2023 September 16 to 23 – 1 Spot Left – Private Room Only
Prices listed are per person:
Shared Room: $5098
Private Room: $6598
Explore The Val di Mello Valey, known by Italian climbers and hikers as “The Yosemite of Italy”
Cruise Lake Como on our private boat
Cycle our way around on an E-bike
Relax in supercharged mineral water at Pelegrino Spa, known for its curative powers
Tour some of Milan’s most amazing historical architecture
Board a cable car to our hiking spot beneath Mount Resegone
Dine on the water’s edge and enjoy the spectacular views
View gorgeous panoramic scenery
Lake Como in Northern Italy is world-renowned for its spectacular vistas, exclusive villas, and surrounding mountains. These areas will be our playground for this fun-filled adventure and cultural tour. Hiking, mountain biking (electric assisted), a private lake cruise, and a visit to the world-class Pellegrino spa will satisfy our sense of adventure as we wine and dine our way through this most scenic region of Italy. Our journey starts off from our 4-star hotel with a private guided tour of the historical and iconic sites of Milan including a visit to the spectacular gothic Duomo Cathedral, Church of Saint Ambrogio, the Palazzo della Borsa, La ScalaTheater, the Sforzesco castle, and the Gae AulentiSquare. We then drive to the northern end of Lake Como for three nights in our boutique hotel with a world-class restaurant looking out over the lake with breathtaking views. After a host of fun activities, we travel down to Lecco on the south end of lake Como to enjoy three more nights in our luxurious 4-star hotel with lakefront rooms with spectacular views looking across to the mountains on the east side of the lake.
This is a customized tour developed by our tour directors, Ron and Walter who have led our biking and hiking tours in Tuscany for the past 20 years. We welcome travelers from the past and new folks who wish to enjoy some easy-to-moderate hiking and e-biking combined with relaxing days on the lake by private boat excursions and trips to world-class thermal spas.
Day 1: Arrival – Milano Welcome Dinner and Evening Stroll
Welcome to Milano! Recognized as the fashion capital of Italy (and Lombardy). It is home to some of the greatest collections of art and historical architecture. This includes major works of Leonardo da Vinci, the Porta Nuova, Sforza Castle, the Opera house, La Scala, and the spectacular gothic Milano Cathedral to name a few. Milano has an extraordinary history dating back to 600 BC. Including the Celtic Insubres, which were later conquered by the Romans to become the capital of the Western Roman Empire.
For those of you arriving early, there are countless museums, art exhibits, and historical monuments to explore. This evening we will meet in the lobby of our luxury 4-star hotel for a reception and orientation. Tonight we will dine at one of our favorite restaurants located nearby with wine and a superb selection of Italiano cuisine.
After dinner, we will take a stroll through part of the historical area to give you a glimpse of some of the sites to see on tomorrow´s tour.
Day 2: Milano City Walking Tour and Lake Como
This morning we will tour some of the architectural and historical icons of Milano. Our private tour with a local scholar will take us to the piazza Duomo with the world-famous gothic cathedral, the Church of Saint Ambrogio, the Palazzo della Borsa, La Scala Theater, the Sforzesco Castle, and the Gae Aulenti Square. Our guide is well versed in history and will share his passion for art and culture as we stroll along through 2000 years of history from the capital of the Roman Empire to the site of the EXPO 2015.
In the afternoon we depart Milan for a scenic ride along Lake Como to the northern shore village of Olgiasca. Our off-the-beaten-track hotel overlooks the lake with beautiful gardens and stunning views across the lake to the western shore mountains. It features a fabulous restaurant and classic villa-style rooms. Before dinner, we invite those interested for an evening walk around a nearby medieval stone abbey. Dining will be on site with spectacular views over the water, in a very romantic setting.
Day 3: Hiking Val di Mello
Today we embark on a glorious trek through the Val di Mello – regarded as the “The Yosemite of Italy”. This spectacular valley is a well-kept secret to foreign tourists. However, it is a world-class rock climbing area with crystal clear lakes, rivers, and waterfalls and a historic stone village, and even a fine restaurant with local cuisine.
We will hike a few miles into the valley and for those that want a more challenging trek, we can make our way up to a lookout point with stunning views out over the valley. Those that want to climb (non-technical) will be rewarded with gorgeous views looking out over the valley and the surrounding cliffs.
Both groups will enjoy a delicious lunch together in the center of the valley at one of our favorite open-air trattorias for a taste of the unique local dishes.
In the unlikelihood of foul weather, we always have backup plans to visit the world-class Bagni Vecchi Spa for a really delightful rainy day activity.
We will return to our charming hotel in time for some relaxing and wine tasting before a scrumptious dinner served in our Lakeview restaurant.
Day 4: E-Biking on the Northern reaches of Lago di Como
If you’ve never ridden an E-Bike before, you are in for a real surprise and treat! An E (electrically assisted with battery) bike is a delightful way to tour the surrounding lower mountain areas above Lake Como. We use high-quality E mountain bikes which make peddling up the slopes like riding on level ground.
Today we offer a fabulous e-biking trip around and above the northern end of Lake Como to a wild and scenic lunch spot nestled in a canyon with a transparent running river and swimming hole. The stunning beauty of the area is guaranteed to leave you enchanted and with a lasting appreciation for the dramatic landscape of this area.
In the afternoon we drop down to the shore of the lake and offer a second loop that traverses above the lake and returns along the shore of the lake on an easy relaxing bike path for an additional hour and a half tour of the beach area. During both the morning and afternoon loops, there will be an opportunity to swim in the clear waters at the lunch spot and along the beach.
For those that would prefer a more relaxing late afternoon, the van will be available for a short ride back to our hotel.
Either way, this will be a really fun day with extraordinary beauty all around surely to leave you with a big wow and unforgettable memories.
Day 5: Lago di Como, Bellagio, Villas, Gardens and Como
The best way to see the spectacular villas and sites of Lake Como is from the water. Our excursion will include a private boat tour of some of the most beautiful sites as we traverse the lake from north to south.
On our way to Como, we will pass by and perhaps visit such picturesque towns as Varenna and Tremezzina and icons including Villa Carlotta, and Villa Balbianello (famous for the location of several Star War scenes as well as the James Bond movie, Casino Royale), and Isola Comacina. And of course, we pass by the Villa Oleandra, the summer home for George Clooney.
Lunch will be on your own in the beautiful village of Bellagio. We will have some time to wander around the village enjoying the spectacular lakeside scenery.
We will arrive in Como around 5 PM and have some time to see some of the historical areas of the town before heading over to Lecco to complete our transfer to our lakefront hotel.
Day 6: Hiking and Spa Day
Our extraordinary day will start with a hardy Italian breakfast followed by a ride to the Funivia Paini d’Erna, a cable car landing above the town of Lecco.
A piani in Italian is like a plateau (not to be confused with a panini), and the Piani de Erna sits at an elevation of 4500 feet above sea level. Enjoy the spectacular ride to our hiking area in sprawling meadows and unspoiled forest, beneath the peaks of Mount Resegone. From the plateau area, we will have breathtaking views of Lake Como and Lecco below.
It is a gorgeous area for an easy 4-mile loop hike. Or enjoy a more difficult climb up toward the mountain-the choice is yours. There is a delightful restaurant on the piani where we will enjoy traditional local dishes and enjoy the stunning views of Mount Resegone. After lunch, the cable car will gently glide us back down so we can then head to the world-famous Pellegrino Spa.
Near the town of Bergamo, where the exclusive San Pellegrino water has its origin, you can soak in the supercharged mineral water. After several years of renovation, the spa reopened in 2015 in a spectacular Nouveau Palace that is 64,000 square feet! Recommended by Leonardo Da Vinci and countless others for its curative powers, we will regenerate our bodies and souls in the rich sulfated thermal waters. They are rich in calcium and magnesium and will be wonderful after our day of hiking. There are more than 30 spa treatments and many pools; panoramic and sensorial. There are waterfalls, steam baths, saunas, bio saunas, Turkish baths, salt, and ice rooms.
We will enjoy this unforgettable experience into the evening and include an Apertiterme, a tasty happy hour with a light but elegant buffet designed to conquer your palate without adding to your waistline.
Day 7: E- Biking Through the Mountains
Our itinerary for the day will include about 30-40 kilometers of riding through spectacular scenery once again with gorgeous mountain views. We will stop for a delicious lunch at a mountain pass restaurant and tour through some beautiful alpine villages. At times it will be relaxing and sometimes exhilarating but with the E-bike you will be left inspired and have great exercise without the burn of those grueling climbs of a conventional bike. The bike loop through the mountains will return us back to the bike shop in the late afternoon so we have plenty of time to relax in Lecco at our beautiful hotel on the southern shores of the lake.
Tonight we have our farewell dinner in a special restaurant out on the lake with wine from the local region included. A final chance for an evening stroll along the lake will leave us with the glow of having visited this most beautiful region of Northern Italia.
Day 8: Farewells and Transfers
This morning we will have an earlier breakfast to be ready for an 8:30 am departure by van to Milan – Malpensa Airport and the Central Train Station.
Those of you with flights in the afternoon (from 12:30 PM on) will arrive in time at Malpensa airport in our van. If you have an earlier flight or have a different departure than Malpensa or the central station, we can arrange a private transfer at an additional cost. We will also offer an extended evening stay in Milano as an option with an early dinner and a theater or musical performance (opera, theater, or cultural event based on ticket availability).
Price includes: Departure only airport transfer to Malpensa at the end of the tour for flights after 12:30 PM; All accommodations for 7 nights in a shared room; All breakfasts, 4 lunches, 6 dinners; Transportation in a private van during the tour; private boat tour; E-bike rentals; Services of knowledgeable HE Travel guides; All activities, as listed in the itinerary; Wine at all dinners; All hotel service charges, government taxes, porterage, and meal gratuities for included meals. HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
Not included: Arrival transfer to Milan; International airfare to and from Italy; 2 lunches; 1 Dinner; Airport departure fees (though these should be included in air ticket fees); Gratuities to local HE Travel guides; Personal items including alcoholic beverages, snacks, laundry, and telephone calls.
Optional Tour Choices:
$175 Early Private Transfer on the last day of the tour. If you have a flight before 12:30 pm, you will need a private transfer.
Post-Tour Pricing. This is for the hotel and dinner only. Ticket price for the show TBD.
$250 1 Shared Room Post-Tour Hotel Night in Milan. (This price does not include the ticket price.)
$350 Private Room (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom) 1 Post-Tour Hotel Night in Milan in a single. (This price does not include the ticket price.)
We strongly recommend the purchase of Trip Cancellation and Interruption insurance to protect your vacation investment in case of unforeseen circumstances such as flight delay, illness, or injury. Click Here to learn more about our Insurance partner.
Stay longer for our 1 night Post Tour
Stay 1 extra night in Milan after the tour. Enjoy an early dinner and a theater or musical performance (opera, theater, or cultural event based on ticket availability). The performance this evening will be announced at a later date.
Come early and join our French Cycling tour:
Colors of Burgundy – Gay Cycling in France
Cycle through hills and villages rich in history, redolent with the scents of forest and vineyard. Visit Chateauneuf, Roman ruins, medieval towns, and important sites in Catholicism. Burgundy is famed for its food and wine, so dining and wine-tasting will be as much fun as biking!
- What if I am traveling alone?
- Most of our trips draw more single travelers than couples. When couples do join us, it’s usually because they’re looking forward to interacting with a gay group; if they wanted a holiday by themselves, they wouldn’t have signed up to travel with us. Furthermore, the activities included with our trips serve as natural ice-breakers. Within a day, you’ll be traveling with friends. You don’t need to pay the single supplement if you’re traveling alone. We’ll be happy to match you with a roommate. Pay the single supplement only if you want a bedroom to yourself. For selected trips, including cruises, we will charge half the single supplement if you request a roommate but we can’t match you with someone.
- What is the physical activity level of this tour?
Physical Activity Level
This tour has been set up to be most enjoyable for people comfortable hiking, cycling over rolling terrain.
- How do I get from the airport to the hotel in Milan on Day 1?
- There are a few different options for getting to the hotel.
- The train will take about 40 minutes and will cost between $12 and $16.
- The bus will take about 50 minutes and will cost between $6 and $11.
- The shuttle takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes and will cost between $11 and $13.
- A taxi will take about 40 minutes and will cost between $90 and $110.
- Where does the tour start and end?
- This tour starts and ends in Milan, Italy
- What will the hotels be like?
- We will be staying at a total of 3 different hotels during our tour. 1 night in Milan, 3 nights in an exclusive boutique hotel overlooking Lake Como and 3 nights in a Mountain Boutique Agriturismo.
- Additional Questions
- For answers to your additional questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 305-294-8174