Gardens of the Italian Lakes: Lakes Como & Maggiore by Boat
COUNTRY LIFE in association with Boxwood Tours
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 magnificent lakeside hotels: Hotel Villa d’Este overlooks Lake Como and is one of Italy's finest 5 star hotels and the Grand Hôtel des Îles Borromées on the shores of Lake Maggiore combines sumptuous Art Nouveau elegance and tradition with charm.
Day 1: Sunday 15th May
Flight BA0562 departs from London Heathrow at 12:05, arriving in Milan Linate Airport at 15:05. En route to our hotel we visit the home of local businessman Moritz Mantero who has transformed a series of steep terraces overlooking the shores of Lake Como into a richly productive private garden. Following a welcoming drink at Hotel Villa d’Este and time to settle in, we dine together in the lakeside restaurant.
Day 2: Monday 16th May
We take a private boat from our hotel to enjoy the fine 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 Varenna with free time for lunch followed by a visit to Villa Monastero. By water again to the exquisite Villa del Balbianello, a late eighteenth-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 boat to Hotel Villa d’Este and dine together at the hotel.
Day 3: Tuesday 17th May
After a late start to give free time to enjoy Villa d’Este, we drive towards Lake Maggiore, stopping for lunch at Villa Cicogna, where our host Jacopo Mozzoni Cicogna will guide us around the richly frescoed Renaissance villa, with sixteenth-century terraced garden, water staircase, and nineteenth-century giardino inglese. Afterwards we cross Lake Maggiore by boat and check in to the Grand Hôtel des Îles Borromées. We eat together this evening at the hotel overlooking the lake.
Day 4: Wednesday 18th May
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 the lake with mountains beyond. After a delicious lunch on the tiny Isola dei Pescatori nearby, we cross to Isola Madre to wander through the arboretum and admire the magnificent nineteenth-century collection of exotic trees and plants. On our return, we have a free evening in Stresa.
Day 5: Thursday 19th May
We drive around the lake to Cernobbio and board a Swiss boat to Isola Brissago. Lunch on the island is followed by a tour of this remarkable botanical collection. Back on the mainland, we visit Villa Taranto and the extraordinarily rich botanical collection created in the 1930s by Neil McEacharn. We then return to the hotel for a final evening meal together.
Day 6: Friday 20th May
Depart after breakfast for Milan Linate airport in good time to check in for the 13:20 flight BA0577 to London Heathrow, arriving at 14:30.
How much & what's included:
The price per person: £3690. Single supplement: £490 (levied by the hotels).
The price includes 2 nights’ accommodation at Hotel Villa d’Este and 3 nights’ accommodation at Grand Hôtel des Îles Borromées; three lunches in gardens and four evening meals with wine at the hotels; plus return flights from London Heathrow to Milan Linate and all transport during the tour. Please note that this tour involves a significant amount of walking as well as stepping on and off boats. If you would like to discuss this further, please do telephone the Boxwood office. If you wish to join the tour at Milan Linate Airport, please state so clearly on booking and we will deduct £160.00 per person. Hotel rooms with lakeside views are available at extra cost on request subject to availability; please contact the Boxwood office for details.
This tour is 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