GAR­DENS OF THE ITAL­IAN LAKES

The Daily Telegraph - Gardening - - Readers’ Letters -

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).

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