Italian Lakes – Gardens of Lake Maggiore

We arrange bespoke tour itineraries for small groups of friends or colleagues wishing to travel together to a special destination or for specialist horticultural groups. The minimum numbers are eight guests who will be accompanied by Susan or her specialist guides. We have the experience, know the good hotels or lodges and the best itineraries to offer. The itineraries below are examples of bespoke tours. Tailor-made programmes can be arranged for your personal preferences.

To know more please contact us on or +44 (0) 1423 326 300.

Image Description

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.




Flight to Milan Malpensa airport. Transfer to the hotel with time to relax or discover the village. Aperitivo and short talk on the week’s programme before dinner together in the hotel restaurant (each evening).


Morning journey by boat to the Villa Taranto where lunchtime light refreshments are available. Purchased in 1930, the 44 acres of parkland and garden were created by Captain Neil McEacharn from Dumfries & Galloway. Assisted by Henry Cocker, who trained at Kew, McEacharn was a keen plantsman often seen in the glasshouses tending cuttings and seeds. He left an exceptional collection of plants and trees in delightful surroundings. Late afternoon we take a boat to discover the history of the islands of Castelli di Cannero and enjoy an apertivo on board.


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 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 acts as 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.


Cannero’s weekly market can be explored. Late morning we travel by minibus to Switzerland and by ferry to the well-known Swiss botanic island gardens of Isole di Brissago. Lunchtime on the island. The retired head gardener will take us around to discover the superb collection of plants from around the world. Return to Cannero by ferry and minibus. Wine tasting in the hotel’s Cantina before dinner.


Morning visits to two privately owned lakeside gardens in Cannero which are rarely opened to visitors. The first was originally a defensive tower above the harbour with citrus orchards on terraces. Now a charming private home, the citrus trees are surrounded by a beautiful garden. Our next garden, further along the lakeside, has recently been restored retaining much of the original structure. Well planted on terraces, the views across the lake are stunning. Light lunch on the terrace of the hotel restaurant. Afternoon departure for Milan Malpensa airport for the return flights.


Map of Italy

Tour Costs

Airflight, Hotel and itinerary costs £1780 pp
Accommodation based on 2 people sharing
Dinner on 5 evenings and one lunch
Supplement – single use of double room £380
To extend your stay £pp day/sharing £125 pp – half board
Taxi to airport £125 (for up to 4)

Activity Level:

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

Additional Information:

Why not add a few additional days in Cannero. See tour costs.

If you are interested in finding out more information about one of our bespoke itineraries, please give us a call on 01423 326 300 or email Alternatively, click here to use our general enquiry form.