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Join Hester on our Lake Como Italian Gardens Tour

Gardening & Green Spaces // By Hester Macdonald // June 13, 2017

In partnership with Kuoni, WRS is offering an exclusive Italian gardens tour with our very own Hester Macdonald - award-winning garden designer, historical gardens guide, and host of Dig It! on WRS.

Kuoni Join Hester on our Lake Como Italian Gardens Tour

Lake Como Italian Gardens Tour 

26 – 29 September, 2017

Kuoni and WRS invite you on a luxury 4-day Italian gardens retreat. Choose to depart from either Geneva or Zurich, then sit back, relax, and enjoy the lovely itinerary we've organised to show off some of the best gardens in Northern Italy. Hester MacDonald brings her botanical expertise and sunny personality as your primary guide on this 4-day excursion. 


To book this exclusive gardens tour, or simply to inquire further, send us a message


Itinerary with Kuoni and WRS

Day 1 - Tuesday 26 September 2017


Depart from Geneva (8.20AM) or Zurich (9.20AM) and arrive at Lugano Airport

Meet with your driver and depart by private coach to Tremezzina via Menaggio in Italy.

Visit the Villa Balbianello. This villa is considered to be one of the most beautiful villas on Lake Como. The Villa is situated on a wooded promontory jutting into the lake. The gardens are structured on panoramic terraces and filled with interesting and colourful plants, including gigantic plane trees, magnolias, cypresses, holm oaks, and wisterias, plus cyclamen, rhododendrons, azaleas, and snowdrops in spring. Thanks to its extraordinary setting, this villa has been the location for a number of famous movies, such as Jackpot, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and 007 - Casino Royale.

After the visit, lunch in a restaurant nearby.

In the afternoon, another breathtaking visit is on the program: Villa Carlotta with its magnificent botanical garden and art masterpieces in over 70.000 square meters of gardens and museum. The gardens are worth visiting year-round with ancient cedars and sequoias, huge planes, and tropical plants. Other notable points include the rock garden, the fern valley, the rhododendron wood, and the bamboo garden, as well as the wonderful view of the lake.

Late afternoon, after a one-hour drive, you will reach your hotel.

Accommodation for three nights at the SHERATON LAKE COMO HOTEL **** or similar.

Dinner at the hotel.


Day 2 - Wednesday 27 September 2017 


Breakfast at the hotel.

Departure by coach to Bellagio, the “Pearl of the Lake”. Bellagio is located exactly halfway between the two southernmost branches of the lake and is famous worldwide for its beautiful villas overlooking the water.

The first visit of the day is dedicated to the Villa Melzi. This neoclassical villa is surrounded by a vast botanical garden. As well as the azaleas and gigantic rhododendrons, a Japanese style pond, and an orangery, the gardens also include exotic and rare plants, specimen trees, elegant camellia hedges, and many other plant species that thrive in the sub-tropical climate of Lake Como.

After the visit, a short and picturesque ferry ride will take you to Varenna, an attractive fishing village on the eastern shore of Lake Como, overlooking the central part of the lake towards Bellagio.

After a brief walk from the jetty, you will discover the garden of the Villa Monastero. The garden is terraced, giving outstanding views of the Lake at every turn, and it is a wonderful botanical garden, full of exotic and unusual plants, as well as a collection of English roses, oaks, and other more familiar plants. The lower wooded areas provide welcome shade on hotter days, and the upper formal areas are full of statues and garden structures of the period.

Lunch in a nearby restaurant.

Cruise back by ferry to Bellagio in order to visit Villa Serbelloni. The lower part of the garden is made up of informal parkland. The upper garden is wooded and has a belvedere with a fine view of the Lecco branch of Lake Como. The formal section of the garden, near the house, was laid out in the 18th century and has curved terraces with topiary flowers and shrubs.

After the visit, drive back to the hotel and have dinner at leisure.


Day 3 - Thursday 28 September 2017


Breakfast at the hotel.

Departure by coach with a specialised English-speaking guide to Lake Maggiore. After an approximately one hour drive, arrive in Stresa on Lago Maggiore.

From there, after a short cruise by ferry, you will reach Isola Bella, the second largest of the Borromean Islands.

This small rocky island is fully occupied by the Borromeo Palazzo and its garden extravaganza, both dating back to the 17th century. The majestic building, mainly baroque in style, occupies most of the island and was designed and created by the famous architects and artisans of the period. However, it is the fabulous park that leaves visitors speechless: an Italian garden composed of ten overlapping terraces in the shape of a cut-off pyramid, embellished with statues, fountains, rare shrubs, and exotic plants and flowers. The upper section of the garden is dominated by the unicorn – the coat of arms of the House of Borromeo.

After the visit, you will have some time to stroll around and enjoy a light lunch on your own.

In the afternoon, again by ferry, you will be heading to Isola Madre. The biggest of all the islands of the Borromeo Gulf, it was first converted into an orchard, then an olive tree grove, and finally into a citrus grove. Today Isola Madre is a botanical garden famous for the rare plants hailing from all over the globe. The English-style park offers shady boulevards where you can promenade or stop by a telescope to enjoy the panorama.

Later in the afternoon, you will reach Stresa, by ferry. There will be some leisure time to stroll around this small town facing the Borromean Islands.

Late afternoon, drive back to your hotel in Como. In the evening, dinner in a restaurant.


Day 4 - Friday 29 September 2017 


Breakfast at the hotel.

Checkout and store luggage with the hotel.

Short walk to the Villa Erba where the 2017 edition of the “Orticulario” will be taking place. Orticulario is a celebration of nature in all its forms. Gardens by the brightest and best young Italian designers are on display, including top-quality plants from the best growers in the region, accessories, art, food, and everything to delight the senses. You will have an exclusive tour of the show gardens and an opportunity to meet the designers and artisans involved. The event takes place in the noble setting of the Villa Erba.

By noon, depart by coach from the hotel to the centre of Como.

Lunch in a restaurant.

Como is a city steeped in history. Due to its strategic position on the lake, it was a worthy competitor to Milan in the past and the Old City boasts lovely 19th-century palaces as well as beautiful churches and walls dating back to the Middle Ages.

Some leisure time for shopping and sightseeing in the afternoon.

Transfer to Lugano Airport. Arrive in Geneva 7PM. Arrive in Zurich 7.45PM.


Your Hotel

Sheraton Lake Como Hotel ****, Como

Comfortable, modern, first-class hotel set in a unique environment within a large garden. The Sheraton Lake Como Hotel is just minutes by car from the historic centre of Como and from Cernobbio.

The hotel offers modern and comfortable rooms, 3 restaurants, an outdoor pool (in season), and a fitness room.


Interested in this exclusive gardens tour? Send us a message




Package price per person in a double room  

min. 10 pers. CHF 2’195.- / min. 15 pers. CHF 1’995.-

Supplement for a double room single use: CHF 385.-



  • - The flights with Etihad Airlines Zurich/Geneva-Lugano-Zurich/Geneva in economy class including airport taxes and fuel surcharge
  • - 1 piece of checked luggage per person (23 kg)
  • - All transfers, excursions by private modern coach and boat/ferry as per program
  • - Accommodation in a double room at the Sheraton Lake Como Hotel or similar including daily breakfast
  • - All meals indicated in the program (without beverages)
  • - All entrance fees to the visited sites
  • - The whole tour from/to Geneva accompanied by Hester Macdonald from WRS (except on 28.09.17)
  • - One English speaking local guide on 28.09.17
  • - All applicable taxes
  • - Travel documents in English



  • - Meals that are not included and all the beverages
  • - Travel insurances (cancellation, luggage, etc.)
  • - Tips to driver, local guide
  • - All personal expenses


Prices and services are subject to changes until final reservation. The prices are based on a min. of 10 registered persons and 15 registered persons.


For more information do not hesitate to contact Kuoni: 

  • MICEexperts
  • Kuoni Voyages SA
  • Boulevard Georges Favon 3, 1204 Genève
  • T : +41 (0) 58 702 70 40 - F : +41 (0) 58 702 67 18
  • travelclub@kuoni-voyages.ch - www.kuoni.ch



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