Don’t forget your passport for this multi-city visit to Italy! Here is a suggested itinerary all laid out for you, so you don’t have to do the work. Fly into the Milan Malpensa airport. If you plan to visit churches, make sure your knees and shoulders are covered. Tipping is not expected. The best way to get to Lake Como from Milan is by train.
At Milan Central Station find the Milano Centrale to Switzerland line. Arrive at Como S. Giovanni. Stay at the Sheraton Lake Como Hotel.
Take the Griante to Varenna ferry to Varenna. Walk to the beautiful and romantic Villa Monastero, once a medieval Cistercian convent. Experience the gardens and lake-side setting. Time for a little hike. Above the village on a high cliff sits Castello di Vezio. The walled castle has restored battlements and a drawbridge and provides amazing views.
Take the 15 minute ferry from Varenna to Bellagio. Walk around the cobble stone streets and narrow alleys and enjoy the wonderful architecture. Bellagio is also home to two gardens that are open to the public, Villa Melzi and Villa Serbelloni. i Giardini di Villa Melzi – La Punta Spartivento (Bellagio- trail to view of lake). For an unforgettable meal, dine at the Mistral Restaurant inside the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni.
Upon your return, do some sightseeing on Como. Rent a car (this is what we ended up doing), walk or take public transportation. Como city centre is just 10 minutes with the traditional “battello” boat. I have to say that driving the winding streets around Lake Como is fun!
Places of interest include: Villa Olmo (23 minute walk south of hotel)
Cathedral of Como (Duomo) (15th century Gothic and Renaissance) (25 minute walk from Villa Olmo or 15 minute bus)
Teatro Sociale di Como (1 minute walk from Cathedral Como)
Funicolare Como-Brunate (Como)- (10 minute walk from cathedral going north east)
Faro voltiano (Brunate)– (30 min-2 hr hike from Funicolare Como) then 145 steps up the light house- these last steps make all the difference! The entrance fee is €2 each for adults. The reward at the top is well worth it!
If you can swing it, book a tour through the hotel to visit Monte San Salvatore in Lugano, Switzerland. It is just over the border and the views from the top of the funicular are spectacular!
Next, travel to the gorgeous Villa del Balbianello in Lenno/Tremezzina. Open T, Th, Sat 10-6. Take the 1 hour guided tour to see the villa’s interior. Explore the winding walkways around the gardens. Take in the lake views. Enjoy seeing the Bond & Star Wars II movie locations! The second thing to do in Tremezzina is to visit the magnificent Villa Carlotta.
Next stop? Travel back to sophisticated and high-tech Milan via train. Stay at the Grand Visconti Palace. Milan offers a lot more than just high-end brand name shopping, La Scala is one of Europe’s most prestigious opera houses. The Last Supper by Michelangelo, The Duomo, Pinacoteca di Brera, Quadrilatero d’Oro, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Scala museum and theatre, and the Piazza Fontana can all be found here. To begin to take this all in, travel via metro train to Piazza Luigi Cadorna 14 – 20123 Milan and take a 6hr. walking tour. Best of Milan Experience Including Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ or Vineyard and Milan Duomo Tour. Extra Time? Explore the Jewish Ghetto!
After a day in Milan, it is time to travel to Venice by train – 2hrs 30 min Milano Central to Venezia S. Lucia. Consider splurging on a suite at the Splendid Venice Venezia – Starhotels Collezione San Marco Mercerie 760, Venice VE 30124. Take the ferry from the train station and get off at the Rialto Bridge stop, it is just a 5 minute walk to the hotel. Start the morning off with the Murano, Burano and Torcello Half-Day Sightseeing Tour . In the aftertoon take The Best of Venice Tour with St Mark’s Basilica and Grand Canal Boat tour.
To continue the adventure the next day, travel to Florence and stay at Florence Palazzo Mannaioni Suites Via Maffia 9 – 17r, Florence FI 50125. Visit the Florence the Accademia of Fine Arts, where Michelangelo’s David is housed. Walk to the Duomo and view the Baptistery’s renowned “Gates of Paradise” by Ghiberti. Continue to explore the open air art museum of Signoria Square ending at Ponte Vecchio, known as the “Old Bridge.” Take the Uffizi Gallery Tour . Other sights of interest include; the Church of Santa Croce, The Cathedral, Galleria dellAccademia, Palazzo Vecchio, Pitti Palace, and Boboli Gardens.
Florence is not complete; however, without a tour of the countryside. This is best done on a Tuscany Bike Tour in Florence/ Chianti and the Tuscany in One Day Sightseeing Tour from Florence. This tour gives you a guided tour through Siena, entry to the gothic Cathedral and you will get to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa and walk up inside to the top!
Our last destination, and I think the most memorable, is the Cinque Terre Hiking Day Trip from Florence. Make sure you bring money so you can purchase a drink at the top. You will be thirsty!
Time to go home. Sigh. Travel back to Milan by train and fly home from there. I hope you have as much fun as we did!