Adam Frost established his own garden design and landscape gardening business in 1996. Since then he has gone on to design gardens around the world and win seven gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show. Adam is a presenter on the popular BBC television programme Gardeners' World, he is an an RHS Ambassador for Education and Community Gardens and is also the founder of the Adam Frost Garden School in Lincolnshire. His first book, Real Gardens, was published in 2015 and tells the story of his award-winning gardens at Chelsea and his most recent, How to Create Your Garden, is available now.
Visit the elegant gardens of Lake Maggiore with Adam Frost
The lakes of northern Italy have inspired poets, painters and botanists for centuries with their attractive Renaissance villas and glorious cultivated gardens. Lake Maggiore straddles both Italy and Switzerland, and on this exclusive eight-day Country Living tour you stay in Stresa, a typically stylish Italian town that was once a favourite haunt of Ernest Hemingway. You'll explore it along with Lake Como and Lake Orta.
Adam Frost will join you for a boat trip to the islands of Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori, founded in the 10th century, and you'll take a walk with him through one of its formal Italian gardens. He will also join you for an exclusive talk and Q&A session about his life, award-winning garden design career and time presenting the BBC's Gardener's World. You will also travel into the Swiss Alps to see the Matterhorn and experience a journey on the famous Centovalli Railway.
Walking the cobbled streets of Stresa's Old Town feels like winding back in time to the elegance of a largely bygone era. Visit the enchanting islands of Isola dei Pescatori and Isola Bella, including a tour of the latter's 17th-century Baroque villa.
Italian gardens with Adam Frost
You'll take a boat trip to the spectacular terraced gardens of Isola Bella with award-winning garden designer and presenter Adam Frost, and have the opportunity to ask the Gardeners' World presenter your burning horticultural questions during a private talk and Q&A.
The Centovalli Railway
Named after the so-called 'hundred valleys' it passes through, the train features specially designed panoramic carriages so you can soak up the scenery as you journey through mountainside villages, wild woods and romantic landscapes.
Lake Como's scenery
Explore Como town, renowned for its imposing cathedral, delightful parks, grand hotels and the majestic Villa Olmo, which has hosted many eminent guests including Napoleon, Archduke Ferdinand and Garibaldi, the 'father of modern Italy'.
Italy's prettiest, and lesser-known, lake
One of the country's best-kept secrets, the small and charming Lake Orta will be one of the highlights of your trip. The pebblestudded lanes and alleys - lined with traditional food shops selling the fresh produce Italy is so respected for - lead to the lakeshore and romantic main square.
Reasons to book
Italian gardens with Adam Frost
Talk and Q&A with Adam
Lake Como's scenery
Italy's prettiest lake
The Centovalli Railway
Your expert guides
- Return flights from London Gatwick - £1,449pp; Manchester - £1,479pp
- Seven-night stay in the four-star superior Regina Palace
- Dinner each evening
- Exclusive talk and Q&A with Adam Frost
- A cruise on Lake Maggiore to the islands of Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori with Adam Frost
- A visit to magnificent Lake Como
- Full-day journey into the Swiss Alps through the Simplon Pass to see the Matterhorn
- A visit to Cannobio and Locarno and a trip on the Centovalli Railway
- A visit to the beautiful Lake Orta
- Return airport transfers
- Services of a Riviera Travel tour manager throughout
Day1Arrive in StresaStresa, Italy
Fly from your selected airport, and on arrival transfer to the delightful town of Stresa on the peaceful shores of charming Lake Maggiore.
Day2Centovalli RailwayLocarno, Switzerland
Adam Frost will join you today as you experience a totally different view of the lake on a private boat to Cannobio. You'll have some free time here before joining the coach to continue into Switzerland, to the chic resort of Locarno, nestling below the towering peaks of the Alps. Locarno is staunchly Swiss, but the twisting lanes and alleys of the historic centre bear more resemblance to Tuscany than Zurich.
After some free time, board the narrow gauge Centovalli train for a spectacularly scenic ride as it winds its way through wild, romantic landscapes, pure mountain cascades, vines, chestnut woods and villages clinging to the mountainsides. Named after the so called 'hundred valleys' through which it passes, the train features specially designed panoramic carriages so you can sit back, enjoying the scenery in all its glory as it winds its seemingly impossible way around the valley sides. From Domodossola we return by coach to Stresa.
Day3Lake Maggiore & Borromean IslandsLake Maggiore ,
This morning, enjoy an exclusive talk and Q&A with gardening expert, Adam Frost.
Just offshore is one of the real gems of northern Italy, the stunning Borromean Islands, once owned by a Milanese Count who, in the 17th century, created the most amazing 'belle époque' villa here - of which we have a guided tour this morning. Isola Bella, as it is called, is a stunning achievement. With its staterooms crammed with fine furniture, sculpture and art with intricate parquet flooring and elegant pastel-coloured plasterwork and frescoes adorning the high ceilings, it's simply stunning. Even more impressive though, are the astonishing grounds, featuring ten interlocking terraces imaginatively planted with orange and lemon trees, plus magnolias and a host of other fragrant and colourful shrubs and plants. Marble statues and unique, white peacocks add the final touches to this dramatic display.
In complete contrast, the narrow cobbled streets, picturesque harbour and charming buildings of the fascinating Isola dei Pescatori, the second island we visit, reflect its 10th-century origins and the centuries-old fishing tradition after which it is named. This is the perfect place for a relaxing lunch in one of the excellent lakeside restaurants - many with enchanting secluded terraces - before we cruise back to Stresa during the afternoon.
Day4Lake ComoComo, Italy
Adam departs this morning, but you'll continue on with your journey, exploring another of Northern Italy's most famous lakes and one of its most attractive, too. Described by Wordsworth as 'a treasure the earth keeps to itself', Lake Como has attracted visitors for centuries in search of relaxation, culture and inspiration.
You'll be free to explore Como as you wish. Renowned for its lakeside parks, grand hotels and the Villa Olmo, Como town has been home to many eminent Europeans including Napoleon, Archduke Ferdinand and Garibaldi, the 'father of modern Italy.
Day5Free dayComo, Italy
Today you can choose to relax in the hotel, perhaps take a swim in the pool or explore Stresa's many delights. The lakeside exudes an ambience of classic 'belle époque' gentility, owing its origin to the days of the 'Grand Tour' when Europe's 19th century aristocracy, having crossed the border from Switzerland, experienced their first taste of Italy. Literary aficionados may like to take a drink at the bar of the Grand Hotel featured in Hemingway's 'A Farewell to Arms', and frequented by the likes of George Bernard Shaw and Charlie Chaplin, or if you have a head for heights why not enjoy a cable car to the summit of Monte Mottarone for panoramic views to the majestic snow-capped peaks of the distant Alps.
Day6Zermatt and the MatterhornZermatt, Switzerland
This morning you cross the Swiss border and drive up into the awe-inspiring high Alps, taking the legendary Simplon Pass through spectacular landscapes of lush meadow, dense forest and snow-capped mountains. Here you may catch a glimpse of ibex, chamois, and even majestic golden eagles. After passing towering viaducts and cascading mountain waterfalls, you arrive in the iconic village of Zermatt. Nestled at the foot of the legendary Matterhorn, this cluster of chalets and wooden farm huts sits amid pastures of wildflowers, sheltered by an amphitheatre of mountain peaks.
Here you may wish to take the cog railway 3000 metres up the slopes of the Matterhorn, revealing a landscape of glaciers and lofty summits. Or you can admire its distinctive shape from the footpaths at the fringes of Zermatt, take a scenic ride in a horse-drawn carriage, or simply relax in one of the village's many delightful cafes.
Day7Lake OrtaLake Orta,
On your final day you will discover one of the best kept secrets of northern Italy: the breathtakingly beautiful Lake Orta, with its romantic lakeside village of Orta San Giulio. Situated on an outcrop and surrounded by the deep blue waters of the lake, the village is a delightful haven of stepped alleys and cobbled lanes. 14th-century half-timbered houses line the streets in an array of delicate pastel colours, while traditional food shops burst with delicious Italian produce. The romantic main square offers views across the water to the nearby Isola San Giulio, home to the village's incredible basilica. Inside, 12th- and 14th-century frescoes adorn the walls, perfectly in keeping with Orto San Giulio's medieval charms.
As you return to Stresa, you will stop at the enormous 114 foot bronze statue of San Carlo Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan. Built in the 17th century, this was the tallest statue in the world for centuries, commemorating the only cardinal ever to refuse the offer of the papacy. From its lofty position, you can look out across a wonderful vista of Lake Maggiore and the surrounding countryside.
Day8Return flightComo, Italy
Today you will be transferred to the airport for your return flight home.
Hotel Regina Palace
The Hotel Regina Palace is four-star rated and one of the best properties on the lake
Dating from the turn of the last century, this recently restored classic hotel truly reflects the 'belle époque' era having chandeliers, brass and wrought iron fittings so typical of this period. The hotel faces the lake and is set in extensive landscaped gardens to the front and rear with terraces, tennis court and swimming pool. In addition there is an outdoor pool in the relaxing spa and an elegant restaurant. All the rooms are air-conditioned and luxuriously decorated and furnished.
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