The ITALIAN JOB
THE ROUTE Lausanne to Lake Maggiore via Chamonix THE CAR Lexus UX hybrid THE DISTANCE 36Okm
THE PIT STOP Chamonix
Leaving Lausanne, head east around the lake, stopping for a coffee at the Baron Tavernier hotel’s Le Deck at Chexbres (above), a huge outdoor terrace overlooking Lake Geneva, before tackling the mountain road to Chamonix. Here, take the cable car to Aiguille du Midi, the 3,842m peak in the Mont Blanc massif. Cross the border into Italy, stopping for lunch at Borgo Ricetto, a medieval village whose Ristorante il Torchio 1763 serves rustic treats such as grilled red mullet. Press on through the Aosta valley to Stresa, Lake Maggiore. As a final treat, take a boat to the impossibly pretty Borromean islands.
THE CAR Lexus UX (Urban Explorer)
We’ll all be driving electric soon, so trying a hybrid is a bit like turning vegetarian before going vegan. If an electric car is a step too far because of battery angst, then the Lexus UX (left) is a good option. It may be an SUV, but it’s compact and agile enough to handle the hairpin bends on this route. Lexus deployed neural scientists to advise on the most desirable door closing sound and created wipers that stop if you get out of the car, so you don’t get water flicked at you. Now that’s attention to detail.
START IN... Lausanne
Taking you from Switzerland, around Lake Geneva and through France, over the Alps and down towards picturesque Lake Maggiore in Italy, this route has everything. Expect to pass by lakes, vineyards, villages and all the forts and castles of the Aosta valley. Plus, you’ll be starting in beautiful Lausanne, a small city right on Lake Geneva. Take note: you’ll need to keep your eye on the road as it hairpins up towards Chamonix and back down again. Sometimes the road can be icy or snow-covered, and therefore tricky to navigate, but, trust us, it’s worth it. It’s best tackled in the spring or summer, but if you do plump for a winter trip, make sure to get snow chains on your tyres – you’ll need them.
THE FINISH Belvedere Hotel
Lake Maggiore is a suitably scenic and chilled journey’s end. It’s not as busy as nearby Como, where the Clooneys have their villa, but it’s still touristy enough to make an island hotel preferable to one on the mainland. The Belvedere Hotel on Isola Pescatori (island of fishermen, below) is romantic, with polished wood floors, original beams, statement wallpaper decorated with fish, as well as breathtaking views of the lake and mountains beyond. Enjoy a sunset cruise, followed by a candlelit dinner on the terrace. Doubles from £92, B&B. Getting there: British Airways flies from London Gatwick to Geneva from £60 return, and from Milan Linate to London airports from £50 return