Twinkling cobbled streets. Warming festive treats. Snow-softened mountain peaks. Explore Italy’s largest body of water - and the jewel of the Italian lakes - amidst the romantic glow of Christmas. Lake Garda is even more spectacular at this time of year, when the quaint medieval towns dotted along its shoreline are bursting with festive cheer. We’ll uncover ancient Roman ruins, famed literary locations and delightful festive markets - as well as experiencing Christmas the true Italian way.
5 nights in hotel (accommodation as specified or similar)
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home for your flight to Milan. On arrival we transfer to Lake Garda and the elegant town of Bardolino, where we stay at the Aqualux Hotel Spa (4T) for five nights. The rest of the day is at leisure to relax and start exploring, before dinner this evening.
Enjoy a morning at leisure in Bardolino, a resort which has drawn settlers since before Roman rule. Most of the buildings here though are from no earlier than the 13th century, and the old Scaliger fortifications can be seen at various points in the old town. The Christmas market turns the town into a fairytale, with carousels, an ice rink and an impressive Christmas tree that towers high over the festivities. After lunch we depart for Lazise, a beautiful hamlet with prehistoric traces, and a splendid medieval past evident in the private Castello Scaligero and 14th century Veronese customs office, from where trade on Lake Garda was governed for centuries. Next is a walking tour Sirmione, one of the most beautiful villages on the lake. We return to the hotel later for our evening meal.
Christmas Eve - Mantua - Borghetto
This morning we travel to Mantua (known to Italians as Mantova), where Shakespeare’s Romeo heard of Juliet’s death, and where Verdi set the tragic Rigoletto. The gorgeous ducal palaces show that this beautiful lakeside town of cobbled streets has been prosperous for many centuries. We tour amongst the squares and have free time to wander before moving on to Borghetto. This small village is famed for its fortified dam now, like the hilltop castle, in picturesque ruins. The 650m-long medieval dam was created to control the River Mincio and protect the area from the many seigniories and armies who coveted the natural border. The handful of medieval houses and ancient watermills add to the idyllic scene. We enjoy dinner at our hotel this evening.
Christmas Day - Bardolino
Relax today as we celebrate Christmas. A traditional turkey dinner will be served for lunch, with a mix of Italian dishes and a glass of sparkling wine. Dinner will be available in the evening, for those who are still hungry.
Boxing Day - Trento
Trento is a city of art, history and contrasting cultures. Our walking tour this morning takes in city highlights including the churches of the Council, the Duomo and its splendid square with houses decorated with gorgeous allegorical frescoes, and Castello del Buonconsiglio, the 13th century castle which was home to the prince bishops of Trento until Napoleon's arrival in 1801. You can see signs of the Roman colony with ruined perimeter walls and a theatre, and signs of later inhabitants with Austrian pastries served in abundance. You have time to explore and find excellent handmade gifts of crafts, food and wine at the Christmas market - Trento’s festive market is one of the best in the region. Dinner is included this evening.
Day 6 Bardolino - Milan - UK
We transfer to Milan Airport for your return flight to the UK. Upon arrival your Titan vehicle will be waiting for the journey home.