Fabulous scenery and a relaxing lakeside destination
This wonderful seven-night holiday takes you to the shores of beautiful Lake Maggiore on a tour by rail. Set among the stunning peaks of the Italian Alps, enjoy a tour filled with scenic exploration.
You meet your group at Rail Discoveries' dedicated Departure Office today, leaving London St Pancras International on the Eurostar for Paris. From here, you travel on the high-speed TGV service to Strasbourg, where you overnight.
Return to the railway station this morning and continue your journey to Italy. Arriving at Stresa railway station, you transfer to your home for the next five nights, the 4* Milan Speranza Hotel au Lac. Located in the centre of Stresa, the hotel benefits from a superb position overlooking the lake and the surrounding Italian Alps.
This morning, enjoy an excursion by boat, cruising to picturesque Isola Bella, the small island only a few minutes across the lake from Stresa. The island was completely transformed by the aristocratic Borromeo family in the 16th and 17th centuries, and is now dominated by the sumptuous Borromean Palace. Set amidst spectacularly beautiful Italian gardens, this ornate and ambitious structure was started in the 17th century, but only saw completion in 1959. The fabulous rooms often have mythological themes, and the stuccoed ceilings, Murano chandeliers, fine paintings and rich tapestries lend the villa a fanciful feel. Despite this, the palace did have a rather serious brush with modern history: the Music Room is where Mussolini met with Pierre Laval of France and James Ramsey MacDonald of Britain for the famous 'Conference of Stresa', where Italy discussed, and finally decided against, becoming an Allied nation. You will visit the palace before free time to explore the wonderful gardens, which are equally as opulent as the sumptuous interiors.
Today you are at leisure to relax in Stresa, possibly taking the time to explore the town. Although a highly popular Italian resort, Stresa is small enough to explore on foot, rewarding visitors with medieval buildings, opulent and historic villas, public gardens and several museums. Follow in the footsteps of prestigious guests such as George Bernard Shaw, Ernest Hemingway, Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin and Princess Margaret as you enjoy a walk along the pretty lakeside promenade. Alternatively, you could take advantage of the hotel's comforts. Relax on the sun terrace or lounge by the pool and appreciate the Alpine views.
Today, enjoy a journey on the breathtaking Centovalli Railway. With a name meaning "One Hundred Valleys", the Centovalli Railway connects Locarno in Switzerland to Domodossola in Italy. Construction of the line was delayed with the advent of the First World War, so it did not open until 1923. However, with its beautiful bridges over some incredible lakeside and valley scenery, the line has remained open ever since, being especially popular with tourists. You wind through valleys and past deep ravines, over bridges and through tunnels, on a marvellous route between Domodossola and the lakeside town of Locarno. First mentioned in records in 807AD when controlled by Italian nobility, Locarno had previously been a Roman settlement, although this area of Lake Maggiore bears evidence of inhabitation since prehistoric times. Its long and colourful history has bestowed a wealth of historic buildings upon Locarno and today the city boasts nine individual Swiss Heritage Sites of National Significance, including the twelfth century Castello Visconteo, and the Church of Saint Francesco which dates from 1538.
On arrival in Locarno, you are free for lunch and to explore. Perhaps visit the beautiful Sacred Mount Madonna del Sasso, a stunning historical and religious site perched above the village. Reportedly built by a Franciscan friar after an apparition of the Virgin Mary appeared to him on the spot, the church boasts fantastic views over Locarno from the rocky outcrop where it rests. Later, take the scenic route back to the hotel, with a blissful cruise across the lake to Stresa.
Your excursion today takes you by coach to tranquil Lake Orta, a superbly unspoiled lake with an enchanting atmosphere. Situated on the lake is the charming village of Orta San Giulio, where you have some free time. Popular with writers since the 19th century, Orta San Giulio's elegant streets have welcomed the likes of Nietzsche, Robert Browning, and the current Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. Perhaps admire the paintings in the UNESCO-listed Sacro Monte di Orta whilst you are here. Your excursion also includes a boat ride to the Isola San Guilio, a tiny yet delightful island on the lake, topped with a Benedictine monastery.
You begin your journey home today. Travelling via Basel you arrive in Dijon, where you will spend the final night of the holiday.
Leave Dijon today, travelling by TGV to Paris. Here you join the Eurostar to St Pancras International in London, where your tour concludes.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We will write to you around 10 weeks before your departure date with the precise meeting times for your tour group.
of travellers would recommend this tour
based on 25 verified reviews
As a retired teacher, I rarely if ever award 'excellent' because there is only one way to go!
overall the trip and the organisation were good.
Very well organised every day, friendly co travellers and an excellent tour manager.
It was very good but not perfect
Everything was perfect except for the food in the hotel if only they would serve Italian food instead of trying to recreate English food
Weather perfect, excursions excellent Hotel good
We had a lovely holiday. Everything was so well organised and Ken was very helpful throughout the holiday. The hotel at Stresa was excellent as was the one in Strasbourg, though the Ibis hotel in Dijon was very basic and had a “cold” atmosphere. All trips from Stresa were delightful and Lake Maggiore was beautiful.
Very good holiday. Wonderful places to visit. Kept very busy. But had some personal time.
Tout était bien organisé et l'hébergement très confortable.
Good balance of activities, well organised, sufficient free time to explore surroundings and experienced leader.
Fabulous scenery and a relaxing lakeside destination