Queen of the Dolomites
On arrival in Venice, you will be met and transferred to your hotel on board a private boat taxi. Your hotel, the Palace Bonvecchiati, is located just 230 meters from St Mark’s Square, it’s the perfect place to start exploring. Or, if you would like to wind down after your flight, the hotel has its very own Turkish bath and sauna.
The next day, you’ll be met by your private guide who will take you on a walking tour of the city. You will learn about the history of St Mark’s Square before skipping the queue and exploring the incredibly detailed rooms and corridors of the Doge’s Palace. Pass through the Bridge of Sighs to the New Prisons, on the other side of the canal. Here you’ll see where prisoners of the City of Venice were housed in the mid-16thcentury. At the end of your walking tour, you’ll take a gondola ride through the city’s enchanting maze of canals.
Activity and Adventure
Pick up your hire car this morning and drive north to the Dolomites. You'll watch the city melt away and change slowly into sweeping valleys, fringed with dramatic peaks. Your home for the next three nights is the Hotel Cortina, in Cortina d'Ampezzo, a stylish chocolate-box village, surrounded by mountains.
You've got two days to explore the Dolomites at your leisure, with your hire car. We suggest two of our favorite places; the first being Monte Cristallo, located in the center of the Dolomites range, and the second being Marmolada, 'Queen of the Dolomites'. Both of these spectacular peaks are surrounded by walking routes of varying difficulty, or if you're just up for an incredible, panoramic view, skip the walk and take the cable car to the top. For an alternative view, we recommend the walk to Val Ombretta at the foot of Marmolada.
Wave goodbye to the Dolomites as you drive south towards Lake Garda. We recommend driving the route through Trento, reaching Riva del Garda at the north of the lake. This is a great place to break for a coffee on the waterfront – your first taste of the lakes region. Next, you can choose to drive the west coast via picturesque Limone Sul Garda; or you can choose to take the long way around the east coast, which affords great views of the mountains on the opposite side. Your drive finishes at your hotel, the Villa Florida, on the Gardone Riviera. This classical, renovated villa boasts a panoramic view of Lake Garda with the Isle of Garda on the horizon. Unwind in the lake-view pool, and enjoy aperitivo hour on the terrace.
Day 7 is yours to explore Lake Garda at leisure. There are plenty of historical towns fringing the lake, such as Sirmione; which features winding alleyways, quaint shops and the fascinating archaeological site of Grotte di Catullo; or Malcesine, a rabbit warren of artisanal shops where you can get completely lost. Find your way to the shoreline and stop for an Aperol with the lake as your backdrop.
Today you'll drive to Lake Como - in our opinion one of the most picturesque lakes in Northern Italy. Your base for the next two nights is the Grand Hotel Imperiale, an art nouveau villa boasting a lakeside position in the town of Moltrasio. You'll have two days to explore and we definitely recommend using the ferry service, which conveniently links Bellagio with Cadenabbia, Varenna and Menaggio. In Bellagio, while away the hours in boutique shops and lakeside restaurants, and in Varenna, you can visit the Castello di Vezio, which boasts panoramic views of the lake. You can also visit the spooky ‘ghosts’ which live in the garden! For something more active, the La Via Verde is a quiet and pretty walk from Moltrasio to Laglio, passing through sleepy villages and small farms.
Make the short drive to Milan where you'll drop off your hire car. Settle into your hotel, the Sina de la Villa, before joining your local guide for a walking tour of the city. You’ll visit the Duomo di Milano - one of the finest examples of gothic architecture in Western Europe, and scale its towers to stand on the roof for magnificent views over the city, framed by the Duomo’s ornate flying buttresses. You’ll also visit the La Scala Museum, housed inside the famous Teatro Alla Scala Opera House, the museum displays artifacts of Italian theatrical history.
On your final day, you’ll be picked up by your private driver and transferred to the airport in Milan.