Arrive in Milan and head to Saronno, a pretty little town best known for the famous Amaretto liqueur whose honey-almond flavours are a sweet delight after dinner. You'll have some time to explore on your own before meeting your Travel Director and travel companions for an included dinner at your hotel.
It's just a short hop to Lake Como, whose deep blue waters have inspired great writers like Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway. Once you've arrived, you'll see for yourself why this idyllic retreat has endured as a firm favourite among aristocrats, celebrities and locals since Roman times. Board your included cruise to Bellagio, the pearl of the lake, with its steep lanes and sophisticated harbour area. Soak up the fresh lake breeze, as you cruise past luxurious villas and elegant terraced gardens that line the lush hills along the lake's expansive coastline. You could spend hours sipping a refreshing Spritz and watching the world go by but you'll want to join an optional dinner in Como instead.
As you cross the border into Switzerland this morning, you may do a double take arriving in Lugano, known as the 'Monte Carlo of Switzerland'. Italy has had quite the magic touch on shaping Lugano's culinary, cultural and architectural scene as you'll come to see in its piazze and along the narrow streets. Choose an optional scenic cruise on Lake Lugano or take a leisurely stroll along its lakeside promenades or indulge in some well-deserved retail therapy - the city is famous for its high-end fashion boutiques. Once you've bagged all the best buys, return to Italy for a two-night stay at your hotel on the western shores of Lake Maggiore, Italy's second-largest lake. Tuck into another Italian cena before turning in for the evening.
Immortalised in Hemingway's 1920s novel 'A Farewell to Arms', Lake Maggiore is one of Italy's most scenic lake landscapes. With so many hidden treasures to uncover, we've included a free day for you to do whatever you wish. You won't need to wander far for those same epic views of the surrounding mountains and "lake in the sunlight" to inspire you as they did him. One of our favourite options is to join an breathtaking excursion to the Borromean Islands, purchased by the Borromeo family in the 16th century and still owned by them. Explore the magnificent palace and elegant gardens that remain dotted across the lake's islands and islets to this day.
Lose yourself in the tragic love affair of Romeo and Juliet when you visit Verona. Your orientation tour of this romantic Italian city will include views of the ancient Roman Arena and balcony where a fictional Juliet once called for her Romeo. During your free time, visit the Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore - one of the most important religious buildings in the area and the site where the two star-crossed lovers bound themselves together for eternity. The sun at its peak, we take a scenic drive along Lake Garda, renowned for its crystal-clear waters. Snap a selfie and admire the view before arriving at your hotel for your two-night stay.
Throw your guidebook out the window and switch off your phone. This is the perfect time to indulge in a relaxing siesta, as Italian families have done for centuries. Kick back on the shores of Lake Garda and reflect on the stunning natural beauty that surrounds you, watch the world go by or let your mind contemplate your next journey. If you're feeling energetic, you could make the most of your time by joining a full-day Optional Experience to Bolzano, capital of southern Tyrol. Shop in the arcaded streets and soak up the mountain views.
Our return journey to Milan would not be complete without a stop in Bergamo, enveloped within Venetian walls whose construction famously caused eight excommunications by the local clergy. You may agree it was worth it when you board the funicular which has been ferrying locals and visitors for over a century to the Upper Town, enjoying the most breathtaking views of the town's beautiful gardens and even the Apennines on a clear day. Arriving in Milan, your walking tour with a Local Specialist will reveal some of the city's most treasured sights, including the 14th-century Gothic Cathedral and La Scala Opera House, which you could choose to visit as an Optional Experience. Later, you'll toast a fond farewell to an exhilarating journey over dinner at your hotel with new friends.
Your heart full and probably a few pounds heavier, it's time to close the curtain on an enchanting encounter with the Italian Lakes. For now, it's arrivederci but not goodbye forever as you say farewell to your travel companions and Travel Director. Find out more about your free airport transfer at costsavertour.com/freetransfers.