16740
Italy
La Dolce Vita: The Italian Lakes of Como, Garda and Maggiore
Learn the story of the Italian Lakes Region as you voyage to iconic islands, savor renowned cuisine, visit the museum home of “Oetzi the Iceman” and explore unique villas and gardens.
Rating (5)
Program No. 16740RJ
Length
14 days
Starts at
3,399
Flights start at
800
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14 days
13 nights
29 meals
12 B 8 L 9 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Italy, Lunch, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Riva del Garda, Lake Garda
L,D
Hotel Europa

Activity note: The drive from the airport to Riva del Garda is approximately 1 hour. Hotel check-in from 2:00 p.m. Walking about 1 mile, city streets and sidewalks.

Morning: Check-in from 2:00 p.m. The Group Leader will be at the hotel to welcome Road Scholars and assist as needed.

Lunch: We will walk to a restaurant near the hotel and have a plated and served meal; water included, other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: After checking in and getting your room, take some time to freshen up and relax. We will meet in the lobby at 4:00 p.m. and take a short walk with our Group Leader to become familiar with the neighborhood around the hotel. Returning to the hotel, we will proceed to our meeting room for a first briefing and welcome reception.

Dinner: At the hotel, choose what you like from the antipasti buffet. We will then have a plated and served meal with a choice of first and second course from a set menu; water is included, other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
3
Orientation, Intro. to Trentino-Alto Adige, Museo Civico
Riva del Garda, Lake Garda
B,L,D
Hotel Europa

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day and standing during field trip; generally flat terrain, uneven cobblestoned streets. Elective climb to fortress tower 165 steps.

Breakfast: In the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as an egg dish, sliced cold cuts, cheeses, cereal, muesli, yogurt, fresh fruit, breads and pastries, jams, honey, butter, milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Breakfasts during the program will be buffets. Other included meals will be plated and served from a set menu unless indicated otherwise; water is included, other beverages will be available for purchase. Transportation will be primarily by motorcoach. See each day’s schedule for details. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. After a short break, a local expert will give us a presentation on Trentino-Alto Adige, the region in northern Italy bordered by Austria and Switzerland. Characterized by majestic mountains and picturesque lakes, it has been inhabited since ancient times.

Lunch: At a restaurant near the hotel, we will have a plated and served lunch featuring dishes typical of the region; water included, other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will set out with a local expert on a walking field trip to the commercial center of the town, then circle back to the small Museo Civico in La Rocca — a medieval fortress situated on the lakefront, bounded by a canal with a drawbridge. The permanent exhibition illustrates the history of Lake Garda from Roman settlement to domination by nearby Verona and later by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. We will also be able to see how this small town’s location was a strategic factor during World Wars I and II. The remainder of the afternoon is free to explore Riva del Garda independently. You are welcome to return to the hotel and enjoy its amenities or just relax looking at beautiful Lago di Garda.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to take a stroll along the lakefront or in town.

DAY
4
Trento
Riva del Garda, Lake Garda
B,L
Hotel Europa

Activity note: Walking from hotel to motorcoach; getting on/off motorcoach. The drive to Trento is about 30 miles, approximately 1 hour. Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day; stone paved streets and sidewalks. At Castel del Buon Consiglio, multiple flights of stairs; elective climb to top of tower 50 steps.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will board a motorcoach and ride to Trento where a local expert will lead our exploration. This was the site of the Council of Trent (1545-63), a major ecumenical conclave that defined Roman Catholic doctrine and dogma in response to the Protestant Reformation. We will walk to the cathedral, the Duomo di San Vigilio, where the Council issued its decrees and where we will have a presentation on its history. We will then walk to the Castello del Buon Consiglio, a monumental complex that served for centuries as the residence of the local Prince-Bishops. In the Torre Aquila at the southern end of the complex, we can see the famous for the “Cycle of the Months” frescoes, colorfully chronicling aspects of life in social classes spanning the 14th and 15th centuries. The artist, believed to be from Bohemia, provided precious, detailed insights into the lives of nobles and peasants within representations of different seasons and activities throughout the year.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a plated and served set meal featuring Northern Italian cuisine with Austrian/German influences; water included, other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: En route back to Riva del Garda, we will stop at a winery for a taste of the local vintage and a bit of strudel.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. If you haven’t done so already, you might like to walk along the lake shore.

DAY
5
Dolomites, Bolzano, Ice Man Museum
Riva del Garda, Lake Garda
B,D
Hotel Europa

Activity note: Walking from hotel to motorcoach; getting on/off motorcoach. The drive through the Sella Pass is about 90 miles, approximately 2 hours including rest stops. Walking up to 2 miles in Bolzano.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will walk from the hotel to the motorcoach and begin our drive to Bolzano. Along the way, we will experience breathtaking views of the Dolomite Mountain range, World Heritage listed by UNESCO: “The site of the Dolomites comprises a mountain range in the northern Italian Alps, numbering 18 peaks which rise to above 3,000 metres and cover 141,903 ha. It features some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes anywhere, with vertical walls, sheer cliffs and a high density of narrow, deep and long valleys.” We will have a short rest stop before the Sella Pass then stop again at the highest point on the road for a photo opportunity and rest break before the descent to Bolzano. For those who would like to walk, there is a path on the mountainside; or, relax in the café.

Lunch: On your own to have what you like. You may have a snack at one of the rest stops in the morning or a late lunch on your own in Bolzano after approximately 1:30 p.m.

Afternoon: In Bolzano, we will visit the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, home to Ötzi the Iceman. Our self-directed exploration will be facilitated by descriptive signage and audio installations in multiple languages. The preserved mummy of this Copper Age hunter was discovered in a melting glacier in 1991. Scientists have determined that he lived more than 5,300 years ago and died from an arrow in his back. As the museum explains, the Iceman has provided new data from prehistoric times for countless research disciplines around the world in the natural sciences and humanities. Ötzi is preserved in a special cold room in the museum where we can see him through a small window. The permanent exhibition includes the mummy’s painstakingly restored clothing and equipment as well as an examination of life in the Copper Age. We will also have some time for independent exploration in the traffic free city center. Its historic streets and squares were once the heart of a medieval village. The South Tyrol is now Italy’s richest province, but in its long history has belonged to a number of rulers. Just a century ago, it was part of Austria and still exhibits a mix of cultural traits melded into something uniquely Tyrolean. The architecture of different eras seems to blend seamlessly in colorful public buildings, shops, and cafés. The Group Leader will announce a time and place to re-group for our ride back to Riva del Garda, where we expect to arrive late afternoon.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Malcesine By Boat
Riva del Garda, Lake Garda
B,D
Hotel Europa

Activity note: Getting in/out of a public boat; seating on open decks and inside; restrooms on board. The boat ride is a little over an hour each way. Walking in Malcesine approximately 1 mile round-trip; cobblestoned streets; 30 steps to enter castle and upper levels.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will walk a short distance from the hotel to the docks and board a public boat for a scenic trip across Lake Garda to the charming town of Malcesine on the eastern shore. A local expert will lead our walking field trip. The town’s origins are lost in time, but there are remnants of the Medieval era. Its most prominent feature is the Castello Scaligero — named for the della Scala family who controlled it in the 13th and 14th centuries — that sits on a promontory overlooking the lake. Now a designated national monument, the castle contains a Museum of Natural History with exhibits related to the town, the lake, and surrounding mountains. There are wonderful views from the top.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like in Malcesine. There are numerous cafés and trattorias.

Afternoon: We will have some time for independent exploration in Malcesine before we take the boat back to Riva. Then, in the hotel meeting room, a local expert will give us a presentation on the so-called Republic of Salò, Mussolini’s short-lived puppet state (1943-45) that had its headquarters in the town of Salò on Lake Garda. We will learn about the months prior to the end of World War II and the capture of Mussolini by partisan forces. We will also have a briefing on the transfer to Stresa tomorrow.

Dinner: We will walk to a restaurant near the hotel and have a plated and served set meal; water included, other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
7
Transfer to Stresa, Lazise, Sulzano on Lake Iseo
Stresa, Lake Maggiore
B,L,D
Hotel Astoria

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. The drive to Lazise is about 40 miles, approximately 1 hour; from Lazise to Sulzano on Lake Iseo about 50 miles, approximately 1 hour; from Lake Iseo to Stresa about 100 miles, approximately 2 hours including a rest stop. Walking up to 3 mile throughout the day; stone paved and cobblestoned streets, inclined walk in Iseo.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will board our motorcoach and ride along the west coast of Lake Garda en route to Stresa on Lago Maggiore. Our first stop on the east shore of Lake Garda is the small lakefront town of Lazise, where our Group Leader will take us on a walk along narrow medieval streets to the 14th century Customs House at the picturesque harbor. We will have some independent time to explore, get some refreshment, and have a comfort break before re-boarding our motorcoach. Moving on, we will reach Sulzano on Lake Iseo. This glaciated lake is surrounded by mountains and waterfalls.

Lunch: At a restaurant on the shores of Lake Iseo, we will have a plated and served set meal with regional dishes; plus water and a glass of local wine; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Continuing our transfer, we will arrive in Stresa check in to our hotel with some time to freshen up. We will then meet in the lobby and go on an introductory walk with our Group Leader around the town's charming center. Stresa is an ancient town with a rich history as well as beautiful architecture and notable buildings dating back to the 16th century. Returning to the hotel late afternoon, we’ll have a discussion with the Group Leader on life in Italy today.

Dinner: At the hotel restaurant, we’ll have a plated and served set meal; water included, other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to take a stroll along the lakefront or in the town center.

DAY
8
Gardens of Villa Taranto
Stresa, Lake Maggiore
B,D
Hotel Astoria

Activity note: Getting on/off a public boat. The boat ride to Villa Taranto is approximately 1/2 hour. Walking according to personal preference. Elective climb with graded path and 50 steps to top of hill.

Breakfast: In the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as an egg dish, sliced cold cuts, cheeses, cereal, muesli, yogurt, fresh fruit, breads and pastries, jams, honey, butter, milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We will board a public boat and set off on a field trip to Villa Taranto in the nearby town of Verbania Palanza. There, we will have a self-directed exploration on the grounds of this 19th century private villa. 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. Among the thousands of plants and trees, the park is renowned for its collection of azaleas and dahlias. Those who like may take an elective walk with the Group Leader up a graded path with 50 steps for breathtaking views of the lake. We will re-group at 12:00 Noon for the boat ride back to Stresa.

Lunch: On your own.

Afternoon: We will have some time for independent exploration or just to relax. Late afternoon, we will gather in the hotel meeting room for a presentation by a local expert on the lakes and gardens of Maggiore and Como.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Isola Bella, Borromean Islands
Stresa, Lake Maggiore
B,L
Hotel Astoria

Activity note: Walking 1/2 mile to boat dock; getting on/off a small craft. The boat ride to/from Isola Bella is approximately 20 minutes. Walking and standing during villa field trip; multiple steps to higher levels.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will board a boat for an expert-led field trip to the Borromean Islands, stopping first at Isola Bella, the most impressive. Dominated by a Baroque palace, its beautifully landscaped terraces and parterres spread down to Lake Maggiore. We will explore with a local expert then have some independent time to stroll among the gardens where white peacocks roam amid the green architecture. There are multiple steps for those who wish to reach the higher levels. The Group Leader will announce a time to gather at the dock where we will board our boat and ride to another island in the lake.

Lunch: At a restaurant on an island in the lake, we will have a plated and served set meal with regional dishes including lavello, a fillet of local white fish; water included, other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Our expert-led, island-hopping field trip will continue to other points of interest and beauty. Returning to Stresa late afternoon, we’ll stop at a shop for a tasting of local wines and snack foods.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like, whether for small plates or a full-course dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
10
Transfer to Como via Lake Orta, Orta San Giulio
Como, Lake Como
B,L,D
Hotel Metropole Suisse

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach, on/off a boat. The drive to Lake Orta is about 20 miles, approximately 1 hour; to Como about 50 miles, approximately 1.5 hours. Boat ride to/from San Giulio Island approximately 1/2 hour. Walking up to 2 miles; streets with large stone pavers, cobblestones; fairly flat and inclined streets; 50 steps at Orta San Giulio.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel, board our motorcoach, and travel to the village of Orta on Lake Orta. While this quaint lake is outshined among tourists by other more renowned lakes in northern Italy, it is delightful in its own way. Our exploration will be led by a local expert who will discuss the history of the village and show us frescoes decorating the Palazzo della Comunità, the town hall dating back to 1582.

Lunch: At a restaurant on the lakefront, we’ll have a plated and served set meal with regional dishes; water included, other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Next, we will board a boat to the small island of Orta San Giulio where our expert will lead a walk in this pedestrian-only village. We will visit the local church and stroll along the Via del Silenzio with panoramic views of the lake. Taking the boat back to Orta, we will re-board the motorcoach, ride on to Como, and check into our hotel. After some time to freshen up, we will gather in the lobby with our Group Leader for an introductory walk in the neighborhood.

Dinner: In the hotel restaurant, we will have a plated and served 3-course set meal; water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to take a walk along the lakefront or in town and have a gelato or warm beverage.

DAY
11
Explore Como, Literature of the Lakes
Como, Lake Como
B,L
Hotel Metropole Suisse

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles; uneven stone pavement in historical center.

Breakfast: In the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as an egg dish, sliced cold cuts, cheeses, cereal, muesli, yogurt, fresh fruit, breads and pastries, jams, honey, butter, milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: A local expert will lead our walking field trip in Como featuring the Duomo and Porta Pretoria. Formally known as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta — the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption — construction on the Duomo began in 1396 and was not fully completed until 1770. It is considered the last Gothic cathedral in Italy. The Porta Pretoria is a medieval tower that was once part of the gate to the city coming from Milan. Today, this ancient area is a lively place with an outdoor market, restaurants, and more.

Lunch: At the hotel, we will have a plated and served set meal featuring regional dishes; water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will gather in the hotel meeting room late afternoon for a lecture and discussion on writers who lived or wrote about the Lake District.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like in Como. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Villa Carlotta, Bellagio
Como, Lake Como
B,L,D
Hotel Metropole Suisse

Activity note: Short walk to boat dock; getting on/off a boat; open deck and inside seating. The boat ride to Villa Carlotta is approximately 1 hour; paved, uneven, graded walk to gardens that begin at dock, steps/ramps up to high point above villa; elevator available to first 2 garden tiers. Walking approximately 1.5 miles; shaded seating available. Boat ride to Bellagio approximately 1 hour; walking according to personal preference.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will walk a short distance to the dock, board a boat with a local expert, and ride first to Villa Carlotta on the shore of Lake Como. The terraced gardens are stunning in every season. Our expert will tell us about the flora of the 20-acre garden. We will then re-board the boat and head to Bellagio, set on the cusp of the two branches of the lake, and the Villa Melzi. While the villa is privately owned and closed to the public, the extensive Italianate gardens are open for all to enjoy. We will get off at the next stop or dock with our Group Leader and enjoy a “passeggiata” — Italian for relaxing promenade — along the spectacular lakeshore lane. We will also have time to relax or explore independently.

Lunch: At a café in Bellagio, we will have a plated and served set meal; water included, other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will continue our exploration of Bellagio with some free time, taking the boat back to Como in the late afternoon.

Dinner: Hotel plated meal.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Cable Car to Brunate, Free Time
Como, Lake Como
B,D
Hotel Metropole Suisse

Activity note: Walking from hotel to funicular approximately 1/2 mile. Getting in/out of funicular. The ride to the top at an elevation of 1,600 feet takes about 10 minutes. Walking along trails that follow the ridge of Brunate from 1/2 mile to 2 miles; packed dirt trails.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will walk along the lakefront to the funicular station and take a short ride to the top of a tall hill in Brunate that overlooks Lake Como. There, we will have panoramic views of the lake and everything that has grown up around it. Those feeling robust are welcome to walk another 2 miles with the Group Leader along trails that follow the ridge of the hill. You may ride any car back to Como with your return ticket.

Lunch: On your own.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity to explore the city on your own to see and do what interests you most.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will have a farewell plated and served set meal; water and wine included, other beverages available for purchase. We’ll share memories and toast our new Road Scholars friends.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to take a stroll along the lakefront to bid arrivederci to Como. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
14
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet depending on departure times. This concludes the program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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