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Take an enchanting tour of the Italian Lakes, the Borromean Islands, Villa Taranto and Villa Balbianello on an exclusive trip

The captivating beauty of the northern Italian lakes and their charming lakeside towns have long inspired artists, poets and botanists. On this exclusive trip you'll be charmed by the sight of romantic Renaissance villas with glorious gardens overlooking glittering waters, framed by a backdrop of snow-capped mountains.

This eight-day escorted tour will reveal to you the jewels of this region, and you'll be accompanied on an excursion by horticultural writer and Gardeners' World presenter, Carol Klein. Carol will spend a full day with you visiting the beautiful gardens of the Borromean Islands, and also join you one evening to give an insightful talk and Q&A about her gardening career.

A highlight of the trip is seeing the spectacular 18th-century baroque palace on Isola Bella, Lake Maggiore; its terraced gardens were inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Another memorable visit will be to the exceptional gardens on Isola Madre, abundant with Mediterranean plants, citrus fruits, crape myrtle, hibiscus and bougainvillea.

You will also get to see an incredible 500 varieties of camellia at the private residence of Andrea Corneo, President of the Italian Camellia Society, and take a tour of the gardens of Villa Cicogna Mozzoni with the owner. Plus you'll stop at Villa Pallavicino, where chestnut woods grow alongside rare exotic plants.

The tour includes a free day for you to relax and enjoy the scenery around Lake Como, which is surrounded by luxury villas - including one owned by George Clooney.

You'll stay in two stylish four-star hotels during this trip, one on the banks of Lake Maggiore and the other at the foot of Lake Como, where you can spend your down time admiring breathtaking views of the lakes.

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Your expert guide

Carol Klein
Gardeners' World presenter & broadcaster

Carol Klein is a garden designer and 2023 RHS iconic horticultural hero. She is a regular presenter of Gardeners World and Channel 5's Gardening with Carol Klein.

Price includes

  • Four nights' dinner bed and breakfast at the four-star La Palma Hotel, Stresa
  • Three nights' dinner bed and breakfast at the four-star Hotel Barchetta Excelsior, Lake Como
  • Flights from London to Milan (other airports on request)
  • Talk, Q&A and dinner with Carol Klein
  • Comfortable coaching throughout
  • Exclusive visit (including lunch) to the private garden of the President of the Italian Camellia Society
  • Guided tour of the garden at Villa Cicogna Mozzoni with the owner
  • Visits to Isolas Bella, Madre and Pescatori and the gardens of the villas Taranto, Pallavicino, Carlotta and Balbianello
  • Services of a Tour Manager
  • Porterage
  • Limited time offer - save £100pp*


Call now to book 02039934304
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  1. Day
    Arrive in Stresa
    Stresa, Italy

    Following your flight from London to Milan you will be met and transferred to your home for the next four nights, the four-star Hotel La Palma in Stresa, which boasts beautiful views over Lake Maggiore.

    The hotel, set in its own beautiful gardens, is directly on the lakefront opposite the promenade and just a five-minute walk into the centre of town. A welcome drink will be served before dinner this evening.

    Meals - Dinner
  2. Day
    Private garden visit
    Lake Maggiore ,

    Today you'll visit the private garden of the President of the Italian Camellia Society, Andrea Corneo, which is just above the shores of Lake Maggiore and surrounded by mountains. The garden has been home to a remarkable collection of camellias since the 1950s and there are now 500 plants and 318 cultivars. The garden is in full bloom in spring so you'll be able to enjoy it at the height of its colour before tucking into lunch, which is included here.

    After your visit, you'll return to the hotel where dinner will be served in the evening, after which you'll enjoy a talk and Q&A session with celebrity horticulturist, television presenter and acclaimed author Carol Klein.

    Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  3. Day
    Borromean Islands
    Isola Bella, Italy

    Today you'll spend a full day exploring the famous Borromean Islands with the company of Carol Klein.

    Begin with a cruise from Stresa to Isola Bella, where you'll explore the vast baroque palace built from the island's rock and surrounded by terraced gardens inspired by the 'Hanging Gardens of Babylon'.

    The palace was constructed in the 17th century and became known for its lavish parties, attended by the cream of European nobility, while the gardens feature an ornate parterre with low box hedges and brilliantly coloured flowers, a pond adorned with blue and pink water lilies, and lush plantings of oranges, grapefruits and orchids.

    You'll continue to Isola Pescatori, the 'island of fishermen', with its narrow cobbled streets and pretty harbour, and Isola Madre, where tropical and Mediterranean plants, citrus fruits, crape myrtle, hibiscus, bougainvillaea, protea and agaves all flourish.

    Meals - Breakfast, Dinner
  4. Day
    Villa Taranto and Villa Pallavicino
    Stresa, Italy

    You'll visit two more fascinating gardens today. First up are the gardens of Villa Taranto, which are full of rare plants from around the world.

    Villa Pallavicino has been built in the grounds of an immense park, with chestnut woods growing alongside rare exotic plants, and animals from the zoological garden wandering freely in the grounds. The villa, which overlooks one of the most charming parts of Lake Maggiore, is a stunning example of mid-18th-century architecture.

    Meals - Breakfast, Dinner
  5. Day
    Villa Cicogna Mozzoni
    Como, Italy

    Today, after checking out of your hotel, you'll visit Villa Cicogna Mozzoni, in the foothills between Varese and Lake Lugano. Here, you'll enjoy a private guided tour with the owner. The estate is set over seven levels and has a formal Italian walled garden with box hedges, water basins, fountains and a grotto. You'll then travel to the town of Como and check-in to the four-star Barchetta Excelsior hotel for the next three nights.

    Meals - Breakfast, Dinner
  6. Day
    Villa Carlotta and Lake Como
    Como, Italy

    Today you'll travel along the motorways and lake shore roads for an enchanting day on Lake Como. On arrival in Tremezzo you will have time to visit the elegant 18th century Villa Carlotta, where, in the spring, azaleas and rhododendrons burst into a simply dazzling display and in September, smaller crowds mean you can soak up the beautiful sounds of the garden and its fountains.

    Around the house the layout is formal with lemon arbours on the terraces and tall camellia hedges while further away from the villa you will discover a relaxed English-style garden in the woodland, dotted with unusual trees.

    This afternoon is free for you to explore at your leisure. You could hop on board one of the many ferries or hydrofoils which glide around the lake.

    Meals - Breakfast, Dinner
  7. Day
    Villa Balbianello
    Como, Italy

    Today you'll catch the ferry to visit the gardens at Villa Balbianello on the Lavedo point.

    In a sylvan setting of pine, soaring cypress and oak, with pollarded plane trees, manicured lawns and flowerbeds, the garden is maintained to an exceptionally high standard by the Italian National trust or FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano).

    With unparalleled views down the three branches of the lake, the first villa was built in 1540, but was later moved to a new site inland to protect it from flooding.

    Later, you'll return to the mainland and your hotel, with the afternoon free for shopping and sightseeing before a farewell dinner in the hotel this evening.

    Meals - Breakfast, Dinner
  8. Day
    Milano, Italy

    After a final breakfast at the hotel today you'll check out and be transferred to Milan to catch your flight back to the UK.

    Meals - Breakfast


Hotel La Palma

Stresa, Italy

Situated directly on the waterfront in Stresa, with picturesque views over Lake Maggiore

With a panoramic spa and rooftop swimming pool, this is one of the finest hotels Maggiore has to offer. Rooms face towards the mountains and the heights of Alto Vergante, designed for those who love the open air. The Sky Bar offers stunning views over the lake and is the perfect spot for an aperitivo in the fresh lakeside air, or for a swim in the Sky Bar Pool, with a view onto the lake and its magnificent islands. There's also a jacuzzi up here on the seventh floor.

  • 24-hour front desk
  • Fitness centre
  • Swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna
  • Poolside bar
  • Restaurant
  • Bicycle rental

Hotel Barchetta Excelsior


Four-star hotel in in the heart of Como

At the Hotel Barchetta Excelsior you are surrounded by beauty: the villas with their gardens, art exhibitions, silk outlets, boutiques, romantic boat trips, renowned golf clubs.

Comfortable and quiet rooms offer views of the surrounding streets and the cathedral's dome and guarantee total privacy. Suites offer stunning views of the lake. All of them feature elegant and minimal furnishing with modern comforts. There is a lovely bistro and bar, and a summer terrace for alfresco dining.

  • 24-hour reception
  • Dry cleaning service
  • Bar and bistro restaurant
  • Golf
  • Shopping area

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This tour is operated solely by TS tours
Our travel partner TS Tours, which specialises in bespoke and expert-led tours, is working in partnership with Brightwater Holidays, an award-winning tour operator specialising in garden and special-interest escorted tours worldwide.

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Call now to book 02039934304