On this trip, we traveled to Milan, and Lakes Como and Maggiore.
Michela really listened to what we wanted, and tailored the activities she set up for us to our interests, which are history, culture, art, and nature. She also chose hotels that were well aligned with the type of place we like to stay - generally smaller, quiet, and located very close to our areas of focus. Lake Maggiore was the only place we stayed in a huge elaborate hotel, but it was right on the lake and close to the Old Town, which was one of our requirements.
The private guides she selected for us at Lake Como and in Milan were very knowledgeable and made our outings extremely informative and interesting.
She was very responsive when we had questions, and easy to work with.
All in all, I recommend her and her agency for a great trip.
A few highlights were seeing the original Last Supper in Milan (with our private guide), walking 2 historic trails at Lake Como - the Sentiero del Viendante and the Strada Regina - the former with our private hiking guide, and the second by ourselves.
We very much enjoyed traveling across Lake Como on the ferry boats.
Our guide in Milan was extremely knowledgeable about all the places he took us to and had insights on the Last Supper that made me see it with new eyes, though of course seeing it in situ is an amazing experience in itself.
Our Viandante hiking guide was also a font of information about the history of the trail, as well as the plants that grew along it and the local economy prior to modern times. And hiking the trail itself was a wonderful experience.
The view from the Castle in Varenna was spectacular. We were very glad we stayed in Varenna, which I had requested, rather than the more touristy Bellagio, which is fun to visit, but we were glad we stayed across the lake in Varenna.
The 2-hour private tour of the lake was great - the captain stopped at many interesting sights and imparted some very entertaining tidbits of information. And we LOVED our 30 min stop at the gardens of Villa Balbianello - it really uses its spectacular setting on a promontory to maximum effect- fabulous lake views everywhere.
I'd skip Lake Maggiore - it had less to offer than Lake Como, but we went there at my request, so I can't complain!
The famous villas on the lake (Isola Bella and Isola Madre) with their gardens were somewhat interesting, but were not my favorites since the gardens at least seemed rather derivative in imitating more famous examples elsewhere, and didn't really take advantage of their unique situation on the lake, which would have made them more special.
The fisherman's island, Isola di Pescatori, was actually my favorite, once one got past the cheap knick-knack stands.
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