Naples and the Gardens of the Amalfi Coast
- Picture postcard views from the Villa Rufolo
- Guided tour of fragrant lemon groves
- The archaeological wonders of Herculaneum and Pompeii (optional excursion)
- Taking the ferry across the Bay of Naples to Ischia
- Lunch in a vineyard
Southern Italy has a beautifully warm climate combined with a rich and fertile soil, ideally suited to olives, oranges and lemons... and a wide range of tender exotics.
From our picture postcard base of Ravello, on the Amalfi coast, we visit the Villas Rufolo and Cimbrone. The classic Amalfi gardens are laid out in terraces where umbrella pines and cypresses shade classical geometric beds filled with modern flowers. The site of Villa Cimbrone on a cliff-top promontory overlooking the sea is beyond compare.
The largest island in the Bay of Naples is Ischia, home to La Mortella. The dazzling garden of lush exotics and tender trees was created by Susana, wife of the composer William Walton. Umbrella pines, groves of ilex and arbutus, Italian cypresses and myrtles thrive here in glorious tranquility — a visit to this exquisite garden is simply a wonderful day well spent.
Moving on to the pulsating port of Naples itself, we enjoy a tour of the historic botanical gardens; view Caravaggio’s great painting at the church Pio Monte della Misericordia; and make time to wet our whistle at a local family- run vineyard. Travelling out to the north of the city, our tour takes a rather regal turn. We spend a full day taking in all that the impressive palace and gardens of La Caserta have to offer. The huge palace, and its grand and impressive gardens, were constructed for the Bourbon Kings of Naples.
We fly from London to Naples. Upon arrival, we transfer to the medieval cathedral town of Ravello where we stay for the next three nights. A welcome drink followed by dinner will be served in the evening.
This morning, after breakfast, we visit the gardens of Villa Rufolo, which command picture perfect views over the Amalfi coast. On the upper terrace umbrella pines and cypresses shade a wellhead while on a lower level classical geometric beds edged with box are filled with modern flowers. In the afternoon we visit the gardens of Villa Cimbrone, a 19th century Moorish/English hybrid. A wisteria clad pergola stretches almost the full length of the central axis. We transfer to Amalfi and enjoy a guided walking tour of one of the lemon groves and see the limoncello production process.
We return to Ravello where we have the evening at leisure.
Today is the opportunity to relax in the hotel or wander the town at leisure. Alternatively we have arranged for those who wish an optional all day tour to the archaeological wonders of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Enjoy an evening at leisure in Ravello.
We check out of the hotel and travel north to the colossal Palace of La Caserta. The monumental complex at Caserta, created by the Bourbon king Charles III in the mid-18th century was to rival Versailles and the Royal Palace in Madrid. It is exceptional for the way in which it brings together a magnificent palace with its park and gardens, as well as natural woodland, hunting lodges and a silk factory. It is an eloquent expression of the Enlightenment but it is big!
We transfer to our hotel on the Lungomare sea-front district of Naples, with time to relax.
After breakfast we travel to the harbour in Naples and take a ferry to Ischia, to visit the gardens of La Mortella. Here you will be dazzled by the array of rare and tender trees, palms, shrubs, ferns and bulbs. La Mortella is not only a garden of lush exotics, but simultaneously indigenous plants cling precariously to the steep terraced hillsides above. Umbrella pines, groves of ilex and arbutus, Italian cypresses and myrtles thrive here in glorious companionship.
Following our visit we return by boat to Naples and transfer to our hotel, where the evening is at leisure.
This morning we visit the Botanical gardens of the University of Naples for a guided tour. The gardens cover about 12 hectares in which there are about 9,000 species and a total of 25,000 plants. These are grouped together according to taxonomic, ecologic and ethnobotanic standards. We continue to the vineyard of Vigna Mirabella, followed by lunch at Le Cantine dell’Averno. This afternoon we visit the museum Pio Monte della Misericordia which is stuffed like a good plum-pudding full of stunning works of art including Caravaggio’s Seven Acts of Mercy, a life-sized, dark and chaotic painting.
Enjoy the evening at leisure in Naples.
We check out of our hotel and return to the airport for our flights home.
- 6 nights: 3 at Hotel Graal, Ravello & 3 at hotel Santa Lucia, Naples – bed & breakfast
- First night dinner & welcome drink
- Return flights: London to Naples
- Visits to the gardens of Villa Rufolo, Villa Cimbrone and La Mortella; the Palace of La Caserta
- Services of a professional tour manager
Supplements per person
- Single room supplement: £480.00
- Insurance: £45.00 (under 65); £90.00 (65–74); £135.00 (75–90)
Other regional flight connections and/or overnight accommodation can be arranged on request before or after the tour