Overseas Adventure Travel
Northern Italy: The Alps, Dolomites & Lombardy +
The Swiss Alps Pre-Trip Extension
June 12 through July 4, 2023


Click on the above link buttons that will take you directly to a particular page or area of the review; or you can just click through to the next page at the bottom of each page.
Page 1 – Lucerne, Switzerland
Page 2 – Lucern & Bern, Switzerland
Page 3 - Bern & Zermatt, Switzerland

Page 4 – Lecco, Italy (Includes Milan)
Page 5 -
Lecco & Tirano, Italy
Page 6 - Tirano & Sulzano, Italy
Page 7 - Sulzano & Trento, Italy
Page 8 - Trento & Bressanone, Italy
Page 9 -
Bressanone & Mogliano Veneto, Italy


Day 9 – Transfer to Lecco, Italy

The next morning, we headed out of the hotel.  Our luggage had been picked up from our room and taken to the train station, but we were walking there.  It gave us a chance for our last views of Zermatt.

The train was taking us just 15 minutes away to the town of Tasch, Switzerland, where we would take a bus to the town of Lecco, Italy.  The train and bus rides took us through some beautiful country, but as I have found in the past, it is rare to be able to get decent photos through a window while moving.   Sometimes I'm lucky, but not this time.

We made a short stop at a place where there was a large statue of an eagle.  The field with the yellow flowers was also a photo opp.


Our first destination was to the town of Orta San Giulio on Lake Orta.  It was a 3-hour bus ride and close to our destination of Lecco.   The bus stopped outside of the main town, where Damien had called a taxi to take us into the old town.  Large busses aren’t allowed to go there.  It was a nice stopping place, since the beautiful 5-star hotel, Villa Crespi, was next to our waiting spot.  The Moorish style was quite different from anything we had seen on the trip so far.


When the taxi dropped our group off, we walked into the main part of town, we came to a street with the Church of Santa Maria Assunta up the hill and Lake Orta at the bottom of it.


I walked down to the water to look at San Giulio Island in the middle of the lake.  I had read about the island during my research and was hoping to be able to explore it.  There is a lot to see on the small island.  Damien told me that I didn’t have enough time to be able to get a ferry back and forth and spend time there.  I was disappointed, but certainly understood that we had time constraints.  I was still able to enjoy looking at the island.   


I looked around the main square enjoying different buildings. 





We came to a small church, Chiesia di San Rocco.  I can rarely pass up seeing a church, so I had to pop in for photos.  It was much more ornate than expected.


We continued our walk and stopped at a small park along the lake.  The flowers were lovely.

Along the water was a statue of an artist looking across the water to the town of Pella on the other side of the lake. 


I was able to get a different view of the island from there too.

We continued our walk and then returned to the main square.  We had a little free time before lunch, so I headed up the street we came in on to see the Santa Maria Assunta church at the top of the hill.  Being at a lower elevation with the temperature in the 70’s, it still got very hot in the sun.  It was a pretty steep incline and I was worn out by the time I got to the church.  I didn’t have a lot of time for photos, since I needed to get back to the restaurant for lunch at 12:45 PM.  I only had a little over ten minutes to take my pics and go down the hill.  With it being such a gorgeous church, I was disappointed that I didn’t have more time there.  The altar, ceiling and chapels were just wonderful.







I finished up and headed back down the hill close to the water.  Damien told us that the restaurant was next to the area where the restrooms were.  I went there, but there were no restaurants to be found.  I looked around and finally found a red canvas covered area with tables set up.  I guess it was next to where I was looking, but it was down the hill and below the area.  But I found it and Cathy was there waiting for me. 


This was a light lunch day.  We had some salad and lasagna.  I have to say that it was some of the best lasagna that I have ever had.  So delicious!  We also had a yummy dessert.


After lunch, we had a little free time before we had to catch the taxi back to the bus, so I took more photos of the main plaza area.



The bus ride to our hotel in Lecco took about an hour and a half.  We were staying at the Grisso Hotel on Lake Como. 

Damien traveled with us to Lecco and handed us off to our Trip Experience Leader, Amaranta or Amy, at the hotel.  Damien introduced Amy to us and we all said our goodbyes to Damien.  Like Damien, Amy hadn’t been with OAT very long, only 2-3 years.  Part of that during Covid.  This was our first tour with OAT TEL’s that hadn’t been with the company for many years, so we hoped that they would be able to provide the type of experience we previously had.  Had we not known that she was relatively new with OAT, we would have thought she was a senior leader.  She was just an outstanding TEL.  We could not have asked for a better leader or more lovely person to lead our tour.  She provided us with lots of information about the places we visited, took great care of us and met all our needs and provided us with a very fun experience.  We loved Amy! 

When we walked into the room, we were thrilled to see that we had a large balcony that looked out to Lake Como.  Wow, what a view!



The room itself was an adequate size, but there wasn’t much storage space. The closet area just had a few rods to hang things on and no drawers.  We made do, but we were surprised about the lack of storage.

The bathroom was fine, but very little counter space.


Most importantly, the air conditioning worked great, and it was a hot day.  We were able to focus on the beautiful view rather than the room’s storage issues.  We were very happy with our room.  There was a nice lounger/hot tub area on one of the upper levels.

After we were settled in, Amy took us on an orientation walk of our side of the lake to show us where we could find some restaurants for dinner.  There were some nice houses as well as a view of the campanile of the Basilica of San Nicolo across the lake in the main town of Lecco.  The tower is referred to as the pencil.  It sure does look like one.


During the walk, Amy stopped to show us a map of the Lake Como area.  She pointed out that the lake looks like a running man.

Since most restaurants don’t open before 7:00 PM, we went back to the hotel for a while before returning to the restaurant area.  When we came back, we stopped at one that Amy had recommended.  The pizza was just wonderful.  Who would have thought we would get good pizza in Italy?


After dinner, we went back to our room and sat out on the balcony for a while enjoying beautiful Lake Como.


Day 10 – Transfer to Lecco, Italy

Since we had enjoyed the wonderful breakfasts in Switzerland, we were looking forward to what Italy had to offer.  They exceeded our expectations.  In addition to the awesome regular selections on the buffet, they also had a table with a special item each day.  One day it was crepes, the next pizza. 



The view from the dining room made the food taste even better.

On the first day a woman walked around with a cart offering everyone a small ice cream cone. 

For our first full day in Italy, we were having a late start, 10:15 AM for our welcome meeting.  The reason for this was that the six people that were supposed to arrive the previous day for the main tour had not made it by the time we had arrived due to airline issues.  Amy stayed up until after 1:00 AM to greet the 4 separate deliveries of the guests during the evening.  She wanted them to be able to have some extra time in the morning to catch up on their sleep from their extended travel day.  It worked out fine since this was a free form type of day.  We started out with a walk to the bridge to get to the main town.  From the bridge, we had a different view of the lake and area around it.


We got a nice view of our hotel.

When we got to the other side of the lake, we went into a park with a fence.  As we were walking, we could see paintings on it, but when we were directly in front of the bars, it seemed to disappear.  This was an anamorphic type of painting.  The first recording of this type of painting was in 1515 by Leonardo Da Vinci.


We next walked over to a park along the lake that had a Ferris Wheel and monument to the fallen of World War 1.



From there I was able to get a closer photo of the pencil campanile.

In the park was the monument to Mario Cermenati, the founder of Lecco’s civic museums.  Quite a dignified statue.


From the water’s edge, Amy pointed out the golden statue of St. Nicholas in Lecco Bay.  St. Nicholas is the patron saint of Lecco.


In one corner of the Plaza XX September, was the Palazzo del Paure, or Palace of Fears.  It was called the Palace of Fears because in the early 1900’s it was the land registry where people had to go to pay their taxes.  This was originally the palace of the Visconti family and then the Sforza family when heirs married into the Sforza’s.  The emblem on the side of the building with a snake eating a baby was rather disturbing until Amy said that the snake was actually saving the baby.  In doing some research after the tour, I couldn’t find anything referring to the snake saving the baby, just eating it.  Not a pleasant emblem.  We would see the Sforza emblem again later in the tour.


During the tour, Amy highly recommended the Frigerio Restaurant for lunch.  We took her advice.  The colorful tile tables were so pretty.


With it being a hot day, we both got a beer and an outstanding salad. We couldn’t believe how much food and drink was in Italy compared to Switzerland.  It felt like we were getting a bargain at every meal we purchased.

One thing that we didn’t expect was that the only salad dressing we would have for two weeks was oil and vinegar that we mixed with the bottles on the tables.  Many times, the restaurants only had olive oil on the tables, and we would have to ask for balsamic vinegar.  We were sure craving our normal salad dressings by the time we got home.
The rest of the afternoon was free to relax or explore on our own.  Amy also said that we could take a cruise on Lake Como to visit a town further north on the lake.  The cruise sounded like an awesome idea.  When it came time to board the boat, most of us chose to sit on the covered upper deck than be exposed to the hot sun in the boat’s open front area.




It was a most enjoyable ride.  It lasted about a half hour and we were able to see pretty scenery on the lake front.  The hot weather kept the beaches full.



There were caves cut out of one of the mountains.  They are there to provide light to the car tunnel through the mountain.

Our destination was the town of Mandello del Lario.  We were looking forward to exploring it.  Amy said that she would first be buying us some gelato at a restaurant that had won awards for theirs.  It was a great idea and so good.



After our yummy break, we took a tour of the charming town. 



We came to the Church of San Lorenzo, that dates back to the 17th century.  The church was built on the remains of a middle ages church, of which the 12th century bell tower is still intact.

The interior was quite beautiful.  The large paintings on either side of the altar were impressive.






We continued our walk along the narrow streets.  We passed by a nicely frescoed building.  The kids who had just started their summer vacation were enjoying the water activity.  These kids were jumping from the wall.


In anticipation of our visit, Amy had come to this town the previous week to see what she could show us during our visit.  She found the building where the Moto Guzzi motorcycle was developed and was anxious for us to see it.  Although Mandello del Lario appeared to be a very small village, it was much larger than what we had seen from the lake.  We started walking to where Amy thought the building was.  She was having some difficulty, when she came to a fellow who offered to help her.  He was pointing the way there.  Then he changed his mind and decided to take us there.  It turns out that he was the president of the local town association.  Rather a convenient fellow to have run into.  He was a character and enjoyed talking to us as he led the way. 

He found the building and took us around the side where there was a large colorful mural celebrating Moto Guzzi.


We then met a grandchild of the company’s founder, who Amy had previously met.

He took us into the original shop where the motorcycle was developed in 1919 prior to the company being founded in 1921.  It was actually quite a museum showing the progress of his inventions.



We then went out into the courtyard where we were told about the motorcycle, and he answered questions.


As a treat, he took us down into the basement, where they have parties.  It was much cooler there than in the courtyard.  It was an interesting place and I am sure they have had some fun down there.


I must mention that there is also a Moto Guzzi museum in this town.  Our experience was quite different from what I expect it would be if visiting it.  After leaving, we came to a square where there was a monument to one of the founders of Moto Guzzi.

To get back to the hotel, we would be taking a train.  It was much faster than boat.

With the train station being further away from the hotel, the 30-minute walk in the heat at the end of the day was exhausting.  We were ready for our air-conditioned room and to enjoy the view from our balcony.

That evening we had our welcome dinner for the main tour at the hotel.  The first course was either a crispy egg with parmesan and spinach or a pea flan with tomato and bread cream and basil perlage.

The main course was maccheroni pasta with tomato sauce, bacon and pecorino cheese or a lasagna dish.


Dessert was fresh pineapple with strawberry ice cream or a chocolate patty.


Everything was very good, especially the crispy egg, which I have never heard of.  After dinner we had our first group photo of the main tour with Lake Como in the background.


Day 11 –Lecco, Italy

After another wonderful breakfast, we boarded a bus for our hour and fifteen-minute drive to Milan. When I saw the original itinerary before coming on the tour, I was disappointed that we would only have a bit more than five hours to see this famous city that I have not previously been to.  In doing my research on the city, there were several places that I had hoped to be able to visit but doubted that we would have time.  On the way into Milan, we saw an unusual tower.  It was the Torre Arcobaleno or Rainbow Tower.  It was originally just a water tower built in 1964.  When the tower was about to be demolished, it was decided to decorate it in celebration for the World Cup that took place in Italy in 1990.  After another period of deterioration, it was once again restored for the 2015 Expo Milan.  The tower has around 100,000 tiles in fourteen different colors.  I was so glad I was able to get a photo of it.

Our main purpose for the visit to Milan was to see the Last Supper.  We had arrived early in case there was a traffic issue, so we had some time to visit the Castello Sforzesco.  This castle was originally built by Francesco Sforza in the 15th century on the remnants of a 14th century fortification.  I was thrilled that we were going there since it was one of the top five attractions on TripAdvisor.  When we approached the structure, there was a moat we had to cross to get inside.


Once we got inside the gate, there was another moat.  The Sforza’s must have been paranoid folks to need two moats.

It was an interesting place to walk around.  There was a lot to see and most enjoyable.




There was an arch in the distance with a great statue on it.

On one of the walls was the Sforza emblem we had previously seen in Lecco.  A little different version, but the same thing.

As we left the palace through a different gate, we saw more emblems at the top of the wall.  They liked their emblems.


We got back on the bus and headed to a different part of town where we would be seeing the Last Supper.  We had tickets for 11:30 AM, but we had to validate the tickets at 11:00 AM and 11:15 AM or they couldn’t be used.  A rather inconvenient process.  Tickets are a very hot item in Milan, since they only sell 35 tickets for each 15-minute session with the Last Supper.  That means that only 140 people per hour are allowed into the hall to view the painting.  There are many scams where people scalp tickets that are fake.  Additionally, tickets can’t be scalped, since you are required to show identification to match up with the names the tickets were purchased for.  We had to bring our passports to prove we were the rightful ticket holders.  We were very pleased that Amy had taken care of everything, and we were going to be able to see the world-famous masterpiece.

The Last Supper was painted on the wall of the refectory (dining hall) of the Santa Maria delle Grazie church and convent.  The church is in a very attractive building. 


The ticket office and museum entrance are on one side of it in a yellow building.

When the time to enter the refectory came, our guide gave us some preliminary information as we went through several different rooms one at a time.  A door was opened to enter the room and then closed.  Information was given to us and the process was repeated in each of the next rooms.  This process is used to filter the air and impurities that might enter the refectory to protect the painting.  They take great care to maintain the condition of one of the most priceless works of art in the world.  In one of the rooms we could look out into the coister area.

When we were finally in the refectory, it was nothing like I expected.  It was a large domed room with the Last Supper on one wall and The Crucifixion by Donato Montorfano on the other.  It was strange to walk into a clean almost sterile room and bam, right on the wall is one of the most famous masterpieces in the world.  It was in much better shape than I had expected and of course so beautiful.  With only 35 people in the large room, it almost seemed like a personal audience with it.  The guide told us all about the painting, but I was just staring at it and taking photos to help remember this experience.  Being in convent dining room made me wonder what it must have been like for the nuns to be having breakfast looking up at the painting.  It seemed that the Sforzas should have had Leonardo paint it inside a grand church rather than the wall of a refectory.  The refectory is certainly a grand room now.


The guide took us to the other end of the room to see The Crucifixion.  She told us all about the gorgeous painting.  This painting isn’t why people visit the building, but it is a great bonus.


After leaving the refectory, we saw old photos on the wall showing what the room previously looked like.   There were also photos showing the different stages of deterioration and renovation of the painting.


After leaving the building, we met our guide for the city tour, Chiara.  She was another excellent guide to show us around the big city. 

We began our walk passing by interesting sights.


Chiara stopped in front of the La Scala opera house.  This was one of the places that we could visit during our free time after the city tour.  She did tell us that a visit there would not let us into the main auditorium, but there could possibly be a view of it from an upper area.  It made a visit less desirable. 

We walked to an area where we could see the massive Milan Duomo.  We would return there at the end of the tour. 

Close by was a statue of Leonardo da Vinci, with interesting reliefs on all sides of it.  The reliefs around the statue are scenes showing some of his biggest contributions apart from his inventions.  This would be our meeting place after our free time to return to Lecco.




Continuing on, we passed through the Galleria Vitorio Emanuelle.  This was another one of TripAdvisor top attractions.  It is a gorgeous shopping gallery and is Italy’s oldest active one.  It was opened in 1877.  The double vaulted iron and glass roof was quite an accomplishment at that time.  It has all the high-end shops one would expect and is just a treat to walk through. 




The dome is surrounded by beautiful artwork.



We then went back to the Duomo.  What a gorgeous building!



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