10 night and 11 daysThis is a wonderful, leisurely fly-drive touring holiday of Italy’s famous lakes, spanning the northern Italian regions of Lombardy, Piemonte and the Veneto, and culminating in a stay in the world’s most romantic city, Venice.Click here to download a pdf with information about some of our suggested Italian touring holidays.Your touring holiday starts at the outstandingly beautiful Lake Como, with its famous villas and gardens, luxuriant vegetation and cheerful lakeside resorts. The five-star Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, on the banks of Lake Como in the picturesque village of Bellagio, provides a wonderfully relaxing environment to begin and end each day. The second leg of your Italian touring holiday takes you to the small lake of Iseo, known for its natural scenery. Stay at the nearby charming five-star Hotel L'Albereta, famous for its restaurant and chef’s signature dish of Milanese risotto with gold leaf. From here you move on to the lush shores of Lake Garda, where you’ll stay at the Villa del Sogno, which is set in its own beautiful grounds overlooking the lake. Each of the Italian Lakes has its own character and their water-side locations make for an enchanting ambience that really defines your tour. Finally, you experience the unique surroundings of Venice ; the grand Ca’Sagredo is conveniently located less than a minute’s walk from the Grand Canal and the bustling waterfront, providing an excellent base to absorb the atmosphere of this enchanting city.PRICESFrom about £2,380 per person.What’s Included:• Three nights’ dinner, bed and breakfast in a Standard Room at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni at Bellagio on Lake Como.• Two nights’ bed and breakfast in a Standard Room at the Hotel L'Albereta near Lake Iseo.• Three nights’ bed and breakfast in a Standard Room at the Villa del Sogno at Gardone Riviera on Lake Garda.• Two nights’ bed and breakfast in a Standard Room at the Ca'Sagredo in Venice (this can easily be extended by adding our extra and touring night price).• Scheduled flight with British Airways London to Milan, returning from Venice to London.• Hire of a basic group car for eight days from Milan to Venice.Click the tabs above to view our suggested day-by-day touring itinerary and to find out more about the hotels featured.Click here to find out more about how our touring holidays work or click here to download a pdf with information about some of our suggested Italian touring holidays.
Day-by-day itineraryDAYS ONE TO THREEArrive in Milan and drive north to Bellagio, where you will stay for three nightsArrive in Milan on your first day of this touring holiday of the Italian Lakes and collect your hire car. Drive north onto the central promontory around which Lake Como forks. Bellagio, the village in which the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni sits, is at the very tip of this piece of land. Defined by its waterfront promenades, its quaint and beautiful cafes, and its picturesque historical monuments, Bellagio is the ideal stopping-point on a tour of the lakes of northern Italy. Your hotel is an ostentatiously grand building, with large golden candlesticks and chandeliers, ornately painted domed and vaulted ceilings, and red-carpeted stairways. Its yellow-ochre façade looks out onto the lake edge, with a pool terrace that makes particularly good use of the spectacular views. One of the primary features of Bellagio is its magnificent gardens. The Villa Melzi and the Villa Serbelloni, a different building to your hotel, are both essential visits for a comprehensive experience of Bellagio. The Villa Melzi’s gardens are the smaller of the two, but boast of an orangery museum, a small blue-roofed riverside pavilion, and water gardens under the shade of the Lake Como flora and vegetation. The gardens of the Villa Serbelloni contain the large hill that makes up a large proportion of the promontory, and subsequently offer astounding views that cannot be accessed anywhere else. A small grotto sits under the hill’s summit, while spiralling down the hill’s side are a series of ornamental water-features, a variety of exotic flora, and the ruins of the old defensive fortress. Both gardens ask for a small charge. The central piazza, the Piazza San Giacomo, is the point from which to begin your exploration of Bellagio town itself. From here, explore the Romanesque Basilica di San Giacomo, with its beautiful frescoes, statues, bell-tower and apse. Opposite, sits a medieval tower that was once part of the town’s defences, and now houses the tourism office. The pretty fountain at the centre of the square was commissioned for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. From the small garden at the very tip of the promontory, take the ten minute walk to the picturesque fishing hamlet of Pescallo. Walk on from Pescallo to see a collection of agricultural ruins, as well as the abandoned Villa Giulia. Walk along Villa Giulia’s Vialone to the waterside settlement of San Giovanni, at the centre of which sits a grotto dedicated to the Madonna of Lourdes. San Giovanni is also the site of a quirky museum of navigational instruments. In nearby Loppia, a traditional old village church is enclosed in the gardens of the Villa Trivulzio Gerli. From Bellagio, head out on a boat trip to one of the other lakeside towns and villages, such as Varenna, home to a small beach and a few gardens, Lenno, home to Lake Como’s most elegant villa, as well as Menaggio and Tremezzo; all worth a visit. In the evenings, relax with an ‘apertivo’ in one of the cafes or restaurants under the arcade back in Bellagio.DAYS FOUR AND FIVEFrom Bellagio, drive southeast to Erbusco, where you will stay for two nightsOn your way from Bellagio to Erbusco, stop off in Bergamo to tour the architecture of this larger town, from the basilica and baptistery, to the vast convents and aqueducts. The area is dotted with defensive castles, waiting to be explored, that used to divide the Republic of Venice and the Duchy of Milan. The town’s streets are lined with the palaces and towers of old nobility. Your hotel, the Hotel L'Albereta is set just slightly inland from the edge of Lake Iseo, offering you the perfect midpoint from which to explore the lake itself, and the Franciacorta wine district that surrounds it. Franciacorta wine is known for being a highly refined sparkling wine, produced through champagne methods. The wineries that produce this wine are housed in many of the historic buildings in the area, most open for wine-tasting sessions. For example, the Terra Moretti in Erbusco is a particularly popular spot, but the wine routes can be toured more fully using Brescia as a starting point. Lake Iseo, however, has a wealth of charm and history. The best way to experience the water and its secrets is on a boat trip from one of the lakeside towns. Sail across to Monte Isola, the largest lake island in the whole of Italy, and dominated by the eponymous mountain. At the very top of this island, perfect as a destination point for hiking or cycling trails, sits a beautiful castle with breath-taking views. In contrast, the Isola di Loreto is the smallest island on the lake. Privately owned, it cannot be visited by tourists, but the majesty of its historic castle can still be appreciated from the water. Back on either Monte Isola or the mainland, take advantage of the many cycling, climbing, and walking trails that vein the landscape, as well as investigating the caving opportunities. Monasteries, churches, and roman ruins punctuate the shoreline. Take part in some of the water sports, such as sailing, diving, and kite surfing, or simply relax on one of the small lakeside beaches. Take a day-trip to nearby Brescia, if time allows, to see the Castello di Passirano and its museums that elucidate the city’s military history. Tour the monuments that line its streets, and be sure to visit the ruins of the Tempio Capitolino and the roman theatre. In the evenings, retire to your green hotel, covered as it is by vines and leaves, relax by the pool, in the lounge, or in your suite, some of which are open-roofed.DAYS SIX TO EIGHTDrive east to the Gardone Riviera, where you will stay for three nightsAfter arriving in the Gardone Riviera on the banks of Lake Garda, check into the Villa del Sogno, a yellow-fronted terracotta-roofed hotel with an enviable position high on the hilly lakeside which affords it views of spectacular colour and scope. When in the Garda area, it is essential to take a tour of Il Vittorale degli Italiani, a villa complex designed by Gabriele D’Annunzio as a self-tribute. Make sure to book a tour in advance to avoid disappointment. The scale of the complex makes it more akin to a small town, with its uncountable eccentric buildings, its squares, avenues, and fountains. The complex also features a vintage car museum, a war museum, a Greco-Roman theatre, and the opportunity to have dinner in the low lights of the lakeside, making Il Vittorale even more of a desirable day-out. Drive to nearby Salò, seat of the Fascist government, and famous for its long promenade. Try the remarkable produce of the lemons at Limone sul Garda, particularly the citrus desserts. Take a boat trip out to Isola del Garda to explore the stunning Neo-Gothic villa and its Italianate gardens. Or visit Peschiera del Garda, a town surrounded by canals, once a centre-point for Garda defence, as can be seen in its 15th century pentagonal fortress. Sirmione is now referred to as the ‘Pearl of Garda’. Upon entry to the town, tour the 13th century Rocca Scagliera fortress, and then make your way through to the Grotte di Catullo on the waterfront, reputedly previously owned by the Roman poet Catullus. As a spa town, the hot springs under the town feed the many spas that offer luxury treatments throughout the town. Take a lake tour to glimpse the stately homes and glorious estates of the stars and elite that live on the banks. The small village of Riva del Garda hosts an atmospheric classical music festival in July.DAYS NINE AND TENHead east to the Italian Coast and Venice, where you will spend two nightsBreak up the short journey from the Gardone Riviera to Venice with a brief stop in Verona, famous for being the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Touch the statue of Juliet in the courtyard of Casa di Giulietta to receive luck in love, and visit the setting of Romeo and Juliet’s wedding in the crypt of the Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore. Known to the Ancient Romans as ‘Little Rome,’ the streets still bare the evidence of their important past, from the Roman Forum, to the palaces and Renaissance architecture. Pass under the Arco della Costa, separating the Piazza delle Erbe from the Piazza della Signoria, from which hangs a whale bone that will reputedly fall when someone righteous enough walks underneath. Also worth a visit is Verona’s Civico Museo d’Arte, one of the most important Art museums in Italy. In the romantic city of Venice, the Ca’Sagredo, a 15th century palace, sits virtually on the bank of the Grand Canal. Despite its position on the narrow streets of Venice, this hotel has an abundance of space. The rooms and suites are exceptionally spacious and grand, capturing the light reflected off the canal waters, and adorned in stately golden furnishings. There is definitely the air of a more traditional Venice permeating the walls of this building. The city of Venice itself is comprised of 117 islands and 150 canals, making it a veritable maze to navigate. One of the best ways to begin your exploration, therefore, is by taking a gondola-, or another boat-, trip along the Grand Canal. From here, you will be able to admire the many palaces that line the waterways and decide in which direction to explore next. For a more authentic experience of Venetian life, visit the Eberia and Pescheria local markets, situated across the Rialto Bridge, before visiting the major tourist locations, such as the glass museum, and the San Giorgio Maggoire. The Chiesi dei Frari houses art by Titian and Bellini, among others, as well as the tomb of Italian neoclassical sculptor, Canova. The work of Il Furioso himself, Tintoretto, is housed in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. Similarly, it is possible to see the tombs of 25 doges in the Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paulo. The magnificently maintained Ca’ Rezzonico allows visitors to witness what an 18th century palazzo interior would have looked like, with all the splendour and elaborate eccentricity of the height of Venetian culture and design. The Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, originally built in 1748, was converted into one of the best art galleries in Italy, the Guggenheim Museum, and displays a vast array of 20th century masterpieces. Head out to the distant island of Torcello, a far-cry from the busy Venetian town centre, to see the Byzantine Duomo and the 16th century ghetto. For a taste of traditional Venetian cuisine, look out for dishes based on the combination of polenta with beef stew or dried fish, as well as dishes of liver and onions. To taste the best of Veneto wine, consider driving north to Treviso, the home of Veneto Prosecco. The best Prosecco is widely recognised to be the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco, available in all good local restaurants. Also look out for Valpolicella wine, particularly the Classico variety or the Amarone di Valpolicella, as they has been aged for longer and have the warm taste of bitter cherries. Its white equivalent is the Recioto di Soave. The bitterness of the local wine comes from the more traditional methods of wine production, whereby the grapes are dried to concentrate the sugar and facilitate fermentation. These wines are typically stronger than their less bitter counterparts, and are usually drank as an aperitif or digestif.DAY ELEVENLeave Venice on your return flight to the UKDepart Venice on your final day of this touring holiday and return to London.Driving times for this touring holiday:Milan to Bellagio: 1 hour 30 minutesBellagio to Erbusco: 1 hour 45 minutesErbusco to the Gardone Riviera: 55 minutesGardone Riviera to Venice: 2 hours 5 minutesClick the 'Hotel Information' tab to find out more about the hotels featured in this touring itinerary or click here to download a pdf with information about some of our suggested Italian touring holidays.
These are the outstanding hotels that are featured in this touring holiday of Lake Como, Lake Iseo, Lake Garda and Venice. Alternative hotels are available in some destinations - please contact us for full details.Grand Hotel Villa SerbelloniBellagio, Lake ComoThe Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni is famous for three things - its favourable position on the banks of Lake Como in the picturesque town of Bellagio, just at the point where all three fingers of Lake Como join, its lush gardens of palms and luxuriant shrubs, and its extremely well preserved architecture and interior decoration. Today a five-star hotel, the Villa Serbelloni consists of the elegant original villa and two wings where the majority of the bedrooms are located. The ornate interior is entirely in-keeping with the character of the hotel; the feel of a very relaxed holiday hotel is emphasized by the comfortable armchairs in the lounge, the cosy American bar, the live music for dancing in the lounge every night, and the bedrooms, where the accent is firmly on traditional comfort rather than modern style. The views of the lake are quite magical, and can be enjoyed from the gardens and terrace, the lounge and those of the rooms which are fortunate enough to be at the front of the hotel. The gardens and private beach at the Villa Serbelloni give the impression that the hotel is actually in much larger grounds, and further out of town than it is; in fact it's just a couple of minutes’ walk to the pretty squares and waterfront of Bellagio. The hotel has two restaurants: the elegant, Michelin-starred Mistral Restaurant and La Goletta, serving traditional Italian cuisine. Service is either inside or, in the summer months, on the veranda (gentlemen are required to wear a jacket for dinner). Other facilities of the Villa Serbelloni include an outdoor and two indoor swimming pools, a private beach, water-sports and tennis, with golf nearby. Deluxe rooms have a lake view. We recommend this hotel as a real holiday hotel, perhaps for stays of seven or ten nights, so that you can really appreciate the beauty of the Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio and the surrounding area of Lake Como, with its numerous walks, villas, and gardens to visit. Prices are based on bed and breakfast only with dinner being optional.Find out more here.Hotel L’AlberetaTorbiato, near Lake IseoAn enchanting discovery within the gently rolling landscape of Franciacorta, the five-star Hotel L’Albereta is the setting for bucolic pleasures and pure indulgence. Clad with creeping shrubbery that eclipses the hotel’s façade, L’Albereta’s terracotta roofing and Juliet balconies suffice to hint at the history and charm that is intrinsic to the property. Wander the ambient grounds, where manicured lawns exude an air of authentic Italy: fertile, rustic and inviting. Beyond, the countryside extends along a level plane in a glacier-formed valley that is distantly bordered by dynamic peaks that shadow Lake Iseo. There are two restaurants to choose from at the hotel, both of which are popular and require advance reservations. Vista Lago Bistro is open from 7.30am until the early hours of the morning and offers wholesome home-made bistro meals. Restaurant Leone Felice is open for dinner on Thursday and Saturday nights, when Chef Fabio Abbattista prepares contemporary and traditional flavour combinations using produce sourced from the hotel’s vegetable garden. Each of the 38 rooms at Hotel L’Albereta achieves effortless elegance and boutique distinction, having been crafted with the utmost care. Open fireplaces forge intimacy and quality furnishing s and fabrics promote excellent sleep. With an accommodating staff and the outstanding Henri Chenot Spa facility, L’Albereta provides an accomplished service. A balance between physical harmony and utter indulgence is key; relaxing spa treatments, regional wines and divine cuisine are all ripe to be devoured.Find out more here.Villa del SognoGardone Riviera, Lake GardaThe Hotel Villa del Sogno is another hotel which we found captivating from the moment we arrived and which our clients have thoroughly enjoyed since. Perched above the lake in its own parkland of classic Italian vegetation of cypress, olive trees, palms and pines, and reached by a long winding drive, the Villa del Sogno offers accommodation of good quality in extremely attractive surroundings. The hotel consists of two buildings. Some of the bedrooms are in the original villa, built in the style of the region with a terracotta roof, abundant wooden panelling and a ceramic tiled fireplace; a newer extension has been built into the hillside beneath the villa where there are several more modern rooms with balcony. The rooms of the Hotel Villa del Sogno are all furnished comfortably and there are spacious public rooms; a cosy bar and lounge, terrace where drinks, breakfast and lunch are served in fine weather, and the elegant à la Carte restaurant. The swimming pool and the tennis court are set in the grounds a short distance away from the villa. Fasano can be reached on foot from the Villa del Sogno but as the road winds upwards for several hundred metres, it is not a walk that we would recommend for everyone.Find out more here.Ca’SagredoVeniceCa’Sagredo Venice sits majestically on the banks of the Grand Canal in Venice. This 14th century palazzo has been declared a National Monument and still preserves the untouched beauty of an ancient noble residence. The renovation of Ca’Sagredo enhanced its original architectural features and, inside, artworks from some of the greatest 17th and 18th century Venetian painters adorn the walls. With only 42 rooms and suites, the grand public areas of Ca’Sagredo make up a large proportion of the hotel and include marble staircases and beautiful frescoed halls. The elegant guest rooms at Ca’Sagredo are each unique and combine traditional Venetian decoration with some contemporary touches. Each has delightful views over the Grand Canal, rooftops or squares of Venice. Enjoy Venetian cuisine and local wines while whilst overlooking the Grand Canal from the panoramic terrace at the L'Alcova Restaurant or a drink in L'Incontro, the atmospheric bar. The Ca’Sagredo hotel is in an ideal location for exploring the city and faces the Rialto Market, between Ca’ D’Oro and Rialto Bridge. It is just a short walk away from St Mark’s Square, the main museums and the best fashion boutiques.Find out more here.
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