Since no one answered my original post, I will answer it myself, now that our trip is over.
Our post trip (to The Rivieras: France, Italy, and the Isles) was the best part of our trip! We loved the city of Torino, which has so many interesting things to see and experience. The region around the the lakes is so beautiful that it takes your breath away. The Lake Orta excursion is interesting, Stresa is a lovely little town that is very walkable, and the Borromeo Islands day was great fun. The food everywhere was absolutely delicious. We did take the optional excursion to Lake Como and had a wonderful day.
Our early October dates presented us with the varied weather we had on this post trip. Although some days were sunny, we did have quite a bit of rain, and used our umbrellas and raincoats a lot. There was a huge howling storm one night in Stresa, and we woke up to a different world: Snow on the surrounding Alps! The temperature was cool, but the views were spectacular.
I would definitely recommend this post trip to other travelers, especially if they are lucky enough to get Lisa as their tour director. Her personal discoveries and arrangements were amazing, and her enthusiasm, sense of humor, organizational skills, and ability to teach put her in the category of one of the best tour directors we have ever experienced. We would follow her again any time!