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The Rivieras: France, Italy & the Isles 2014

Pre-trip: Torino & Lake Maggiore, Italy

The mighty Italian Alps watch over some of the most memorable locales on Earth. Torino, a cultural hub nestled on the River Po … Stresa, a thousand year-old resort town on the shore of crystalline Lake Maggiore … and silvery Lake Orta, which Balzac described as a “grey pearl in a green jewel box.” You’ll discover all these and more as you stroll ancient streets and boat on the placid waters of Italy’s Alpine north.

It's Included:
Accommodations for 2 nights at the Superior First-Class Grand Hotel Sitea or similar in Torino, and 3 nights at the First-Class Astoria Hotel or similar in Stresa
6 meals: 5 breakfasts and 1 dinner
Included tours: Torino, Lake Orta, Borromean Islands
Exclusive services of a resident Grand Circle Program Director
All transfers
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    Depart the U.S. today on your flight to Milan, Italy. Please refer to your personal air itinerary for exact departure and arrival times.

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    Arriving in Milan, Italy, you’ll be met at the airport and transfer overland to Stresa, where you will be assisted to your hotel. Later, get acquainted with your fellow travelers over a Welcome Drink.

    Dinner is on your own this evening.

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    Discover Stresa during an informational stroll this morning. For more than a millennium, Stresa has occupied a supreme location on the shores of Lake Maggiore, the longest lake in Italy. By the 15th century, Stresa was a hub for the fishing industry, and by the 18th, it was a well-loved retreat for Europe’s aristocracy. In the 20th century, Hemingway used Stresa and Lake Maggiore as some of the settings in A Farewell to Arms, but the town is just as well-known for a plan to take up arms: During the years preceding World War II, Italy, France, and the U.K. made a pact here to contain the Nazis (though, of course, this alliance later fractured).

    Exploring Lake Maggiore by boat is the best way to experience its true nature. Today you do just that as we set off for the Borromean Islands at the western end of the lake. You’ll skim the placid waters first to Isola Bella (also known as Isola Borromeo), where a massive 17th century summer palace is joined by terraced gardens that together fill up the tiny isle. Then, on a humbler note, we visit the tiny fishing village on Isola Pescatori, the only inhabited island—with just three dozen residents.

    Join your fellow travelers for an included dinner together in a local restaurant this evening.

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    Join us for an optional visit to Lake Como this morning. Begin your visit here in red-roofed Como, a busy port town occupied since the Bronze Age. After a light lunch, board a boat for “the pearl of the lake,” the resort town of Bellagio. Enjoy a discovery walk of Bellagio, with its lakeside promenade and cobblestone streets, before free time on your own here.

    Or, remain in Stresa for a day at leisure. Perhaps you’ll enjoy a 20-minute cable car ride to the 4,500-foot peak of Monte Mottarone. You might also step off your gondola en route for a visit to a botanical garden specializing only in Alpine flowers. Or simply stroll along Lake Maggiore, enjoying the Mediterranean climate and mountain views.

    Dinner is on your own this evening.

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    Today we visit romantic Lake Orta, one of the smallest sub-Alpine lakes, but one which makes a lasting impression. Its praises have been sung by authors from Balzac to Browning, and Nietzsche even claimed that one visit to Lake Orta changed his life. Here, we visit San Giulio Island by boat, strolling among its pastel-colored buildings, a few of which have endured since the days of fourth century Saint Julius, for whom the island is named.

    After free time on your own for lunch, continue overland to Torino (Turin), arriving late this afternoon. Surrounded by the Alps and nestled on the banks of the Po River, Torino is a city steeped in Italian culture and, as the home of Fiat, of cars. Nicknamed “the Capital of the Alps,” it’s a metropolitan hub of finance, education, and arts for the entire region.

    After a vicinity walk, dinner is on your own this evening.

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    In a guided city tour this morning, you’ll witness the blend of Rococo, Baroque, and Art Noveau architecture for which Torino is known. Among the sites you’ll take in, surely the Mole Antonelliana is the most striking. You'll take an elevator ride up to the top of the 548-foot structure, leading you to a gallery where you'll revel in one of the best views of Turino.

    This afternoon, enjoy time for discoveries on your own. Perhaps you’ll visit the Roman-built Palatine Towers, remnants of the ancient city gates. Or visit the Torino Cathedral, known for the controversial and much-debated shroud bearing an image of what proponents say is a crucified Jesus.

    Enjoy dinner on your own this evening.

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    • Meals included:

    Depart overland this morning for Cannes, where you join The Rivieras: France, Italy & the Isles.