Switzerland’s Italy Tour

This amazing Swiss tour is based in Ticino, Switzerland’s Italian speaking and southernmost region. The area is very different to many alpine Swiss destinations, it has a very Italian vive with lakeside towns fringed with palm trees, piazzas and cobbled streets, medieval castles and grand architecture. In a wonderful contrast to this, it still retain’s the very best Swiss attributes with sharp Alpine peaks surrounding the lush Mediterranean environment.

You will stay in two different centres during the week, allowing you to fully explore this region without needing to travel too far each day. Your first centre is Bellinzona, which showcases both Ticino’s cultural heritage in the form of the many well preserved medieval castles, churches and frescos. The resort is set amidst a beautiful natural landscape which is home to the region’s highest peaks. Your second centre is Lugano, a lively lakeside town located on the northern side of Lake Lugano. The historical centre is traffic –free, with a labyrinth of Mediterranean style squares and arcades. There are also numerous parks with sub-tropical plants and a stunning riverside promenade. This scenic lakeside location is the perfect place to explore, relax and enjoy the views.

During your week in Ticino we will enjoy a varied programme of short scenic walks, sightseeing, boat trips, wine tasting and a gastronomy tour. You will make good use of the local transport, including the train, boats, cable cars and the occasional local bus.

Day 1
You can depart from London Heathrow, Birmingham (from £65pp supp) and Manchester (from £200pp supp). On arrival at Milan Malpensa Airport (in Italy) you will travel by coach 1½ hours, across the border into Switzerland to your first centre of Bellinzona. On arrival, you have the opportunity to relax and enjoy the hotel’s excellent spa facilities.

Day 2
You will take the train from Bellinzona to Locarno and then the local bus from Locarno to Brissago. From here you will cruise across the lake to the beautiful islands of Brissago. There is a botanical park with wonderful exotic and subtropical plants. Later you will return to Ascona to explore the town and visit an Azienda, where they produce wine, polenta and rice amongst other local products.

Day 3
You will take the train to Tenero, and walk to Locarno, which mostly, takes you alongside the most northern section of Lake Maggiore, but also though lakeside villages such as Muralto (approx 1½ hours ascent / descent 250m, 4.6km, 3 miles). A funicular and then a cable car whisk you high into the Cardada-Cimetta mountain range, the unparalleled views of Lake Maggiore, the Centovalli and the Maggia Valley, are breathtaking. After some time spent here and lunch in a scenic mountain restaurant, or a packed lunch in an equally scenic spot if you prefer. You then take the cable car back down to Oreslina, from where you walk (or you can take the funicular if you wish) stopping at Oreslina’s Madonna del Sasso, a sanctuary and pilgrimage church, floating high above the town of Locarno on a wooden crag. You will have free time to explore Locarno, before taking the train back to Bellinzona.

Day 4
Today you will have the opportunity to explore the beautiful town of Bellinzona. Walk to the Castelgrande, a 13th century medieval castle, and admire the impressive views over the valley and town below. This afternoon a local guide takes you on a food and wine tour of the town. Taste local specialties, such as cheese, cold cuts, a local pasta dish, chocolate with coffee or nocino (an Italian liqueur made with green walnuts), and of course gelato. Tonight you will enjoy your final dinner in Bellinzona a local grotto, in the castle grounds.

Day 5
You will discover the Verzasca Valley, and travel by coach to Lavertezzo, which is the starting point of that day’s walk. You will take a walk to the most scenic reservoir and dam you are likely to have encountered. Here you can relax, take a swim and enjoy a picnic lunch. Later, travel on to your second centre Lugano by coach. You will check in and have free time before dinner.

Day 6
Today you are free to further explore the Ticino region independently. You can make good use of your Ticino Ticket, which allows free travel on local trains, buses and also gives you discounts on local boat cruises, cable cars and funiculars. Your Guide will be able to advise you on the various options.

Day 7
Your final day to discover more of what this beautiful region has to offer, and what better way than to take a scenic stroll along Lake Lugano’s Olive Path. The majority of the path winds along the lakeside and takes you to the lakeside village of Gandria. The Olive Path was inaugurated in 2002 by the ‘Friends of the Olive Tree’. It threads its way through several little plantations of young olive trees, and was introduced to revive the cultivation of olives and the production of olive oil, which was once the most important activity on the shores of the lakes south of the Alps, (2 hours, ascent 250m / descent 300m, 4km, 2½ miles). You will spend time in Gandria; one of Ticino’s most beautiful lakeside towns. The buildings, tightly aligned, can be reached via a series of stairways and alleyways. Then we return to Lugano by boat.

Day 8
After breakfast, you will return by coach (1½ hours) and travel across into Italy to Milan Malpensa airport and from there you return to the UK.

Accommodation Options

Hotel & Spa Internazionale Bellinzonahe
Hotel and Spa Internazionale’s best asset is its convenient location a opposite the railway centre and a short walk from the historic city centre. Despite being so close to the railway station, the hotel is a haven of peace and quiet inside. It is also a great quality hotel, well furnished, and extremely accommodating. The bedrooms are tastefully furnished, and some offer views of the medieval castle on the east side, and on the west side views are to the mountains. Rooms in the hotels new wing have a more restricted view but are more recently renovated. Rooms on the 4th floor have beautiful wooden beams and some have a sloped ceiling. They have a smaller porthole style window and a skylight window with a more restricted view, but the rooms let ample light in. Rooms are equipped with double beds, but these can be separated to accommodate a twin bedded arrangement. Single rooms will contain a small double bed. Room facilities include a bath or shower, phone, hairdryer, work desk, TV, and a safe. The hotel has a restaurant with a winter garden, a bar and a spa and a fitness centre. The Spa area is equipped with a Finnish Sauna, a Turkish bath, a Jacuzzi, a hydro-massage, aromatic and chromatic sensation showers, and a relaxation area.

Hotel International au Lac, Luganohe
The three star superior Hotel International au Lac is well located in Lugano’s city centre, just over the road from the beautiful lakeside promenade. The hotel historical heritage means that it is under monument protection by the city authorities of Lugano. Renovation regulations are limited so every room is unique in terms of size and décor. Rooms are equipped with either twins or a queen-sized bed. Single rooms have a single bed. Rooms will be equipped with a bath or shower, phone, hairdryer, work desk, TV, and a safe.The hotel has a restaurant, a bar and an outdoor swimming pool. There is also an ironing room available for public use and a complimentary internet corner to use in the lobby bar area.

Departure Dates
05 September 2018
03 October 2018
22nd May 2019
3rd July 2019
4th September 2019
2nd October 2019

Regional Airport Supplements 
Manchester – from £200pp
Birmingham – from £65pp

Group size: 16