Rome - Florence - Verona - Lake Como

The Great Gardens of Italy

Destination
Rome - Florence - Verona - Lake Como
Dates From
25/04/2019
Duration
14 Nights
15 Days
Price From
$8,590
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BOUTIQUE SMALL GROUP TOUR

A wonderful tour for both the avid horticulturists and for those who just want to add another dimension to their Italian experience. We visit the best gardens of Italy, many with local guides, in addition to some general sightseeing and excellent local food and wine. There is plenty of free time to see museums and other sights, indulge in some shopping or to just sit back, relax and let the magic of bell’Italia wash over you!

Inclusions

  • Tour leader on hand for duration of tour from the start of the tour in Rome to departure from Milan
  • Accommodation (on a twin-share or double basis) in 3 or 4 star hotels
  • All breakfasts and 5 lunches and 5 dinners (wine, or something softer if you would prefer, included with all lunches and dinners)
  • All land travel in Italy in private, air-conditioned mini-coach (we also utilise the ferry service on Lakes Como and Maggiore)
  • Entry fees to all attractions listed in the itinerary
  • Expert, local guides at many attractions
  • All gratuities and local taxes (no surprise taxes at hotels as you check-out)

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Rome

Arrive at your own convenience at the hotel, where we meet in the late afternoon to go for aperitivi and  our welcome dinner in a typical Roman trattoria near Campo dei Fiori.
Overnight: Rome

Day 2: Il Giardino Di Ninfa & Castel Gandolfo

Today we will drive just south of Rome 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 around, on and in the ruins of the old town in the 20th Century.
On our trip back towards Rome, we stop at Castel Gandolfo, the Papal summer palace and visit the gardens of the Villa Barberini with an official guide.
Overnight: Rome

Day 3: The Vatican Gardens & Free Time to Visit Rome

We start this morning with a walking tour of the Vatican Gardens, the enormous, previously private  gardens of the Pope. Our ticket to the Gardens includes entry to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel so, time permitting, you can spend an hour or so in the museums, before we head back to our hotel.
In the afternoon you have free to explore the Eternal City; catch-up on shopping and postcards or just put your feet up. Our hotel is next door to some of Rome’s key attractions including the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, the Corso shopping district and the Trevi Fountain so it will be easy to do a combination of all activities.
Overnight: Rome

Day 4: Tivoli - The Gardens of an Emperor & a Cardinal

This morning we drive north to visit two of perhaps the most famous Italian gardens, conveniently located in proximity to each other at Tivoli. Our first stop is at Villa Adriana, the ruins of Emperor Hadrian’s villa, built from 117AD. The ruins were rediscovered in the 15th Century and became a  source of inspiration for the great Renaissance architects & designers.
Cardinal Ippolito d’Este oversaw extensive excavations in the 16th Century while he was Governor of Tivoli. It is to his palace, the Villa d’Este, that we head off to in the afternoon. The Villa d’Este is one of the most impressive of the high Renaissance gardens and we will spend a delightful afternoon wondering through the hectares of gardens.
Overnight: Rome

Day 5: Castello Ruspoli & on to Florence

Today we leave our base in Rome and transfer to Florence.
On our way we stop at the Castello Ruspoli, a wonderful traditional Italian garden that boasts hedging  dating back to the 1600s. We have lunch in the pretty hilltop town of Vignanello before driving on to Florence. We’ll arrive in time for you to settle in and relax before the excitement of the next few days.
Overnight: Florence

Day 6: Walled Gardens of Central Florence

Today we explore two of the important gardens within the city of Florence. Firstly, we visit the private Torrigiani gardens in the morning. 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 their wonderful views out over the city and its river Arno.
Overnight: Florence

Day 7: Florence

This morning is again a time-out from the gardens – we spend it on a walking tour of central Florence learning about the origins of the Renaissance and some of the history of the Medici family whose name will crop up again and again over the coming days. You will have the afternoon free to appreciate this memorable city. Florence lends itself to be explored on foot, its famous museums and churches rich in
art are a tempting attraction, but its famous markets and beautiful piazze are just as inviting.
Overnight: Florence

Day 8: Greater Florence and its Renaissance Splendours

On our last day in Florence we spend the morning visiting one of the Medici gardens at Villa Castello. The villa was constructed by Cosimo I de Medici in the 1500s when he was elected as the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Many experts claim that it is perhaps the nearest thing to a true Renaissance garden that exists today. In the afternoon we visit the Villa Gamberaia set in the hills above Florence. This
garden was loved by a long-list of English and American ex-pats and in fact, Cecil Pinset spent time here studying its layout.
Overnight: Florence

Day 9: Traditional Balsamic Vinegar & Passeggiata

We’re on the road again today, heading north to the enchanting small city of Verona. Our route takes us through Modena, famous as the centre of Italy’s balsamic vinegar industry. We’ll stop along the way to visit an acetaia, a traditional balsamic vinegar producer, where we’ll learn why this tightly controlled product is as expensive per litre as the best champagnes!
We arrive in Verona in time for the afternoon passeggiata, the leisurely stroll through the streets and piazze of this most romantic city with the rest of its gentlefolk.
Overnight: Verona

Day 10: Giardino Giusti & Verona

This garden is one of the relatively undiscovered treasures of Verona. It dates back to 1404, on land originally purchased to build a dyeing factory but transformed over the centuries into one of Italy’s most spectacular gardens. The present layout, which features Roman ruins, fountains, mythological statues
and an enormous cypress beloved of the poet Goethe, was designed in 1570 by Agostino Giusti, a knight of the Venetian Republic. We’ll enjoy the spectacular views of Verona from the belvedere as well as exploring its lovely palazzo. We leave the afternoon free to wander through the charming pedestrian streets of the city.
Overnight: Verona

Day 11: Padua & the Botanic Gardens

Today we’ll take you to visit the charming small city of Padua, home to the Orto Botanico di Padova, founded in 1545, the garden is one of the oldest botanic gardens in the world. We will arrive in Padua mid-morning and there will be time to wander around the historic centre and have lunch before we join a representative of the University of Padua (guardians of the gardens) for a guided tour of the Botanic Gardens. We return to Verona in the afternoon and it’s free time for the rest of the day
Overnight: Verona

Day 12: To Lake Como via The Franciacorta

The Franciacorta area has some of the best champagne-style wines in the world. We’re lucky to have a
great relationship with one of the smaller quality producers in the area, who are also sensational chefs. So our road north to Bellagio today will be punctuated by a enjoyable break at this wonderful small winery, a tour of the their production facilities and a memorable lunch.
We arrive at Bellagio mid-afternoon in time to settle down for aperitivi on the hotel’s terrace overlooking the exquisite Lake Como.
Overnight: Bellagio

Day 13: Lake Maggiore & Isola Bella

Today we drive across to the neighbouring Lake Maggiore where we visit the most spectacular of the Borromean Islands, Isola Bella. In the sixteenth century Carlo III Borromeo acquired this island as the site for his Baroque palace and surrounding gardens. Its unique geography has resulted in a multi-level tiered garden with spectacular and surprising views from different angles. Watch out for the noisy
white peacocks who just love to put on a gaudy display.
Overnight: Bellagio

Day 14: Garden Warfare at Villa Carlotta & Melzi

We spend our last day criss-crossing the waters of Lake Como to see some beautiful villa gardens. We visit two of the most famous, Villa Melzi and Villa Carlotta. These two gardens are in part the product of the rivalry between Francesco Melzi d’Eril and his neighbour across the water Giovanni Battista Sommariva as they tried to outdo one another in an open display of horticultural one-upmanship.
Overnight: Bellagio

Day 15: Departure

Today we depart our base and transfer back to Milan’s Malpensa airport, arriving by 12pm and on to Milano Centrale station, where we arrive by 1pm.

DATES & PRICES

Starts Ends Price Status Book
25/04/201909/05/2019$8,590 p/p twin shareAvailable
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Exclusions

Meals and beverages other than those specified
Tips/Gratuities
Everything which is not clearly specified under inclusions