Susan Worner Tours

  1. Spring Gardens of Florence and Fiesole

    The Medici created gardens in Florence and the surrounding hills in the sixteenth century with grottoes, statues, boschetti and waterworks. Later perspective gardens were designed in conjunction with the villa, often with terraces, and the early twentieth century marked the revival of the Italian formal garden. This rich heritage offers a fascinating programme of visits in the spring flowering season. The gardens chosen are mostly private and form a good balance encompassing the different periods. The vibrant city of Florence with its art treasures, churches and markets is an additional attraction.

    Our comfortable, welcoming hotel in the heart of Florence is a perfect base, a few minutes from the Duomo. Originating as a palazzo in the sixteenth century, and now well restored, it retains its frescoed ceilings and architectural features.

  2. Sicily – Private Gardens from Catania, Siracusa to Taormina

    28 September – 05 October 2017

    Springtime in Sicily – the mythic garden of Persephone – is abundant with colour and luminosity. We visit gardens in the east of the island, some created by the English in former times, others planted more recently, and add some cultural elements to the programme.

    An island of great contrasts, Sicily has been invaded by the Greeks, Romans, Normans and Spaniards, who have all influenced its culture and character. The warm spring weather encourages luxuriant growth on terraced hillside gardens, the dramatic sweeping green hills of the interior have an abundance of wild flowers.

    We stay at the most comfortable, welcoming Hotel Villa Belvedere, in the attractive town of Taormina perched high above the sea, and with a verdant garden. Superb views overlook the bay and Mount Etna. The island of Ortigia is our base for a few days in a beautiful historical part of Siracusa at the well-situated Grand Hotel.

  3. Rome – Gardens from Latium to Tuscia

    The sweeping hill countryside around the eternal city of Rome has a superb collection of gardens – some historic, others recently renovated or created, some influenced by Russell Page. A private visit to Giardino di Ninfa is a highlight of the week. Its setting, variety of plants and flowing water are within an ancient ruined town: it is quite spectacular.

    To visit the gardens south of Rome we stay for three nights in the attractive small hill town of Frascati, at a most comfortable hotel. A full day to visit Rome has been included; it can be reached in 30 minutes by train. We then transfer to the countryside near Lake Bracciano, north of Rome. The elegant and welcoming Hotel di Stigliano has recently re-opened after being beautifully renovated, and there are natural hot water springs and Etruscan remains in the surrounding gardens. It is a good base for gardens north of Rome.

  4. Secret Gardens of Venice and the Veneto

    04 – 09 May 2020

    A magical tour of gardens, staying in the centre of Venice in the superb, historic Hotel Palazzo Stern on the Grand Canal. Delightful gardens are hidden behind high walls on the Canal, on the Giudecca or down small canals on the islands in the extensive lagoon. We discover the special variety of artichoke grown on the island of Sant’Erasmo while enjoying a day on a ‘Bragozzo’ boat in the lagoon.

    The history and beauty of the Veneto region are complemented by the elegance of the formal gardens in Venice. We have chosen country gardens that harmonise with their villas and feature interesting structured designs. We discover the Brenta Canal where Venetians built their country houses in the seventeenth century, going on to Padua to visit the exceptionally beautiful University Botanical Garden, the oldest of its kind in Europe...

  5. Italian Lakes – Gardens of Lake Maggiore

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

    Our base is the very comfortable Hotel Cannero, with its lovely garden on the quiet Maggiore lakeside, run by Signora Gallinotto and her family. 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.

  6. South Africa – The Western Cape 2014

    Exceptional Gardens and Private Reserves 06 – 18 November 2014 Our tour was recommended by Robin Lane Fox in his article appearing in the Financial Times on 07 February.  The gardens in the Western Cape are exceptional; created by enthusiastic, creative gardeners, their range of plants is impressive.  The Mediterranean...
  7. Prieure d’Orson

    Patrice Taravella is a man of many talents; a sort-after architect specialising in restoration projects who has made his name in garden design.  A wonderful host at the Prieuré d’Orsan, a Relais & Chateau Hotel with just six luxury rooms, and a talented chef, one of his great passions. Prieuré...
  8. Education For All – Morocco

    We support this well-worth charity set up by Mike McHugo and run by local people and volunteers in the Moroccan Atlas Mountains. Very few girls from the rural communities of the High Atlas Mountains get the opportunity of continuing their education beyond primary school. A remarkable man, Mike realised that...
  9. Namibia – Deserts, Dunes and Canyons

    Our first trip to this amazing country to discover the flora, fauna and the geology. An excellent flight to Windhoek via Johannesburg arriving at a private game reserve of 70,000 hectares late afternoon. Cameras were immediately in use for the game arriving at the nearby water hole. An early morning...