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Hotels in Italy that highlight VBT’s Walking the Italian Lakes Vacation

Hotel Royal VictoriaOne of the highlights of our Walking the Italian Lakes vacation is the amazing selection of accommodations along three different lakes that our guests will stay in while on tour. “Distinctive Lodgings with Local Charm” is a tagline we like to use because we feel as though your lodging should be a destination in itself—a haven meant to savor. We’ve highlighted some hotels in Italy along Lake Como, Lake Orta and Lake Maggiore that will make your time off the lakes region’s walking trails as memorable as on.

Hotel La Palma—Stresa, Piedmont, Italy
La Palma View, top italy hotels
VBT travelers will stay at this elegant hotel located in the center of Stresa— along the Lake Maggiore promenade—for two nights while on this vacation.  Guests are greeted by a lovely manicured lawn with flowerbeds and lawn chairs—perfect VBT Guest at La Palmafor taking in the view of the lake across the street. From the rooftop sun terrace and swimming pool, you’ll enjoy open panoramic views of Mt. Mottarone, the Borromean islands, and much of Lake Maggiore. One of the many perks of the La Palma is a relaxing visit to the spa that will replenish your energy after our day’s walk—and their wellness center overlooks the lake and gardens below. Treat yourself with a dip in the jacuzzi or unwind in the sauna. Afterwards, guests can enjoy a fresh drink while on the open aired roof terrace at the hotel.

Hotel Royal Victoria—Varenna, Lombardy, Italy
Royal Victoria Hotel, Lake Como
Royal Victoria frontIt’s not overstating the case to say this historic 4-star hotel—located on the shores of Lake Como in the picturesque medieval village of Varenna—is fit for a queen. In fact the hotel was renamed after a visit from a young Queen Victoria in 1838. Today, the Royal Victoria is one of the finest Lake Como hotels and boasts of modern amenities while retaining its 19th-century ambiance.  Travelers can take a refreshing dip in the outdoor pool before dining at the hotel’s elegant restaurant with an outdoor terrace overlooking Lake Como.

Hotel San Rocco—Orta San Giulio, Piedmont, Italy
san rocco pool, top Italian hotels

Four hundred years ago, this fantastic 4-star hotel began as a convent on the shores of Lake Orta. It was transformed into a hotel in 1960 and today the combination of modern and historic features lends a unique style and flair to the hotel. evening dinner san roccoGuests will enjoy the proximity of the swimming pool and sun deck to Lake Orta. Travelers have free time on day 7 to venture into Orta San Giulio’s pedestrian-only zone for some shopping and dinner on your own. The walking vacation’s farewell dinner is at the hotel’s gourmet restaurant where afterwards, you can take in the summer sky and enjoy a drink with your new friends out on a huge lakeside terrace.

To read more about our Walking the Italian Lakes vacation please click here. To request a walking catalog or learn more about any of our other exciting walking destinations from New Zealand to Yellowstone National Park to Provence and beyond please visit If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868, available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST.

Our Top 5 Favorite Reasons to Travel to Sicily with VBT

Italy, Sicily, Sicilians on the road of the cemetery of Ragusa Ibla

This year we introduced a new bicycling vacation to the amazing Italian island of Sicily. As the Italy travel experts, we knew we had to return to this Mediterranean island that has developed its own distinct Italian flavor by incorporating diverse influences. We’ve improved our Sicily: Biking the Southern Coastal Villages vacation for 2014—including a new Pre-trip to Taormina and an added lunch on a local family’s farm—and wanted to share our Top 5 reasons to join VBT cycling  the southeastern corner of Sicily and discovering its rich history, delicious cuisine, and friendly locals.

The Bike Routes
Sicily is a beautiful island in the heart of the Mediterranean with some rolling hills and vast farmlands. “I was quite surprised at the beauty in the countryside with all of the acres of vegetables. We had the pleasure of lemon trees being in bloom which just accentuates the aura of the area” recalled a VBT traveler. The trip also mixes the terrain up a bit from day to day with stops at a couple of beaches and some lovely coastal riding as well. This tour is rated as Easy/Moderate which does include some hills, but rest assured that the VBT support van will always be on call to offer a snack or encouragement or transport you to any point along the way if you desire.


The Pre-and Post-trip Extensions
We listened to traveler feedback and have changed the Pre-trip extension from Palermo to Taormina for this vacation in Ortigia island, Syracuse2014. You’ll have 2 nights to enjoy Taormina, with its incredible views ranging from its blue waters, the Etna volcano, the bay and rocks, and the little isle of Isola Bella. Take some time to stroll along the Corso Umberto with its classical music cafés, pastry shops and monuments left from the Arabs and Normans—like its gothic and baroque buildings.  The tour ends in Syracuse and VBT offers a 2 night extension in the historic city. One VBT traveler advised “don’t skip the post-trip in Syracuse. It’s a delightfully sized, walkable city with our hotel on the island portion called Ortigia. If you’re up for a great walk there are miles of paths along the coast with a shipwreck along the way and views of Mt. Etna.”

The Local Cuisine
The region has a long history of producing a variety of noted cuisines and wines due to the diversity in cultural history and perfect climate—we’ve even heard some refer to the region as “God’s Kitchen”.  We’ve added a new lunch at a local farm in Ognina, where we’ll picnic on the private grounds of a local family and learn about the native cherry tomatoes or ‘pomodoro Pachino’—which take their name from the nearby town of Pachino, where they were grown for the first time. Also included on this tour are stops at a Masserie, a local farm that prepares delicious pizza and empanadas, and an exclusive tour of the Antica Dolceria Bonajuto chocolate factory—which has processed cocoa seeds according to old Aztecan techniques since the late 1800’s. While staying in Noto we’ll pick borage, wild fennel, lemons and oranges on our hotel’s estate, and then take them to the kitchen to prepare a Sicilian recipe under the guidance of our chef. “The food and eating establishments VBT selected were beyond description and always served fresh and outstanding food,” said a VBT traveler after returning from a trip last May.

The Rich History
Sicily has a very rich history that is distinct from other areas of Italy. Since 750BC the island has been courted by the Ragusa IblaGreeks, refined by the Romans and influenced by the Moors. “We forget how young our own country is when walking in cities with history that is over 2,500 years old,” remembered a VBT traveler who visited last spring. Travelers on this trip will stay in a restored 19th century residence, explore fishing village founded in the 16th century and visit the ruins of Noto Antica—a town destroyed in an earthquake in 1693 that was once one of Sicily’s wealthiest and most beautiful towns. We’ll also venture to Ragusa Ibla—listed as a UNESCO World Site for its Baroque palaces and churches— and stroll along the pedestrian streets to discover the incredible architectural beauty.

The Warm Weather
While many biking vacations are only offered from the late spring through the early fall, our Sicily vacation has departures running from March to November, giving you plenty of chances to fit this amazing vacation in to your schedule. Since Sicily is located in the heart of the Mediterranean and lies much more south than most of Europe, you’ll enjoy weather with average temperatures in the mid 60’s or higher on all departures dates. One VBT traveler said “the weather was just right for pedaling; sunny and warm…with clear blue skies and ocean views”. That’s sounds pretty tough to beat!

So join us next year and let us show you the real Sicily. Our expert Trip Leaders are all from the area and know the local customs and traditions, as well as inside information about reliable places to shop, eat, explore, and relax while on tour. To learn more about Sicily: Biking the Southern Coastal Villages​ simply click on the following link:


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