GARDENS OF THE ITALIAN LAKES
As autumn closes in on us, the Telegraph/ Boxwood Tours operation recharges its batteries: from May 8-13 I shall be hosting a tour to the quietly spectacular gardens around the Italian Lakes, travelling much of the time by boat. Our tour leader will be Italian resident, historian and author Jenny Condie.
This promises to be a special tour at a truly beautiful time of year. Despite its dramatic backdrop of snow-capped mountains, the lakeside’s warm and humid microclimate creates extraordinary growing conditions. The sheer range of plants in the gardens and their lushness is astounding. We will be staying in two elegant fin-de-siècle lakeside hotels, the Hotel Villa Flori overlooking Lake Como and the Grand Hotel Majestic on the shores of Lake Maggiore. We will, of course, enjoy wonderful local food.
There will be something to delight everyone: historians will get a buzz from the ancient garden and amazing frescoed Villa Cicogna Mozzoni that has been, since the Renaissance, the family home of our host, the charming Count Jiacopo Cicogna Mozzoni. Plantspeople will be intrigued by the extensive 19th and 20th-century botanical collections at Villa Taranto and on Isola Grande di Brissago.
Hands-on gardeners will enjoy the intimate, steeply terraced garden behind the home of Moritz Montero, the mastermind behind Como’s renowned Orticolario plant show.
No tour of this area would be complete without visits to Lake Maggiore’s famous trio of very different island gardens, Isola Bella (left), Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori, or the stunning, sloping vistas of Villa Balbianello, perched on a wooded promontory jutting out into Lake Como. There are simply too many gems to describe adequately here. I am so hoping you will be tempted to join us. To book: Boxwood Tours Ltd. Rhiw, Llanbedr, Gwynedd LL45 2NT (01341 241 717; boxwoodtours.co.uk).