Our journey to the Italian Lakes will take us to some of the finest lakeside and island gardens of this uniquely beautiful region. We will travel mostly by boat, discovering landscapes of quiet enchantment and sublime grandeur. While our days will be infused with exquisite light, by night we will revel in the fin de siècle atmosphere of our lakeside hotels. The warm, humid microclimate results in exceptional growing conditions, with much to enthuse the plantsman. Combining great botanical interest with the fascinating history of the gardens’ origins, our tour will move from the Renaissance to the twentieth century through compelling and often neglected chapters of Italian garden history. We are accommodated at two lovely lakeside hotels offering a perfect combination of elegance, tradition and charm: Hotel Villa Flori overlooking Lake Como, and the Grand Hotel Majestic on the shores of Lake Maggiore.
Day 1: Monday, May 8
Flight BA0574 departs from London Heathrow at 10:25, arriving in Milan Linate Airport at 13:25. We then drive to Lake Como to visit the home of local silk manufacturer, Moritz Mantero who has transformed a series of steep terraces overlooking the shores of Lake Como into a richly productive private garden. Moritz is well known in the Italian world of horticulture for initiating the famous garden show, Orticolario held near Como in October each year. We arrive at Hotel Villa Flori with time to settle in before dining together.
Day 2: Tuesday, May 9
We take a private boat from our hotel to enjoy the terraced botanical collection established by Charlotte, Duchess of Saxe-Meiningen, at Villa Carlotta, with time to visit the villa and its fine collection of paintings and sculpture. We then cross the lake to the picturesque town of Bellagio with free time for lunch. By water again to the exquisite Villa del Balbianello, a late 18th century villa set in steeply sloping gardens at the tip of a wooded promontory. After a tour of the art collections assembled by its last owner, mountaineer and polar explorer Count Guido Monzino, we explore the spectacular garden. We return by coach to Hotel Villa Flori and dine together at the hotel.
Day 3: Wednesday, May 10
After a leisurely start, we drive towards Lake Maggiore, to Villa Cicogna, where our charming host Count Jacopo Mozzoni Cicogna will guide us around the richly frescoed Renaissance villa, with 16th century terraced garden, water staircase, and 19th century giardino inglese. After lunch at Villa Cicogna, we journey to the 16th century Villa Della Porto Bozzolo with its recently restored Rococo garden. We then cross Lake Maggiore by ferry with time to settle in at the Grand Hotel Majestic before dinner overlooking the lake.
Day 4: Thursday, May 11
After breakfast we board a private boat and make the short crossing to the breath-taking island garden of Isola Bella. We have plenty of time to explore the terraces and admire the Baroque fountains, statues and water theatre, all set against the magnificent backdrop of Lake Maggiore and the distant mountains. After a delicious lunch on the tiny Isola dei Pescatori, we cross to Isola Madre to admire the Borromeo family’s wonderful 19th century collection of exotic trees and plants. We return by boat to the hotel where we dine together.
Day 5: Friday, May 12
Today, we drive along the shore of the lake to board a Swiss boat to Isola Brissago. Free time for lunch on the island is followed by a tour of the island’s remarkable botanical collection. Back on the mainland, we visit Villa Taranto and the extraordinarily rich range of plants collected in the 1930s by Neil McEacharn. We then return to the hotel before our final evening meal at an excellent local restaurant just a short stroll from the hotel.
Day 6: Saturday, May 13
Leaving the hotel, we visit a collection of native flora held by a small Alpine garden above Stresa with - if weather permits - some of the finest views of Lake Maggiore. Return to Milan Linate airport in good time to check in for the 15:50 flight BA0563 to London Heathrow, arriving at 16:55.
The price includes 2 nights’ accommodation at Hotel Villa Flori and 3 nights’ accommodation at Grand Hôtel Majestic; 2 lunches in gardens, 5 evening meals with wine; plus return flights from London Heathrow to Milan Linate and all transport during the tour. All hotel rooms at both hotels have lake views.
Please note that this tour involves a significant amount of walking as well as stepping on and off boats. To discuss this further, please do telephone the Boxwood office on +44 (0)1341 241717.
Please note that if you wish to arrange your own flights we will be happy to deduct £160 per person from the tour price if we are notified at the time of booking.
How to Book
To make a reservation please make a deposit of £200 using the online booking facility below.
Payments can be made over the telephone using a Visa, Mastercard or Maestro card on +44 (0)1341 241717
You may also send a cheque made payable to ‘Boxwood Tours Ltd’ to Boxwood Tours, Rhiw, Llanbedr, Gwynedd, LL45 2NT, UK.
Any questions? Please contact us at the Boxwood Office by telephone: +44 (0)1341 241717 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate