This holiday includes a week on Lake Maggiore, Italy’s second largest lake, which stretches north from Lombardy and up into Switzerland. It lies, sheltered, on the south side of the Alps, making for a mils climate and consequent lush vegetation. Famed gardens feature Mediterranean and exotic flora, including azaleas, rhododendrons and camelias.
- Seven nights half board in Stresa on Lake Maggiore
- Full day excursion by boat to the Barromean Islands
- Excursion by boat to Captain McEacharn’s fabulous Villa Taranto garden
- Excursion to Lake Orta
- Return flights including transfers
Flight to Milan, transfer to your Lake Maggiore Hotel for seven nights half board accommodation. Transfer times from Malpensa, Llnate and Bergamo are 45 minutes, 1 1/4 hours and 1 3/4 hours respectively.
Day Two to Seven
These are spent on Lago Maggiore, where beautiful villas line the shores. Our hotel is in Stresa, the lake’s main resort, half way up the lake and from where boats and steamers frequently traverse the lake from the landing quay close to the hotel. The lakeside promenade near the hotel allows for a pleasant stroll to the pretty town centre – around the main Piazza there is a good range of shops, bars, and restaurants. As long as it is operating, you will have the chance to travel high onto Mount Mottarone by cable car – fabulous views!
1. The Borromean Islands. Your first excursion features Lake Maggiore’s three best known islands, which lie in the bay, a short way from the shore. Your first island Isola Madre, ‘Mother Island’, has an impressive villa and gardens with towering palm trees – the tallest in Italy. You then have free time for lunch on the pleasant quays of Isola dei Pescatori, the ‘Fishermen’s Island. It is a very short crossing to Isola Bella, the ‘Beautiful Island’, with its 17th-century palace – you are following in the holiday footsteps of Goethe, Byron, Stendhal, Wagner and Hemingway! The formal gardens, patrolled by peacocks, contain plants from all over the world. Entrance fees and Guide Service on both Isola Madre and Isola Bella are included.
2. The Villa Taranto Botanic Garden. You take the boat across the bay to Pallanza. Although supposedly created as an ‘English’ garden, Villa Taranto’s heritage is very much Scottish – its creator, Captain McEachran, was a proud Scot: the Taranto name comes from one of his Macdonald ancestors, who was given the title ‘Duke of Taranto’ by Napoleon and whose father sped ‘over the sea to Skye’ with Bonnie Prince Charlie! The entrance to the garden is through ‘Conifer Alley’. Highlights include the water gardens, the Dahlia Garden and the herbarium and the fine terraces.
3. Lake Orta. A relaxing afternoon to one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe: Lake Orta. Surrounded by lush woodland Orta really is a hidden secret. There is free time to stroll and admire the quaint cobbled streets of Orta S. Giulio and for taking a coffee at a cafe in the picturesque lakeside piazza. There is also the opportunity for a boat ride to the enchanting S. Giulio’s Island, where you can visit the 12th century Basilica and crypt of S. Giulio (ferry not included). The afternoon continues through the scenic countryside of the Vergante Hills and along the southern tip of Lake Maggiore and the towering statue of S. Carlo Borromeo, said to be the largest in the world, with panoramic views of the lake.
There are also optional coach excursions available to Macugnaga and Monte Rosa, and the cathedral city of Milan.
Free time until you depart for the airport for your flight home.
Hotel Milan Speranza Au Lac ****, Stresa
This four-star hotel is in two adjacent buildings in the centre of Stresa, overlooking the lake and opposite the boat station. The Speranza has a pleasant street-front café while the Milan houses the hotel restaurant. All rooms have bath or shower, wc, hairdryer and satellite tv. Lake view rooms are available at a supplement. Milan Speranza guests have use of the swimming pool at the nearby Hotel Regina Palace. (www.milansperanza.it)
The Islands and Gardens of Lake Maggiore
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