15 Day Gardens of Italy
Our itinerary combines the very best of Italy - From classical marvels to Renaissance mastery to just sheer beauty - Italy is hard to beat. Enjoy the gardens, history and culture and let Italy work its magic. This tour is for those who just want to add another dimension to their Italian experience, with guided garden visits, local experts and general sightseeing as well as excellent food and wine.
We visit wonderful villas and museums and other highlights of Italy, as well as the key periods and themes in the development of Italian gardens. We visit Tivoli to see the influence of ancient Roman villas, Renaissance gardens and Baroque island masterpieces. We also explore some gardens that will completely erase any preconceptions you may have of Italian gardens being just green hedges and ordered paths, with an explosion of colour and whimsical figures.
We have included the exploration of fabulous Italian gardens with a general appreciation of culture and history. We invite you to enjoy this wonderful country - you are in for the treat of a lifetime.
- 4 star centrally located hotel accommodation,
- All breakfasts,
- Welcome and farewell dinners,
- Tour host,
- Entrance fees to all gardens and events as per the final itinerary, local expert guides and all transfers and touring in air conditioned coaches.
Starting in May $8,795. Single supplement $2,495.
Tours commence Rome
Arrive Rome. We have a brief orientation coach tour of Rome and visit the Catacombs before checking in to our hotel in central Rome. Welcome dinner and chance to meet your fellow group members (included) tonight. Overnight hotel: Rome
This morning for a walking tour of central Rome to see some highlights of the eternal city. Our guided walking tour includes the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fountain. Followed by free time to explore at leisure, relax or shop.
Overnight hotel: Rome
This morning we drive north to visit two of perhaps the most famous Italian gardens at Tivoli. Our first stop is the Villa Adrianna - the ruins of Emperor Hadrian’s villa, built 117AD. The ruins were rediscovered in the 15th Century and became a source of inspiration for the great Renaissance architects and designers. Cardinal Ippolito d’Este did excavations in the 16th Century while he was Governor of Tivoli. Then on to the Villa d’Este - one of the most impressive of the high Renaissance gardens. We have the afternoon wandering through the hectares of gardens before heading back to Rome. Overnight hotel: Rome
We start with a visit to the Vatican Gardens, the Popes private gardens. Time permitting we also visit the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel and we can spend time in the museums. After lunch visit the University of Rome’s Botanic Gardens. Overnight hotel: Rome
Today we transfer south via the Bay of Naples stopping enroute to visit the Garden of Ninfa, perhaps the most romantic garden in the world. The prosperous town of Ninfa was abandoned in the 14th Century and left as a medieval Pompeii until Prince Gelasio Caetani and his English mother started to create a garden on the ruins of the old town in the 20th Century. We then continue to Sorrento imbued with charm and echoes of the ancient past with stunning panoramas of the Bay of Naples. Enjoy the parks, villas, orange, lemon and olive groves and picturesque narrow streets. The name of the town has its origins in antiquity and derives from the Greek word for “Flowing” due to the form of the town which flows over the limestone hill. Overnight hotel: Sorrento
Today we take a ferry from Sorrento to the island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples. La Mortella on the island of Ischia was created by the wife of the English composer Sir William Walton, under the guidance of Russell Page. Overnight hotel: Sorrento
After breakfast we depart for Ravello to see two beautiful, yet different gardens. First the Villa Ruffolo, with its spectacular terrace looking the coast, and then visit Villa Cimbrone, transformed from an old farm into a garden by art-dealer Ernest William Beckett and made famous as a retreat for artists and writers. Time for lunch and to look around the pretty town of Ravello. After a lunch break we continue along the Amalfi Coast to the town of Amalfi where there is free time for a gelato or to wander through the streets of this beautiful town. Overnight: Sorrento
We depart Sorrento after breakfast and head back north, stopping enroute at Sacro Bosco - designed for Vicino Orsini in the mid sixteenth Century as part of the Villa Orsini. An enchanted forest featuring a moss-covered statues of beasts and gods, interesting architecture and wooded vistas. We then continue to Florence. Overnight hotel: Florence
This morning we have a walking tour of central Florence learning about the origins of the Renaissance and some of the history of the Medici family. Free time this afternoon to explore at leisure. Overnight hotel: Florence
Today we explore two important gardens within the city of Florence. Firstly the private Torrigiani garden. Once inside these huge gardens you can so easily forget you are in the middle of a crowded city. After lunch we visit another garden in central Florence – the Bardini Gardens – with wonderful views out over Florence. Overnight hotel: Florence
Today we spend the morning visiting the Medici gardens at Villa Castello - constructed by Cosimo I de Medici in the 1500s when he was the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Many believe it is perhaps the nearest thing to a true Renaissance garden still existing. It features the expected green hedges and formal layout of Renaissance gardens but also the colours and flowers not usually associated with these gardens. In the afternoon we visit the Villa Gamberaia set in the hills overlooking Florence. Overnight hotel: Florence
Depart Florence this morning for the delights of the Italian Lakes, with a stop along the way to learn about a different form of horticulture. Outside of Modena we stop at an acetaia, where they make the traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena. We continue then to Bellagio on Lake Como. Overnight hotel: Bellagio/Stressa
We cross the waters of Lake Como to see beautiful villa gardens Villa Melzi and Villa Carlotta whose gardens are in part the product of the rivalry between Francesco Melzi d’Eril and his neighbour across the water Giovanni Battista Sommariva who tried to outdo one another in the creation of their wonderful gardens. Overnight hotel: Bellagio/Stressa
Our final full day is spent on neighbouring Lake Maggiore, visiting the gardens created for the Borromeo family on two of the islands on the lake. First, Isola Bella, taken over by Count Carlo III Borromeo for his palace and garden in 1631 and finished by his son, Vitaliano IV whose influence on the garden is most profound. The other Borromeo family island is Isola Madre. It was first planted as an orchard with citrus trees and grapevines, before being converted into a botanical garden. Overnight hotel: Bellagio/Stressa
Today we transfer to Milan’s Malpensa airport for onward travel arrangements.