Active Adventures |  Dolce Vita -  Italian Lakes District Adventure

Milan to MilanNow add beautiful architecture, dramatically steep mountains and deep green forests set against a backdrop of blue waters - that's the Italian Lakes District.On this 10 day adventure you’ll explore both the iconic and lesser known areas of this region of Northern Italy, as well as the rarely visited Sesia Valley (Valsesia). With expert local guides, the culture, history, sights, sounds and tastes of Northern Italy will reveal themselves amidst a backdrop of some of the most stunning scenery on the planet.All experienced in typical Active style – you’ll hike through untouched villages, valleys and ridges of Valsesia at the foot of the Italian/Swiss Alps, sea kayak to quiet villages on Lakes Orta and Como, and embrace the relaxed pace of life, for which the Italians are renowned. For an espresso blend of glaciers, green meadows and forests; stunning lakes, villages and the finer things in life, the ‘Dolce Vita’ is an unforgettable trip.

  • Highlights

    Experience Lake Maggiore

    Hike Rifugio Crespi

    Hike the Mottarone mountain range

    Hike to Vezio Castle

    Hike Val Grande National Park

    Hike Walser Hamlets

    Orta San Giulio Island

    Sea kayak Lake Como

    Sea Kayak Lake Orta

    UNESCO World Heritage area

    Village life in Orta San Giulio

    Visit Sacromente, Varallo

  • What's Included

    All accommodations
    Local lodges chosen for their comfort, charm and sublime views.

    All activities
    This is one of our more easy-going multi-activity adventures. So whilst you'll still hike, kayak and visit charming historical sites, you'll do it all at a relaxed pace with plenty of shorter options available!

    All guiding services
    Two experienced guides per trip. In Europe you'll have a Kiwi guide and a local European guide, meaning you'll get the best of both worlds in terms of local knowledge and legendary hospitality.

    All meals
    Breakfast, lunch and dinner. You'll be treated to a culinary experience, to rival any in the world.

    All transport
    Airport transfers on the first & last days.
    When you're not travelling under your own steam, there will be comfortable air-conditioned vans to stretch your legs.

  • Pricing

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      • Price
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      • Start Date:21 Jun 21
      • Price:$9,299
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      • Start Date:4 Jul 21
      • Price:$9,299
      • Availability:Open
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      • Start Date:18 Jul 21
      • Price:$9,299
      • Availability:Open
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      • Start Date:1 Aug 21
      • Price:$9,299
      • Availability:Filling up
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      • Start Date:15 Aug 21
      • Price:$9,299
      • Availability:Open
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    Please note: while prices are accurate at time of loading they are subject to change due to currency fluctuations and currency surcharges may apply. Please check price at time of booking
  • Itinerary


    Your trip begins in Milan, one of Europe’s most cosmopolitan cities, and the gateway to the Italian Lakes District. We’ll meet you at Milan Malpensa International Airport in the morning and we’ll head towards the Italian Alps, standing tall in the distance. After a short drive into the Piedmonte region, the wide plains turn to valleys and the horizon turns jagged as we enter rEFU– one of the Italy’s least visited, but most beautiful valleys. Valsesia’s main centre is Varallo, the largest and first of many stunning towns that line the edges of the Sesia River and narrow side valleys. From Varallo’s town centre, we’ll hike up to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Sacro Monte di Varallo. Built in 1491 by a Franciscan friar, Bernardino Caìmi, Sacro Monte is one of the oldest religious structures in Italy. Perched on a steep hillside above the valley, the intricate architecture and setting is surreal, with fantastic views down to the cobbled streets of Varallo below. With no through road to any other region, the dramatic beauty of Valsesia will reveal itself around every corner as we drive further to Alagna village, our home for the next couple of days and a great location to hike the trails of the incredible Monte Rosa range of the Alps.Hotel Monterosa, Alagna Valsesia (Lunch, Dinner)Hiking Distance: 5 kilometres (3.1 miles)Elevation Gain: 490 metres (1607 feet)Elevation Loss: 490 metres (1607 feet)



    This morning we’ll begin the hike right from our doorstep, making our way through the upper village of Alagna, characterised by immaculately groomed traditional chalets and cobbled pathways. Leaving the village, we’ll hike up toward Otro Valley, through picture perfect pasture land, passing herds of cows and groves of fir trees. Otro Valley is scattered with centuries-old history, intact nature and hamlets - the unchanged testimony of the Walser inhabitants. The trail is a great warm up for the days to come and offers the possibility to contemplate one of the most poetic landscapes in the whole of Valsesia. We’ll have views of Corno Bianco (3,320 metres), the highest peak in the Valley with its two glaciers – Nevato and the Glacier of Otro. We’ll stop for lunch at a mountain rifugio before hiking back down to Alagna, where you’ll have the afternoon to explore or rest up and relax in the village before meeting for dinner.Hotel Monterosa, Alagna Valsesia (All meals) Hiking Distance: 14 kilometres (8.6 miles)Elevation Gain: 730 metres (2395 feet)Elevation Loss: 730 metres (2395 feet)



    This morning we’ll take a short transfer from the hotel to Alta Valsesia Natural Park, where we’ll explore for the day. Established in 1979, the Alta Valsesia Natural Park is classed as an Alpine Park and it’s the highest protected area in Europe, stretching over 3,500 metres of land all the way to Monte Rosa, sitting at 4,554 metres. The valley embraces a wide variety of environments, from crisp green pastures to its Himalayan cirque located under the huge south face of Monte Rosa where the Sesia River is born from the glaciers of the mountain. Your guides will choose the best trail for you on the day, with the Park rich in fauna, you may have the chance to see ibex, chamois, deer, marmots and even eagles! We’ll stop for lunch at a mountain rifugio before hiking down through the old Walser hamlets back to Alagna. Once we return to Alagna, we’ll have time to rest up and relax in the village before meeting for dinner.Hotel Monterosa, Alagna Valsesia (All meals)Hiking Distance: We'll decide on the day, as our options are endless! 



    This morning we’ll drive a short distance back down the valley. From Varallo, we’ll say goodbye to the steep green walls of Valsesia and head into the forests of the Vercelli province, passing the beautiful villages of Civiasco and Arola. Our next stop is Madonna del Sasso Sanctuary, a stunning complex built in the early 1700s, overlooking Lake Orta and out towards the Swiss Alps – the views are simply spectacular! After taking in the first of the Italian Lakes from this amazing vantage point, we’ll hike down to the lakeside village of Pella where we’ll board a boat across to San Giulio Island – the jewel in the crown of Lake Orta. We’ll have time to stroll the Via del Silenzio pathway around the Island and explore the quiet narrow cobbled streets, quaint courtyards and incredible 12th Century basilica. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time several hundred years! The time travel doesn’t stop there though, as we board our boat again and head a very short distance across to the village of Orta San Giulio, our home for the next couple of nights.Hotel Bocciolo, Orta San Giulio (All meals)Hiking Distance: 4.8 kilometres (3 miles)Elevation Gain: 300 metres (984 feet)Elevation Loss: 300 metres (984 feet)



    After breakfast this morning, we’ll take to the lake by sea kayak and paddle past the numerous villages that dot the shoreline. Enveloped by dark green woodlands and old settlements, Lake Orta is the quietest of the Italian Lakes, making it the perfect place to stop off for a lakeside espresso and take in serene village life. Later we’ll return to Orta San Giulio where there’s time to walk the lakeside pathway and stroll up the cobbled pathways to the Sacro Monte chapels overlooking the village and across the western shores of Lake Orta – the views are breath-taking! If you’re keen to carry on paddling today, there’s plenty of opportunity to go a little further with our guides after we return to Orta San Giulio.Hotel Santa Caterina, Orta San Giulio (All meals)Kayaking Distance: 10 kilometres (6 miles)



    This morning we’ll drive a short distance to Armeno, a quaint village nestled in the foothills of the Mottarone mountain range, which runs the whole length of Lake Orta and divides it from Lake Maggiore. We’ll set off from Armeno, hiking along old cobbled pathways to the Church of Madonna de Luciago, with stunning views of pastureland to the south. It’s fields and forest the whole way to the top of the Mottarone, where you’ll be rewarded with expansive vistas from the Po Valley to the summits of the Alps. You’ll be struck by the view of Monte Rosa and the seven lakes that lie in this natural basin. We always allow plenty of time to soak in these views, so you can rest and then take a stroll in every direction. Later, we’ll take the easy way down - utilising the Funivia, which will take us to Stresa, literally across the street from our hotel! There’s time this afternoon to soak in the atmosphere of the narrow streets and lake promenade before we meet for dinner in one of the many charming cobbled squares.Hotel Lido Perla Negra, Stresa (All meals)Hiking Distance: 10.5 kilometres (6.5 miles)Elevation Gain: 968 metres (3175 feet)



    Today we’ll hike through the largest wilderness area in Italy – the Val Grande National Park. Along a panoramic trail into the conifer forests and alpine meadows of the area, we’ll enjoy incredible views of the craggy peaks of the Alps to the north, and the blue waters of Lake Maggiore to the south. Where our hikes in the days before have passed through villages, our hike today is all about the wilderness and the combination of silence and grand views. Afterwards we’ll head back to Stresa for another exceptional local restaurant meal.Hotel Lido Perla Negra, Stresa (All meals)Hiking Distance: 8 kilometres (5 miles)Elevation Gain: 430 metres (1410 feet)Elevation Loss: 430 metres (1410 feet)



    This morning we’ll head to Lake Como – Italy’s most dramatic and iconic lake. Our home for the next couple of days is San Giovanni, one of the most beautiful stretches of lakeside settlement in the world. It’s easy to fall in love with this place. Just around the corner is Bellagio, sitting on the peninsula where the western and eastern arms of the lake meet, this town known as the ‘Pearl of the Lake’, is surrounded by exuberant gardens, a maze of steep stone staircases, gorgeous lake-side squares and incredible views to the Alps. If you’re keen to hike today, we’ll take a short boat ride across to the village of Varenna with its famous pastel coloured houses that seem to defy the laws of physics, perched on the steep green slopes that rise straight up from the lake. From here we’ll hike on the cobbled pathway and trail up to the hamlet of Vezio. The centre-piece of this tiny settlement is the Vezio Castle, the remains of a fortified watchtower built in the middle ages. The views from up here are spectacular. Later we’ll walk back down to Varenna before catching the boat back across the lake. Tonight you’ll be able to choose from a variety of local restaurants in nearby Bellagio for your evening meal.Hotel Locanda della Maria, San Giovanni (All meals)Hiking Distance: 4.1 kilometres (2.5 miles)Elevation Gain: 150 metres (495 feet)Elevation Loss: 150 metres (495 feet)



    The steep walls of the Alps, dropping straight down into the clear waters of the lake, with stunning villages and coves dotted along the edges are a sight to behold. Around every corner, more and more of Lake Como’s charm reveals itself. You’ll be itching to explore! Explore is exactly what we’ll do, and all from a sea kayak, as we glide past the incredible coves, 17th Century houses and gardens that dot the lakeside – if there was a more perfect example of man-made structures and the natural environment coming together, we’re yet to see it! After our paddle, we’ll have time to soak in the charm and beauty of San Giovanni.Hotel Locanda della Maria, San Giovanni (All meals) Sea Kayaking Distance: 12.9 kilometres (8 miles)



    This morning we’ll head back to Milan in time for afternoon flights. If you’re staying on, our team are happy to offer you suggestions on how best to spend your time. Either way, you’ll go home relaxed and refreshed after the beautiful hiking, kayaking and fine cuisine you’ll have taken in while exploring the Italian Lakes District.(Breakfast)


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