HORTUS goes to Piedmont

HORTUS goes to Piedmont

Gardens between the mountains and the plain: Piedmont, Italy


A garden tour hosted by David Wheeler, editor of HORTUS, and led by Helena Attlee, British doyenne of Italian gardens


Between the Mountains and the Plain takes Hortus from the Alpine meadows of northern Piedmont, through paddy fields and rows of poplars in the Po Valley to the handsome streets of Turin. This is unusual territory for a garden tour, and yet it was here that Russell Page designed some of his most famous gardens, and his pupil Paolo Pejrone – now Italy’s best-known landscape architect and garden writer – has made his own garden. Page and Pejrone will be a constant presence throughout the tour, as we visit two of Page’s landscapes, enjoy Pejrone’s company at Bramafam, and visit several private gardens that he has designed. Pejrone’s passion for plants led him to join forces with Marella Agnelli some years ago to found Tre Giorni per il Giardino, the finest garden fair in Italy. We will avoid the crowds by visiting this wonderful three-day event, held in the grounds of Masino castle, when it opens on the first day. The tour will also take us to the magnificent landscapes of palaces and villas belonging to the House of Savoy, whose link with Piedmont spanned almost nine centuries. Here we will find gardens deeply influenced by French fashion, where green Versailles boxes replace terracotta pots for lemons, and the deciduous trees that grow so well in the area are planted in broad avenues. We will also notice the influence of France in Piedmontese cookery, where butter often takes the place of olive oil. And finally, finding ourselves in the birthplace of the campaign for good food, we will take the opportunity to eat in a Slow Food restaurant.


'It was most interesting, the highlights seeing Villa Silvio Pellico where lunch was excellent, garden & house splendid, and the Fiat Villa & Park which were superlative.......'

'Interesting & varied as ever. Helena as fascinating & illuminating guide as ever: hotels & all arrangements faultless......'

'Amazing gardens; truly spectacular......'

'Food in gardens was lovely; lunches where simple & local were excellent & memorable......'

'Spectacular gardens: Helena & Boxwood tours outdid themselves......'


Day 1: Thursday, 1st May
Depart from London Gatwick on flight number BA2578 at 15.05 hrs arriving Turin at 17.50. Drive north to Villa Matilde where the frescoed halls of the eighteenth-century villa look out over Alpine meadows and mountains. Dinner will be served in the converted stable block that serves as the hotel restaurant.

Day 2: Friday, 2nd May
Drive the short distance to Castello Masino for the opening of I Tre Giorni per il Giardino, one of the oldest and most prestigious garden fairs in Italy. Free time for lunch among Slow Food and local produce stands before driving on to Castello di Agliè, a vast seventeenth century palace, built for the House of Savoy and surrounded by gardens and parkland. We spend tonight at the Villa Matilde, where we will eat together in the hotel restaurant.

Day 3: Saturday, 3rd May
Today we are invited to the private villa of the Peyrani family, where we will see the extensive new gardens, decorative orchards and potagers laid out around the villa by Paolo Pejrone. We eat together at the cafe of Slow Food’s flagship store in the heart of old Turin before checking in at The Town House, an ideally-placed elegant small hotel in the city centre. Later in the afternoon we will have a short guided tour of the city to include visits to the charming reconstruction of a medieval herb garden at Palazzo Madama in Piazza Castello, followed by dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 4: Sunday, 4th May
We begin the day at Palazzo Reale in Piazzetta Reale, where a garden and park were designed in typically French style by Andre Le Nôtre for the Duke of Savoy. We are invited for lunch at Villa Silvio Pellico, an intriguing neo-gothic villa surrounded by a Russell Page landscape. Our hostess, Raimonda Lanza di Trabbia, has given up city life to devote herself to the restoration of this extraordinary garden. After lunch we visit a series of pools and garden rooms designed by Paolo Pejrone at the Spinola Banna Foundation. The evening is free for your own choice of entertainment and dinner.

Day 5: Monday, 5th May
This morning we have an invitation to Paolo Pejrone’s own garden, a wonderful plant collection set in a spectacular ravine on the edge of a small village south of Turin. After lunch we travel on to Castello Cataneo, where garden, farmland and magnificent trees create a beautiful setting for the villa. We will share a final dinner this evening at a local Slow Food restaurant.

Day 6: Tuesday, 6th May
Today we are privileged to visit the wonderfully sinuous landscape of trees, water and herbaceous planting designed by Russell Page for the Agnelli family, one of few Russell Page gardens in Italy to remain intact. Other areas in the garden were later developed by Page’s pupil, Paolo Pejrone. After lunch we travel back to Turin air-port in time for our flight BA2579 that departs at 17.00 and arrives in London, Gatwick at 17.45.

How much & what's included

The price per person: £2789.00

Single supplement: £250.00 (levied by the hotel).

For those not wishing to fly with the group we can deduct £78.00 per person. The price includes: 2 nights bed & breakfast accommodation at Hotel Villa Matilde and 3 nights bed & breakfast accommodation at The Town House, Turin; 4 lunches and 4 dinners with wine, plus return flights from London, Gatwick to Turin.

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HORTUS goes to Piedmont

Gardens between the mountains and the plain: Piedmont, Italy

£2,789.00 per person
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£200 minimum deposit per person.
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