Italy’s Magnificent Lake District

Italy’s Magnificent Lake District

Experience northern Italy’s unforgettable lake district, where sparkling lakes mirror the green hills and craggy slopes of the Alpine foothills. Spend seven nights in Stresa by Lake Maggiore and your days will be filled with exploring breathtaking islands, lakeside towns and Milan. Learn the secrets of northern Italian cuisine during a cooking lesson. In Milan, see Leonardo’s “The Last Supper,” and choose between a tour exploring the fashion industry and an excursion to the Duomo and La Scala’s museum. This small-group program features an extensive meal plan, including wine with dinner, and exclusive lectures to enhance your journey.

Trip Itinerary:

May 21 Depart gateway city

AHI FlexAir passengers depart for Milan, Italy. Please check your luggage from your gateway city to your arrival city. Your claim checks should have the following airport code: MXP.

Meals – Appropriate in-flight meal service

May 22 Milan, Italy/Stresa

Arrive at Milan Malpensa Airport. Proceed through immigration to the baggage claim area and retrieve your luggage. After completing customs, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for the group arrival transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer should exit the baggage claim area and proceed to the designated meeting spot, where an AHI Travel representative will meet them. The meeting location will be provided with your final documents.

Transfer to Stresa and check in to the Hotel La Palma. Please note, if you arrive before check-in time, your room may not be immediately available.

This evening, join your fellow travelers for a Welcome Reception and Dinner at the hotel.

Accommodations – Hotel La Palma
Meals – Appropriate in-flight meal service and dinner

May 23 Stresa/Lake Orta

Enjoy a full American-style breakfast buffet each morning.

Enrichment: The Development of the Lake District.
Learn about Italy’s beautiful Lake District, a haven of Alpine peaks, gardens and lakes.

Discovery: Lake Orta.
Enjoy a scenic drive to the lovely resort town of Orta San Giulio, located on a peninsula that juts into Lake Orta. During a walking tour of this small Italian town, see the central piazza, and absorb the charms of idyllic lakeside life. Then board a boat to visit Isola San Giulio, the enchanted island in the lake. Appreciate the beauty of the island’s ancient Romanesque basilica that flaunts medieval frescoes, an 11th-century great bell tower and polychrome wooden sculptures. An immense fossilized vertebra hangs in the sacristy. Legends claim that the vertebra is from one of the island’s dreadful dragons that bullied the area before being slayed by San Giulio.

Free Time: Enjoy free time in Orta San Giulio for lunch, and make your own discoveries. Drink in the lake’s stillness from a lakeside bench or admire views from the Chiesa dell’ Assunta, a coral-hued parish church perched on a small hill.

Enrichment: The Gardens of Lake Maggiore.
Immerse yourself in history as a local expert shares a narration of Lake Maggiore. Learn about the powerful Borromeo family and how they transformed the tranquil islands — that now are named after them — into splendid retreats featuring palaces and landscaped gardens.

Gather for a dinner of local flavors at a restaurant in town. Many menus in this region are crafted using homegrown flavors and family heirloom recipes. Meals may be based around locally sourced meats and fish, focaccia and crusty breads, and fresh cheeses. Seasonal vegetables, such as fava beans, artichokes, tomatoes, beans, peppers, onions and courgettes, enhance the simple dishes.

Accommodations – Hotel La Palma
Meals – Breakfast and dinner

May 24 Stresa/Borromean Islands

Discovery: Borromean Islands.
Located in the turquoise waters of Lake Maggiore, the Borromean Islands are named after the family who has owned them since the 15th century. The group consists of three lovely islands, each one different from its neighbors. Begin your outing with a cruise on Lake Maggiore aboard a private motorboat to Isola Madre, the largest of the Borromean Islands. Enjoy a guided visit of the island’s extensive botanical gardens. The impressive English-style gardens are lush and filled with exotic flowers, rare plants, and ancient trees. You may also spot some of the delightful peacocks, parrots, and pheasants that make their home on the island. Then, embrace the rustic charm of the peaceful fishing village of Isola dei Pescatori. Stroll its narrow streets lined by the quaint houses of the fishermen and families who call this island home. Finally, visit Isola Bella, the “Beautiful Island,” extolled by writers over the centuries. Explore its 17th-century baroque palace and summerhouse that is home to a mosaic grotto and an astounding collection of art and antiques. Enjoy a relaxing stroll through hanging gardens adorned with Greek and Roman statuary while listening to rare birds.

Enjoy a delicious lunch at a restaurant while on Isola dei Pescatori.

Enrichment: Golden Age of the Renaissance.
Delve into the true genius of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci and trace their profound influences on sculpture and painting.

Accommodations – Hotel La Palma
Meals – Breakfast and lunch

May 25 Stresa/Bellagio/Como

Discovery: Bellagio.
Enjoy a boat ride to Bellagio on Lake Como. Often thought of as the most beautiful town in Italy, Bellagio flaunts a promenade lined with lime trees and oleanders, a quaint city center of cobblestone streets and picturesque alleyways, and charming buildings painted in shades of cream, peach and butterscotch. Poets and writers from every part of the world have visited and found inspiration in Bellagio including Pliny the younger, Longfellow, Mark Twain, Shelley, Stendhal, Flaubert, Faure, Liszt and Toscanini. Explore this enchanting little village, and stroll by 18th- and 19th-century villas built by the region’s noble families.

Join your fellow travelers for lunch at one of Bellagio’s lakeside restaurants.

Free Time: Discover Bellagio on your own during some free time. Take a romantic stroll along the waterfront, pause for a treat at a requisite gelato stand, or duck inside a wonderful artisan bakery.

Discovery: Cruising Lake Como.
Travel by private boat from Bellagio to Como, one of the most romantic ways to experience this region. Glide on deep-blue water, gloriously bathed with rays of golden sunlight, and delight in views of the opulent villas and colorful villages nestled along Lake Como’s shores. Vistas of stunning gardens, hidden waterfalls and cypress groves will captivate your senses, while the majestic Alps stand sentry in the background. Your spectacular, poetic boat ride is sure to be among your trip’s most treasured memories.

Arrive in Como, a historic town situated on the shores of the lake of the same name, and join your group for a short walking tour, beginning at Piazza Cavour.

Accommodations – Hotel La Palma
Meals – Breakfast and lunch

May 26 Stresa

Free Time: There are endless opportunities to pursue your own interests during a day at leisure. Your Travel Director will be able to offer suggestions on sightseeing, restaurants and more.

Enrichment: Contemporary Italy.
Enjoy an engaging discussion of Italy’s current economy, politics, society and role in the European Union.

Accommodations – Hotel La Palma
Meals – Breakfast

May 27 Stresa/Milan

Discovery: A Cultural Visit to Milan.
Travel to Milan, Italy’s economic powerhouse, whose wealth of cultural heritage is lavished on superb architecture, splendid art, and prestigious museums. Take a memorable trip to the beautiful Renaissance Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie to see Leonardo’s magnificent “The Last Supper.” This powerful painting is hailed as one of the greatest in the world, and it took da Vinci two years to complete. He used models he found on the streets of Milan for his depictions of Christ and his followers.

Personalize Your Journey | Choose one of the following excursions:
• Architecture & Music.
Visit the museum at the legendary La Scala, Italy’s opulent, premier opera house. Enter the flamboyant 14th-century Duomo, a Gothic masterpiece defended by 2,244 marble saints and nearly 100 scowling gargoyles. The Duomo’s impressive interior houses Europe’s largest sundial, a brass strip decorated with signs of the zodiac embedded in its floor, and the treasury, which houses some of the Duomo’s prized possessions.
• Fashion.
Delve into the history of Milan’s legendary fashion scene while walking along the streets of Quadrilatero d’Oro, one of the world’s most iconic fashion districts. Stop in a boutique or studio for a talk with a fashion expert.

Free Time: Spend time at leisure having lunch and getting to know cosmopolitan Milan.

Accommodations – Hotel La Palma
Meals – Breakfast

May 28 Stresa

Discovery: Flavors of Italy.
Learn the secrets of traditional Italian cuisine during an interactive cooking lesson at a nearby restaurant overlooking Lake Maggiore. Then sit down with your fellow travelers to delight in conversation and a delicious lunch.

Free Time: Wrap up your Italian adventure with a final afternoon at leisure in Stresa. Walk along the lake to take some final photos, buy a painting or two, or simply relax in the warm sunshine and fresh breezes on your hotel’s terrace.

This evening, attend a special Farewell Reception and Farewell Dinner.

Accommodations – Hotel La Palma
Meals – Breakfast, lunch and dinner

May 29 Depart for gateway city

After breakfast, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for a group transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer depart for Milan Malpensa Airport for your return flights home. Your Travel Director will provide the details.

Meals – Breakfast and appropriate in-flight meal service

NOTE: Itinerary schedule may change due to local conditions. Many excursions in this program involve an element of walking on cobblestones, unpaved paths or other uneven surfaces.



A great trip. My wife and I would recommend this to anyone.

- Craig Kroeger, 2015

I would travel with you again in a heartbeat! Extremely well-coordinated, stress free travel experience.

- Gayle Harrison, 2017

EXPLORERS program guarantees an outstanding trip with excellent accommodations and local guides.

- Russ Rudolph, 2017

Back to all trips