- United Kingdom - England, Italy, France
- Highlights include the Chelsea Flower Show in London; Le Jardin Exotique d’Eze overlooking the Mediterranean on the French Riviera; Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild near Nice; Villa Lante in Umbria; the UNESCO World Heritage listed garden of Villa d’Este near Rome; Giardino e Rovine di Ninfa near Sorrento; and La Mortella, the famous garden located on the spectacular island of Ischia in Italy.
Garden Tour of Italy, England and France 2016, hosted by Deryn Thorpe
DAY 1 Monday May 9, 2016 Depart Australia
Our holiday begins with an evening Emirates Airlines flight to Nice.
DAY 2 Tuesday May 10, 2016 Nice
This afternoon we arrive in Nice. After clearing Customs we are transferred to our hotel and the afternoon is free for some exploration of this picturesque city on the French Riviera.
DAY 3 Wednesday May 11, 2016 Nice
This morning a local guide takes us sightseeing to see the best of the French Riviera. We explore the narrow picturesque streets of Nice and drive along the Corniche Road which provides spectacular views of the ocean and cliffs as we travel to Monte Carlo, famous for its casino and royal family. In the afternoon, we’ll visit Le Jardin Exotique d’Eze, perched on a high outcrop with the most magnificent views overlooking the sea. This garden with its varied collection of succulents offers a unique experience, and the fortified medieval town of Eze is an archictectural gem. Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner in Nice to get to know Deryn Thorpe and other tour members.
DAY 4 Thursday May 12, 2016 Nice
This morning Deryn will lead the group on our visit to the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. The garden was laid out at the beginning of the 20th century by Baroness Ephrussi de Rothschild, a member of the wealthy Rothschild family. The garden was developed as a series of compartments representing different architectural and planting styles. The garden is the ultimate in manicured French exotic style. Seven gardens laid out around the pink, Venetianstyle villa, represent a voyage around the world including – French, Spanish, Florentine and Japanese, which are furnished with the ‘spoils’ of her travels. The sea views are wonderful and the interiors of the villa are simply beautiful. We will have time for lunch in Menton before visiting Clos du Peyronnet. This estate has remained the property of the same family since 1915. Laid out in the Arts and Crafts style, it takes advantage of the warm climate to nurture exotic plants such as South African bulbs and unusual fruit trees. The landscaping of Clos du Peyronnet combines colours and movements through a play of water staircases, formed by successive ponds, the last step of which is the Mediterranean Sea. Those who would like to dine together can meet the Tour Manager to go to a nearby restaurant.
DAY 5 Friday May 13, 2016 Nice
We will visit La Serre de la Madone this morning. This famous garden was designed by Lawrence Johnston during the interwar years, after he had developed well known Hidcote Manor Garden in England. A visit to a perfumery will give us an insight into the use of the acres of flowers grown in the Riviera. The afternoon and evening are free for individual exploration of Nice and its many charming restaurants.
DAY 6 Saturday May 14, 2016 Florence
Today we drive through the picturesque Tuscan countryside, a landscape dotted with small towns and ancient farmhouses, which has largely remained unchanged over the centuries. Our destination of Florence, the capital of Tuscany, is the home of Michelangelo and the Medici family and the cradle of the Renaissance.
DAY 7 Sunday May 15, 2016 Florence
This morning’s walking tour of Florence takes in the Piazza del Duomo, one of the largest cathedrals in the Christian world. Together with Brunelleschi’s wonderful Dome, we see the Campanile and the Baptistry. We also wander through the Piazza della Signoria, which contains the Loggia della Signoria, the Palazza Vecchio and nearby, the Ponte Vecchio over the Arno River. This afternoon is free to explore Florence as you wish.
DAY 8 Monday May 16, 2016 Florence
Our coach drives us to visit Villa Le Balze an early masterpiece of English architect Cecil Pinsent who designed a Renaissance-style villa set in just over one hectare of garden. The garden was created in 1914 on a very steep site overlooking spectacular views of Florence. To the sides of the house are enclosed formal garden rooms. The lemon garden next to the house has four box-edged grass enclosures surrounding a circular pool. The formal gardens give way to a bosco and olive groves. We continue our travel to explore Villa Gamberaia, set in classic olive-grove country. Restored to its 16th century splendour, the garden is small but idyllic. The main terrace is laid out with parterres de broderie and the water gardens are reminiscent of Persian reflecting pools.
DAY 9 Tuesday May 17, 2016 Florence
Today we travel south to Siena, one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Italy. In the morning we will visit Villa Cetinale, built in the 15th century by the Chigi family, bankers and money lenders for popes and English kings. Additions to the original house and garden were carried out by Carlo Fontana, who was a pupil of Bernini. In the gardens are wonderful statues and the Romitorio, a hermitage where monks lived until near the end of the 19th century. Lord Lambton bought Vila Cetinale from the Chigi family in 1977 and since then the gardens have been immaculately restored and enriched. Lord Lampton died eight years ago. In the afternoon we enjoy a sightseeing tour of Siena with a local guide who will introduce us to the major sights of the city, including the magnificent Piazza del Campo with its splendid civic tower and the enormous, partially completed Duomo. The biennial Palio horse race festival is held here. Siena is also home to the oldest bank in the world and a spectacular town hall. We return to Florence and those who would like to dine together can meet the Tour Manager to go to a nearby restaurant.
DAY 10 Wednesday May 18, 2016 Rome
On the way to Rome we stop to visit the gorgeous formal gardens of Villa Lante. Geometrically organised on four levels along a main axis, emphasised by fountains, it has perfect symmetry. This is a marvellous Renaissance garden in which murmuring water, flashing fountains, shade and sunlight alternate under vast plane trees.
DAY 11 Thursday May 19, 2016 Rome
This morning we enjoy a sightseeing tour with a local guide of Rome, which was once the centre of the Roman Empire. Highlights include the Coliseum, the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica before we walk through the old town to see the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona and the Pantheon, one of the few perfectly preserved ancient Roman buildings. This afternoon is free to explore Rome’s many galleries, museums and shops.
DAY 12 Friday May 20, 2016 Rome
This morning Deryn leads us around the high Renaissance garden of Villa d’Este, renowned for its spectacular use of water, and included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. The garden was created by architect Pirro Ligorio for Cardinal Ippolito d’Este, using water supplied through a tunnelled aqueduct from the River Aniene. Highlights include the miniature Rometta, built in 1568 to represent Rome and its seven hills, the Tiber River, the Walk of the Hundred Fountains and the Organ Fountain. We then visit Villa Adriana, from which Villa d’Este drew inspiration, as well as many statues and marble used for its construction. Hadrian’s Villa is one of the greatest monuments of antiquity and now also accorded UNESCO World Heritage listing. Today the site has wildflowers and tall cypresses growing throughout the complex of over 30 buildings. We return to Rome for an evening at leisure.
DAY 13 Saturday May 21, 2016 Sorrento
Today we travel to Sorrento where we will stay for four nights. On the way we will stop at the unique Giardino e Rovine di Ninfa. The beautiful gardens ramble through the ruins of a medieval town, reclaimed as a garden in 1921. Streams and waterfalls punctuate these romantic gardens, which contain an astonishing collection of plants. As we journey to Sorrento we have wonderful views of the sea, with citrus groves dotting the surrounding countryside. Those who would like to dine together can meet the Tour Manager to go to a nearby restaurant for dinner.
DAY 14 Sunday May 22, 2016 Sorrento
After breakfast we visit Villa Rufolo, one of the oldest surviving palaces in Italy. It dates from the 13th century and overlooks the sea from a series of garden terraces. There are formal beds of colourful annuals, plus palms, cycads and yuccas. On the middle level an oleander walk frames a breathtaking view of the coast. The charming town of Ravello clings to the steep slopes of the Dragon Hill, inspiring its description by Andre Gide as “nearer to sky than it is to the shore”. We have time for lunch among Ravello’s enticing alleys, stairways and roofed passages before continuing to Villa Cimbrone, set on a cliff-top promontory. Full of statues and small temples, the garden features a long, wisteria-clad pergola, rose garden and bedding out gardens. The ‘Walk of the Infinite’ ends in a belvedere, situated where the views and its height above the sea leaves you breathless.
DAY 15 Monday May 23, 2016 Sorrento
Today we travel to the island of Ischia to visit the famous garden, La Mortella. Here we explore a 2 hectare garden massed with rare trees, palms, shrubs, ferns and bulbs. Features include an Islamic-style rill of water leading to a pool. This is part of an extension to the garden by famous British landscape designer Russell Page for Lady Walton. His design incorporates the dramatic topography into the site and includes a series of rock pools, their banks a home for bog plants, ferns and bamboo, which contrast with the parched Mediterranean hillside. The tropical glasshouse has hummingbirds as the entire design was created to delight all senses. On our return, the remaining afternoon is free for individual exploration.
DAY 16 Tuesday May 24, 2016 Sorrento
A highlight of the tour, today we will visit the ancient ruins of Pompeii, the Roman city destroyed by an eruption of the volcano Vesuvius in AD79. The impressive ruins help us understand what life was like at the height of the Roman Empire, 2000 years ago. Our guided tour of this ancient city is with a local expert. The Casa dei Vettii is the most lavishly decorated dwelling in the town. Faithfully restored, it is the finest example of a Pompeiian house and garden. On our return to Sorrento the afternoon is free for individual exploration. The Tour Manager will meet those wishing to dine as a group.
DAY 17 Wednesday May 25, 2016 London
Today we fly to London for three nights. To begin our exploration of this fascinating and historic city, we meet our London Blue Badge guide for a comprehensive tour of the main sights. We take in Buckingham Palace, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, The Strand, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to shop or sightsee amidst the bustle of the city. Our Tour Manager will meet those wishing to dine with the group in the lobby to go to a nearby restaurant for dinner or you may like to take in a show in London’s theatre district.
DAY 18 Thursday May 26, 2016 London
The highlight of our time in London is our escorted visit with Deryn Thorpe to the famous Chelsea Flower Show. It is the summer event in the English horticultural calendar and boasts about twenty amazing landscaped gardens built by prominent landscapers and more than five hundred displays featuring the best flowers, plants and trees and many new introductions. For gardeners, it is the experience of a lifetime and a highlight of our garden tour.
DAY 19 Friday May 27, 2016 London
This morning we visit Hampton Court Palace and Garden. The Palace is an interesting insight into the activities of British monarchs from Henry VIII onwards. The garden is most famous for its Great Vine, planted in 1768, which still produces hundreds of Black Hamburg grapes each year. The Pond Gardens offer a magnificent display of bedding plants. The newly restored Privy Garden of William III is a spectacular example of the Baroque, with parterres, cut work, clipped yews and spring and summer displays of 17th century plants. In the afternoon, we visit a private garden in West London. This is a true collectors’ garden, with perennial borders, a knot garden, bog garden, conservatory and views to a private park. We will have a farewell dinner this evening to say goodbye to our new friends.
DAY 20 Saturday May 28, 2016 Departure
The morning is free for individual activities. In the afternoon we visit the Royal Horticultural Garden, Wisley. The RHS was given Wisley Estate in trust by Sir Thomas Hanbury in 1903. The site trials flowers, vegetables and fruit and highlights include the three conservatories, rose garden, magnificent specimens of Japanese maples and spectacular perennial borders. We continue to Heathrow airport for our return flight to Australia.
DAY 21 Sunday May 29, 2016 In flight
DAY 22 Monday May 30, 2016 Australia
The group arrives in Australia and tour arrangements conclude.
- Garden Tour of England Italy France 2016 with Deryn Thorpe Tour Brochure Download
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Cost of this tour is $9,995 AUD per person twin share, plus air taxes, fuel and government surcharges (as at 1 /6/15) of $735AUD. A single supplement of $1,995 AUD is available.
Included in the price are:
- Return economy-class air travel from Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to and return from Europe
- Travel in first-class chartered coach
- Accommodation in first-class and moderate first-class, centrally located hotels with private facilities throughout the tour. Hotel taxes and service charges
- Buffet or continental breakfasts in Europe. A welcome dinner in Nice and a farewell dinner in London
- Entry to gardens, museums and attractions as detailed in the itinerary
- Tour leadership by Deryn Thorpe
- Tour management by Travelrite International