Florence, Lake Garda and Swiss Alps
Tuesday 10 September to Tuesday 24 September 2013
Unescorted options also available
This new tour offers classic Italian scenery and culture followed by stunning Alpine settings in Switzerland.
Day 1 London to Chambery
Depart on Eurostar late morning from London St Pancras to Paris, then onwards by TGV to Chambery, where we have an overnight stay.
Day 2 Tuscany
Day 3 Leisure Time
Florence can be quite overwhelming as there is so much to see. This one day can only be a taster but all of the main sights are within easy walking distance of each other and a good starting point is the 14th Century cathedral (Duomo) which dominates the skyline. There are also numerous museums, the most famous being the Uffizi, home to the Medici family’s private collection.
Day 4 Medieval Siena
A full day escorted trip by train to Siena, in the heart of Tuscany. The town has a wealth of Gothic buildings and the historic centre, surrounded by the city walls with eight original gates, is traffic free making it a pleasure to explore. Return late afternoon.
Day 5 Lombardy and Lake Garda
Our brief visit to Tuscany is over as we leave the mountains behind and travel to the largest of the Italian lakes. Lake Garda lies on the edge of the province of Lombardy and has the Alps on its northern shore. Desenzano is one of only two locations served by train and we are based here for 3 nights. We will arrive early afternoon, leaving the rest of the day free.
Day 6 Relax
From Desenzano you can explore the lake using either the boats or a network of local buses. Villages such as Sirmione and Malcesine with its cable car to the top of Monte Baldo are just two of the options.
Day 7 Venice
We offer a full day trip to Venice today. Travelling by train from Desenzano, you will have ample free time on arrival. We will include a day pass for the waterbuses and a brief guide of the main sights. The Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal and Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square) with its basilica and bell tower are firm favourites with visitors. Your tour leader will be on hand should you need any guidance.
Day 8 To Switzerland
Departing after breakfast we travel via Milan then north through Lombardy to Tirano. Although still in Italy, we can now use our first class Swiss Pass as the UNESCO World Heritage Rhaetian Railways operate this far. From here we travel over the Bernina Pass as far as Pontresina, where we stay overnight.
Day 9 Glacier Express
Leaving Pontresina after breakfast we take a short journey to Samedan, where we pick up the Glacier Express for one of Switzerland’s most scenic journeys. Sit back and enjoy the stunning scenery as the train makes its way via the Oberalp Pass, where the summit of the line is reached at 2033 metres (6670ft), and the Furka tunnel to emerge into the Rhône valley at Brig. We stay here for 3 nights.
Day 10 Exploring from Brig
You can very easily take the train to Zermatt, the traffic free resort nestling at the foot of the Matterhorn, one of the country’s most famous landmarks. Our excursion list gives lots of options and your tour leader will be more than happy to advise and to offer an optional excursion.
Day 11 Furka Steam
Today we have a full day excursion. We start by taking the local train from Brig to Realp to join the Furka Bergstrecke. Operated by steam this rack line uses the original track bed of the Glacier Express route. We take a full return trip to Oberwald and later return to Brig by local train.
Day 12 To Lake Geneva
By the end of the day we will be on the shores of Lake Geneva but to get there we travel a slightly circuitous route. From Brig we first travel north to Spiez, where we change trains to Zweisimmen. From Zweisimmen we travel the Golden Pass route which will give us stunning views of the lake as we descend into Montreux for our 3-night stay.
Days 13 and 14 Leisure Time
Our excursion list has several ideas to offer from here and there will be an optional escorted excursion available each day.
Day 15 To London
We take a local train to Geneva then the morning direct TGV service to Paris. We make a connection with the Eurostar service to London St Pancras, arriving late afternoon.
|Single room supplement:||£425|
|Discount for two travelling together:||£60|
|Deposit for this holiday:||£100|
Rates of exchange used are as at 1st August 2012