Italian Lakes & Tuscany Tour

16 days from $6,989 pp twin share

  • Leisurely 2, 3 and 4 night stays
  • Small group size with a maximum of 28 travellers
  • Genuinely inclusive, no additional on tour costs
  • Character hotels in superb locations
  • Designed for Australians & New Zealanders
  • Guaranteed group departures

Tour Overview

Discover the delightful ports and villages that litter Lake Maggiore and Lake Garda, explore the palaces of Genoa, seductive Portofino and the famous Cinque Terre. Visit the fantastic Ferrari museum, dine at a Tuscan Osteria and stay in a Venetian Villa.

 

 

Highlights

  • Stay 4 nights in Stresa beside wonderful Lake Maggiore, with private cruises to Villa Borromeo on Isola Bella and Bellagio on Lake Como.  Relax by lovely Lake Orta, and experience a scenic train ride to Locarno and Ascona aboard the Centovalli Express
  • Spend 2 nights in Liguria, in historic Genoa with its magnificent UNESCO listed palaces and stately homes
  • Visit beautiful Santa Margherita Ligure, cruise to world famous Portofino and the hidden Abbey of San Fruttuoso, and spend a delightful day exploring the famous Cinque Terre  
  • Relax over 4 nights in the typically ‘Tuscan’ town of Lucca, visit renaissance Florence, Pisa and enjoy an expert Italian cooking demonstration followed by lunch
  • Dine out in the olive groves at a Tuscan Osteria, and enjoy a wine tasting followed by dinner in a vineyard estate in Calvagese, near Lake Garda 
  • Visit the fantastic Ferrari museum and a private collection of Maseratis, and enjoy light lunch at the Panini Hombre Parmesan cheese farm
  • Stay 3 nights beside glorious Lake Garda and explore D’Annunzio’s remarkable Villa and Gardens  
  • As a finale, stay 2 nights in an elegant Venetian Villa hotel near Treviso, visit Romeo and Juliet’s Verona, romantic Vicenza, and taste Grappa in the hometown of Bassano del


The Italian Lakes & Tuscany Tour is just one of many you can enjoy in Italy . Visit each destination page for more information for our other amazing tours! 

 



 

Message from the Mo

Ahh... Italy

You have just got to go back! What is it that makes you fall in love with this evocative, stimulating destination? Is it the history, the art, the culture, the boastful style and elegance, or maybe just the undulating Tuscan Hills, rich red wine and the taste sensations scattered across every menu?  Sadly so many travellers quickly dash through, only just scratching the surface, and subsequently realise they just have to go back. Over time we have been repeatedly asked to create a new tour, like our incredibly successful Italian ‘Grande’ tour, featuring longer stays and more in depth sightseeing, but this time only focusing on the dramatic northern lands. So we did! This totally unique tour evolved quite naturally with half the time devoted to the gorgeous necklace of Italian Lakes and the other half to the coastline of Liguria, the Cinque Terre and wonderful, sensual Tuscany. As a bonus, our last two nights stay is in a gorgeous villa in the much-ignored Veneto region.  From here we explore the magnificent Palladian Villas and UNESCO World Heritage listed towns and sights. With Venice only a hop and a skip away we also end with a transfer into Venice giving you the choice of extending your stay, and giving yourself time to explore this remarkable city, or jumping on one of the excellent Mediterranean cruise ships that start their voyages from here. So if you have the urge to go back and rekindle your Italian romance, this tour is designed specifically for you!

Tour Itinerary

Day 1: Stresa on Lake Maggiore

Commencing in central Milan at midday we will transfer you to Stresa on wonderful Lake Maggiore, where you will stay the next four nights. Join us tonight for a welcome drink before dinner in a local restaurant. This is an ideal chance to meet, and get to know, your Tour Manager and fellow travellers.

Meals:
D
Hotel:
Regina Palace Hotel

Day 2: Stresa on Lake Maggiore

This morning we drive north to Domodossola at the foot of the Italian Alps. Here we board the famous Centovalli Express train which runs through the ‘Hundred Valleys’ to Locarno. Relaxing in the panoramic carriages, we pass over numerous bridges and through numerous tunnels, travelling beside waterfalls, villages and vineyards. A spectacular journey! Arriving in Locarno we will make a short stop in the grand square before boarding our coach to visit nearby Ascona. Lunchtime will be at leisure in this delightful lakeside town. As a finalé, we follow the scenic route home hugging the shores of Lake Maggiore all the way back to Stresa. Dinner tonight is in your hotel. 

Meals:
B
D
Locarno

Fancy a trip into Switzerland? To the north of Lake Maggiore are the massive Italian and Swiss Alps. Just before the mountains get really high there is a delightful valley that cuts through them into the pretty Ticino region of Switzerland. Boarding the Centovalli Express mid-morning, we relax in a panoramic carriage, as the train follows this dramatic valley crossing 83 bridges, goes through numerous tunnels, passing waterfalls and unspoiled scenery. To cap off the day our return route by coach follows the beautiful shores of Lake Maggiore back into Italy. Delightful!

Day 3: Stresa on Lake Maggiore

Boarding our private boat we visit Lake Maggiore’s famous island of Isola Bella where we have included entrance and a guided tour of the palatial Borromeo villa and gardens, which dominate the island. The villa boasts Murano glass chandeliers, gobelin-covered chairs, intricate tapestries 
and paintings. The spectacular formal gardens rise behind the ornate villa, with patterned flower beds falling in terraces, with statues and ornamental stonework completing the Italianate style. Lunchtime is at leisure back in lakeside Stresa. Later this afternoon we visit the delightful town of Orta San Giulio beside the beautiful, and some say most romantic, of all the lakes – Lake Orta. Your evening is at leisure to discover a local trattoria for dinner.
 
Meals:
B

Day 4: Stresa on Lake Maggiore

This morning we drive to Lake Como where we follow the western shore of the lake to Caddenabbia. Here we board our private boat and enjoy a cruise on Lake Como, past a number of striking lakeside villas, to delightful Bellagio. This beautiful town is situated at the tip of the peninsula separating the lake’s two southern arms, with the Alps visible across the lake to the north. It’s time to relax in this delightful town which boasts peaceful villas and gardens nestled by the lakeside, elegant shops and walkways plus stylish al fresco dining at its very best. Your evening is at leisure back in the lakeside town of Stresa.

Meals:
B

Day 5: Genoa

Bidding farewell to Lake Maggiore we drive south to the coastal region of Liguria, arriving around midday at Genoa. Once the capital of a naval empire, Genoa boasts the largest intact medieval city centre in the whole of Europe. Here we are joined by a local guide to enjoy a walking tour through the city’s old heart, with its pedestrian shopping malls, beautiful churches and squares, and nearly 50 UNESCO Listed palaces and stately homes. We have included a visit to the opulent Royal Palace.  

Meals:
B
D
Hotel:
Grand Hotel Savoia

Day 6: Genoa

We spend the morning at leisure in the beautiful harbour town of Santa Margherita Ligure with its elegant shops, boutiques and cafés that litter the port. Later we take a boat along the rugged Liguria coastline to the world famous harbour of Portofino. Delightfully set in a tiny bay, overlooked by the church and castle high above, this old port makes a perfect afternoon stop. Later, we continue around the coast to visit the Abbey of San Fruttuoso, which is only accessible by boat. Your evening is at leisure in Genoa to discover a local restaurant and relax.

Meals:
B

Day 7: Lucca in Tuscany

A delightful day is planned as we explore the famous Cinque Terre. The name means ‘five lands’ and comes from the five unspoilt fishing villages that cling to the cliffs, overlooking the sea. Our first stop of the day will be in the pretty port of Monterosso. From here we catch a boat and cruise along the spectacular coastline of the Cinque Terre to visit the delightful villages of Vernazza and Portovenere. Arriving in La Spezia we board our coach and travel to Tuscany. We stay the next four nights in the typically ‘Tuscan’ town of Lucca – a medieval walled city, filled with palaces, churches and ancient houses. Dinner tonight is in a local restaurant.

 *27 August departure stays at Hotel Ilaria in Lucca

Meals:
B
D
Hotel:
San Luca Palace, Lucca

Day 8: Lucca in Tuscany

Today is dedicated to nearby ‘Firenze’ (Florence). A local guide will bring to life this truly beautiful city which is otherwise known as the ‘Cradle of the Renaissance’. Your tour starts with a visit to the famous Accademia Gallery, home to Michelangelo’s ‘David’ and numerous other extraordinary Italian, Florentine and Renaissance works of art. We see the Duomo and take in the magnificent statues in the Piazza della Signoria. Your afternoon is entirely free to enjoy Florence at your own pace. Espresso coffee on Piazza Santa Croce where Michelangelo is buried? A gelato whilst strolling across the Ponte Vecchio? Don’t forget the excellent shopping.

 

Meals:
B

Day 9: Lucca in Tuscany

After a relaxing start we will visit a cooking school where a member of the Professional Association of Italian Chefs provides us with an Italian Pasta and Pizza cooking demonstration, showing us how pizza, focaccia and various pasta is created ‘dough to go’. Next it is time to taste it, as we enjoy a leisurely lunch. Your afternoon and evening are at leisure in Lucca. 
 
Meals:
B
L

Day 10: Lucca in Tuscany

This morning we visit nearby Pisa with its famous Leaning Tower, Cathedral and Baptistery in the magnificent Piazza dei Miracoli. Your afternoon has been left entirely free to explore delightful Lucca. Perhaps visit the former home of Puccini, where he wrote ‘Turandot’. Take a bike ride, or walk, around the entire town on top of the broad city walls. As a highlight this evening we drive into the picturesque Tuscan countryside to visit a local olive oil farmhouse estate. Before dinner is served in the Osteria, we spend time amongst the olive groves and enjoy an olive oil tasting accompanied by Tuscan wines and a selection of antipasto including local meats, cheese and bread – all specialities of this region. 

Meals:
B
D

Day 11: Lake Garda

Driving north we visit the fantastic Ferrari Museum at Maranello, near Modena. A local guide will join us and show us around this fantastic exhibition of bright red, old, new and future Ferraris and Formula One racing cars. Later we continue to the Panini Hombre cheese farm to learn how ‘Parmigiano-Reggiano’ (Parmesan) cheese is made, before enjoying a cheese tasting and light lunch. Here you will also visit the Panini family’s private collection of historic Maseratis. Continuing to Lake Garda, we reach the charming lakeside town of Gardone Riviera, where we stay the next three nights. On arrival we have included a welcome drink on the tree shaded lakeside terrace of Winnie’s Piano Bar (named after Winston Churchill who frequented it!). Dinner tonight will be in our hotel restaurant, right beside the lake.

*27 August & 3 September departures stay at Hotel Villa Luisa, San Felice del Benaco
 
Meals:
B
L
D
Hotel:
Grand Hotel Gardone Riviera
Ferrari Museum and Maserati, courtesy of Keira Lane

Nothing quite demonstrates Italian fire and passion as does a bright red Ferrari. In Maranello we enjoy a guided visit through the amazing Ferrari Museum with its fascinating display of past and present Ferrari road and racing cars. But it is more than that, with its engaging historical displays, Formula One racing simulators and pit stops. After a light lunch and Parmesan cheese tasting we will visit the Panini family’s extraordinary collection of historic Maseratis. Ferrari and Maserati – all in one day? This is Italy after all! 

Day 12: Lake Garda

We have left today entirely free to enjoy glorious Lake Garda. Often regarded as the most beautiful of all the Italian Lakes, Garda is also the largest and deepest. Do as little or as much as you want. Perhaps wander around Gardone Riviera town with its botanical gardens on the hill, or maybe catch a ferry down the coast to Salo, or across the lake to explore and shop in the characterful ‘picture postcard’ ports of Bardolino, Garda, Lazise or Sirmione.

Meals:
B
D

Day 13: Lake Garda

This morning we have included a visit to one of the strangest museums you will ever visit. The Villa and Gardens of Il Vittoriale degli Italiani was created by D’Annunzio – the remarkable Italian patriot, aviator, hero, writer and poet and (of course) great lover. This amazing art and heritage museum will completely engage you. In the gardens around the villa, statues and walkways surround you, and there is even a huge WWII war ship he had reassembled high up in the hills! Incredible! After a free afternoon we will visit the Redaelli de Zinis in Calvagese della Riviera. This is a famous local winery and restaurant. Here we enjoy a delightful wine tasting and sample some of the locally sourced produce before a special dinner.

Meals:
B
D

Day 14: Treviso in Veneto

Skirting the lake we will visit Romeo and Juliet’s Verona. A local guide will bring to life this beautiful city, where these tragic lovers avowed a love that spanned the centuries. This afternoon we continue to beautiful Vicenza, where a local guide will join us for a walking tour to explore the medieval centre. Later we arrive at our Venetian Villa hotel, where we stay the last two nights.

Meals:
B
D
Hotel:
Hotel Villa Contarini Nenzi

Day 15: Treviso in Veneto

After a leisurely start this morning, we visit delightful Bassano del Grappa located on the foothills of the Alps. You will have free time to stroll across the ornate, centuries old, covered bridge which spans the River Brenta, before exploring the wonderful arcaded streets and piazzas in the heart of town. Later we will enjoy a visit to the Poli Grappa Museum to taste some Grappa liqueur. This afternoon we enjoy a stop in the historic centre of Treviso. Tonight we will enjoy a farewell dinner back in our historic Villa. 

Meals:
B
D

Day 16: To Venice

Your tour ends today after breakfast. We have included a group transfer to drop off at Venice Marco Polo airport. We recommend you book flights that depart after 12 midday today.  

Meals:
B

Incredible Value Inclusions

  • Fully escorted by our experienced Tour Manager
  • Travel in a first class air-conditioned touring coach
  • 15 nights specially selected hotel accommodation 
  • Hotel porterage (1 bag per person)
  • Breakfast daily 
  • Lunch in Lucca and a light lunch at Panini Hombre
  • 10 dinners including 4 local restaurant dinners in Stresa, Lucca, Tuscan Hills & Lake Garda, plus farewell dinner in our Venetian Villa hotel 
  • Welcome drink in Stresa and Winnie’s Bar beside Lake Garda, wine & olive oil tasting in a Tuscan Osteria and Grappa tasting in Bassano del Grappa
  • All excursions, scenic drives, sightseeing and entrances as described 
  • Special Highlights - private boat Lake Maggiore and Lake Como, panoramic train Centovalli Express, cruises Portofino and Cinque Terre
  • Local guides as described in the itinerary
  • Personal audio system whilst on tour
  • Albatross travel app
  • Free WiFi available on most coaches and at hotels
  • End of tour tips to Tour Manager and Driver, tips for local guides

 

 

Your Hotels

Regina Palace Hotel, Stresa

Regina Palace Hotel, Stresa - 4 nights

The 4-star Regina Palace Hotel is situated on the banks of Lake Maggiore, in the centre of Stresa and offers stunning view of the Borromean Islands. The century old hotel offers classic style interiors and is surrounded by large gardens and an open air pool. 

Grand Hotel Savoia

Grand Hotel Savoia , Genoa - 2 nights

The beautiful Grand Hotel Savoia, built in 1897, will take you back in time. Located close to the historic centre of Genoa the hotel contains all the features you would expect from a first class hotel plus more. 
 
San Luca Palace, Lucca

San Luca Palace, Lucca - 4 nights

Set in a historic building dating back to 1540, the San Luca Palace is perfectly located within the ancient city walls in the historic centre of Lucca, with just a short walk to all the major sights. Opened as a hotel in 2007, this first class hotel offers all the modernised features you would expect. 

Grand Hotel, Gardone Riviera

Grand Hotel Gardone Riviera - 3 nights

Set directly on the lakeshore with its own private promenade and jetty and facing across beautiful Garda, the aptly named ‘Grande’ is absolutely reminiscent of the ‘grand days of old’. Winnie’s piano bar is a delight and breakfasts beside the water will never be the same. 
Hotel Villa Contarini Nenzi, Treviso

Hotel Villa Contarini Nenzi, Treviso - 2 nights

This is an elegant 18th century grand residence now sensitively restored into an excellent 4-star spa hotel. Located just outside of Treviso, the Contarini Nenzi contains traditional period piece furniture, and is surrounded by wonderful Italian-style parkland, with some old stables and even a delightful nineteenth century little church with frescoes. 

Tour Reviews

This tour was the first time I travelled as a "single"  -  my husband & myself have travelled extensively as a couple, so this tour was a new experience for me.  No need to have worried  -  my single accommodation was always a double room, and thanks to my fellow travellers, I never felt alone.
 
In fact, all 28 of us on tour felt like one large family by the end of the tour, and we were genuinely sorry to be saying goodbye.  Of course, tour guide Monica certainly added to our enjoyment and satisfaction, as she kept us informed in a non-boring way, efficiently organised alternatives when weather etc. changed our plans, and certainly her humour made for a happy bus.  And not to forget Fabio's amazing driving skills, and we certainly had the cleanest bus (and windows) any of us had ever experienced!
 
As for the tour itself and the accommodation  -  absolutely wonderful!  I had the most amazing time, which far exceeded my expectations of the tour.  I have recommended Albatross to all my friends, and would certainly use Albatross in the future for any travel.  Well done.
 

Christine

Bellagio - Lake Como, courtesy of Megan Thackray

Tour Rating 5-Star

I enjoyed the lakes area in particular, Stresa, Lake Como, Garda and of course Lucca. The four and three night stops were very relaxing and allowed us to unpack rather than live out of the suitcase daily. The qualities of the hotels were first rate as well including the meals. The tour director and driver were also very, very good.

Lea Wilson

Lake Como. Italy - courtesy of Garry and Margaret Keath

Tour Rating 5-Star

We have just returned from our wonderful trip to Italy.  Albatross Tours are to be commended on the itinerary, quality of the accommodation and the provision of our Tour Manager, Monica and Driver, Fabio.

Our tour manager, Monica, really added to the enjoyment of our holiday.  Her knowledge, enthusiasm, and always good humour made for a memorable journey.
She was so capable, particularly when plans needed to be changed or traffic needed to be moved, or our allocated train seats were occupied by others. Now that was impressive!!

Fabio, our driver, was always polite, prompt and took great pride in the appearance of the coach, inside and out.  His driving ability on the notoriously difficult Italian streets was outstanding.

Our accommodation was first class.  We stayed in some magnificent hotels.  We are grateful to Albatross in the planning of this trip and were thankful for 3 or 4 night stays.  One of the things we loved about the tour was that our tips, transfers and excursions out for special dinners at night, were all included.  There were no hidden extras.  Although, we will comment that on our night excursions for dinner, there was an excessive amount of food provided for us.

Our fellow travellers were wonderful people and great companions.  We had such fun and have made many new friends.

This was a memorable journey for us, thank you Albatross Tours.
 

Judith & Ken

Portofino, Italy

Tour Rating 5-Star

Italian Lakes and Tuscany tour which was our best holiday ever. We thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the tour, from the amazing destinations to the luxurious accommodation, from the smaller group numbers to the large, comfortable coach and who could forget our energetic, informative tour guide, Monica. She was the "icing on the cake". Generally, my husband does not enjoy coach tours because of the often rushed pace involved, but this holiday allowed for extended stays in each location which gave us all time to explore the area. The expertly chosen venues we visited were most enjoyable with a truly professional approach from all concerned. Well done, Albatross, this tour will be a winner!!!

Christine

San Gimignano, Tuscany

Tour Rating 5-Star

The itinerary was fantastic - beautiful scenery, interesting places and great 'foodie' experiences.

Spending more than one night at each of the key locations made the tour more relaxing and enjoyable. The Regina Palace Hotel at Stresa and the Grand Hotel at Lake Garda were amazing places. The accommodation and meals in Genoa and Treviso were also excellent.

The tour guide was excellent - great sense of humour and impressive organisational skills. There were 28 people in the group, and there were lots of laughs and fun experiences throughout the trip!
 

Jill

Gelato in Italy

Tour Rating 4-Star

The Albatross Tours 'Italian Lakes and Tuscany' tour is one of the best tours I have done. The tour guide, Monica make it a relaxed, friendly experience, where nothing was too much trouble.

I enjoyed the fact that we stayed longer in some places three or four nights in the same hotel gave an opportunity to explore an area well. Overall, it has been a wonderful experience and one I will always remember.

Karen

Ponte Vecchio and the Arno in Florence

Tour Rating 5-Star

I loved the variety of the tour. Every day was full of surprises and interesting and beautiful places. The variety of transport was great it made every day an adventure.

Our tour manager and driver were great.

Diane

Verona, Italy

Tour Rating 5-Star

Richard bought the whole tour alive as a pilgrimage not just a sightseeing tour. His passion and stories made the tour special. One of the best value for money tours we have taken.

Ray & Angela

View of Verona, Italy

Tour Rating 5-Star

The 3 of us have travelled extensively together in the past 16 years and have been on many tours using other companies, Trafalgar, Globus, Insight, Kirra etc on our overseas travels. Albatross Tours were recommended to us and we have found them to be superior to the other tour operators. The initial attraction was Aussies and Kiwis only, and staying several days in places, not to mention that this tour fitted in completely with what we wanted to do plus more. 
Monika, is the best Tour Manager we have ever had, her attention to detail is impeccable. Monika took into consideration the demographics of the group and checking everyone was ok. Her knowledge of the regions history and their people was outstanding, especially the way it was relayed that made you want to listen. 
 

George, Ivanna & Rosemary

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Tour Rating 5-Star

Highlights!! SO MANY! Monica was an outstanding guide, I cannot thank her enough for making my first Italian experience memorable. I can’t wait to bring my family back!! I loved everything about the tour, it suited all tastes and enjoyed staying for days in certain spots. It was so amazing. I also met Aussies from all over Australia and we all got on amazingly well – we just laughed the whole time!!

Jayne

Cinque Terre, Italy

Tour Rating 5-Star

There was nothing we could find fault with and we loved the free times incorporated in the tour. Would recommend Albatross to all my friends. Monica was really great as Tour Manager and we will have many, many happy memories. The accommodation in the hotels were great and overall this tour will be the highlight of our celebration of our coming 50th Wedding anniversary.

Annamaria & Mario

Pisa, Tuscany, Italy

Tour Rating 5-Star

Dates and Prices

Start Date End Date Price Per Person Guaranteed to Depart Availability
14 May 2017 29 May 2017 AUD $6,989 Space Available
28 May 2017 12 Jun 2017 AUD $6,989 Space Limited - Call Now
18 Jun 2017 3 Jul 2017 AUD $6,989 Space Limited - Call Now
20 Aug 2017 4 Sep 2017 AUD $6,989 Space Available
27 Aug 2017 11 Sep 2017 AUD $6,989 Space Limited - Call Now
3 Sep 2017 18 Sep 2017 AUD $6,989 Space Limited - Call Now
24 Sep 2017 9 Oct 2017 AUD $6,989 Space Available

No Additional 'On Tour' Costs

Over $100 value of extras per day are already included. There are no additional 'on tour' costs - even your end of tour tips are included!

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If you book and deposit on any of our tours, as long as there are just 10 or more people travelling on your designated group departure, we guarantee it will travel.