A beautiful tour of a very scenic part of Italy into Switzerland. We have been on many tours and this was a classic example of everything being right. We flew out of Birmingham on Flybe to Malpensa Milan, a clean plane and on schedule. We met our wonderful tour manager, Elisabeth, who was one of the many highlights of the tour: knowledgeable, positive, well organised, amusing and charming. The Grand Hotel at Cadenabbia was in a perfect location for access to the various excursions, easy quick boat trips to Bellagio and Varenna. The hotel staff, especially the restaurant staff were excellent. Highly efficient, attentive and always friendly (and tolerated my Italian).We didn’t use the pool but could see it being cleaned everyday and it looked immaculate. Our room was functional, good bathroom, plenty of storage hangers ( a small thing but quite often there are not enough) and electronic safe.
The coach company and drivers were superb and it is a wonder to see them drive through places like the gates at Bergamo.
The itinerary was well thought out. The Bernina Express was stunning, Lugano stylish with beautiful scenery, Stresa is always wonderful and we ate at our old haunt Ristorante Pizzeria Mamma Mia which has excellent food and quick service. There are definitely two villas worth visiting Villa Balbienello(included) via private boat. The last owner was Guido Monzino, the first Italian climber to the top of Everest, left it to Italy’s equivalent of NT(remember you card, you get in free). Beautiful location, interesting history and then a trip to the chic Bellagio.
Not so many people went on the Bergamo excursion which is a shame. It is a stunning medieval town above a relatively old looking new town. The architecture is beautiful, the historical characters like Count Colleoni entertaining. The foot tour which is only an hour is definitely worth doing. The local guide, Bruno I think, was probably the best local guide we have ever had. He was eloquent, very amusing and held you entranced. If you go on this tour, go to Bergamo, otherwise you really are missing out one of the best excursions.
If you are looking for something relaxing to do on your day off, Varenna is a good place. If you want incredible views of the lake, a great cappuccino or an ice cream doing a convincing impersonation of Mount Everest and friendly service, Varenna Caffe’ is excellent…we returned three times…
On departure day we had time to go to Villa Carlotta (Carlotta died tragically young) and it is a perfectly stylish Villa, with beautiful gardens and views over the lake. Some of the sculptures took my breath away.
Our first trip with Riviera and a tough challenge to follow. Thank you to all the team at Riviera who put this together along with Elisabeth who made sure the tour was problem free. And we look forward to going on many more.
Review by Brian and Jane Russell on 27 September 2013