Italy’s breathtaking Lake District has inspired painters, writers, and poets. Enjoy the area's gardens, arts, and contemporary life, set amid Italy's northern lakes and mountains, during this one-week stay in Stresa.

Starting at: $4,340 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Isola Bella, Lake Maggiore  The splendid gardens on Isola Bella, Lake Maggiore  The gardens of Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore  The lovely Borromean island of Isola Bella, located on Lake Maggiore  Parterre gardens on Isola Bella, Lake Maggiore  White peacock at home on Isola Bella  View of Stresa and islands on Lake Maggiore  Isola San Giulio, Lake Orta  Villa along the shores of Lake Como  View of Pallanza on Lake Maggiore  The ornate Gothic cathedral of Milan

Italy's Lake District

A One-Week Stay in Stresa Featuring Lake Maggiore, Lake Como, and Lake Orta

9 days from $4,340

Italy’s breathtaking Lake District has inspired painters, writers, and poets. Enjoy the area's gardens, arts, and contemporary life, set amid Italy's northern lakes and mountains, during this one-week stay in Stresa.

or Call 855-330-1542


Activity Level 2: Moderate

Expectations: Week-long Cultural Stay featuring one city and region—and one hotel. Full-day excursions outside the city with some longer, extensive walking tours of villages, museums, and outdoor historic sites such as gardens. Excursions can be over uneven terrain (e.g. gardens and outdoor sites, cobblestones, city hills, stairs without handrails, absence of elevators); some longer walks to get to city centers where coaches are prohibited. Hotel centrally located for easy access to sites and restaurants during time at leisure, including one free day.

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit and comfortable with longer days of touring (both walking tours and coach time).


Day 1 — Depart the U.S.

Depart the U.S. on an overnight trans-Atlantic flight to Milan, Italy.

Day 2 — Milan/ Stresa

After arrival at Milan’s Malpensa Airport, transfer to the Hotel La Palma in the lakeside city of Stresa. Upon arrival at the hotel, you’ll receive a Welcome Kit with maps and general information about the Italian Lake District.

Educational Focus: Lake Maggiore’s Gardens. Be immersed in fascinating history and learn about the powerful Borromeo family as a local expert shares knowledge of Lake Maggiore.

The evening begins with a welcome reception and remarks from your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. A welcome dinner will be served in the hotel. (R,D)

Day 3 — Borromean Islands

Excursion: Borromean Islands. Begin your outing with a cruise on Lake Maggiore aboard a private motorboat. Arrive at Isola Madre and enjoy a guided visit of the island’s botanical gardens. You may also see peacocks, parrots, and pheasants. Embrace the rustic charm of Isola dei Pescatori, a peaceful fishing village, and visit Isola Bella, the “Beautiful Island”. Explore its 17th-century baroque palace and summerhouse. Admire the hanging gardens, listen for the song of rare birds, and marvel at the Greek and Roman statuary. Enjoy a delicious lunch on Isola dei Pescatori.

Educational Focus: Join a local expert to discuss the true genius of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. Trace their profound influences on sculpture and painting.  Join new friends for dinner at a select local restaurant. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Milan

Excursions: Travel to Milan to see some of the world’s most fabulous art and architecture. Visit the beautiful Renaissance Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, a World Heritage Site, to see Leonardo’s magnificent The Last Supper.

Choose one of the following excursions: 

  • Option 1: Architecture and Music. Visit the museum at the iconic La Scala, Italy’s premier opera house, and enter the 14th-century Duomo, a Gothic wonder.
  • Option 2: Fashion. Delve into the history of Milan’s legendary fashion scene while walking along the streets of Quadrilatero d’Oro, a trendy district.

Independent Exploration: Craft your own itinerary during leisure time in Milan before return to Stresa. (B)

Day 5 – Lake Orta

Educational Focus: Begin the day with a fascinating talk by a local speaker about the Development of the Lake District, a part of Italy that has been attracting artists, writers, and travelers for centuries.

Excursion: Depart on a scenic drive to the resort town of Orta San Giulio, located on a peninsula that extends into Lake OrtaAfter a walking tour of the town, board a motorboat and cruise to Isola San Giulio, a lovely island in the lake, where you’ll visit the Romanesque San Giulio Basilica. After returning to Orta, there’s time to follow your own path and explore on your own.

This evening, join fellow travelers for dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)

Day 6 — Stresa

Independence Exploration: The day is free of planned activities, so let your interests be your guide as you explore on your own.

Educational Focus: Later join an engaging discussion of Italy’s current economy, politics, society and its role in the European Union.

Spend some time in the Smithsonian Journeys Traveler’s Corner for lively conversation and an exchange of travel experiences. (B)

Day 7 — Bellagio / Como

Excursion: Travel by a boat ride to magnificent Lake Como located in the foothills of the AlpsOften thought of as the most beautiful town in Italy, Bellagio flaunts a promenade lined with lime trees and oleanders, a city center of cobblestone streets and picturesque alleyways, and charming buildings painted in shades of cream, peach, and butterscotch. Explore this enchanting village and pass by villas built by the region’s noble families. Join your fellow travelers for lunch at one of Bellagio’s lakeside restaurants.

Independent Exploration: Discover Bellagio during a time at leisure. Stroll along the waterfront or pause for a treat at a requisite gelato stand.

Excursion: Board a private boat that will take you from Bellagio to the town of Como Glide on deep-blue water, gloriously bathed in sunlight, while viewing the opulent villas and villages nestled along the shores. Vistas of stunning gardens, hidden waterfalls, and cypress groves will captivate your senses, while the Alps stand sentry in the background. In Como, gather for a short walking tour. (B,L)

Day 8 — Stresa

Local Flavor: Today you’ll learn the secrets of a popular Italian chef at an interactive cooking lesson that concludes with a specially prepared lunch.

Independent ExplorationWrap up your Italian adventure with a final afternoon at leisure.

This evening, join fellow travelers at a Smithsonian Journeys farewell reception and dinner. (B,L,R,D)

Day 9 — Return to the U.S.

This morning, transfer to Milan’s Malpensa Airport for your trans-Atlantic flight to your gateway city. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)