If you’re looking for a holiday location that combines a millennia-spanning historical setting with exquisite cuisine, stunning views and a dash of lakeside romance – you’ve found it. It’s time to fall in love with Lake Garda on our newest escorted tour.
I am excited to share the itinerary for our Hidden Gems of Lake Garda and Lombardia tour with you, which will be running from 4 – 11 May 2018. The excursions on this small group escorted tour have been carefully curated by our team to introduce culture lovers to the enchanting sights, sounds and smells of northern Italy.
Fall in Love with Lombardy
One of our primary aims when putting together this tour was to champion the heritage of the province of Lombardy: its culture, its history and its gastronomic traditions. The trip features a number of excursions to some of the hidden delights of the area; here are just a few of the highlights.
Desenzano Del Garda
This lively and authentic town on the southern tip of Lake Garda will be your base for the duration of the tour. Unlike some of the other lake resorts, in Desenzano Del Garda the pretty piazzas and cobbled streets are not overrun with tourists. I love the cafe culture and streets of stylish shops that the town offers, which sit harmoniously next to its historic churches and ancient harbour.
Explore on Your Own
Our itinerary gives you plenty of time to explore the town under your own steam. Of course, this could simply mean treating yourself to a leisurely gelato and an excellent lakeside view (who could blame you?). But if you want to seek out some of Desenzano’s cultural attractions, you might consider visiting the following:
- The fourth-century Roman Villa with magnificent mosaic flooring
- The nearby Museum of Archaeology, featuring one of the oldest ploughs in existence
- The medieval castle, which offers incredible views of the lake.
Ducal Palace of Mantua
The UNESCO-protected city of Mantua is just a coach ride away from your base on the shores of Lake Garda. Known as La Bella Addormentata (‘Sleeping Beauty’), this city is surrounded by artificial lakes and has remained remarkably untouched by modern development. The sprawling Ducal Palace dominates Mantua – the only residence in Italy that can claim to cover more square feet is the Vatican.
Explore on Your Own
With 34,000m² of rooms and gardens, there is plenty to explore here. I recommend taking the time to visit the following:
- Corte Vecchia – the oldest part of the complex was decorated with an astounding series of Arthurian frescoes, which were rediscovered in the 1960s
- Camera Picta – the Painted Room (also known as the Bridal Chamber) is a masterpiece of medieval painting by Andrea Mantegna
- Isabella d’Este’s Studiolo – admire the star-strewn walls of this sixteenth-century study/library, the work place of the First Lady of the Renaissance, Isabella d’Este.
City of Cremona
Another popular highlight of the tour is a visit to the Roman city of Cremona: this is particularly appealing for music lovers. It is known as the birthplace of the Stradivarius violin and is still famed today for the Scuola Liuteria, the School for Stringed Instruments, and the artisan workshops that continue to produce world-class violins. Our itinerary includes a special visit to the Museo del Violino, where you can view an astounding collection of historic violins and the original tools that Antonio Stradivari used in his workshop.
Explore on Your Own
Besides the musical attractions of Cremona, there are also plenty of historical attractions to take in during your visit. Don’t miss the beautiful medieval and Romanesque architecture of the buildings surrounding the Piazza del Comune:
- The Cremona Duomo and its Torrazzo (bell tower) of almost 370 feet
- The octagonal Cremona Baptistery
- The Loggia dei Militi.
The Prestige Difference
We are very proud of our selection of escorted tours which enable our guests to establish a local and authentic connection with their chosen destination. One of the highlights of this particular trip is the chance to indulge in the world-famous cuisine of Italy. On two occasions you will be invited to taste the produce of the region’s prolific vineyards: in Valtenesi, a private estate will open its doors to the group for a tasting and delicious lunch, while a drive along the Strada del Vino (wine route) will culminate in a tasting at the centre of South Tyrol’s wine production. Each evening you will get the opportunity to dine in an authentic trattoria, rounding off your day in true Italian style!
One of the huge advantages of embarking on this tour with Prestige Holidays is that we know the area extremely well. We have selected one of our finest hotels in the region as your base for the duration. This family-run hotel is set in a beautiful Belle Epoque villa, which boasts stone-vaulted ceilings, lush gardens and an outdoor swimming pool. An experienced Tour Manager from our expert team will be on hand at all times to coordinate the trip and make sure that it runs as smoothly as possible.