While most tours cut through the Alps on a north-south plane, this roundtrip tour from Milan proceeds from west to east through some of the most magnificent mountain landscapes in the world. Stops include Andermatt and Bolzano as well as two of the most beautiful Alpine lakes: Laggo Maggiore and Lake Garda.
Rental car pick-up
Type: Fiat Punto 1.3 MJT or similar
Pick-up location: Milan, Airport
The Mediterranean-style country villa was built in 2006 in a large park just a 10-minute walk from the lakeshore. The 20 bedrooms, the breakfast buffet and the service all show the same attention to detail. A heated pool with sundeck is located in the manicured garden. Whether you just want to spend a few quiet days or explore the idyllic surroundings of the lake, the villa is an ideal place to stay either way.
In a part of Switzerland renowned for its warmth and Mediterranean light, Lake Maggiore has been attracting visitors for over 100 years. While its northern tip is part of the Swiss Ticino, it reaches as far south as the Po Valley. The walks above the lake offer views which remind one of the Côte d'Azur near the heart of Europe, with the Alps as a backdrop. There is everything here: unspoiled nature, spectacular scenery, the best climate in Switzerland, major cultural events, beaches, lakeshores, an early spring, a golden autumn, wine and food specialties, and an infinite number of possibilities for excursions and every kind of leisure activity, from golf to extreme sports like canyoning.
The hotel is situated near the historical DevilBridge on what for centuries was the main trading route across the Alps. Since completion of the Gotthard Road Tunnel in 1980, however, it has grown nearly as quiet in these parts as it was when Goethe stayed in Andermatt on his way to Italy over 200 years ago. The bedrooms in the traditional Swiss hotel are bright and comfortable. Regional Swiss specialities are served in the wood-panelled dining room called the
For many centuries Andermatt was situated at the premier crossroads for both north-south and east-west traffic across the Alps. The ancient Swiss town lies at the center of four key Alpine passes: the Gotthard Pass to southern Switzerland, the Göscheneralp Pass to north-central Switzerland, the stunning Furka Pass to the Rhone Valley in the west, and the Oberalp Pass to the Rhine Valley. Many gorgeous Alpine drives of various length and difficulty can be taken from Andermatt. A relatively unchallenging yet scenic excursion is the three-passes panoramic drive around the Rhone Glacier, either in your own car or in one of the canary-yellow Post buses. A truly unforgettable experience is a ride on the Furka Steam Train from Realp to Oberwald.
The hotel high in the Alps near Davos was considered a work of art when it was built in 1938 due its extraordinary blend of Swiss craftsmanship with modern architecture. Discovered by American GIs in WW II, the hotel dubbed "Hollywood on the Rocks" soon became a favourite haunt of celebrities from the world over, including Truman Capote, Rex Harrison, Audrey Hepburn, Winston Churchill, Deborah Kerr and John Irving. The bedrooms feature Alpine wooden panelling and ceilings, which lends the rooms a special warm, cosy atmosphere. One of the main attractions is the hotel's superb restaurant, famous far beyond the borders of Switzerland for its gourmet cuisine.
Located at an elevation of 5,118 feet, Davos is the highest city in Europe. The community with just 10,000 inhabitants registers over 2.1 million visitors a year. The valley was only inhabited in 1280 - late for European standards - and the area was mainly used to graze cattle. The fortunes of the city began to rise in the 1850's when the mountain air was deemed to be good for tuberculosis sufferers. A sanatorium for lung patients in Davos is the setting of Thomas Mann's famous novel "Magic Mountain". The role of the city as a resort for winter sports began when a toboggan race was held there in 1883. During the summer months, however, Davos is a much quieter place and an excellent base for hiking and sightseeing trips to the surrounding peaks and valleys.
The medieval castle atop a hill near Bolzano dates back to the year 1236. It was acquired by the Dellago family nearly 100 years ago and converted into a luxury hotel and restaurant by the current generation of Dellagos. From this quiet perch atop a hill surrounded by vineyards guests can enjoy wonderful views of Bolzano and Catinaccio. Inside a pleasant atmosphere is created by works of folk art, bright colours and wood furnishings.
The capital of the province of Bolzano-Bozen has a distinctly Austrian flavor. It is situated in a narrow valley which was once the crossroad of several ancient trading routes. While the baroque city center clearly shows that the region belonged to Austria for centuries, modern Bolzano represents an interesting mixture of German and Italian culture. The landscape is dominated by the fascinating Dolomites, which rise majestically to the east creating bizarre formations. Huddled at the foot of the mountains is Caldaro al Lago. The warmest lake in the Alps is surrounded by vineyards for the production of red wine.
Along the Western Shore
Distance: 140 km Travel time: 2:30 h
The villa is a renovated 15th century manor house set on the green hillside that slopes steeply down to Lake Garda. The sensational views will make your stay unforgettable. The well-appointed rooms contain a delicate blend of works of art and antique furniture. The stone house stands in a magnificent park called "The Garden of the Senses", where both body and mind can relax. The 80,000 square meter park contains lush vegetation, broken here and there by natural water falls and gently shaded paths. A succession of small clearings, fruit trees, ornamental shrubs, flowers and aromatic herb gardens conveys a sense of peace and well-being.
This is Italy's largest (370 sq. km) and undoubtedly most beautiful lake. The northern end is surrounded by mountains (Mt. Balbo), its southern end by gentle hills. The lake's climate is temperate and its flora is characteristically Mediterranean, a combination that has made it famous and its small Riviera-like towns (Malcesine, Brenzone, Torri del Benaco, Bardolino, Lazise, Peschiera) highly frequented tourist stops since ancient times. There are several natural parks in the region of Peschiera and Castelnuovo del Garda that rank among the most famous in Europe. However, this is also a region of fertile countryside with fine wine that once attracted kings, merchants and cardinals. Recreational activities such as sailing, motor boating and water-skiing are offered.
Around the tip of the Alps
Distance: 130 km Travel time: 1:40 h
Rental car drop off
Drop off location: Milan, Airport
Rental car company: AVIS (Italy)
Type: Fiat Punto evo 1.3 or similar (Group C)
Equipment: Air-conditioning, power-steering, radio