Gardens of the Italian Lakes

Gardens of the Italian Lakes

Lakes Como & Maggiore by Boat


A garden tour led by Helena Attlee


Our journey to the Italian Lakes will take us to the finest lakeside and island gardens, mostly by boat, our days infused with the tranquillity and exquisite light that imbue this part of Italy and at night revelling in the fin de siècle atmosphere of the lakeside hotels. The warm, humid lakeside microclimate creates exceptional growing conditions with much to enthuse the plantsman. Botanical interest will be coupled with the fascinating history of the Renaissance and baroque gardens and of the nineteenth century, a compelling and often neglected period in the history of the Italian garden. We are accommodated at two fine lakeside hotels: 4 star Villa Flori on Lake Como and The Grand Hotel Majestic in its own gardens overlooking Lake Maggiore, all rooms with lake views and embarkation from the hotels’ jetties on many of the days. We are privileged once again to have Helena Attlee, author and garden historian, as our tour leader.


'Tour leader Helena Attlee and assistant Patty Shone were first class. They worked hard to make sure we were always enjoying ourselves and were concerned for our welfare. They were also very good company. My enjoyment was due as much to their efforts as to the lovely places we visited.......'


Day 1: Sunday, 1st June
Flight BAO566 departs from London Heathrow at 14.55 arriving in Milan Malpensa Airport at 17.55. We drive by coach to Hotel Villa Flori where all the rooms have balconies overlooking Lake Como. Following a welcoming drink and time to settle in, we dine together in the lakeside restaurant.

Day 2: Monday, 2nd June
A private boat will take us from our hotel to Villa Balbianello where, in the late eighteenth-century, a fine villa was built in steeply sloping gardens at the tip of a wooded promontory. After a tour of the villa and a fascinating private collection assembled by its last owner, we explore the compact waterside garden. Boarding the boat once again, we cross the lake to the picturesque promontory of Bellagio with plenty of free time for lunch and a swim from the lido. In the afternoon we visit the fine botanical collection founded by Charlotte, Duchess of Saxe-Meiningen at Villa Carlotta with time to visit the collection of eighteenth-century paintings and sculpture housed in the villa. We then return by boat to Hotel Villa Flori and dine together at a local restaurant.

Day 3: Tuesday, 3rd June
Today begins in an intimate private garden, where the owner has packed narrow terraces with a rich variety of plants. Afterwards we leave Como and drive towards Lake Maggiore and Villa Cicogna, where we will enjoy lunch with Jacopo Mozzoni Cicogna before he guides us around the richly frescoed Renaissance villa, its sixteenth-century terraced garden and water staircase, and the nineteenth-centurygiardino inglese. We abandon the coach on the shores of Lake Maggiore, catch a boat to Pallanza and check into the Grand Hotel Majestic. This evening we eat together at the hotel overlooking the lake.

Day 4: Wednesday, 4th June
After breakfast we board a private boat and make the short crossing to the breath-taking island garden of Isola Bella with 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 together on the tiny Isola dei Pescatori we board our boat once again to cross to Isola Madre the larger of the two Borromean islands with time to wander through the arboretum to admire the magnificent nineteenth-century collection of exotic trees and plants. On our return, we are invited to enjoy a refreshing aperitif on the lakeshore garden of Villa Rusconi-Clerici, followed by a free evening in Pallanza.

Day 5: Thursday, 5th June
We step out from the hotel to take the boat across the lake to Stresa to make a magnificent journey up Mount Mottarone by cable car. After a short walk we reach Giardino Botanico Alpina, one of the largest Alpine botanical gardens in Italy with wonderful views across the lake and surrounding mountains. We then return to Pallanza with free time for lunch before a visit to Villa Taranto and the extraordinarily rich botanical collection created in the 1930s by Neil McEacharn before return to the hotel for a final evening meal together.

Day 6: Friday, 6th June
We leave the hotel after breakfast to return to Milan Malpensa airport in good time to check in for the 11.35 pm BA0573 return flight to London Heathrow arriving at 12.35pm.

How much & what's included

The price per person: £2690.00
Single supplement: £450.00 (levied by the hotels).

The price includes: buffet breakfast each day; two lunches; and four evening meals (wine included). Those wishing to make their own flight arrangements should state this on the booking form and we will deduct £153 per person from the tour price.

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Gardens of the Italian Lakes

Lakes Como & Maggiore by Boat

£2,690.00 per person
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£200 minimum deposit per person.
Full balance due 8 weeks from departure date.