Susan Worner Tours

Cannero – Gardens of Lakes Maggiore and Lugano

23 – 29 September 2014

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Concentrating on the wealth of beautiful gardens around Lake Maggiore in Italy and Lake Lugano in Switzerland, this tour offers a balance between interesting botanic gardens and those of classic Renaissance and later Italian style. The shelter of high Alps to the north, the sharply varied seasonal temperatures and the humidity of the lakes provide excellent growing conditions. In September the scent of Osmathus fragans is delightful.

We stay in the very comfortable Hotel Cannero with its pretty garden on the quiet Maggiore lakeside. Of a high standard, it has recently been beautifully renovated by the architect Mauro Bissattini, and is owned and run by the Gallinotto family who are most welcoming. The restaurant overlooks the lake and mountains beyond and specialises in north Italian cuisine. Cannero, a delightful, typically Italian village, is a perfect base.

We use the lake ferries when possible to arrive at the gardens.




Flight to Milan Malpensa where you will be met and transferred to the hotel. Guided tour in afternoon to discover the village. An aperitivo and short talk on the week’s programme before enjoying dinner together in the hotel restaurant.


Morning visit of private garden in Cannero. At lunchtime we proceed to the Villa Taranto where light refreshments are available. Purchased in 1930, the 44 acres of parkland and garden were created by Captain Neil McEacharn, assisted by Henry Cocker who trained at Kew. The collection of mature trees and plants are impressive. The autumn display of their dahlia collection is stunning. We return to the hotel late afternoon and enjoy wine tasting in the cantina/wine cellar.


A full day’s visit to the Borromean islands. Isola Bella is an architectural wonder; we will discover the dramatic well-planted Baroque gardens, starting in the Courtyard of Diana, continuing to the parterres, and finally the superb water theatre. We island hop to the island of Isola Madre for lunchtime and then visit the superb garden. Essentially a botanic garden with its own microclimate; citrus trees, mimosa and carob thrive, and white peacocks can be seen amongst hibiscus, canna, oleander and brugmansia. The views from the island across the lake to the snow-capped Alps are spectacular. Return to the lakeside town of Pallanza by ferry.


Ferry across the lake to Luino, continue to Villa Cicogna-Mozzoni at Bisuschio in Italy. The U-shaped villa has frescoes with floral motifs, garlands and vines reflecting the garden and countryside beyond. The Renaissance garden dates back to 1560 and is like an extension to the villa with box parterres, statues and fountains, while beyond is the celebrated water staircase. We enjoy a picnic lunch before continuing through the rural Valculvia Valley to visit the gardens of the early eighteenth-century Villa della Porta Bozzolo, now belonging to FAI, the Italian National Trust. Return by boat to Cannero.


Taking the ferry across the lake to Luino, we continue to Lugano in Switzerland for some free time in this vibrant lakeside town, departing at lunchtime for the attractive lakeside village of Morcote. Visit to gardens of Parco Scherrer, a terraced garden with plants and artefacts collected worldwide. The arcaded village streets and the imposing church are enchanting. Return to Cannero by ferry.


Brief morning visit to the lakeside town of Cannobio where the weekly market is taking place. We continue by hydrofoil to Ascona in Switzerland to visit this attractive lakeside town at lunchtime. In the afternoon we take the ferry to the well-known Swiss botanic island gardens of Isole di Brissago. The retired head gardener will take us to discover the superb collection of plants from around the world. Return to Cannero down the lake by ferry.


Morning departure to Milan Malpensa for the return flights.

Map of Italy

Tour Costs

Air flight, Hotel and itinerary costs £1525pp
Accommodation based on 2 people sharing
Dinner on 6 evenings
Supplement – single use of double room £225
Superior room with lake view £210 per room
To extend your stay £110pp day/sharing hb
Taxi to airport £135

Activity Level:

On/off lake ferries, mostly level garden paths and flights of steps.

Additional Information:

Extra days can be added.