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

Starting at: $4,840 * 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 $4,840

Italy’s breathtaking Lake District has inspired painters, writers, and poets. Enjoy the region'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

Overview

FlexAir is designed to provide you with the flexibility and choice you need to personalize your air travel experience. Explore a wide range of flight options in consultation with our experienced travel professionals to select the flights, routing, class of service, and dates of travel that most fit your needs. Our partner tour operator has negotiated contracts with a wide variety of carriers that allow them to hold flight reservations and then issue your ticket close to departure without additional fees. This protects you from the need to purchase published-fare tickets, which must be ticketed within 24 hours of purchase. FlexAir reservations provide the flexibility to adjust reservations without penalty and to accommodate extensions and upgrades right up until ticketing time, usually around 60 days before departure. We look forward to providing you with more choice and the best possible itinerary for your air travel plans.

Program Includes:

  • Guaranteed transfers between the airport and your overseas accommodations upon arrival and departure (in most cases). We will provide you with all of the details you need to guarantee your transfer.
  • Air schedule change and delay assistance. Book FlexAir to ensure assistance should schedule changes or delays impact your air travel plans.
  • Flight insurance worth up to $250,000, subject to policy terms, is automatically included.
  • Confirmed airline seat assignments at the time of booking (in most cases).

2022 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 upscale 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. Set out this afternoon on a short orientation walk of the neighborhood surrounding the hotel. 

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

Day 3 – Stresa / 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 Orta. After 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 da Vinci's magnificent The Last Supper. Afterward, visit the Museum of La Scala, that tells the story of Teatro alla Scala, opened in 1778, through exhibits of historic artifacts. 

Spend time at leisure having lunch and getting to know cosmopolitan Milan. (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 summer house. Admire the hanging gardens, listen for the song of native birds, and marvel at the Greek and Roman statuary. Enjoy a delicious lunch of local specialties on Isola dei Pescatori and return to Stresa in the afternoon. Dinner will be served at a restaurant in town. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Stresa

Enjoy time independently to explore the area on your own. In late morning, gather at a nearby restaurant where you’ll learn about the culinary traditions of the Piedmont region at an interactive cooking class. Later, you’ll enjoy a lunch that features regional specialties.  

In late afternoon, 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,L)

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 palazzo's 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 is free of planned activities so you can follow your own path and let your interests be your guide as you continue to explore Stresa.

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)

Please note: Depending on your departure date, the order of scheduled events may differ from what is published here. We will provide you with a detailed itinerary with your pre-departure materials.

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

2023 Itinerary

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

Depart the U.S. on a transatlantic flight to Milan, ItalyAfter arrival at Milan’s Malpensa Airport, clear brief immigration and customs formalities then transfer to the upscale Hotel La Palma in the lakeside city of Stresa. Travel time is approximately 90 minutes. 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 in residence and available to answer any questions and provide recommendations for restaurants and independent activities. Set out this afternoon on a short orientation walk of the neighborhood surrounding the hotel. This evening gather for a welcome reception and remarks by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert followed by dinner at the hotel. (R,D)

Day 3 – Stresa / Borromean Islands / Lake Maggiore

Begin the day with a fascinating talk by a local speaker about the history of the powerful Borromeo family and how they transformed the tranquil islands, that now are named after them into splendid retreats featuring luxurious villas and beautifully landscaped gardens. Cruise Lake Maggiore aboard a private motorboat to Isola Madre, the largest of the Borromean Islands. Enjoy a guided visit of the island’s extensive botanical gardens. The impressive English-style gardens are lush and tranquil and filled with exotic flowers, rare plants and ancient trees. Next discover the rustic charm of the peaceful fishing village of Isola dei Pescatori. Stroll its narrow streets lined by the quaint houses of the fishermen and their families who call this island home. Lunch will be served at a restaurant during the excursion. Make a stop to visit Isola Bella, the Beautiful Island, extolled by writers over the centuries. Explore its 17th-century baroque palace and summer house that showcases a mosaic grotto and an astounding collection of art and antiques. Stroll through hanging gardens adorned with Greek and Roman statuary. This evening, join fellow travelers for dinner at a restaurant in Stresa. (B,D)

Day 4 — Stresa / 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 da Vinci's magnificent painting, The Last Supper. Afterward, visit the Museum of La Scala, that tells the story of Teatro alla Scala, opened in 1778, through exhibits of historic artifacts. Spend time at leisure having lunch and getting to know cosmopolitan Milan. (B)

Day 5 — Stresa / Orta

This morning, a local speaker will give a presentation on Italy’s Lake District, a havenof Alpine Peaks, gardens and magnificent glacial lakes. Afterward, embark on a scenic drive to the lovely resort town of Orta San Giulio, located on a peninsula that juts into Lake Orta. After a walking tour of the town, board a boat to visit Isola San Giulio, the enchanted island in the lake, to its very atmospheric Romanesque basilica. Later, follow your own path and explore on your own. Lunch independently before returning to Stresa. This evening gather with fellow travelers for dinner at a nearby ristorante. (B,D)

Day 6 — Stresa

Enjoy an entire day free of planned activities. Your Smithsonian Travel Director can help with information and help planning independent activities. In late afternoon, 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 recent travel experiences. (B)

Day 7 — Stresa / Bellagio / Como

Travel to magnificent Lake Como located in the foothills of the Alps. Enjoy a boat ride to Bellagio on Lake Como. Explore Bellagio and its narrow lanes and covered walkways lined with pastel houses. Stroll by 18th- and 19th-century villas built by the region’s noble families. Enjoy a delicious lunch at a lakeside resrtaurant. Afterward, 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 you. (B,L)

Day 8 — Stresa

Today, learn the secrets of traditional Italian cuisine during an interactive cooking lesson at a nearby restaurant before sitting down to a delicious lunch prepared during the session. Later, there is time free of planned activities. 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)

Please note: The progression of this itinerary may change due to operational considerations.

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