Small group tour Gardens of Lake Como and Lake Maggiore tour Italy

6 nights/7 days

Lake Como • Bellagio • Villa Carlotta • Villa Monastero • Lake Maggiore • Isola Bella • Isola Madre • Villa Taranto

A 6-night garden tour of Lake Como and Lake Maggiore that combines two lakes that have a distinctly alpine feel but with luxuriant vegetation. You stay in two 4-star hotels and see the very best gardens of the villas on both lakes with a local guide.
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Available on selected dates, as specified below, from £2,560 per person.

Luxury garden tour of the Italian Lakes of Como and Maggiore for small groups of up to 14 people

This 6-night Italian garden tour of the Italian Lakes of Como and Maggiore for small groups of up to 14 people features the very best gardens on the two distinctly alpine but luxuriant lakes. This tour of two very popular and dramatically beautiful Italian lakes features a splendid range of striking villas and their gardens which you visit with a local guide. On Lake Como these include the splendid Villa Melzi d’Eril at Bellagio with its eclectic collection of sculptures in this essentially English-style park that abounds with excellent tree specimens, the enchanting Villa Balbianello facing Serbelloni, secluded in its setting and full of woods of pine, cypress and oak as well as flowerbeds and the Villa Carlotta at Tremezzo, full of imaginative planting, sunny terraces, with climbers, ferns, giant magnolias and cork oaks. Two more gardens complete the tour at Lake Como; Villa Cipressi which is poised upon a rocky promontory with terraces leading down to the lake, planted with Mediterranean shrubs and vines, laced with magnolia, eucalyptus, pittosporum, lavender and agave and Villa Monastero, renowned for a fine collection of Mediterranean and tropical vegetation, as well as fountains and statues. On Lake Maggiore we had to include Isola Bella, one of the most dramatic 17th Century Baroque gardens in Italy, seemingly floating on the surface of the lake with its ten-terraced garden and marble balustrades. Water theatre, putti and grottoes embellished with tinted stucco, pebble mosaic and shellwork add to the sense of fantasy here. Trees include orange trees, lemons and pomegranates. We also visit Isola Madre nearby on whose terraces and parterres you find an array of flowers, plants and trees, including magnolia and bamboo, wisteria and citrus in espaliers, lilies and lotus flowers. You also visit the Alpinia botanical gardens reached by cable car above Stresa. The gardens of the Villa Taranto were established between 1931 and 1940 by Scotsman Neil McEacharn who bought an existing villa and its neighbouring estates, cut down more than 2000 trees, and undertook substantial changes to the landscape, including the addition of major water features employing 8 km of pipes. The gardens opened to the public in 1952 and today the gardens contain nearly 20,000 plant varieties, representing more than 3,000 species, set among 7 km of paths. Among its collections are azalea, cornus, greenhouses of Victoria amazonica, and 300 types of dahlias. It also contains a small herbarium and the founder's mausoleum.

Highlights

Lake Como • Bellagio • Villa Carlotta • Villa Melzi d’Eril • Villa Cipressi • Villa Monastero • Villa Balbianello • Lake Maggiore • Isola Bella • Isola Madre • Alpinia gardens Stresa • Villa Taranto

Day by day

You either join our flight at 09.10 from London Heathrow, arriving in Milan Malpensa at 12.05 or you make your own way either to Milan Malpensa for this time or directly to the hotel. At Milan you are met by your small coach for up to 14 participants. You arrive at your first hotel on Lake Como in time for dinner.

Meet with the local guide whose services you have this morning as you visit and tour the gardens of Villa Monastero (renowned for a fine collection of Mediterranean and tropical vegetation, as well as fountains and statues). After the visit there is time for lunch (own expense) before a guided visit to Villa Cipressi, poised upon a rocky promontory. You are taken back to the hotel in time to relax before dinner.

This is quite a full day with a total of three gardens to be visited on different shores of Lake Como. First you visit the Villa Melzi d’Eril (at Bellagio with an eclectic collection of sculptures in this essentially English-style park that is full of excellent tree specimens), a short interlude in Bellagio itself where there are numerous places you can find for a brief lunch (not included), and then on to Villa Balbianello for a guided visit (in a secluded setting and full of woods of pine, cypress and oak as well as flowerbeds) and then to Villa Carlotta at Tremezzo for another guided visit (full of imaginative planting, sunny terraces, with climbers, ferns, giant magnolias and cork oaks. You return to the hotel in good time for dinner.

Today you leave to drive to Lake Maggiore and your hotel for the next 3 nights. Settle in and enjoy some free time before a welcome glass of wine and dinner at the hotel.

Today is spent on the islands in Lake Maggiore, described to you by the local guide. You go first to Isola Madre for a guided visit. Isola Madre is a special botanical garden that started life as an orchard, (in 1542 550 vines, walnuts, figs, chestnuts, olive and quince were counted), then an olive grove and then a citrus grove. Today amid its terraces and parterres you find an array of flowers, plants and trees, including magnolia and bamboo, wisteria and citrus in espaliers, lilies and lotus flowers. You continue by boat to Isola Bella to visit the museum and gardens. Isola Bella is one of the most dramatic 17th Century Baroque gardens in Italy, seemingly floating on the surface of the lake with its ten-terraced garden with parterres at different heights, and sprinkled with obelisks, stone stairs, statues and marble ballustrades. There will be free time for a snack for lunch on Isola Bella, at your own expense. Dinner at the hotel.

Today you visit the magnificent gardens of Villa Taranto with a guided tour. The gardens of the Villa Taranto were established between 1931 and 1940 by Scotsman Neil McEacharn who bought an existing villa and its neighbouring estates, cut down more than 2000 trees, and undertook substantial changes to the landscape, including the addition of major water features employing 8 km of pipes. The gardens opened to the public in 1952 and today the gardens contain nearly 20,000 plant varieties, representing more than 3,000 species and several rare species, set among 7 km of paths. Among its collections are azalea, cornus, greenhouses of Victoria amazonica, and 300 types of dahlias. The dahlia maze is a delight from summer to autumn. Waterlilies are in flower from mid-June until the end of October and can reach a diameter of almost two metres. There are avenues of maple, azalea, rhododendron and camellia. In spring, the flower beds burst with tulips and spring blooms. It also contains a small herbarium and the founder's mausoleum. This is followed by a visit to the Botanic gardens Alpinia above Stresa and reached by cable car. There is free time to visit Stresa itself where you will be able to find a snack for lunch (own expense). Dinner at the hotel.

You have a large part of the day at leisure on Lake Maggiore today as your flight does not depart until 19.00 from Milan Malpensa. Arrive back at London Heathrow at 19.55 hrs.

We enjoyed our visits to Lake Como and Lake Maggiore very much. The guides were excellent and the two hotels were very good indeed.
Mr R, July 2019

From about Prices per person 12 May 2020 £2,560 9 June 2020 £2,620 23 June 2020 £2,620 8 September 2020 £2,620

Holiday Code SGGT01

Luxury garden tour of the Italian Lakes of Como and Maggiore for small groups of up to 14 people

You either join our flight at 09.10 from London Heathrow, arriving in Milan Malpensa at 12.05 or you make your own way either to Milan Malpensa for this time or directly to the hotel. At Milan you are met by your small coach for up to 14 participants. You arrive at your first hotel on Lake Como in time for dinner.

Meet with the local guide whose services you have this morning as you visit and tour the gardens of Villa Monastero (renowned for a fine collection of Mediterranean and tropical vegetation, as well as fountains and statues). After the visit there is time for lunch (own expense) before a guided visit to Villa Cipressi, poised upon a rocky promontory. You are taken back to the hotel in time to relax before dinner.

This is quite a full day with a total of three gardens to be visited on different shores of Lake Como. First you visit the Villa Melzi d’Eril (at Bellagio with an eclectic collection of sculptures in this essentially English-style park that is full of excellent tree specimens), a short interlude in Bellagio itself where there are numerous places you can find for a brief lunch (not included), and then on to Villa Balbianello for a guided visit (in a secluded setting and full of woods of pine, cypress and oak as well as flowerbeds) and then to Villa Carlotta at Tremezzo for another guided visit (full of imaginative planting, sunny terraces, with climbers, ferns, giant magnolias and cork oaks. You return to the hotel in good time for dinner.

Today you leave to drive to Lake Maggiore and your hotel for the next 3 nights. Settle in and enjoy some free time before a welcome glass of wine and dinner at the hotel.

Today is spent on the islands in Lake Maggiore, described to you by the local guide. You go first to Isola Madre for a guided visit. Isola Madre is a special botanical garden that started life as an orchard, (in 1542 550 vines, walnuts, figs, chestnuts, olive and quince were counted), then an olive grove and then a citrus grove. Today amid its terraces and parterres you find an array of flowers, plants and trees, including magnolia and bamboo, wisteria and citrus in espaliers, lilies and lotus flowers. You continue by boat to Isola Bella to visit the museum and gardens. Isola Bella is one of the most dramatic 17th Century Baroque gardens in Italy, seemingly floating on the surface of the lake with its ten-terraced garden with parterres at different heights, and sprinkled with obelisks, stone stairs, statues and marble ballustrades. There will be free time for a snack for lunch on Isola Bella, at your own expense. Dinner at the hotel.

Today you visit the magnificent gardens of Villa Taranto with a guided tour. The gardens of the Villa Taranto were established between 1931 and 1940 by Scotsman Neil McEacharn who bought an existing villa and its neighbouring estates, cut down more than 2000 trees, and undertook substantial changes to the landscape, including the addition of major water features employing 8 km of pipes. The gardens opened to the public in 1952 and today the gardens contain nearly 20,000 plant varieties, representing more than 3,000 species and several rare species, set among 7 km of paths. Among its collections are azalea, cornus, greenhouses of Victoria amazonica, and 300 types of dahlias. The dahlia maze is a delight from summer to autumn. Waterlilies are in flower from mid-June until the end of October and can reach a diameter of almost two metres. There are avenues of maple, azalea, rhododendron and camellia. In spring, the flower beds burst with tulips and spring blooms. It also contains a small herbarium and the founder's mausoleum. This is followed by a visit to the Botanic gardens Alpinia above Stresa and reached by cable car. There is free time to visit Stresa itself where you will be able to find a snack for lunch (own expense). Dinner at the hotel.

You have a large part of the day at leisure on Lake Maggiore today as your flight does not depart until 19.00 from Milan Malpensa. Arrive back at London Heathrow at 19.55 hrs.

From about Prices per person 12 May 2020 £2,560 9 June 2020 £2,620 23 June 2020 £2,620 8 September 2020 £2,620

Holiday Code SGGT01

Our prices include ● Scheduled flights with British Airways London Heathrow to Milan return in Euro traveller
● Transportation from Milan airport and back to Milan airport in a small coach for maximum 14 people with one piece of luggage per person.
● Entrance tickets to the gardens mentioned
● Services of an English speaking local guide for garden visits as mentioned
● Three nights’ dinner, bed and breakfast at the Grand Hotel Imperiale in a double or twin park view rooms
● Three nights’ dinner, bed and breakfast at the Hotel Cannero, Cannero Riviera in double or twin rooms with park view (lake view possible on request)
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include ● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals not mentioned
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Local tourist tax, usually between Euros 1 and 3 per person per night, and payable locally to the hotel

Additional information Single supplement for use of double: £320 per person.
Deposit payment: £400 per person

Luxury garden tour of the Italian Lakes of Como and Maggiore for small groups of up to 14 people

Expressions Holidays includes these hotels in this small group touring holiday.
Hotels included in this tour
Grand Hotel Imperiale

Grand Hotel Imperiale Resort & SPA offers period Art Nouveau grandeur in a splendid lakeside setting. This hotel offers the chance to experience both the peaceful beauty of Lake Como and a taste of Italian town life.

Double or twin park view room

Hotel Cannero

Hotel Cannero is a 4-star property reflecting the quaint charm of its picturesque surroundings. This family run hotel is a friendly and welcoming home from home, offering guests the chance to relax and soak in the beautiful Lake Maggiore.

Double or twin room with park view

From about Prices per person 12 May 2020 £2,560 9 June 2020 £2,620 23 June 2020 £2,620 8 September 2020 £2,620

Holiday Code SGGT01

Luxury garden tour of the Italian Lakes of Como and Maggiore for small groups of up to 14 people

About Italian Lakes

An Expressions tailor-made holiday to the Italian Lakes spans the northern Italian regions of Lombardy, Piemonte and the Veneto. We offer hotels located by the undisputedly beautiful Lake Maggiore, Lake Como and Lake Garda and also the smaller, quieter lakes of Orta and Iseo, both well-worth exploring in their own right. Each lake has its own character and atmosphere, distinctive terrain, architecture and style. Placed as the lakes are to the south of the Alps and to the north of the Po Valley, they naturally possess a charming mixture of the vibrant coolness associated with the Alps but enlivened by the warmth of the South. The landscape around the Italian Lakes is one of deep blue waters surrounded by greenish-blue tinged mountains, often snow-capped. On the shores of the lakes and the lower slopes of the hills you find a profusion of lemons and olives, chestnuts and palms, magnolias and camellias. Pretty villages with rustic stone and wood houses hug the sheltered bays and fishing boats still moor next to sailing boats. Wrought-iron balconies and colourful shutters adorn gaily-painted houses with terracotta roofs. Dining is usually al fresco in the summer months and a magical atmosphere is created with the lapping of the waters and the twinkling of the lights around the lake and in the hills above. The close proximity to Milan and Verona as well as other less well-known but artistically interesting cities means that you can visit the Italian Lakes quite easily for just a weekend or short break as well as a longer holiday. The Italian Lakes can all be visited as part of a rail holiday, and the many beautiful gardens located in the vicinity of Lakes Como and Maggiore are well worth a visit as part of a garden tour holiday. Our favourite four and five star hotels for luxury holidays in the Italian Lakes include Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni and Villa d'Este on Lake Como, and the Hotel Cannero Lakeside Resort on Lake Maggiore.

Highlights of the Italian Lakes

Historic villas are to be found on every lake from the Grotte di Catullo Roman villa at Sirmione on Lake Garda to Villa Melzi and Villa Olmo on Lake Como and the Palazzo Estense in Varese. Most of these villas also have extraordinarily beautiful gardens (which can be visited as part of an Expressions Garden Tour holiday) such as the Villa Carlotta on Lake Como, the Isola Bella in Lake Maggiore and Villa Taranto at Punta della Castagnola on Lake Maggiore. Monte Mottarone above Stresa on Lake Maggiore and Monte Baldo above Lake Garda can both be reached by cable car and afford spectacular views. At Gargnano on Lake Garda you can see the stone pavilions where lemons were traditionally cultivated. Within the region there are national parks such as the Stelvio National Park north of Orta and the Parco Nazionale della Val Grande above Verbania on Lake Maggiore.

Cultural highlights of the Italian Lakes

Much of the artistic and architectural cultural wealth in the region is concentrated in the great cities such as Milan and Verona but also in the less well-known but culturally-rich centres of Bergamo, Brescia, Pavia, Mantova and Vicenza (not directly on the Lakes but within reach for a day`s excursion). Highlights include the frescoes by Masolino at Castiglione Olona, the Rocca (castle) at Angera, the Flemish tapestries on the Isola Bella Lake Maggiore, the marble cathedral of Santa Maria Maggiore at Como and the works of art in the Galleria dell`Accademia Tadini at Lovere on Lake Iseo. Milan has La Scala, the Museo Poldi Pezzoli, the Brera Gallery (containing Raphael`s `Marriage of the Virgin` and the Montefeltro altarpiece by Piero della Francesca) and its Gothic cathedral. Verona has its annual opera festival from June until the end of August, the Romanesque church of San Zeno, the Renaissance Loggia del Consiglio and the Roman Arena.

Festivals in the Italian Lakes

The Verona Opera Festival takes place in the Roman Arena every year with performances running from June until the end of August. Verona also celebrates Carnival every year culminating on the Friday before Shrove Tuesday. Como holds a flea market, the Fiera di Pasqua, over the Easter weekend. Music festivals take place in Bergamo throughout the year. The Mille Miglia veteran car race starts and ends in Brescia (via Ferrara to Rome in May each year).

Gastronomy in the Italian Lakes

The cuisine of northern Italy tends to contain more meat and butter than further south and rice and polenta compete with pasta. Saffron is used extensively as in Risotto alla Milanese. Bresaola is cured raw beef served as an antipasta (now often with rocket and parmesan). Manzo al Barolo (beef in Barolo wine), Costolette alla Milanese (veal cutlets in breadcrumbs) and Ossobucco (veal in wine and tomatoes) are all popular dishes. Panettone cake and Zabaglione are two regional desserts. This region produces some of Italy's most famous cheeses such as Gorgonzola, Bel Paese, Fontina and Taleggio as well as some of Italy's most exportable wines such as Soave, Bardolino and Valpolicella. Less well known but interesting wines are produced in the Valtellina in the north of Lombardy and in Franciacorta near Lake Iseo.

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