- Duration: 5 Full Days + 5 Nights
- Type of tour: circular
- Tour starts and ends in Milan
Accommodations with Continental Breakfast:
- Day 1: 3* to 5* Hotel in Lake Como area
- Days 2 & 3: 3* to 5* Country House in Langhe area
- Day 4: 3* to 5* Hotel in Portofino
- Day 5: 3* to 5* Hotel in Milan city centre
- Day 2: Transfer by private car / minivan from Lake Maggiore to your accommodation in Langhe area
- Day 4: Transfer by private car / minivan to your accommodation in Portofino
- Day 5: Transfer by private car / minivan to your accommodation in Milan city centre
Private Guided Visits / Tours / Activities:
- Day 1: Full day private tour by car / minivan of Lake Como’s Western side with an Authorised Tour Leader
- Day 2: Full day private tour by car / minivan of Lake Maggiore area with an Authorised Tour Leader, including visits of Isola Bella and Isola Madre
- Day 3: Full day wine tasting tour by private car / minivan of Barolo and Barbaresco area, with visits of WiMu Wine Museum in Barolo Castle, a Barolo wine cellar and a Barbaresco wine cellar and tasting
Admission Tickets to:
- Villa Balbianello OR Villa Carlotta on Lake Como
- Isola Bella and Isola Madre on Lake Maggiore
Meals at selected home-style Restaurants:
- 1 3-course dinner in Langhe area
- 1 3-course dinner in Milan
Full assistance 24 hours/day by our Back Office
All taxes (tips not mandatory)
Day 1 – LAKE COMO
The magnificent scenery of Lake Como (also known as Lake Lario) has enchanted artists and travellers for centuries: from French novelist Flaubert to musicians of the calibre of Gioacchino Rossini, Giuseppe Verdi, and Vincenzo Bellini; it was here that he composed his opera Norma. Today Lake Como continues to attract members of the international jet-set and celebrities that appreciate the evocative beauty of the Lake and its surroundings.
Villa Melzi in Bellagio
The Lake (one of Lombardy's several incomparable lakes) is of a characteristic upside-down Y-form. The town of Como is situated on its southwestern arm, Lecco on the southeastern arm, and Colico on that northern. From the Lake’s shores, one can enjoy multiple, fascinating views: suggestive borgoes, splendid villas and lush gardens await visitors in search of a little charm and relaxation, or a little culture and contact with nature.
Breathtaking villas, one after the other, encircle the lake, a resort destination of the nobles of Lombardy since the 16th Century. Cernobbio is the site of the Villa d’Este (1600s), location in Alfred Hitchcock’s celebrated film “The Pleasure Garden”; and the celebrated Villa Erba, one of the most important Italian lake villas from the 1800s - today it is an internationally-known convention and expository complex. In the nearby Comunes of Moltrasio and Lenno, Passalacqua and Villa Balbianello (used in films such as “Star Wars: Episode II” and “Casino Royale”) are important touristic attractions.
Along the coast is Tremezzo, famous for its Villa Carlotta, with terrace gardens and a museum boasting works by Canova, Thorvaldsen, and Hayez. It was built in the 17th century for a powerful Milanese family and in the second half of the 19th century Princess Marianne of Nassau bought the villa and gave it to her daughter Carlotta as a wedding present, hence the name. Her husband was a keen botanist and over the years turned it into the lush garden that we see here today. Where the Lake’s three arms meet, you may visit Bellagio and Villa Melzi. The Villa, built in 1808, is much sought-after for its botanical park, with sculptures and garden renowned for its beautiful azaleas and rhododendrons.
Day 2 - LAKE MAGGIORE
It has the magnificent vintage air of old-fashioned vacations, but it never goes out of style. Lake Maggiore is the second largest in Italy in size (the biggest is Lake Garda) but the largest—and that’s why it’s called Maggiore—of the lakes closest to the Alps. Geographically, it straddles two Italian regions, Lombardy and Piedmont, and a small part juts into Switzerland’s Canton Ticino. But the main thing is that since the 19th century it has been one of the top vacation and weekend destinations for wealthy families from big cities, who built some of Northern Italy’s most stunning villas on its shores. The secret to Lake Maggiore’s success is its position just under Mount Rosa, a varied landscape, easy accessibility from both Milan and Piedmont, and a climate that allows very distinctive vegetation to thrive. In spring, the blossoming of azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, lemons and magnolias rightfully attract plant lovers.
The jewels of the lake are the Borromean Islands: anyone who has seen a postcard of Lake Maggiore is bound to be familiar with their outline. The archipelago is one of the biggest attractions for travellers and Isola Bella, Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori have plenty of charm. The archipelago is named after the Borromeo family, which acquired the islands in the 14th century and still owns two of them. The noble palaces on the islands, with their rooms filled with antique furniture, paintings and priceless porcelain, and the enchanting gardens are open to visitors and are a must on your list of things to see.
The Fountain on Isola Bella
Day 3 – LANGHE
You will be startled by the beauty of Piedmont, the region where the landscape changes colours according to the rhythm of the seasons! For its outstanding landscapes, the area of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato has been recently recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Think rolling hills, quaint villages struck on cliffs, and prized vineyards and gastronomic traditions. During the day you may go up and down the hills among castles and vineyards, and reach one of the Italian historical wine estates for the visit of the ancient cellar with hundreds of barrels, casks and barriques. You may also visit WIMU, Italy’s most innovative wine museum, as well as one of the world’s most important. It is set in the halls and rooms of a castle with a thousand-year history. At the end, you will have a superb wine tasting of Barolo and Barbaresco Wine.
Alba is one of the most important communities in these parts. Known as the city of truffles, wine and culinary delights, it was actually founded by the Ligures, an ancient Indo-European people. Barolo is known above all for its beauty and incarnates the essence of its most noble of Piedmontese wines (what else, Barolo?). Tucked into the hills, Barolo was a Medieval borgo belonging to the Gonzaga and Savoia; it is dominated by the Castello Falletti, the seat of the Comune’s Enoteca and of the Museum of Peasant Life, a collection of antique objects and instruments.
So, what about food? Taste gorgeous “tagliatelle”, locally called “tagliolini” or “tajarin”, served with meat ragout, sausage ragout or, according to the season, melted butter and grated truffle. Then, try veal meat in any version, especially brasati, cooked in Barolo wine. The typical dish par excellence is “Bagna Cauda”, a social dish, a garlic, anchovy and olive oil sauce into which seasonal raw vegetables are dipped. Hazelnut cake, soft and served with a good glass of Moscato d’Asti, is the traditional ending to every lunch and dinner!
Vineyards in “Le Langhe”
Day 4 – PORTOFINO
“A small village, Portofino, stretches crescent-shaped along the edge of this calm bay.” Thus wrote Guy de Maupassant when describing Portofino, tiny sea village on the Italian Riviera circumscribed by the green of the Natural Regional Park and Marine Reserve. This splendid sea resort with its lux, Mediterranean personality, also boasts an ancient marine culture, and of course is another one of those spots beloved by artists, famous personages and writers that have long sung its praises.
The “Piazzetta”, meeting-up point for the international jet-set, is the symbol of Portofino, while the port, with its characteristic, brightly-coloured houses, is the icon of this borgo’s maritime traditions, whose inhabitants were called “delfini” (dolphins) by the Greeks and Romans, so apt were they at sea navigation.
You may visit the Church of Portofino’s Patron Saint, San Giorgio, a construction from the 12th Century; inside are relics brought back by sailors after the Crusades, as well as a breathtaking panorama from the parvis (churchyard). Nearby, the Brown Castle (Castello Brown) is a fortress smack-dab in the middle of a hanging-garden, characterized by partitions with lovely bas-reliefs, and architectonic embellishments in marble and slate. The lighthouse is accessible from here and is situated on Punta del Capo (aka Punta Portofino), imposing itself over the entire bay.
You will surely not miss a trip to the evocative Medieval Abbey of San Fruttuoso, just a few miles inland from the coast and surrounded by lush vegetation. According to a legend, five Spanish monks fleeing from Arab-invaded Tarragon built the Abbey. The monks, after a long and dangerous journey, brought with them the relics of Bishop Fruttuoso.
Prefer a little adventure out in the open? Take an excursion up to Monte di Portofino for a slight adrenaline rush, or navigate the Gulf of Tigullio in a boat, for close contact with the beautiful Mediterranean Sea.
With the guide of an expert skipper, you may also undergo the great appeal of sailing at its best, in very close contact with the sea and the magnificent landscape of Portofino Coast.
But before dinner, make sure you do as the locals do: head back to the Piazzetta for 7 o’ clock aperitivo, where you can snack on Genoese focaccia and sip some Giancu de Purtufin, a wine that combines several of the territory’s grapes and that is only produced locally.
Day 5 - MILAN
Milan is first of all the Fashion Capital of Italy! The showrooms of all Italian manufacturers are located in the city and here buyers from worldwide distribution find the one and only “Italian Style”! But Milan is not only fashion, it is also and above all art, beauty and culture! Piazza del Duomo is the geographical and historical centre of the city. It is surrounded by palaces with arcades; in the middle, you can see the Duomo, one of Europe’s biggest Gothic cathedrals, whose construction started in the 14th and ended in the 20th century. And on the Gran Guglia, the cathedral’s highest spire, the Madonnina, a symbol of Milan, stands. To the left of the cathedral lies the 19th century Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a covered passageway in a Latin cross shape linking the grand Piazza del Duomo with Piazza della Scala, featuring mosaics and a wrought iron and glass roof.
You may also visit “Castello Sforzesco”, the Sforza Castle, a summary in stone of the political, military and artistic history of Milan. Then stroll down the streets of the Quadrilatero D’oro, the heart of the fashion industry, admiring the shop windows of Prada, Armani, Versace, Ferragamo, Dolce & Gabbana and Valentino. And in late afternoon taste a gorgeous Cappuccino at Pasticceria Cova, as locals often do in via Montenapoleone, “Montenapo” for the Milanese!
At dinner, what about a tasty yellow “Risotto alla Milanese”? According to an ancient tradition, the Duomo is where Risotto alla Milanese was “born”, invented by a boy who worked for the stained glass artist Valerio di Fiandra, nicknamed “Zafferano” for its habit of adding spices to his colours. One day he put some saffron in the rice as well and the result was a great success!
Piazza del Duomo in Milan