Wilderness Travel - vacations and travel

Italy's Lake District

Italy, Switzerland, Europe

from $4,695* per person 7 Days May, June, September
Comfort accommodations Exertion level: 4
Operator: Wilderness Travel 15 people max
  • Como, italy
  • Active & Adventure trips
Just hear the words “Italian lakes” and the imagination conjures long ribbons of gleaming deep blue water, snow-capped peaks, and opulent lakeside villas with rose-laden promenades. On this enchanting journey, we explore two legendary mountain lakes in Italy and one in Switzerland. Connecting the lakes by ferry, we hike age-old paths to stone hill villages with tiny chapels, walk up to an alpine rifugio for spectacular lake views and a delicious lunch of traditional polenta uncia, boat to an island with a magnificent palatial villa, and hike through mystical chestnut woodlands. We’ve chosen the perfect bases for our hikes: magnificent Bellagio on Lake Como, Lugano on Switzerland’s Lake Lugano, and serene Orta San Giulio on romantic Lake Orta.

Locations visited/nearby

Italy, Switzerland, Europe

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Special information

  • May accommodate certain types of disabilities. Contact the operator for more information.

Itinerary

Days 1-3
Como / Bellagio

We meet in Como, the silk capital of Europe, and boat across Lake Como to the 18th century Villa Balbianello, one of the most romantic settings on the lake. After a picnic lunch in the high village of Perlo, we walk down to Bellagio by way of the monumental Villa Melzi gardens, a fine example of neoclassical villa architecture. The next day, we hike up through beech woods on Monte San Primo (5,528') to a mountain rifugio for spectacular lake views. Our lunch here offers local countryside delicacies that often include mountain sweets like miascia, a cake made with fresh mint and walnuts. Afterwards, we visit a private museum in a village home to learn about Lake Como’s ancient silkworm breeding and silk-spinning culture. Overnights are in magnificent Bellagio, a storybook town of villas and terraced gardens with one of the most dramatic locations in all of Europe. With its flower-filled belvederes and villas, it has been a cherished locale since the days of the Roman Empire.

Days 4-5
Lugano, Switzerland / Orta San Giulio

Heading across the border to Lake Lugano in Switzerland, we ride the funicular up to San Salvatore, 3,000 feet above Lugano, for a hike on a panoramic trail with magnificent views of the lakes and a delicious picnic lunch next to the Baroque church of San Giorgio. From the medieval town of Cannobio, set on Lake Maggiore, we hike to the small stone village of Carmine Superiore, with its ancient chapel and fine views over the lake. Later, we take a private water taxi to the island of Isola Bella to explore the splendid Villa Borromeo, then continue to enchanting Orta San Giulio, a tiny jewel of a town set on tranquil Lake Orta.

Days 6-7
Orta San Giulio, Italy

Our last hike is on an ancient footpath that leads up to the hill village of Priscola and on to Legro, with its fine fountain and traditional public washing basin in the main square, and we enjoy our picnic lunch in the gardens of the Franciscan convent of Monte Mesma. Depart via Milan on Day 7, or enjoy our self-guided Cinque Terre Extension.

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