Day 1 - 14 May 2019
Arrival & Check-In - Villa Malpensa Hotel, Milan.
Check-In to the Villa Malpensa Hotel (Milan) in time to meet your tour guide and fellow garden visitors over complimentary drinks between 1800-1900. Your tour leader will give you an overview of the tour and hand out a tour information booklet. The hotel is conveniently located near Milan Malpensa Airport. Make you own arrangements for Dinner at the Hotel’s excellent restaurant.
Day 2 - 15 May 2019
Gardens Visited : Villa Cigogna Mozzoni, Villa Taranto.
After breakfast and check-out we head north by luxury coach and our first destination: Villa Cigogna Mozzoni. With views over Lake Lugano, Villa Cigogna Mozzoni’s garden was commissioned in 1560 and inspired by the most famous gardens of Rome and Florence of the time. With frescoed Loggias, a Giardino Segreto (secret garden), a Grotto, a Nymphaeum and a water staircase, Villa Mozzoni is a rare example of an Italian Renaissance garden and is a fitting start to the tour. After lunch at a local restaurant we travel to the Giardini Botanici Villa Taranto. Set in 16 acres on the western shore of Lake Maggiore, Villa Taranto was established in 1931 by a Scotsman, Neil Boyd McEacharn. Beyond the grand entrance gates, we find fountains, waterfalls and terraced gardens from which we will have a fine view of the Pennine Alps. With more than twenty thousand varieties of plants here there is much to see! During our visit, Cornus Florida Rubra and Davidia Involucrata (Handkerchief Tree) should be in flower, the latter being a rare sight. Look out for "The Fisher“, a bronze statue by the Neapolitan artist Vincenzo Gemito and don’t forget to visit the greenhouses! At the end of the afternoon we leave Villa Taranto and check-in to Hotel Simplon, which will be our home for the next 4 nights. The hotel is next to Lake Maggiore and has a direct view of the Isola Madre which we visit tomorrow. Surrounded by a magnificent centuries old park, the hotel boasts a bar and excellent restaurant and there are plenty of other dining options nearby.
Day 3 - 16 May 2019
Gardens Visited: Isola Madre and Isola Bella
After breakfast we visit two very special gardens on Lake Maggiore: Isola Madre and Isola Bella. Isola Madre and Isola Bella were both owned by Count Carlo III Borromeo and are two of the three Borromeon islands. We travel to each by private launch which will stay with us throughout the day. Isola Madre is the largest of the two islands and had been used as an orchard, vineyard and hunting ground before its vegetation was cleared away to hold a collection of exotic trees and plants. Today there is a magnificent Palace on the Island surrounded by a garden which holds an important botanical collection. There is a rare Nolinia longifolia which is native to Central America, exotic trees such as the Camphor Tree (Cinnamomum camphora), Pepper Trees (Schinus molle) and the rare Kashmir Cypress (Cupressus cashmeriana). After boarding our boat we head off to Isola dei Pescatori, the third Borromeon island on Lake Maggiore. Here, we will have a splendid lunch before travel to our second garden destination: Isola Bella. Isola Bella was transformed into a magnificent terraced garden in the 17th century and enlarged in the 19th century to include vast collections of plants from New Zealand, China, India, the Himalayas, South America and Australia ! The superb Italianate Baroque gardens complement perfectly the adjacent large Palace. We travel back to our hotel by boat. Make your own arrangements for Dinner either by choosing to eat in our Hotel restaurant or nearby at one of the restaurants recommended by the Hotel’s concierge.
Day 4 - 17 May 2019
Gardens Visited: Villa Carlotta and Villa Balbianello
Today we travel to Lake Como to visit Villa Carlotta. Villa Carlotta was built in 1745 and overlooks the Bellagio peninsula on the northern shores of Lake Como. The Villa sits at the top of a terraced garden and is around 8 hectares (20 acres) in size. The garden has a number of different sections: a formal garden surrounding the Villa, an English style woodland garden, an Italian garden with cut hedges and pergolas with orange and camellia trees. Other plants of interest are cedars, palms, redwoods, plane trees, cork oaks, magnolias and other exotic plants. Rhododendrons and more than 150 varieties of azalea spread up the slope from the lakeside. The microclimate here makes the garden feel semi-tropical. After lunch, we travel by coach to visit the 18th century Villa del Balbianello. Famous for its elaborate terraced gardens, Villa del Balbianello sits at the end of a small wooded peninsula and allows for views down three branches of Lake Como. The garden here is kept in exemplary order, with pruned holm oaks, plane trees and masses of flowers the garden has an extremely romantic quality and is a place that you are never likely to forget! Make your own arrangements for Dinner either by choosing to eat in our Hotel restaurant or nearby at one of the restaurants recommended by the Hotel’s concierge.
Day 5 - 18 May 2019
Gardens Visited - Villa Melzi and Villa Monastero
After a leisurely breakfast, we travel by coach to visit Villa Melzi in Bellagio on the north eastern shore of Lake Como. Villa Melzi sits adjacent to Lake Como and away from the tourist crowds attracted by the world famous town of Bellagio. As we arrive, we walk along an avenue of magnificently pruned plane trees to explore the botanical garden that surrounds the house. With more than 56 trees and plants of botanical interest there is much to see here. The Villa and garden are set in a superb sub-tropical location. The garden also has a number of interesting features: an Oriental garden, a Moorish Kiosk, a small museum in the old Orangerie, old greenhouses, a bamboo grove and chapel. After lunch we continue our journey by coach and visit Villa Monastero. The Villa was originally a medieval Cistercian convent dating from around 1200 AD. Over the years the house was improved and today includes a botanical garden, a museum and convention centre. Many exotic plants were brought to the garden: yuccas, palms, agaves, as well as cedars, camphor, Magnolia grandiflora and Monetezuma pine trees. The gardens themselves are long and narrow and sit between the lake and the mountain at the back of the Villa. Throughout the garden there are urns and statues, pleasant avenues to walk along bounded by terraces and box-edged parterres. This is a splendid garden set in a privileged position. Make your own arrangements for Dinner either by choosing to eat in our Hotel restaurant or nearby at one of the restaurants recommended by the Hotel’s concierge.
Day 6 - 19 May 2019
Gardens Visited - Isole di Brissago (Switzerland) & Wine Tasting.
After breakfast and check-out, we take our coach and travel to visit Isole di Brissago, a group of two islands in the Swiss part of Lake Maggiore. We are going to visit the botanical garden on Grande Isola, the larger of the two islands. Set in 2.5 hectares of land, more than 1,700 species of plant are cultivated here. With a favourable microclimate, plants from the Mediterranean, Chile, South Africa, Southwest Australia and California and of humid subtropical climate (Asia, North and South America and Oceania) all grow well on the Island. Among them, we will find more familiar varieties such as azaleas, rhododendrons, Japanese palm trees, numerous camellias, Japanese banana, bamboo, magnolia, agaves, cypress, yucca and California poppies. Like the other Islands we’ve visited on this tour, the location of this garden is superb. We’ll have lunch on the Island before travelling to a local vineyard where we will have a tasting of Nebbiolo wines before travelling back to Milan for the last night of the tour at the Villa Malpensa Hotel near Milan. Make your own arrangements for Dinner either by choosing to eat in our Hotel’s restaurant or nearby at one of the restaurants recommended by the concierge.
Day 7 - 20 May 2019
City to Visit Milan & Bosco Verticale garden
Checkout of our hotel will be 12 noon. For those staying in Italy or who want to extend their garden tour just a little longer we include an optional complimentary City Tour of Milan and a visit to the famous Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) - minimum 10 people. The Bosco Verticale is actually a pair of residential towers build in the Porta Nuova district of Milan as part of much wider urban regeneration project. The two buildings have 730 trees (480 large, 250 small), 5,000 shrubs, and 11,000 perennials and ground covering plans on their facade. The total vegetation found on both of the buildings is about equivalent to that found in one hectare of woodland. The Bosco Verticale is an incredible sight and is a fitting end to this tour. We’ll say farewell to you mid-afternoon in time for your onward journey.