The Lakes Tour (Italy)

Val Formazza, Arona,  Orta San Guilo, Stresa, Varese, Val Verzasca, Angera, Lugano, Menaggio, Bellagio, Madonna di Ghisallo, Como

Description

Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, Lake Lugano, Lake Varese – The Lakes Tour showcases some of the most beautiful and famous cycling routes of the Northern Italian region; BUT it’s not all about the bike! Couple this with delicious Italian cuisine, breathtaking architecture, hidden sightseeing gems and stunning accommodation PLUS much more, this is the perfect tour to immerse yourself in all that Italy has to offer.

2018 Dates

June 30 – July 7, 2018 | 7 nights

September 29 – October 6, 2018 | 7 nights

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More Information

Rider type* Enthusiast

Average daily distance 70km

Average daily time in the saddle 3hours

Hotel Style* Classic

Maximum guests – 12

Price  €3,950 p.p.

  Start | Finish

Milan, Italy | Milan, Italy

 Join in a master cooking class with Michelin Hat Chef Macro Sacca

 Ride the famous Madonna del Ghisallo (a must see for cycling enthusiasts)

 Dine in Michelin Star Restaurant – Piccolo Lago

 Experience the gruelling climb of Passo del Cuvignone, affectionately known by the locals as “The Basso”

 Enjoy sailing lessons around the picturesque Lago Maggiore

 Visit the beautiful and historic Isola San Giulio

 Explore stunning views and amazing architecture at the stunning Santa Caterina

 World Tour Style Support

 Discover the iconic towns of Como and Bellagio

  4 Star (minimum) Hotel Accomodation

  All Breakfasts, All Lunches and Most Dinners included

Day 1 - In and Around Stresa

Today’s ride
3pm departure
Post travel recovery ride of 20km

 

Advanced Ride Option
1pm departure

If you arrive early and you are feeling perky we have a ride that will get you ready for our tomorrow’s ride to Val Formazza. 60km; flat out and back route.

Hotel
Hotel La Palma

 

Included Meals 
Lunch | Dinner
Ride Outline

We will collect you from your pre-arranged collection point either at one of Milan’s 2 airports or from a nearby train station. You will be transported to the hotel and our support crew will assist you to settle in. Your tour host (Nicoletta) will give you a run down on the itinerary for the day and support crew will unpack and build your bike to your specifications.

After a post travel spin you will have some time to unwind and relax and get yourself ready for Aperitivo  where we will update you on tomorrow’s schedule. Dinner tonight will be held on Pescatori Isola on Lago Maggiore just in front of Stresa.

Sightseeing Outline

For those guests who do not ride we will have plenty of sight-seeing options for you in and around Stresa; or you might just like to recover from your recent travels by the pool.

About Stresa

The name of this town first appeared in documents in AD 998. In the 15th century it grew into a fishing community and owed feudal allegiance to the Visconti family. It subsequently came under the control of the Borromeo family. For centuries Stresa has been a popular retreat for Europe’s aristocrats, who have endowed the town with a number of villas. Tourism increased substantially after tunneling of the Simplon Pass allowed train services from north of the Alps to pass through Stresa in 1906.

Day 2 - Stresa to Val Formazza

Today’s Ride
Stresa to Cascate Del Toce in the Formazza valley
Approximately 88km with 2,295 metres climbing (3:40)

 

Advanced Ride Option
Stresa to Cascate De Toce and return to Stresa
Approximately 174 km  with 3,000 metres climbing (7:13)
Hotel
Hotel La Palma

 

Included Meals 
Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Ride Outline

On today’s ride you will travel along the Formazza valley. This valley was formed by the erosion of rushing water which flowed under a glacier which once covered the entire valley. We reach approximately 1,650 metres elevation at the turn around point and the complete ride, out and back, achieves just on 3,000 metres elevation gain. If 7 hours is a bit too long in the saddle for you, don’t worry as you can hop into the van after we enjoy a beautiful lunch at Cascata del Toce.

Once you have completed your ride we will head back to the hotel for a post stage massage to get us ready for Aperitivo hour when we will debrief today’s events and discuss itinerary for tomorrow.

This evening we will dine at Rampolina, a rustic style Italian restaurant tucked into the hillside of Stresa. The views are stunning, the food is the best of traditional cuisine and the cellar is outstanding.

Sightseeing Outline

If you are not riding today you can continue or commence your exploration of the town of Stresa. If you are feeling adventurous we would suggest a ferry ride to visit  the markets in Cannobio. This market operates every Sunday and is one of the biggest on the lake with hundreds of stalls lining the lakefront and attracts visitors from Italy and Switzerland. Nicoletta can assist you with other sight-seeing options if you prefer to decide on the day.

This evening we will dine at Rampolina, a rustic style Italian restaurant tucked into the hillside of Stresa. The views are stunning, the food is the best of traditional cuisine and the cellar is outstanding.

Day 3 - Stresa to Stresa

Today’s Ride
Stresa to Stresa (Via Oleggio Castello)
Approximately 42km with 670 metres climbing (1:46)

 

Advanced Ride Option
Stresa to Stresa (via Cannobio)
Approximately 75km with 1,200 metres climbing (3:05)
Hotel
Hotel La Palma

 

Included meals
Breakfast
Ride Outline

After a big day yesterday we are going to change pace. It’s still important to roll the legs over but the theme of the morning ride is coffee and cakes. It is important that we build energy for tomorrow as this ride will be sure to test your stamina. Of course, we do have a more challenging ride for you if you are feeling up for the challenge.

After lunch we will travel by team buses to Lago d’Orta where we will take a boat trip around the lake and visit the beautiful and historic Isola San Giulio. Aperitivo today is at local Enoteca where we will enjoy outstanding local cheeses tasting and wines. Nicoletta will update us on plans for tomorrow and we will travel back to Stresa where you will enjoy a free evening exploring the sophisticated modern cuisine of this famous Italian lake resort.

Sightseeing Outline

There are many attractions for sightseeing in this area but today we suggest a visit the famous Villa Pallavicini or Villa Taranto. Both Villas are nearby and are famous for their Botanical gardens where thousands of plants have been brought from the far corners of the world and rare collections have been arranged as art in this beautiful setting.

After lunch we will travel by team buses to Lago d’Orta where we will take a boat trip around the lake and visit the beautiful and historic Isola San Giulio. Aperitivo today is at local Enoteca where we will enjoy outstanding local cheeses tasting and wines. Nicoletta will update us on plans for tomorrow and we will travel back to Stresa where you will enjoy a free evening exploring the sophisticated modern cuisine of this famous Italian lake resort.

Day 4 - Angera to Val Verzasca

Today’s Ride
Angera to Val Verzasca
Approximately 83km with 1,767 metres climbing (3:10)

 

Advanced Ride Option
Angera to Val Verzasca
Approximately 103km with 3,327 metres climbing (4:15)
Hotel
Hotel La Palma

 

Included meals
Breakfast | Lunch
Ride Outline

We start the day with a short bus ride from Stresa to Angera where our sight-seeing guests will visit Rocco Borromeo di Angera –a Medieval castle and our riding group will commence their journey up the Eastern shore of Lago Maggiore towards Val Verzasca. For today’s ride, we will be joined by a couple of Australian pro cyclists from Attaque Team Gusto. Even though the team is registered in Asia the team has some races in Europe so they are sure to have some war stories from recent campaigns. The riders we select to join us on our tours have raced all over the world including Australia, Europe and Asia and are interesting characters to have on tour. They are also on hand to give a bit of assistance if needed on some of the nastier climbs.

The ride group will make their way along the shore road and detour inland at Monvalle. The route will then wind through the valley between Monte Nudo and Monte Martica popping out in the town of Luino (on Lago Maggiore). With the lake on your left and Switzerland on your right you will be surrounded by majesty and history. This area is close to the home of Cadel Evans and in years past he would often be seen training around these roads. The ride will continue to hug the lake until we ride into Switzerland and reach the most northern tip of the Lago Maggiore. From here we start to climb up the valley to Val Verzasca where we will all meet for a relaxing lunch in Lavertezzo. The climb is quite intense over a short distance and sure to test your stamina. Shower facilities will be provided for you.

After lunch, if you still have some energy you might like to swim in the crystal clear waters of the river or for the really adventurous you can bungy jump on the Verzasca dam. A walk around the town of Lavertezzo is a must. We will all travel back to Stresa by team bus in time for Apertivo and briefing with Nicoletta and then you are free to head out for more exploration or a quiet meal and (can we suggest) more Gelato.

Sightseeing Outline

Your day starts with a short bus ride from Stresa to Angera where you will visit Rocco Borromeo di Angera a Medieval castle that has been partially restored. From here you will tavel to Santa Caterina del Sasso Ballaro to explore the Hermitage. If you love stunning lake views, ancient architecture and art then this is a must see.

From here you will travel into Luino for a coffee on the Lake. Luino is quite industrialised however a Roman Necropolis has been excavated in the area. This clash of old and new is common in the region due to the many water courses which could be used to power the machinery and many textile factories were set up in the local area by Swiss industrialists. Luino is now a popular destination for tourists, especially from Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands. After coffee and a bit of sightseeing we move on to Val Verzasca to meet up with the rest of the group for lunch.

After lunch, if you still have some energy you might like to swim in the crystal clear waters of the river or for the really adventurous you can bungy jump on the Verzasca dam. A walk around the town of Lavertezzo is a must. We will all travel back to Stresa by team bus in time for Apertivo and briefing with Nicoletta and then you are free to head out for more exploration or a quiet meal and (can we suggest) more Gelato.

Day 5 - Stresa to Stresa

Today’s Ride
Stresa to Stresa via 2015 Giro dÍtalia Stage 18 route
Approximately 89 km with 2,147 metres climbing (3:45)

 

Advanced Ride Option
Stresa to Stresa via 2015 Giro dÍtalia Stage 18 route
Approximately 128 km with 3,477 metres climbing (5:30)
Hotel
Hotel La Palma

 

Included meals
Breakfast | Dinner
Ride Outline

Today we retrace part of stage 18 of the 2015 edition of the Giro dÍtalia which was won by Philippe Gilbert. Starting from the hotel we will travel North along the Lake towards Verbania and continue along the shore line until we reach Cannero Riviera. This part of the route will take us past beautiful mansions clinging to the hillsides. Some of the properties even have their house on one side of the road and their pools and tennis courts on the lake side of the road. The climbing starts as we head inland towards Viggiona. This is a serious climb of about 1,00 metres over 15km, but the 30km decent will give you plenty of time to recover before heading back into Verbania. The views from the ridgeline at the top of this climb back towards Lago Maggiore and beyond are breathtaking and the decent must be approached with great respect. Once back into Verbania we take the coast road back to Stresa.

This afternoon we head to  Michelin Star restaurant, Piccolo Lago with Chef, Marco Sacco. Situated on Lago Mergozzo in Verbania you we will be treated to a cooking masterclass, followed by aperitvo and a 5 course dinner. Nothing more to do but soak in this amazing experience!

Sightseeing Outline

This morning we suggest a visit to the spa, spend some time by the pool or continue your sight-seeing of this beautiful area of Italy. You could ride the Stresa to Mottarone cable car which takes 20 minutes to get to the top of Mount Mottarone. Mount Mottarone is considered a “natural balcony” from which there are 360° panoramic views across the Po Valley to the Alps. From the summit which is a 15 minute walk from the cable car station you can see seven lakes: Lake Maggiore, Lake Orta, Lake Mergozzo, Lake Varese, Lake Comabbio, Lake Monate and Lake Biandronno. If this is not your style you may choose to visit the nearby Umbrella Museum or for more adventures you can discuss your interests with Nicoletta and she will design the morning for you.

This afternoon we head to Michelin Star restaurant, Piccolo Lago with Chef, Marco Sacco. Situated on Lago Mergozzo near Verbania you we will be treated to a cooking masterclass, followed by aperitvo and a 5 course dinner. The staff will attend to your every need and the food will tantalise your tastebuds. If this is not enough, the restaurant has amazing views of the lake and nearby mountains and you are sure to be enchanted as the lights of nearby Mergozzo town come on and twinkle in the distance. Nothing more to do but soak in this amazing experience!

Day 6 - Stresa to Varese (Via Oleggio Castello)

Today’s Ride
Stresa to Varese (via the Ferry from Intra to Laveno)
Approximately 30km with 390 metres climbing (1:15)

 

Advanced Ride Option
Stresa to Varese (via The Basso)
Approximately 53km with 1,450 metres climbing (2:15)
Hotel
Foresteria dei Piaceri Campestri
www.borgodimustonate.it

 

Included meals
Breakfast
Ride Outline

We are transferring to our new accommodation today and like most days, we have 2 ride options. After a massive few days riding and sightseeing we are offering an easy roll to the accomodation or a more challenging ride over the Basso. Both rides include riding from Stresa to Intra to catch the Ferry and the routes diverge once we land in Laveno. It is important that we build energy for tomorrow so whichever ride you choose be sure to finish with a coffee and a cake as tomorrow will be sure to test your stamina.

Today would be a good time to enjoy a massage from the team soigneur so that you can freshen the legs up for tomorrow’s ride. But be sure not to relax too much because this afternoon we are off to sail around Lago Maggiore. We will start with a sailing course for adults and then we will enjoy exhilarating sailing around the lake and around the three famous Borromean Islands.

After our sailing expedition we will all travel back to Varese by team buses in time for Apertivo and briefing with Nicoletta and then it is free time to cap off your day of recovery.

Sightseeing Outline

We transfer to Varese today via Ferry via Intra and Laveno. Once we complete the transfer, the morning is dedicated to shopping, exploring or relaxing as suits your mood. Varese is a regional hub and has a beautifully maintained pedestrian-only town centre where you can explore the important fashion houses or the many small boutiques for all types of shopping.

Take lunch at your leisure and head back to the hotel because this afternoon we are off to sail around Lago Maggiore. We will start with a sailing course for adults and then we will enjoy exhilarating sailing around the lake and around the three famous Borromean Islands.

After our sailing expedition we will all travel back to Varese by team buses in time for Apertivo and briefing with Nicoletta and then it is free time to cap off your day of recovery.

Day 7 - Varese to Bellagio

Today’s Ride
Varese to Bellagio
Approximately 81km with 2,060 metres climbing (3:20)

 

Advanced Ride Option
Varese to Como
Approximately 125km  with 3,390 metres climbing (5:15)
Hotel
Foresteria dei Piaceri Campestri
www.borgodimustonate.it

 

Included meals
Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
Ride Outline

Today we step out the door and onto the bike heading off on our epic jorney to Como via Bellagio. The Non riding group will head off up the Sacro Monte and the ride group will ride from Varese accommodation to Griante, take the ferry across to Bellagio to meet for lunch. The route will take us into the della val Castellera nature reserve and wind in and out of Switzerland on our way to Lugano via the West bank of Lake Lugano. This is one of the wealthiest regions of Europe and the homes in the region are stunning with amazing views. From Lugano, we cut back into Italy along the Lake and then towards Menaggio and Lake Como. From Menaggio we drop down into Griante and then hop on a ferry across to Bellagio to meet the rest of the group for lunch.

After lunch you have the choice to ride to Como via the famous Madonna del Ghisallo (a must see for cycling enthusiasts) or wander around Bellagio itself and then take the Ferry back to Como and soak up the stunning views. If you ride to Como you will be able to have a shower in time to prepare for aperitivo in style on the lake.

We have a real surprise to top this already stunning day off; something that you would never find in years of holidaying in Italy. Dinner at Trattoria Bocca Di Lupo in Albiolo is a culinary, musical and cultural delight. The experience is hard to describe but you will be delighted with the food, wine and hospitality of Andrea and Luisa in this intimate, almost bohemian Trattoria. Don’t be too surprised if some of their friends drop in to meet us and join in the fun.

Sightseeing Outline

Today we start in Varese for sightseeing.  The team buses will park at the bottom of the Sacro Monte and we will then commence the climb to the top; viewing the 14 chapels located on the way. From here we will drive to Como to meet the Ferry for the trip to Bellagio where we will meet up with the rest of the group and have lunch together. Before and after lunch you will have time to wander around the cobbled laneways and take in the sights or visit the many unique boutiques and designer stores that Bellagio has to offer. After lunch and a bit of sightseeing and shopping we jump on the ferry back to Como in time to freshen up for Aperitivo.

We have a real surprise to top this already stunning day off; something that you would never find in years of holidaying in Italy. Dinner at Trattoria Bocca Di Lupo in Albiolo is a culinary, musical and cultural delight. The experience is hard to describe but you will be delighted with the food, wine and hospitality of Andrea and Luisa in this intimate, almost bohemian Trattoria. Don’t be too surprised if some of their friends drop in to meet us and join in the fun.

Day 8

Todays Ride
No planned rides today

 

Advanced Ride Option
No planned rides today
Included meals
Breakfast
Ride Outline

Today is about getting ready for your journey on to your next adventure. Hopefully you will be heading on to other beautiful European destinations but if you have to head home we are certain that you will be leaving with beautiful memories of an outstanding adventure with new found friends, around this beautiful corner of Italy.

Our team will pack your bike bags and assist you in getting underway with transfers to Milan airports or train stations.

Price per person: € 3,950 p.p.

Booking: € 1,000 deposit 

90 days prior to the tour departure date: balance due 

You may also pay in full at the time of booking

What’s Included

Accommodation
  • 7 night twin share* accommodation in classic* style hotels
  • We safely deliver your bags to your room each time we change hotels

 

Transport
  • All transport from your designated pick up and drop off points with bike and one other bag
  • Transportation to and from planned tour activities

 

Support
  • Throughout your tour there will be a minimum of 2 hosts looking after you
  • Support vehicle and mechanical breakdown support on each ride
  • Experienced mechanics will ensure your bike is ready to ride upon arrival

 

Tour Activities
  • Entrance fees into planned tour activities 

 

Meals 
  • All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 4 dinners are included in the price of this tour. On certain nights you will have the opportunity to explore the town you are in and choose your own restaurant for dinner.

 

Other 
  • 2 sets of  SEARCH TRAVEL Cycling Kit made in Italy by Marcello Bergamo (2 x knicks, 2 x jerseys, 1 x wind vest)
  • Massages as required
  • Prepare for your tour like a Pro. We include a 6 month Pro CyclEd Training Plan in the cost of your tour. 

What’s not Included

  • Airfares to and from the tour
  • Transportation to the pickup/drop off locations
  • Accommodation before and after the tour
  • Activities that are not organised and scheduled by Search Travel
  • Bikes/ helmets
  • Travel Insurance 
  • Laundry services

Book now for €3,950 pp