Location: Rome – Florence – Venice
Type of tour:Bus tour with escort, customizable.
Activities: 13-day tours with private services, private and unusual visits.
Rhythm: Steady, not suitable for disabled or mobility impaired people.
Best Season: Spring, Early Summer and Autumn.
Since ancient times, Italian villas have been known for their gardens and this trend has continued in Renaissance Italy and up to the present day. During this tour, we will visit the best of Italian villas and gardens which are of extreme interest not only for passionate botanists and gardeners, but also for lovers of beauty and of nature.
Whether they are Renaissance, Tuscan or Roman, wild or well-tended, Italian gardens have a charm all their own that mimics the essential charm of the Italy and its people.
This tour includes private visits and special access to many of the most beautiful and historically significant gardens in Italy. Furthermore, you can visit Rome, Florence and Venice to admire their artistic and architectural heritage.
Arrival in the afternoon at Fiumicino airport where you will be met by our local escort and transferred to your hotel in Rome.
With our expert guide you will visit the main attractions of the Eternal City</strong >: the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona and also some ruins of Ancient Rome along the way.
Welcome dinner and overnight in a hotel in Rome.
Morning visit to the Vatican Gardens, a unique assortment of trees and plants, a rock garden with a shady forest and vine-covered paths on the upper slopes.
Lunch at Villa Valadier in the Pincio gardens, with a spectacular view of Rome and St. Peter’s.
In the afternoon we will visit Villa Borghese, the largest and most beautiful of Rome’s public parks, with a perimeter of 6 km. It was created for Cardinal Borghese in the early 17th century.
Dinner and overnight in hotel in Rome
Today we will visit the San Liberato Botanical Park (about 60 km north of Rome) created by Russell Page and the Countess Maria Odescalchi, where a private visit is scheduled</strong >. The focal point of the project is the beautifully frescoed Romanesque church.
Lunch in a typical restaurant on Lake Bracciano. Before returning to the hotel, visit the splendid rose garden of Castel Giuliano in Palazzo Patrizi. Dinner and overnight in Rome.
Today we will go southeast of Rome to discover the ruins of the abandoned city of Ninfa.
Today, wild and romantic gardens cover the remains of medieval houses: roses and clematis climb the cypresses and spring bulbs cover the green hills. The Caetani family has collected thousands of specimens from all over the world and made them flourish in this ideal microenvironment.
Visit the ancient city of Norba, which overlooks Ninfa from a high cliff. Lunch in a typical restaurant, followed by a visit to the Castle of Sermoneta. Return to Rome for dinner and overnight.
We leave Rome and head north towards Bomarzo or the “Parco dei Mostri” commissioned by Duke Orsini. It is a bizarre testament to a fantastic and twisted taste that developed in the waning late Renaissance.
Surprisingly forgotten for centuries, it was only after the end of the war that the park was restored and ‘rediscovered’. It was only rediscovered in the 20th century, when Salvadore Dalì brought it back into the limelight. It is a unique park of its kind, located on the edge of a natural amphitheater and made up of a series of terraces, with gigantic sculptures carved into the rock. The figures are animals, real and imaginary, grotesque giants of little or no significance.
Lunch during the excursion. In the late afternoon, crossing the splendid Tuscan countryside, we reach the art city of Florence. Check-in at the hotel, dinner and overnight in Florence.
After breakfast, guided tour of the historic center of Florence with its most important monuments: Santa Maria del Fiore, Giotto’s bell tower, Piazza dei Signori, the facade of Palazzo Vecchio, the Church of Santa Croce, Ponte Vecchio etc. Lunch in a typical trattoria.
In the afternoon, continue with a visit to the Boboli Gardens, the best example of Italian Renaissance formal landscape architecture. With its varied terraces, sculptures and cave you can admire the art of the best Italian landscapers.
Dinner and overnight in Florence.
Breakfast at the hotel. Departure for the sixteenth-century garden of the Villa Medicea di Castello, built for Cosimo de’ Medici. The most extraordinary feature of this villa is the Animal Cave. Its walls are decorated with many animals representing those rescued from the flood. Lunch in a typical tavern.
Continue to Villa Medici in Fiesole with a breathtaking view of Florence and the Arno Valley. The terraces, which must have resembled the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, were dedicated to the cultivation of rare flowers and herbs. The next garden belongs to Villa La Petraia, originally built in 1462. The present park was laid out in about 1908 for Arthur Acton and the estate was later bequeathed by Sir Harold Acton (son of Arthur) at New York University. The villa is now a center for Italian studies.
Return to Florence, dinner and overnight in Florence.
In the morning, guided tour of Lucca: the first stop is the church of San Frediano with its magnificent thirteenth-century mosaic depicting Christ in Majesty. Next, we visit the nearby Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, the most beautiful square in Lucca. Passing through the elegant shops of via Filungo and through small typically medieval streets, we reach the Cathedral which houses the famous Volto Santo and the splendid sarcophagus of Ilaria del Caretto, a masterpiece by Jacopo della Quercia. Passing through Piazza Napoleone we finally arrive at Piazza San Michele, the central civic square of Lucca since Roman times. Lunch in a typical restaurant.
In the afternoon we continue with a visit to Villa Bernardini, with a huge 8-hectare garden divided into 4 different green areas. Soon you come across the romantic area (formal English garden). The original garden was founded in 1738. On the occasion of the wedding of Francesco Bernardini and Marianna Parenzi, the French Garden was created – oval, round, diamond-shaped flowerbeds, alternating with ball-shaped box trees, followed the course of the signed avenues .
Finally, you will visit Villa Torrigiani, a splendid private villa and its garden. You will be received by the owner (subject to availability) who will show you the private theater inside the villa.
Return to Florence, dinner and overnight in Florence.
After breakfast, check-out and departure for Venice.
Arrival in Veneto in the late morning and stop along the Brenta Riviera and visit a private villa. Buffet lunch in the garden with the family that owns the villa, before discovering the “brolo”, a traditional Venetian orchard and then the romantic English garden built in the 19th century with its artificial hills, woods, ruins and the cooler.
We continue to Venice. Transfer by private boat to the hotel and free time to explore Venice. Dinner and overnight in Venice.
After breakfast, guided tour of the historic center of Venice: Piazza San Marco with the Basilica of San Marco, a masterpiece of Venetian and Byzantine architecture built in 830 to house the tomb of San Marco. The Cathedral is incredible with marbles, mosaics, golds and priceless works of art. The Palazzo Ducale, connected to the ancient prisons by the famous “Bridge of Sighs”.
Free time for lunch.
In the afternoon, visit a wonderful private garden owned by a noble Venetian family, an enchanting rose garden overlooking the Grand Canal. A scenic garden with various statues including the fountain with Nymphaeum of Hercules, and the great Neptune inserted in the opposite part of the garden. The use of boxwood, with its dark and intense color tones and skilful pruning, accentuates the theatricality.
Before dinner you will enjoy a “Gondola Serenade”, a pleasant 30-minute ride with music and appetizers through the small canals of Venice. You will discover the hidden wonders of Venice, you will be able to admire residential buildings and houses in different architectural styles. On board you will receive a tray with samples of “cicchetti”, typical Venetian canapés, and a glass of Prosecco to taste during the itinerary. Crossing the quiet of the internal canals, you will then return to the Grand Canal contemplating the typical Venetian palaces in Gothic and Renaissance style. Glimpse of the famous Rialto Bridge. The tour concludes with return to the starting point.
Dinner and overnight in Venice.
After breakfast at the hotel, visit the private garden of Palazzo Soranzo Capello: it was decided to leave the vegetation that arose spontaneously, to preserve the almost abandoned appearance of the garden, suggested by literary circles by Gabriele D’Annunzio and Henry James.
Followed by a visit to the Botanical Garden of Palazzo Rizzo Patarol created during the 18th century according to the classification of the French botanist Tournefort and the Linnaeus system.
Lunch with typical dishes in a “bacaro”, an informal wine bar.
The afternoon is free for a personal discovery of the city. Dinner and overnight in Venice.
Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning we will reach by vaporetto the Giudecca, an island often ignored by the most popular tourist itineraries. It is the longest island in the city, once a holiday resort adorned with gardens and vegetable gardens overlooking the lagoon. Here you will discover an apparently inaccessible place, which reveals the history of industrial Venice, embellished by a magical garden. Here the story of textiles and its special creativity since the 1920s is told.
Fortuny’s factory is not open to the public, due to the will of its founder to keep production secret, while the showroom, the only official one in Venice, will immerse you in the fantastic world of fabrics and surprising fabrics , materials, designs, cushions, refined accessories and glass works of art. After passing a courtyard where the red color of the bricks contrasts with the intense green of the vegetation, a garden with a fabulous swimming pool will open before your eyes. Secretly hidden, protected from the wind, it is a feast of magnolias, cypresses, wisteria, climbing roses, camellias, aromatic herbs, water lilies, fauns and mythological figures. A space to be enjoyed with all the senses, for its scents, symmetry, nuances, silence, shapes and liveliness.
We will then visit the Church of the Redeemer, a masterpiece by Palladio built in 1576 to fulfill the wishes of the Senate after the terrible plague that decimated the city. We will have the privilege of entering the garden which also includes the historic convent. In the garden of the Convento del Redentore one will discover a more austere balance in the garden with the vegetable garden, strolling among the kiwi vines, roses and aromatic herbs.
Return to Venice in the afternoon. Dinner-cruise on board a private boat to admire the lagoon and the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello by night with music.
Overnight in Venice.
After breakfast, according to the departure time, transfer by private boat to the airport (luggage will be transferred directly to the airport separately).