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Join us for an unforgettable exploration of the spectacular gardens and villas of Italy’s lakes region. Your adventure begins with an overnight flight to Venice.
Day 2: Sunday, July 19, 2015 Padua, Italy - Tour Begins
Your tour opens in Padua today. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a special welcome dinner featuring regional delicacies and fine Italian wine. (D)
Day 3: Monday, July 20, 2015 Padua
Start your day with a visit to the world’s first botanical garden and UNESCO World Heritage site - Padua Botanic Garden - originating in 1545. Then, travel to Valsanzibio Gardens, one of the best preserved Baroque gardens in existence. Meet its owner who will guide you through the meticulous gardens; this is followed by an interactive gardening workshop to learn their techniques and uncover the secrets of what it takes to keep their historic gardens vibrant. Tonight, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant before returning to your hotel in Padua. (B, D)
Day 4: Tuesday, July 21, 2015 Padua - Verona - Lake Como
Step into the Renaissance with a visit to Giardino Giusti. These perfectly manicured gardens are as breathtaking now as they were when they opened in the 1500s. The current owners will walk you through their masterpiece and share stories of its history. Continue on to the elegant shores of Lake Como, your home for the next three nights. Its charm stems from the beautiful villas, lush gardens and spectacular views. (B, D)
Day 5: Wednesday, July 22, 2015 Lake Como
Spend time this morning at the stunning garden of Villa del Balbianello. Resting on the shores of Lake Como, the terraced garden boasts breathtaking views and is dominated by stunning architectural features. The garden is a bona fide masterpiece in which every element relates to its elegant history and location. Learn about the restoration and preservation efforts before returning to your hotel this afternoon for a special wine reception in the garden. (B)
Day 6: Thursday, July 23, 2015 Lake Como - Bellagio - Lake Como
Explore one of the most spectacular gardens in all of Italy, the Villa Carlotta. Built at the end of the 17th century, this lakefront property was once part of Europe’s Grand Tour. Afterwards, travel by ferry to the romantic town of Bellagio. Bellagio provides the perfect place to soak up the lake's famous panoramic view. The village is characterized by century-old buildings, stone lanes and picturesque cobbled stairways filled with shops showcasing the finest Italian wares. Stroll the neoclassic Villa Melzi d’Eril’s garden with its exotic species, camellias and rhododendrons. Discover the splendor of Bellagio at your own pace this afternoon before returning to Lake Como. (B, D)
Day 7: Friday, July 24, 2015 Lake Como - Varese - Lago Maggiore
Travel to the incomparable Villa Cicogna Mozzoni, a wonderful example of Italian Lombard Renaissance architecture. Immerse yourself in the spectacular elegance of the villa and gardens on a tour hosted by a member of the Cicogna Mozzoni family. At the conclusion of your tour, enjoy refreshments in this delightful setting. Later, travel to Varese, the garden city of Italy, to visit the beautiful Villa Della Porta Bozzolo for a guided tour. The villa, which was constructed in the 16th century, boasts a spectacular Italian garden exuding Baroque charm. Explore the grounds and the “Secret Garden”. Continue to Lago Maggiore, home to spectacular views as well as areas of historical and architectural interest. (B)
Day 8: Saturday, July 25, 2015 Lago Maggiore
Journey via cableway to the Alpinum Garden, a botanical garden specializing in the collection and cultivation of Alpine plants. Later, enjoy a guided tour of the spectacular gardens of Villa Taranto. Neil McEacharn, a Scottish captain, purchased the villa and dedicated his life to creating a great botanic collection. During your visit, explore the terraced garden, bog garden, winter garden and herbarium. Following your tour, enjoy free time to take in the gardens at your own pace. (B)
Day 9: Sunday, July 26, 2015 Lago Maggiore - Borromean Islands - Lago Maggiore
Travel by boat to the stunning Borromean Islands. Arrive first to the enchanting Isola Madre where you will tour the gardens and palace with a local expert. Isola Madre is the largest of the islands with stunning gardens featuring azaleas, pergolas of ancient wisteria, and camellia blossoms. This afternoon, cruise to another of the Borromean Islands, Isola Bella. Join an expert guide and discover the beauty of the island’s palace and gardens. Gather this evening to celebrate with a delightful farewell dinner. After dinner, you will return to the mainland by boat. (B, D)
Day 10: Monday, July 27, 2015 Lago Maggiore - Milan Malpensa - Tour Ends
Your tour comes to a close in Milan Malpensa this morning. (B)
Included Meals Key - B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner