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mobilemoms Apr 7th, 2008 08:35 AM

Help! Lake District Itinerary
I would like to finish my plans for the Italian Lake District but I have some concerns about the travel between places. Can you help me?

July 2-12, 2008
Fly JKF to Milan
July 3 car to Lake Orta Villa Crespi for one night
Then we want to go to Stress (how?)
I heard you can take a cable car down into Stressa?
July 4 for two nights Grand Hotel Booremees
Then on to Lugano (also how?, train, bus, boat?)
July 6 for 3 nights either Villa Castagnola or Villa Principe Leopodo
July 9 to Bellagio Villa Serbelloni for 3 nights and then home
Please comment on Hotels, itinerary, and if you have any information on how to get from place to place it would be greatly appreciated. I have heard it might be VERY hot in July? Also would you stay in Varenna over Bellagio? Any suggestions, comments etc. are welcomed. Thanks so much in advance!

bobthenavigator Apr 7th, 2008 08:43 AM

Hmmm ! That is a strange itinerary. If I had 9 nites in that region I would stay in 2 hotels and have a car. I know the area well---why 4 destinations?

mobilemoms Apr 7th, 2008 08:47 AM

Thank you for your quick reply. Your input is much appreciated bobthenavigator ! Where would you stay? How would you plan this? I could do a car if need be, I just hate the twisty mountainous roads but can do! Let me know what you would plan.

JulieVikmanis Apr 7th, 2008 09:05 AM

I'm not the driver, my husband is, but I've never heard him complain about the roads in that area. A car would make the whole thing much more simple--and allow you to see much more. It would also mean you'd not have to move as much. I'd opt for Orta as a base both for Orta and Stresa since it's much more charming IMO, though it's small and at that time of the year could be awfully crowded. Also check out the San Rocco as an alternative to Villa Crespi. It's directly on the water and would be cooler at that time of year. Do a dinner at Villa Crespi to see the place though. Food is wonderful and artchitecture, interior is terrific. Then I'd do the remainder of the time in Bellagio, Menaggio or Varenna taking boats between them and traveling by car as a day trip to Lugano. Villa Sebelloni is more high end than the hotels generally recommended for that area here, but it certainly has nice position and would afford the same sort of luxury you'd miss if cutting out the stay at GH Borremees in Stresa. Again, arrange to lunch there (at GHB) if you day trip from Orta. The place is lovely.

TuckH Apr 7th, 2008 09:09 AM

>> I could do a car if need be, I just hate the twisty mountainous roads but can do! <<

There are no "twisty mountainous roads" to speak of in that area - they're not difficult to drive. Do rent a car - at the airport and return it there.

In staying at two locations, pick one that enables you to combine Orta with Maggiore (say 4 nights) and then combine Lugano and Como for the other (say 5 nights).

mobilemoms Apr 7th, 2008 09:58 AM

Okay, so it sounds like I definately should rent a car! Than go to Orta and stay 4 nights in either villa crespi or San Rocco and explore Stressa from there. Than drive to Bellagio? Would you stay in Varenna or Bellagio? What hotel would you recommend on Lake Como if Vella Serbelloni is not the place to stay? Lugano is only a day trip?

mobilemoms Apr 7th, 2008 10:11 AM

Thankyou JulieVikmanis for the recommendation of San looks amazing!!!I will see if they have availability!
Any other recommendations would be more than welcomed!

tower Apr 7th, 2008 10:52 AM


We love Lake Orta and vicinity...I can also recommend some lodgings on Como and in Lugano...that's if you're interested at all in much lower rates.Doesn't appear you are with Villa Serbelloni at 450€/$700 for a double)
..but if you are, I'm sure both BobtheNavigator and I could give you some help.

Whatever you decide, yes it will be very hot in July, but we wish you a great visit, happy travels.

Stu T.

bobthenavigator Apr 7th, 2008 12:24 PM

Well, I see that you are getting good help from others---and I concur with most of it. I just hate to change hotels that often.

So, given only 2 locations, I am torn about your first stop. Nobody loves Orta more than me but the hotel options for what you want are non-existant there. Do not stay at Villa Crespi---bad location. The San Rocco is just OK but at least on the lake. But, if I get your vibes, I think Stresa may be a better option for you. Of course, you will day trip to Orta---plan for all day and drive over the small hills via Gignese.

Now, for the 2nd location. I would drive via Locarno and Lugano when you transition and spend 4 hours in Lugano. But, I would stay on the west shore of Lago Como at either the Grand Hotel Menaggio[my pick] or the Grand Hotel Tremezzo. The Serbelloni is over priced and stuffy and your flexibility is much better on the west shore with a car. And, Lugano is less than an hour on a decent road, and St. Moritz is only 2 hours---be sure to stop in Soglio if you do that. Good luck---I would love to go with you.

bobthenavigator Apr 7th, 2008 12:27 PM

Here are some pics from our last trip to Orta/Stresa.

Jean Apr 7th, 2008 01:29 PM

I don't think anyone is recommending against your staying at GH Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio. If you can afford it and prefer luxe, 5-star hotels, then you'll love the Serbelloni.

If you discover the Serbelloni is beyond your budget (or is unavailable), there are many lovely hotels in both Varenna and Bellagio. If you type in "Varenna" and "Bellagio" in the search box (above), you'll find there have been many threads discussing the different hotels. You do want a hotel with A/C.

Lugano can be a day trip from the mid-Lake Como area, but you could also stay a night or two there. It's your call, but like Bobthenavigator I would prefer only one hotel change in a 9 or 10-day trip to the lake area.

My primary recommendation would be to not try to see everything that sounds amazing. You don't have enough time anyway. The best part about a visit to the lakes area is the more leisurely pace it encourages. Ride the ferries, sit on a lakeside bench and take in the view, stroll the towns and gardens, have long lunches with a view, etc.

mobilemoms Apr 8th, 2008 10:50 AM

Okay, so San Rocco is just Okay. where else would you suggest? Hotel Booremees in Stressa?
Also, Grand Hotel Tremezzo is close in price to Serbelloni (100 + E)and Grand Hotel Menaggio is well priced. If you are not thinking of price which is the best to stay in?
Also, I heard drivers are crazy :)Any other comments on this?
As it is suggested we will spend 3 nights in Orta or Stressa and 4 nights on the lake. I like to change alot, I just hope this isn't too much, but it sounds like there are alot of day trips. According to all it is not worth staying in Lugano? too busy? Need to nail this one down and book it!
Thanks for all of your comments they are always so helpful! Much appreciated!

bobthenavigator Apr 8th, 2008 07:45 PM

San Rocco is at Orta---I suggested staying in Stresa. See

My pick at Como---with a car---is the GH Menaggio--perfect location at the boat dock. You can be in Bellagio in :15 but not have to worry about the car.

Drving is not hard in Italy except in the large cities--do not try that. Malpensa is 30 miles outside of Milan with easy accesss to Stresa. You will need good maps and a navigator---there is no free lunch.

goodtwogo Apr 21st, 2008 07:19 PM


mobilemoms Apr 23rd, 2008 11:13 AM

We are now thinking of either doing this trip over July 4th or the end of August. Any comments? I have heard that July 4th period is very busy and the end of August might be nicer. Is the weather still nice on the Lakes? We have also decided to stay in one location for 4-5 nights on Lake Como and add Amalfi for 4 nights. I know they are similar but it does seem doable. thanks for any comments on weather etc.

ncounty Apr 25th, 2008 10:17 PM

I greatly prefer the Serbelloni in Bellagio over the Grand Hotel Menaggio or the Tremezzo. I think it is more special and worth the splurge. It is the outstanding place in Bellagio. If you stay in Varenna, which is gorgeous and so photogenic, I would stay at the Cipressi which should be much less than the Serbelloni....I personally find these two locations more special than the west shore. I also agree Lugano is just a day trip or at most an overnight.

bobthenavigator Apr 26th, 2008 06:51 AM

But, with a car?

TPAYT Apr 26th, 2008 10:18 AM

I agree with bobthenavigator.

We spent 10 days at the Grand Tremezzo Hotel, and it was one of our favorite trips. Used the boats during the day, and the car at night to go to dinner. It is very easy to drive there, but much more traffic and difficulty in Stressa.

The Tremezzo is directly across the lake from Bellagio, so the views are stunning. Villa Carlotta is next door.

If you do stay there, don't miss the restaurant "Al Velue" in the hills about 5-10 min. from the hotel. Wonderful food and view.

ncounty Apr 26th, 2008 12:55 PM

I traveled by train and bus but I thought Varenna and Bellagio were accessible by car as well....not so?

ncounty Apr 26th, 2008 01:08 PM

here is my trip report from last summer in case there might be some detail of use to you:

Jean Apr 26th, 2008 07:41 PM

Varenna and Bellagio are both accessible by car. Some hotels have on-site parking; others direct you to lots elsewhere in the town. You can ride the car ferries to the opposite/other shore.

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