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 Cultural Stay in Stresa.

Starting at: $4,590 * Price includes special offer 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 $4,590

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 Cultural 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 cafes, restaurants, and boutiques during time at leisure.

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

2020 Itinerary

Day 1 & Day 2 — Depart the U.S., Arrive in Milan / Stresa

Depart the U.S. on a transatlantic flight to Milan, Italy.

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 Package with maps and general information about the Italian Lake District. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be available to answer any questions and provide recommendations for restaurants and independent activities.

This evening gather for a welcome reception and remarks by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert followed by dinner at the hotel. (R,D)

Day 3 – Lake Orta

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. 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 explore on your own.

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

Day 4 — Milan

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 included excursions: 

  • Choice #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.
  • Choice #2 - Fashion: Delve into the history of Milan’s legendary fashion scene while walking along the streets of Quadrilatero d’Oro, a fashionable district.

There will be some time independently in Milan before returning to Stresa (B)

Day 5 — Borromean Islands

This morning a local expert joins us for a presentation on the Borromeo Family and how they transformed these islands into splendid retreats. Then, depart the hotel for a cruise on Lake Maggiore aboard a private motorboat. Arrive at Isola Madre and enjoy a guided visit of the island’s botanical gardens, look for peacocks, parrots, and pheasants as you stroll. 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 and return to Stresa in the afternoon. (B,L)

Day 6 — Stresa

Enjoy time independently to explore the area on your own.

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

Then gather in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for lively conversation and an exchange of travel experiences. (B)

Day 7 — Bellagio / Como

Travel by boat to magnificent Lake Como located in the foothills of the Alps. Often 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.

 Continue on to 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. (B,L)

Day 8 — Stresa

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

This evening, join fellow travelers for a festive farewell reception and dinner. (B,L,R,D)

Day 9 — Return to the U.S.

This morning depart Stresa and transfer to Milan’s Malpensa Airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)

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