masterpiece The Last Supper. (B)
May 31 Day 6 - Lake Como/Villa del Balbianello/Bellagio
Composer Franz Liszt romanticized, “When you write the story of two happy lovers, place them on the shores of Lake Como.” Cruise by private boat across the sparkling waters of Italy’s deepest—and perhaps most spectacular—lake and learn more about its fascinating history and allure as you pass in front of quaint coastal villages like Bellagio and grand Renaissance villas built on the surrounding snowcapped mountainsides. Visit the exquisite Villa del Balbianello and its magnificent terraced gardens. Built in 1787 by Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini, this epitome of an Italian lake villa was renovated in the early 20th century by an American veteran of World War I and more recently purchased by Italy’s first explorer to summit Mt. Everest, Guido Monzino, who bequeathed it to the Italian National Trust. It remains an authentic Italian villa masterpiece and repository of 18th-century French and English furniture, and Monzino’s collection of Chinese, pre-Columbian and African art.
Just across Lake Como and perched on a promontory punctuated by stands of cypress trees, Bellagio is one of the Italian Lake District’s most internationally well-known communes and has been a popular European holiday destination since Roman times. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Milanese nobility flocked here to build elaborate villas and cultivate sub-tropical gardens. Enjoy time for independent pursuits in Bellagio.
This evening, during the Village Life® Forum, residents will discuss contemporary life in the extraordinarily beautiful and historic Italian Lake District. Dinner is included in a local restaurant. (B,D)
June 1 Day 7 - Como/Lake Orta
Nestled in the captivating Piedmont region of northwestern Italy, tranquil, glittering Lake Orta is one of the Lake District’s best-kept secrets. Enjoy a walking tour of Orta San Guilio’s lovely medieval village center, replete with cobblestone lanes that open up to a picturesque piazza; rich, ochre-hued houses fronted by decorative wrought-iron balconies and attractive palazzos, once home to Italian nobility. Then, board a private boat and cruise across the lake’s cobalt-blue waters to diminutive San Giulio Island, taking in spectacular, scenic views of picture-perfect Italian villas and gardens along the way. This intimate island served as artistic inspiration to Robert Browning, Honoré de Balzac and Lord Byron, who all wrote of its sublime beauty. Visit the 12th-century Romanesque-style Basilica San Giulio, whose opulent interior is decorated with richly-detailed frescos painted upon the nave, chapel, vaults and aisles, and stroll the lush grounds of its monastery and old world villas. Enjoy time at leisure in the heart of medieval Orta San Giulio before ascending the magnificent Sacro Monte di Orta, one of nine sacred mountains in northern Italy and a UNESCO World Heritage site, for spectacular, awe-inspiring views across Lake Orta. Atop the summit amidst a picturesque landscape of forested hills, visit several small chapels dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi, decorated with terra cotta statues and elaborate frescos, built between the 16th and 18th centuries. (B)
June 2 Day 8 - Como
The day is free for independent pursuits. You have the opportunity to explore Como’s outdoor market, a local tradition for centuries.
This evening, join your travel companions for the Farewell Dinner in the hotel. (B,D)
June 3 Day 9 - Como/Milan/Return to the U.S. or Canada
After breakfast in the hotel, continue on the Verona and Venice Post-Program Option, or transfer to Milan for your return flight to the U.S. (B)
*Itinerary subject to change due to local conditions.