Colosseum in the Morning Sun, Rome
Colosseum in the Morning Sun, Rome

Live La Dolce Vita In 2020

Many Americans have Italian ancestors and heritage, so not only does this gorgeous destination have significance for lots of visitors from the USA, it is also home to iconic archaeological sites, stunning villas and fabulous weather. Why not make this the year you experience a slice of la dolce vita with one of our Italian vacations?

Gardens and Iconic Sites

If you're after an Italian adventure that appeals to your green-fingered nature as well as allows you to tick some legendary sites off your bucket list, try our Rome, Ninfa & Castel Gandolfo tour. At just 4-days long, this trip starts in Rome with a city tour. Gaze upon the Trevi Fountain, discover the Colosseum and see the Spanish Steps. You'll also wander the glorious grounds of Valla Lante, Castel Gandolfo (the papal residence) and Villa d'Este in Tivoli.

The crowning glory of this stunning tour is the visit to Ninfa Gardens. The garden is deemed by many to be the most beautiful garden in Europe - if not the world. All this belies its turbulent history; burned in 1382 and beset by malaria, the village of Ninfa was abandoned and lay deserted for hundreds of years. After the mosquito hazard was removed in 1922 by draining the surrounding marshes, the Duchess of Sermoneta and her son Prince Caetani began to lay out a romantic garden among the village ruins. 

This tour starts from $1,720 and you can view the full itinerary here

Opulent Villas and Scenic Lakesides

The north of Italy is home to spectacular lakes, many of which are ringed by extravagant villas and punctuated by little island towns – and you can explore some on our Villas & Gardens of the Italian Lakes tour. From our bases on the Gulf of Borromeo on Lake Maggiore and at the foot of Lake Como, you will explore a succession of villas and their gardens, all set against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains and glittering water. You'll begin with a treat as you visit the private garden of the President of the Italian Camellia Society, which is home to a collection of over 500 plants. Nowhere captures the extravagant spirit of the lakeland gardens better than the three Borromean islands, Bella, Madre and Pescatori, which feature terraced gardens, shaded woodland walks, flowered terraces and elegant statuary. Other highlights during this stay on Lake Maggiore include a fascinating wholesale specialist plant nursery, Villa Taranto and Villa Pallavicino.

During our stay on Lake Como we will have a private tour with the owner of Villa Cicogna Mozzoni. Azaleas and rhododendrons will put on a dazzling display at Villa Carlotta while the manicured Villa Balbianello, whose garden is impeccably maintained, will be an undoubted highlight. Departing in May, June and September, this tour starts from $2,620pp.

A Sicilian Adventure

Always wanted to explore Sicily? Join our 8-day Gardens & Villas of Sicily tour and you will do just that! Sicily has become one of Europe’s best-loved destinations in recent years and it is truly an island of the senses. As soon as you step on to its warm and fertile shores you’ll understand why. 

We begin on the slopes of Mount Etna with a visit to an elegant garden that thrives on the fertile soil here and then ascend the mountain itself, observing the change from lush groves to stark, desert landscapes. In Taormina we visit a private garden which boasts spectacular views across the bay before exploring the Greco-Roman remains of the city itself. Heading south we gain an exclusive insight into Sicilian gardening with the head gardener at Villasmundo and visit the private garden of a Sicilian aristocrat. A treat for the senses awaits at Gli Aroma Sicily as we discover an extensive selection of herbs and spices and we also enjoy lunch at a monastery high in the mountains. We conclude in Palermo, a melting-pot of architectural styles with both Norman and Arabic influences. Departing in March and April, this tour starts from $2,695pp.

 

House Envy

If you'd like to explore some of Italy's most opulent villas, this is the tour for you – Palladian Villas of Veneto. Join us as we discover no fewer than six glorious villas on tour. The first on our list is one of the most recognizable buildings of the Renaissance the Palladian Masterpiece, Villa Rotonda. The UNESCO World Heritage Site was designed for elegant entertainment, and is definitely one for art lovers — lavishly decorated with stucco and frescoes. We are honored to be shown round by the owner himself, Count Valmarana. You will also explore Villa Barbaro, Villa Valmarana, Villa Barbarigo, and Villa Pisani, and there will be two dinners hosted by Italian aristocrats. 

Elsewhere, you will discover the lively university town of Padua and pay a visit to the Orto Botanico di Padova (Padua Botanic Garden), which was established in 1545, making it the oldest university botanical garden in the world. This tour departs on 15th September and starts from $1,855pp


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