Village Life Around the Italian Lakes

Program Overview

Northern Italy’s fabled Lake District beckons with its shimmering glacial waters, soaring Alpine peaks and bijou towns. Immerse yourself in the distinct bella figura Italian style that has inspired poets, composers, artists and philosophers for centuries. Visit Bellagio; Villa del Balbianello; Stresa; Isola Bella; San Giulio; and Sacro Monte di Orta, a UNESCO World Heritage site. In Milan, visit the Duomo and Teatro alla Scala, and enjoy a specially arranged viewing of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. Extend your journey with the Treasures of Bologna & Florence Post-Program Option.

A Spring version of this program also exists.

Program Details

September 9 to 17, 2023 October 7 to October 15, 2023 October 14 to 22, 2023
From $3,295 plus air View Terms & Conditions
  • Comprehensive Italian soggiorno in the fabled region that has inspired renowned writers and artists for centuries.
  • Accommodations for seven nights in the charming Palace Hotel—right in the heart of medieval Como and just steps away from historical monuments, family-owned negozi (shops), and old-world ambiance.
  • This small group program allows for an authentic experience of life in the Italian Lake District in the foothills of the majestic Alps.
  • Private boat tours on Lake Como, Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta.
  • Enriching lectures by a local Como resident and historian.
  • Visit the stunning 18th-century Villa del Balbianello and Gardens, with some time at your own pace in the renowned lake town of Bellagio.
  • Full-day excursion to Milan featuring the impressive Duomo, the exquisite Teatro alla Scala, and the UNESCO-inscribed Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie for a specially arranged viewing of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper.
  • Exclusive excursion to Lake Orta featuring Orta San Giulio, one of Italy’s most beautiful villages, and the 16th-century chapels atop the Sacro Monte di Orta, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Exclusive Village Life® Forum featuring local residents.
  • Bologna and Florence Post-Program Option.

Day 1 - Depart home city

Day 2 - Milan, Italy / Lake Como

Day 3 - Como

Day 4 - Lake Maggiore / Borromean Islands / Stresa

Day 5 - Milan

Day 6 - Lake Como / Villa del Balbianello / Bellagio

Day 7 - Lake Orta / Sacro Monte di Orta / Orta San Giulio

Day 8 - Como

Day 9 - Como / Milan / Return to home city

View detailed program itinerary >

A Spring version of this program also exists.

Palace Hotel

The ideally located, classic belle‑époque Palace Hotel is a delightful establishment with an ideal setting on the lungolago—the lakefront promenade—overlooking Lake Como, just steps away from Como’s beautiful marble Duomo and the medieval, pedestrian-only town center. Venetian stucco artistry, Italian marble and antique furniture provide subtle touches of 19th-century elegance throughout the hotel.

Its expertly landscaped gardens are the perfect setting to admire enchanting views across Lake Como. The Garden Bar Ceccato, with its summer terrace overlooking the lake, is an excellent setting to enjoy the hotel’s renowned homemade ice cream or a cappuccino.

Each of the hotel’s 94 renovated guest rooms is tastefully appointed with a private bathroom, air conditioning, satellite television, minibar and hair dryer. Meals feature fresh seasonal Italian ingredients, local specialties and international cuisine. Regional wine selections accompany dinner. The hotel staff provides exceptional service.

Bologna and Florence Post-Program Option

Conclude your tour with a four-night extension featuring Bologna and Florence, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Enjoy a walking tour of Bologna’s storied medieval square, from Piazza Malpighi through the heart of the city to Piazza Maggiore. Visit the legendary Basilica of San Petronio with its 15th century frescoes. Discover the glory of Florence’s historical center, the birthplace of the Renaissance and home to masterpieces of unparalleled art, architecture, and literature. See Filippo Brunelleschi’s iconic dome on the Duomo and Lorenzo Ghiberti’s bronze-cast “Doors of Paradise”—created for the Baptistery of San Giovanni to depict scenes from the Old Testament. Savor an afternoon at the world-famous Uffizi Gallery to see works by Botticelli, Giotto, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci. Conclude your sojourn with a tour of Ravenna’s historical center to see the stunning Ravenna Cathedral and the majestic Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo. Accommodations are in the historic Royal Hotel Carlton in the heart of Bologna.

The Post-Program Option is available at additional cost. Details will be provided with your reservation confirmation.

Program Rate Card

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Program Itinerary

Day 1 Departure

Your trip will begin by departing the U.S. or Canada for an overnight flight to Milan, Italy.

Day 2 Milan, Italy / Lake Como

Arrive in Milan, Italy, and transfer to Como, the perfect “home” for our soggiorno in the spectacular mountainous Italian countryside. Check into the charming Palace Hotel on the shore of Lake Como, Join your traveling companions for a Welcome Reception.

Day 3 Como

Stroll beside medieval towers and walls, Renaissance palaces and churches, Neoclassical 19th-century villas and small family-owned negozi, or shops, leading to the Piazza Cavour and the tranquil lakeside promenade. See the magnificent Duomo di Como and the 12th-century Romanesque Basilica di San Fedele.

Day 4 Lake Maggiore / Borromean Islands / Stresa

Enjoy a private boat cruise amidst charming Lake Maggiore islands graced with elegant villas and striking natural beauty. Visit the crown jewel of the Borromean archipelago, Isola Bella, occupied by the 17th-century Palazzo Borromeo. Enjoy spectacular mountain views from Stresa, a must for any “Grand Tour” that was also the setting for Ernest Hemingway’s iconic novel A Farewell to Arms

Day 5 Milan

Visit Milan’s exquisite late-Gothic Duomo and the world-famous Teatro alla Scala opera house, a Neoclassical jewel of gilt boxes and glittering chandeliers. By special arrangement, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Santa Maria delle Grazie to experience the enduring genius of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper.

Day 6 Lake Como / Villa del Balbianello / Bellagio

Cruise by private boat across the sparkling waters of Italy’s deepest—and perhaps most spectacular—lake while learning about its fascinating history and allure. Enjoy time to explore Bellagio at your own pace. Across Lake Como from Bellagio, visit the magnificent Villa del Balbianello and its unique terraced gardens. Savor the delights of a northern Italian dinner in a local ristorante.

Day 7 Lake Orta / Orta San Giulio / Sacro Monte di Orta

Enjoy a tour to the heart of Orta San Giulio’s medieval village center to admire Baroque palazzos built by Italian nobility. Visit chapels dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi atop the summit of UNESCO-inscribed Sacro Monte di Orta. Cruise across the cobalt-blue water in a private boat to Isola San Giulio, taking in views of Italian villas and gardens along the way. Visit the 12th-century Romanesque-style Basilica San Giulio and return to Orta San Giulio for time at leisure in this beguiling village.

Day 8 Como

Today is at leisrue. You have the opportunity to peruse the fresh fruits and vegetables in Como’s outdoor market, a local tradition for centuries. The Hospitality Desk can assist you in arranging independent excursions, such as Villa Carlotta or Isola Comacina. 

This evening, join your travel companions for the Farewell Dinner in the hotel.

Day 9 Como / Milan / Return to home city

After breakfast in the hotel, continue on the Bologna and Florence Post-Program Option or transfer to Milan for your return flight home.