Susan Worner Tours

Secret Gardens of Venice and the Veneto

10 – 15 May 2018

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 Grand Canal, on the Giudecca or down small canals on the islands in the extensive lagoon. We discover the special variety of artichoke grown on St Erasmo while enjoying a day on a ‘Bragozzo’ boat when we join the flotilla of traditional boats crossing the lagoon to celebrate La Festa della Senza.

The history and beauty of the Veneto region, combined well with the elegance of the formal gardens in Venice. Country gardens chosen complement their villa and have interesting structured design. We discover the Brenta canal where Venetians built their country houses in the seventeenth century arriving in Padova to visit the exceptionally beautiful University Botanic Garden, the oldest botanic garden in Europe.

Our hotel is in the Dorsoduro district: overlooking the Grand Canal, the terrace is particularly delightful for breakfast or an aperitivo. The Ca’ Rezzonico museum, the Accademia and the Peggy Guggenheim gallery are nearby. We use boats and walk on narrow paths, sometimes along canals, often discovering a lovely square, and travel by minibus in the Veneto mainland. We have a maximum of nineteen participants and will be led by Susan together with Martina Boffelli, our Venetian guide.




Flight to Venice Marco Polo airport where you will be met and transferred to the most delightful Hotel Palazzo Stern on the Grand Canal – by private boat, an exciting way to arrive into Venice. Early evening we meet Martina and walk to a private garden on the Grand Canal and enjoy an aperitivo. Continue for dinner together in the Dorsoduro.


With Martina we take the boat to the Giudecca where we visit the extensive garden of the Franciscan monks behind Palladio’s Il Redentore church. Continue to discover a recently restored garden behind high walls, before enjoying lunch in a local ristorante overlooking the canal, with views to the Zattere and to St Mark’s. In the afternoon the gardens of the original Fortuny villa, the exclusive fabric manufacturers, can be enjoyed before we return to Zattere and to the hotel in Dorsoduro. Evening at leisure.


Full day on the mainland. We visit Villa Emo in the foothills of the Euganean hills. The beautiful Palladian villa and garden are of classical Italian design with parterres, rose-lined fish ponds, arbours and statues. Lunch at a small restaurant in the country. We continue to Villa Barbargo Pizzoni Ardenani at Valzanzibio. Set in a wooded valley merging with the steep hillsides of the Euganean hills, it has an air of mystery, and was laid out in the period of the Venetian Republic. Evening at leisure.


We are joined for the day by Martino Rizzi, our specialist guide. Walking across the Accademia bridge our first visit is to a delightful rose garden on the Grand Canal. We then take a private boat (bragozzo) to join the Festa della Senza, a festive parade of traditional boats crossing the lagoon led by the mayor of Venice. We continue to the little known islands in the lagoon, including Sant’ Erasmo, Venice’s garden where produce is farmed for the Rialto market and we visit a local farm. Enjoy lunch in a nearby locanda. Continue to view the construction of the flood defence system and continue to the island of Torcello to visit an extensive private garden. The seventh century Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is exceptional and a guided visit is fascinating. We pass the islands of Burano and Murano on our return to Venice. Evening at leisure.


After breakfast we leave by boat to the mainland taking the road along the Brenta canal to admire the elegant villas and gardens arriving at Padova to visit the fascinating Giardino Botanico which is well-laid out and labelled. Founded in 1545 and forming part of the university, it is now a registered UNESCO heritage site. Lunch-time near the Prato della Valle. In the afternoon we visit a superb garden recently created by an inspiring young couple in the countryside near Padova. We return to Venice by boat.
Dinner together in a restaurant with views to the Giudecca island.


Depart by private boat from the hotel to Venice Marco Polo airport for the return flights.

“There is something so different in Venice from anyother place in the world, that you leave at once all accustomed habits and everyday sights to enter an enchanted garden…”Mary Shelley
Map of Venice

Tour Costs

£2,880 per person sharing
Single supplement £1100


All flights and transport in private water taxis and in modern, comfortable minibus.
Accommodation with ensuite bathroom, delicious meals as indicated. Garden visits.
Excellent local guides. Porterage between the airport and harbour.

Not included:

Alcoholic and soft drinks (except the first evening’s aperitivo), Items of a personal nature.
Full cover of fully comprehensive travel insurance. Tips to hotel staff and guides.


Palazzo Stern in the Dorsoduro


The climate in May can be sunny and warm but a showery day is sometimes experienced.

Layers are recommended and good shoes for the garden visits. Smart casual for the evening.

Meals included are shown as B (breakfast), L (lunch) and D (dinner). Often guests meet for drinks before dinner (optional).

Wifi is available in the hotel.

Activity Level:

Reasonable amount of walking. Ability to board and disembark from water taxis.