This is a comprehensive introduction to the dramatic beauty of northern Italy, explored on scenic drives and stays in world-class hotels. Highlights include Belle Époque lakeside gems with complimentary ferries. You’ll begin with Milan’s historic extravagance before following in the footsteps of Europe’s aristocracy to the Italian Lakes – Maggiore, Como and Garda. Here, snow-capped peaks look down on island-dotted waters fringed by vineyards, sun terraces and idyllic fishing villages. End with Verona whose rich heritage is evidenced by everything from Roman wonders to medieval grandeur.
Day 1: Milan
Begin your holiday in style with complimentary airport lounge access. You'll then fly into Milan where you'll be met by a private driver and brought to your central accommodation, either the fashionistas’ favourite, Hotel de la Ville, or the Art Deco Carlton Baglioni and its twinkling chandeliers. Whichever you choose, you’ll be perfectly poised to explore. There’s da Vinci’s Last Supper housed in a 15th-century church, the pearly white façade and 135 spires of the Gothic cathedral and, of course, an inexhaustible list of boutiques. Further artistry can be found in the city’s galleries and its famed food scene.
Stay: Hotel de la Ville (Superior) or Carlton Hotel Baglioni (Deluxe)
Days 2-4: Lake Maggiore
After breakfast, collect your hire car and drive to Lake Maggiore, swapping urbane sophistication for rural beauty. You'll stay right on its palm-tree-lined shores, enjoying rooftop bar indulgence at La Palma or the private beach of the Grand Hotel Majestic. It's the chance to step back to the days of the Grand Tour, when the Italian Lakes became the playgrounds for wealthy Europeans. Be sure to make use of your hotel’s ferry to explore, perhaps stopping off at at the Borromean Islands. Named for the aristocratic family that’s owned them since the 16th century, they’re beautified by Baroque palaces and lavish gardens.
Stay: La Palma (Superior) or Grand Hotel Majestic (Deluxe)
Days 5-7: Lake Como
Drive on to Lake Como on routes that hug its shores, skipping through short tunnels only to emerge to yet more sublime views. Along with near-ancient basilicas and monastic botanical gardens, pretty villages line its coast where locals feast on lake fish and paths wind between red-roofed buildings and cypress groves. While the turn-of-the-century grandeur of the Hotel Victoria impresses with golden friezes balcony views, we recommend our Deluxe option – the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni. It caters for those who like to dress for dinner and relax to live music under glittering chandeliers. It’s all frescoed interiors and wonderfully kept gardens.
Stay: Grand Hotel Victoria (Superior) or Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni (Deluxe)
Days 8-10: Lake Garda
Garda is the largest of Italy's lakes and considered by many to be the most beautiful. Whether it's tasting your way through the southern vineyards, enjoying a day trip out into the armour-plated peaks of the Dolomites or visiting Rocca Scaligera, a fairytale castle that juts out onto the lake itself, there's plenty to keep you occupied. You'll choose between stays at the Grand Hotel Gardone Riviera, a Belle Époque favourite of Winston Churchill complete with 300m of sun-deck-lined waterfront, and Villa del Sogno. This 19th-century villa is the ideal romantic retreat, furnished with antiques, wrapped in verdant gardens and hidden away along a private road.
Stay: Grand Hotel Gardone Riviera (Superior) or Villa del Sogno (Deluxe)
Day 11: Verona
Make the short drive to Verona where you'll drop off your hire car and check into your central accommodation; our Deluxe option, a centuries-old palace where glass floors showcase Roman ruins. You’ll then have time to wander the city’s medieval streets and squares, taking in 14th-century plazzos of Romeo and Juliet fame before stopping at the Arena di Verona. This 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheatre continues to host some of the world's great opera performances. Speak to your specialist about booking your ticket.
Stay: Giulietta e Romeo (Superior) or Due Torri (Deluxe)
Day 12: Departure
A private transfer will see you to Verona Airport, in time for your flight home.
Surcharges: Surcharges may apply to this itinerary during major fairs in Milan, and weekend stays at certain times of the year
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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