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La Dolce Vita: The Italian Lakes of Como, Garda, Maggiore

Program Number: 16740RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/11/2013 - 10/24/2013; 4/18/2016 - 5/1/2016; 5/2/2016 - 5/15/2016; 5/16/2016 - 5/29/2016; 9/5/2016 - 9/18/2016; 9/12/2016 - 9/25/2016; 9/26/2016 - 10/9/2016; 10/10/2016 - 10/23/2016;
Duration: 13 nights
Location: Italy
Price starting at: $3,795.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type:
Meals: 30; 12 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 9 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Since the days of Pliny the Elder (A.D. 23-79), the stunning Lakes Region of Italy has attracted the world’s rich and famous, who built glorious villas along its shores against a backdrop of rugged Alps. Venture to three of the region’s lakes — Como, Garda and Maggiore —and uncover a wealth of human achievement and natural beauty, from aristocratic villas and castles to serene waters, snow-capped mountains and breathtaking waterfalls.


• With a local expert, explore the remarkable villas and gardens that grace the shores of the Italian lakes region.
• At the Civic Museum of Bolzano, view the Bronze Age “Oetzi the Iceman.”
• Savor delectable dishes and wines of the Trentino Alto Adige, Piemonte and Lombardia as you explore the lake regions of Northern Italy.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles a day.

Date Specific Information


For this date only the order of the last 2 program sites is changed. Arrive Verona Airport, coach to Riva del Garda 5 nights, coach to Como 4 nights, coach to Stresa 3 nights, coach to and depart Milan Malpensa Airport.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.


The flowering bushes and plants are in full bloom; enjoy the peak season for the flora. The micro-climate around the lakes fosters a milder climate.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.


Enjoy late blooming flowering bushes and plants. The micro-climate around the lakes fosters milder temperatures.
Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

5-16-2016, 9-5-2016, 9-12-2016, 9-26-2016, 10-10-2016

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Riva del Garda, 5 nights; coach to Stresa, 3 nights; coach to Como, 4 nights; departure.

Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Arrival Verona
Coach to Riva del Garda (Lake Garda)
5 nights

Take a boat ride across the lake to the town of Malcesine and learn about its 13th-century fortifications, Castello Scaligeri. Experience the breathtaking alpine water falls of Varone, surrounded by the majestic Dolomite Mountains. View the frescoes of Castello del Buonconsiglio and Torre dell’Aquila. Discuss the Italian Social Republic and the capture of Mussolini. At the Civic Museum, see up close the famous Bronze Age iceman “Oetzi,” whose frozen body was found in a melting glacier in 1998.

Coach to Stresa (Lake Maggiore)
3 nights

At the Villa Taranto, an expert showcases the 19th-century villa and its botanical gardens that are among the most beautiful and well-preserved in Europe. Learn about the Baroque palace and the stunning terraces of landscaped gardens on Isola Bella, part of the Borromean Islands of Lake Maggiore. With a local expert, discuss the culture of the lakes region, including cuisine, history and contemporary life.

Coach to Como (Lake Como)
4 nights
Coach to Milan for departure

Board a boat for a cruise to various villas and villages on the shores of Lake Como. Visit Villa Carlotta, the towns of Bellagio and Balbianello. Enjoy the luminous waters, the multicolor palette of flowering bushes and trees, and views of the majestic Alps.


“Dolce far niente,” the “sweetness of doing nothing.” This ode to leisure is a distinctly Italian phrase, and yet the expression does not do justice to the hard-work ethos of the nation’s inhabitants. The monuments, art and civilization bequeathed to the people of modern Italy are a testament to the industry of their forebearers, and the legacy lives on in today’s Italians, who work hard to better enjoy the sweetness of repose.

Riva del Garda: Hotel in the town center, overlooking the port and historic clock tower. Stresa: Hotel located in pedestrian center of town. Como: Family-owned hotel along the shores of Lake Como.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Mara Farina

Mara Farina received her doctorate in modern history from the University of Bologna. She has published essays and articles in several publications on gastronomy, oenology and local destinations, and enjoys exploring destinations around the globe with her family. She lives near Mantua and has close ties to Parma as well.
Patrizia Spini

Patrizia Spini graduated from the University of Milan with a degree in Political Science. As a local expert, she has led explorations throughout all European countries, but now prefers to showcase the Lakes of Lombardy where she was born and resides today with her husband and two children.
Meals and Lodgings
   Hotel Portici
  Riva del Garda, Lake Garda, Italy 5 nights
   Hotel Metropole & Suisse
  Como, Lake Como, Italy 4 nights
   Hotel Moderno
  Stresa, Lake Maggiore, Italy 3 nights
 Hotel Portici
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Located in the heart of the town of Riva del Garda, just steps from the lakefront.
  Contact info: Piazza 3 Novembre, 19
Riva del Garda,   Italy
phone: +39 0464 555 400
  Room amenities: All rooms have private bath, air conditioning, room safe, satellite TV, hair dryer
  Facility amenities: The newly renovated hotel has restaurant and bar (coffee, snack and full service), a small sauna and exercise room, laundry facilities. Free Wi-Fi. The hotel is a non smoking property.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: price varies by season To book additional nights at the hotel, email Lavinia Tour, Trinity College’s partnering agency in Rome, Another option is to book directly through the hotel’s online reservation system Indicate to the hotel or agency at the time of your booking that you are with the Road Scholar group and every effort will be made to ensure continuity of room assignment
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

 Hotel Metropole & Suisse
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The hotel is located on the waterfront of Lake Como and convenient to the attractions of Como's historic center.
  Contact info: Piazza Cavour, 19
Como,   Italy
phone: +39 031 269 444
  Room amenities: Private bathroom, free wi-fi access, satellite TV, individual temperature control, minibar, hair dryer, complimentary toiletries.
  Facility amenities: Free Wi-Fi access throughout the hotel. Internet point in the lobby. Bar and restaurant with outdoor seating.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Hotel Moderno
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: Hotel Moderno is in the tranquil pedestrian zone, surrounded by shops and cafes, and only a few steps from the lake and ferry port.
  Contact info: Via Cavour 33
96100 Stresa (VB),   Italy
phone: +39 0323 933 773
  Room amenities: Private bathrooms, hair dryer, TV, in-room safe, individual controls for A/C and heat.
  Facility amenities: Air conditioned. Complimentary internet point in the lobby. Free wi-fi access in the lobby. Bar and lounge in the lobby.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Lunch provided for morning arrivals. Hotel check in 2:00 pm. Meet in hotel lobby at 4:00 pm for Orientation. You will be staying at Hotel Portici that night.
  End of Program:
After breakfast, transfers to airport. Check out of hotel by 11:00 am. You will be staying at Hotel Moderno the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: The closest train station to Riva del Garda is Rovereto. Verona is connected to Riva del Garda by public bus (few runs daily).
To Start of Program
  Location:  Riva del Garda, Lake Garda
  Nearest city or town:  Verona
  Nearest highway: Autostrada
  Nearest airport:  Verona
  Transportation to site: To reach Riva del Garda on your own from the Verona airport, take a taxi (fare EUR 25) or one of the frequent shuttles (fare about EUR 5 ) to Verona Porta Nuova train station. Purchase a train ticket for Rovereto. Ride is 40 min., fare is approx. EUR 15. From the Rovereto train station, take a taxi to the hotel in Riva del Garda; fare is about EUR 60. Max 4 passengers to a taxi. A taxi directly from the Verona airport to Riva del Garda, a 1 hour ride, will cost approx. EUR 200.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Stresa, Lake Maggiore
  Nearest city or town:  Milan
  Nearest highway: Autostrada
  Nearest airport:  Milan Malpensa
  Transportation from site: To reach the Milan Malpensa airport (45 km from Stresa) on your own, the hotel in Stresa can arrange a taxi; fares approx. EUR 100-150 depending on the hour of departure (max 4 persons per taxi). Public transportation is a little more complicated. Bus service runs only April to the end of September. You can take a train or bus to Busto Arsizio and change for the train that goes directly to Milan Malpensa Airport. Fare is approx. EUR 12 pp. The hotel will have the most updated schedules.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Depart from points in North America.
(Friday, October 11)
 In Transit: Overnight flight across the Atlantic Ocean with arrivals the following day.

Day 2: Arrival/Welcome Reception
(Saturday, October 12)

Note: Coach ride may take over one hour.

 Morning: Coach transfer from airport in Verona to Riva, town on the north end of Lake Garda.
 Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant close to the hotel.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a welcome reception, meet the group leaders and your fellow travelers in an informal gathering in the hotel lobby. A short walk in the neighborhood and lakefront follows, indicating location of ATM's, pharmacies, and stores.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Portici
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Orientation/Trentino Alto Adige lecture
(Sunday, October 13)

Note: The town of Riva is generally flat and easy to walk. Care should be taken to walk over the uneven surface of cobblestoned streets.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Staff discusses program schedules and introduces the lectures and trips. Lecture is an introduction to the Trentino/Alto Adige region.
 Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant close to the hotel.
 Afternoon: Guided visit of the Museo Civico and Pinacoteca located in La Rocca, a medieval fortress placed on the lake, bounded by a canal with a draw bridge. Free time to explore the village on your own before heading back to the hotel.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Portici
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Boat Trip to Malcesine
(Monday, October 14)

Note: The tourist boats have open decks and inside seating.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: A cruise across the lake to the charming town of Malcesine. The castle of Malcesine has been reconstructed by the Scaligers, and again by both Venetian and Austrian military engineers. In the museum there are exhibits about the history and origin of Lake Garda. From the top of the Castle's tower enjoy a breathtaking view of the town.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Having returned to the hotel, a lecture on the Republic of Salo' will inform you about the months prior to the end of WWII and the capture of Mussolini by partisan forces. This lecture will be followed by a briefing on the transfer to Como.
 Dinner: Dinner at Ristorante Nazionale.
Accommodations: Hotel Portici
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Dolomites / Bolzano / Ice Man Museum
(Tuesday, October 15)

Note: The coach ride THROUGH the mountain pass. No hiking is involved. At the summit of the road (not the mountain summit) the coach stops for about 30 min. and you can walk a bit on the mountain side or enjoy the view from the bar/souvenir shop.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: On the ride to Bolzano, experience the breathtaking view of the Dolomite Mountain range.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: In Bolzano, tour the Civic Museum, home to the Otzi 'iceman,' the wounded hunter from the Copper Age, whose frozen body was found in a melting glacier in 1998.
 Dinner: Coach back to Riva del Garda. Dinner at Ristorante Nazionale.
Accommodations: Hotel Portici
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Trento
(Wednesday, October 16)

Note: Trento has a large traffic-free area so the sites are visited on foot.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Guided visit of Trento, remembered as the location for the Council of Trent (1545-63) intended to counter the protestant reformation. The visit includes the Castello del Buon Consiglio and Torre dell'Aquila, where you can admire the cycle of frescoes called of "the months" (15th century). They are the work of the anonymous "Master of the Months," from Bohemia, who left us a precious insight into court life, with chivalrous and rural scenes of the time. For each month of the year there is a reconstruction of emblematic gestures that overlap to depict two different worlds: that of the peasant and that of the nobility. On the one side, the harvesting, the grape picking, the slaughtering of pigs; on the other, the processions, the parlor games, the tournaments.
 Lunch: Lunch at Antica Trattoria Due Mori.
 Afternoon: En route back to Riva del Garda visit a winery. Enjoy local wine and strudel.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own.
 Evening: Free time to walk along the lake shore.
Accommodations: Hotel Portici
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7: Transfer to Como
(Thursday, October 17)
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Coach along the west coast of Lake Garda on the way to Como.
 Lunch: Lunch on the shores of Lake Iseo, a glaciated lake surrounded by mountains and waterfalls. A truly natural beauty. The fertility of the lands produces characteristic wines.
 Afternoon: Coach continues to Como. Orientation walk around the town's charming center. Late afternoon classroom discussion on life in Italy today.
 Dinner: Dinner at Imbarcadero, the hotel restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Metropole & Suisse
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Bellagio
(Friday, October 18)

Note: Tourist boats have both open deck and inside seating. You can choose the amount of walking as you visit the island. From the dock to the sites there is an unevenly paved graded walk.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: From Como we board a boat and stop at some of the villages on the lake's shore. Our guide will lead a visit of the town of Bellagio, set on the cusp of the two branches of the lake, affording it a spectacular lake shore lane for a relaxing passeggiata, the Italian stroll. Option to explore the gardens of the Villa Melzi.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local cafe.
 Afternoon: Guided visits continue via boat rides and walks until we return back to the hotel in Como.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own.
Accommodations: Hotel Metropole & Suisse
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 9: Villa Carlotta / Heart of Como
(Saturday, October 19)

Note: Uneven pavement in the terraced gardens of Villa Carlotta. Walking on uneven pavement in the historical center of Como

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Panoramic coach ride to Villa Carlotta on the shore of Lake Como. The terraced gardens are particularly impressive in the spring when the azaleas and rhododendrons are in full bloom.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local cafe.
 Afternoon: A local expert leads the visit in Como of the Duomo and Porto Antico. Late afternoon informal session on the writers who lived or wrote about the Lake District.
 Dinner: Dinner at Ristorante Imbarcadero.
Accommodations: Hotel Metropole & Suisse
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Cable rail ride to Brunate
(Sunday, October 20)

Note: Optional walk along trails that follow the ridge of Brunate.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Take a ride on the cable rail car to the top of a tall hill that overlooks Lake Como. You can opt to walk on the trails that follow the ridge of the hill.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Free afternoon to explore the city or lakefront.
 Dinner: Dinner at Ristorante Imbarcadero.
Accommodations: Hotel Metropole & Suisse
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 11: Transfer to Stresa by way of Lake Orta
(Monday, October 21)
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: By coach we will go to the village Orta San Giulio, on Lake Orta where our guide will explain the history of the village and show us the frescoes decorating the Palazzo della Comunita'. This quaint lake is overshadowed by its larger brothers, but is equally delightful, in its own small way.
 Lunch: Lunch at Ristorante Venus Orta then continue by coach to Stresa.
 Afternoon: Check in to hotel then meet for an orientation walk in town.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Moderno
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Villa Taranto / Taste of the Lakes
(Tuesday, October 22)

Note: You can choose the amount of walking as you visit the ornamental gardens.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: A field trip to Villa Taranto in the nearby town of Verbania Palanza. Tour the 19th century villa and its botanical gardens that are among the most beautiful and well preserved in Europe. The gardens date back to 1931 when Scottish Captain Neil McEacharn bought the property with the intention of converting it into one of the finest botanical gardens in the world.
 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel.
 Afternoon: A local expert presents Lakes and Gardens of Maggiore and Come. Later in the afternoon enjoy a tasting of local wines and snack foods at a wine shop.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own.
Accommodations: Hotel Moderno
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 13: Borromean Islands
(Wednesday, October 23)

Note: The tourist boat to the islands is a small craft with indoor seating. There are stone steps (no elevator) to reach the villa and ornamental gardens from the boat dock.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Guided visit to the Borromean Islands. Isola Bella, the most impressive of the islands, is dominated by a Baroque palace. Terraces of landscaped gardens spill down onto the lake like an elaborate giant wedding cake. Roaming white peacocks add beauty to the landscape.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Island hopping guided visit continues to the other points of interest and beauty. Boat back to Stresa late afternoon.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at the hotel restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Moderno
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: Departure
(Thursday, October 24)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel; continental style for participants with early morning departure.
 Morning: Coach to and departure from Milano Malpensa airport.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

A Farewell to Arms

Author: Ernest Hemingway

Description: Set in snowy Switzerland and the rainy Italian Lake Country during World War I, this semi-autobiographical novel chronicles the romance between a British nurse and an American ambulance driver.

D.H. Lawrence and Italy

Author: D.H. Lawrence

Description: This omnibus Penguin Classics edition includes Lawrence's three travel tales, each very different in tone and all wonderful: Sea and Sardinia is a nostalgic look at traditional ways of life; Twilight in Italy, an evocation of Lawrence's memorable stay on Lake Garda; and Etruscan Places his musings on ancient sites, including the painted tombs of Tarquinia.

Eyewitness Guide Milan and the Lakes

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: This superb guide to Milan and the Italian lakes features color photography, dozens of excellent local maps and a region-by-region synopsis of the area's attractions. Handsome, convenient and up-to-date, this is the guide to carry.

Italian Lakes Map

Author: Litographia Artistica Cartographica

Description: A detailed map of the Italian lakes region, including Orta, Lugano, Como and Maggiore, at the excellent scale of 1:100,000, produced in Italy.

Italy, A Short History

Author: Harry Hearder

Description: Elegantly written, generous and informative, this compact book takes in the sweep of Italian history from the Roman Republic through the Renaissance, World War II and up to the present.

La Bella Figura, A Field Guide to the Italian Mind

Author: Beppe Severgnini

Description: Italians themselves love this guide to the Italian character, which addresses the apparently never-ending passion for beauty, disorder and high emotion. Severgnini opens the book with a snapshot of the hubbub at Malpensa Airport, then moves on to Tuscany, Rome, Naples and Sardinia.

Leonardo da Vinci, The Mind of the Renaissance

Author: Alessandro Vezzosi

Description: A pocket-size encyclopedia, this colorful book illustrates and documents the life and work of Leonardo, including a long section of excerpts from his writings.

Milan Map

Author: Streetwise Maps

Description: A detailed travel map of Milan.

On the Making of Gardens

Author: George Sitwell

Description: A handsome edition of Sitwell's 1909 meditation on the Renaissance gardens of Tuscany, Rome and the Lake District. It's not a handbook but rather an inspiring analysis of the transformation -- and magic -- of gardens.

The Art of the Renaissance

Author: Peter Murray

Description: A classic, illustrated survey of the world of the Renaissance and its art. With chapters on Florence and its artists, the Netherlands, early illustrated books and many individual artists.

The Devil in the Hills

Author: Cesare Pavese

Description: This book, the most personal of the many stories, poems and novels of Pavese, follows the summer adventures of three young men in the hills, vineyards and villages of the author's native Piedmont.

The Italian Renaissance

Author: J. H. Plumb

Description: A well-written history of the Renaissance, its artists and thinkers, with chapters on Florence, Milan, Rome and Venice, Michelangelo, Da Vinci and Women of the Renaissance.

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