The Italian lakes conjure a dreamy image of romance and beauty, amongst the bucolic landscapes. All around mountains tumble steeply into ribbons of blue, islands float enticingly just offshore, whilst mellowed villas sit in perfect gardens along the shorelines.
“See the Lakes in style with Classic Travelling… fold down the roof and follow a specially designed scenic route that snakes around the back roads between Maggiore, Como, Iseo and Garda”. The Sunday Times, Italian Top 20 (Jan ’06)
This ten night tour will explore Lakes Maggiore, Orta, Como, Iseo and Garda, together with the surrounding areas which exhibit an enchanting combination of Mediterranean foliage set against the back drop of snow-capped mountains. There are some of the most beautiful towns and striking gardens in the whole of Europe to be visited. Experience aristocratic villas, glorious sunsets, boat trips to islands with magical villages, a fascinating range of cuisines, truly superb wines and, of course, the lakes themselves and all they have to offer.
May be subject to change.
Day 1 151 miles
For UK participants take the ferry from Dover to Calais, followed by an easy drive to Laon. Visit the largest war memorial area of France, Vimy Parc. This whole region was the scene of fierce fighting in both World Wars. Stay in an exclusive chateau set around a courtyard a few kilometres from Laon.
Day 2 230 miles
A long but lovely drive across France on good, open roads to the Jura Mountains. Drive through the Champagne region and Epernay. Visit the medieval town of Troyes – particularly the most beautifully restored 15th century buildings around the Cathedral. Stay overnight in a lovely small chateau hotel in the Franche-Comte region.
Day 3 143 miles
Drive across the Jura mountains into Switzerland. Visit the beautiful, medieval hilltop town of Gruyeres, famous for its cheese, and see how the cheese is made in the local alpine farms. Stay in a gorgeous hotel in Rougemont.
Day 4 172 miles
Arrive in Piedmont, Italy. From northern Europe the most spectacular route is over the Alps from Switzerland, via the Simplon Pass. Descend into the Ossola valley and drive along the shores of Lake Maggiore to Stresa. Stay for three nights in Stresa’s most wonderful hotel, the Grand Hotel des Iles Borromees, overlooking the lake and the Borromean Islands.
Spend the day relaxing and enjoying the delights of Lake Maggiore. Discover the town of Stresa – perfect for an evening promenade by the lake. Maybe take a boat ride to see the jewel-like Borromean Islands and enjoy the spectacular palace and beautiful gardens.
Day 6 38 miles
A short tour today to circumnavigate Lake Orta and visit the captivating town of Orta San Guilio, set entirely on its own garden peninsula. Take a short boat ride across to the island in the middle of the lake. Lanes are too narrow for cars so take a few hours to discover the town on foot. The scenic journey around the perimeter of the lake makes for a gentle and interesting drive.
Day 7 74 miles
Take the ferry across Lake Maggiore to Laveno. Drive up the east shore of Lake Maggiore, which is dotted with religious sanctuaries and churches, decorated with fine frescoes. Head inland on some sensational mountain roads to Sacro Monte, a holy way that winds 2km to the sanctuary at the top, and is lined with 14 chapels decorated with frescoes and statues. Drive to Lake Lugano and cross the border into Switzerland and drive around its northern shore before crossing over to Lake Como, where you will spend the next two nights at a wonderful hotel, right on the shore, overlooking the pretty town of Bellagio.
Discover the lovely little walled city of Como and its fine monuments. Take a scenic drive around the southern half of Lake Como – Italy’s prestigious romantic lake since the early Roman times. Visit Bellagio; a town as charming as its setting.
Day 9 138 miles
Drive northwards to Menaggio and take the ferry across Lake Como to Varenna. Drive some fabulous mountain roads, past the spa town of San Pellegrino and onto Lake Iseo. Continue onto Brescia and visit the Mille Miglia Museum. Drive to Lake Garda to stay for three nights on the west shore in Gardone Riviera. The hotel is situated right on the shores of the lake and each room overlooks the lake and has a balcony.
Day 10 87 miles
Enjoy wandering around the various little towns along the lake and taking it easy, relaxing in the local vicinity, or take the opportunity to visit the city of Verona, which is about 40 miles away.
Day 11 100 miles
Take a circular tour to drive around the whole of Lake Garda, visiting the charming towns of Riva in the north, Torri del Benaco and Desenzano.
Day 12 250 miles
Leave Lake Garda and start the journey homewards. Either take the fast route on the motorways to Milan, Geneva and France, or drive north to the Alps and experience the famous Stelvio Pass and Bernina Pass to Switzerland. Stay overnight in a stunning small hotel, converted from an old farm, with glorious views across the Alps.
Day 13 241 miles
Descend to Chur and you can either join the main motorway network in Europe, or take a leisurely drive through Switzerland to Interlaken and the capital, Bern. Cross over the Jura Mountains to the Alsace region of France. A good opportunity to stock up on some wine! Stay overnight in a wonderful hotel in a pretty Alsatian village.
Day 14 223 miles
Drive across northern France and take the opportunity to see some of the WWI sites of Verdun and environs. Stay for the last night of the tour back at the chateau where you stay for the first night as well.
Day 15 151 miles
Drive across northern France to Calais and cross to Dover and then depart for home.
The Italian section of the tour will stay in three delightful hotels, each on a lake shore. All the hotels have wonderful character and individuality, whilst being of an excellent standard. Due to the nature and age of these hotels, all the rooms are different, and will vary from charmingly comfortable to the utmost luxury. We have hand-picked and visited each hotel to ensure it has an enchanting atmosphere, as well as suitable parking for your car.
- Detailed narrative route directions, along with maps showing the route.
- Hotel and restaurant information
- Plenty of information on many places to visit and things to do in the areas you will pass through.
- A brief history of Italy and the Lakes
- Basic English-Italian dictionary
- Daily route maps with your routes marked
- Each person must have a passport (and any necessary visas for non-EU passport holders) valid for Italy and any other countries you may visit to participate on the tour.All passports must be valid for six months after the end of the tour
- You will also need your vehicle registration documents, driving licence (a photo-card licence or international permit is best), and an international insurance green card.
- We strongly suggest and recommend you have European breakdown cover, and ensure you are covered for the countries to be visited. Although we have mechanical back-up, there may be cases that cannot be fixed on the tour and your car may need to be repatriated.
- Please check your travel and motor insurance that you are covered for travel in the required countries.
- You are also required to safety equipment: carry a warning triangle, first-aid kit, fluorescent jacket, set of replacement bulbs and a national identification sticker.
- However, the most important requirement is that you take pleasure in motoring through fabulous scenery, and relish individual, character hotels.
Classic Car Hire
We have teamed up with Sprintage to offer some great rates on their wonderful classic cars for this tour. Please contact us for the rates. For the cars available please have a look at www.sprintage.com
We can arrange to have the cars delivered to the first nights hotel in Orta San Guilio or to one of the following airports: Milan, Venice or Verona. Please contact us for details.