Tour of Lake Como
In 1818, Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote: "This lake exceeds anything I ever beheld in beauty”. We cannot agree more with the English poet: lake Como is one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Everybody can appreciate the magic of this place. But to find out its secrets you need a local guide. Let us learn the history of this lake that was already famous at the times of the Romans, understand why people like Leonardo da Vinci and Napoleon travelled along its shores, and discover where Mussolini was captured and sentenced at the end of the Second World War. Let us walk in the footsteps of history or sail it aboard a ferry or a private boat while admiring the villas once owned by kings and artists. Now owned by glamorous vips, they become sets for such movies as 'Star Wars', 'Ocean’s Eleven' and 'Casino Royale'.
You will enjoy your time on the lake and learn about traditional food and wines only locals know about. The tour of Lake Como is perfect in case you are staying on the lake or even as a day trip from Milan and its surroundings.
Lake Maggiore and Borromeo Islands
Maybe Lake Maggiore has neither the dramatic landscape of Lake Como nor the large spaces of Lake Garda. But this is where the most beautiful islands among all the lakes of the Alps are located. In Renaissance times, the local lords – the Borromeo family – transformed most of their old fortresses into places of pleasure.
Let us visit Isola Bella and its palace that seems to be floating upon the waters of the lake. Do not miss the sumptuous gardens and a small village situated upon the island. Isola dei Pescatori («Fishermen's Island») is a perfect place to indulge in the pleasures of the local cuisine.
But Lake Maggiore also features Santa Caterina del Sasso, a medieval hermitage suspended over a picturesque cliff facing the water, or the Rocca d’Angera, one of the most beautiful castles in Italy. There is also the cableway of Sasso del Ferro: you will be pulled up at the top of the mountain inside tiny buckets while enjoying amazing mountain views.
Near Lake Maggiore you can also discover a secret treasure – Lake Orta. The beauty of this tiny lake situated off the beaten paths will amaze you.
Castiglione Olona and Castelseprio
Driving just 40 minutes north from Milan you will encounter the tiny village of Castiglione Olona. At the beginning of the 1400s, Cardinal Branda Castiglione, one of the most important men of his time, close friend of popes and kings, and a great patron of artists, decided to transform his home town into a perfect Renaissance city. He gathered his best artists here, enlarged the grand palace of the family and commissioned the Chiesa di Villa, a copy of Brunelleschi’s Old Sacristy of San Lorenzo in Florence. On top of the hill that dominates the historical city center lies the Collegiata Church.
An unexpected jewel – the Baptistery featuring perfectly preserved frescoes by Masolino da Panicale – is hidden inside the complex.
On the other bank of river Olona lies Castelseprio. The ruins of an ancient city dating back to late Roman Empire are situated in its archaeological park. The Church of Santa Maria Foris Portas is located just outside the walls of the settlement. The church features frescoes, which are considered unique in the European medieval art history. This is an example of magnificent art created during the times of the Byzantine Empire, more than 1000 years ago.
The Southern region of Switzerland, the Canton Ticino, is a charming region of blue lakes and snow white mountains, full of history, Medieval castles, beautiful churches and glamorous towns. All of this, just one hour driving from Milan.
During our trip of southern Switzerland you can stroll the glamorous streets of Lugano (and stop at a fancy outlet for shopping), visit a chocolate factory and enjoy some local wine in an elegant cellar. Then you can head to admire the massive castles of Bellinzona, discover the beauty of the Alps on top of the Gotthard Pass and finally stop at Locarno on Lake Maggiore and discover the only building in the world designed by Leonardo da Vinci still standing.
Discover the beauty of this land with a day trip from Milan or from the lakes with a guide and a private driver at your disposal.
A ride on the Bernina Express
Do you want to admire the magnificence of the Alps but you are not a sporty person? Do not worry, you can enjoy all their beauty from the comfort of the Bernina Express. The famous red train climbs the Alps from Tirano in Valtellina (Italy) to the heights of the Bernina Pass (Switzerland), more than 2000 meters above the sea (more than 6000 feet).
Perfect trip for photo lovers and instagrammers: from the windows of the train you’ll have hundreds of breathtaking views, from charming Swiss villages to blue lakes and dramatic peaks covered in snow. At the end of the ride you can visit the glamorous town of Sankt Moritz, one the jewels of the Swiss Alps. No matter if you do the trip in winter or in summer, every season give an excuse to admire the view.
During the trip you can also enjoy the beauty of Valtellina. The guide can show you the places to get the amazing local food and…wine! Valtellina is one of the greatest producers of excellent wines in Italy. Discover its wonders with a dedicated excursion.