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Lap up the gardens and villas with of Lake Como with Kirsty Fergusson 24th to 30th April 2025

Tours | April 2025

The mountains that fringe the crystal waters of Lake Como provide a dramatic backdrop to elegant villas and some of the world’s finest gardens. Based in the wonderfully charming lakeside town of Varenna, we’ll explore much of the lake by ferry and hydrofoil, including the pristine villas built over the centuries by wealthy Milanese families, and the superb gardens surrounding many of them. Led by expert horticulturalist and Oldie tour veteran Kirsty Fergusson, our spring visit to Lake Como promises to be a highlight of the calendar for 2025.

Kirsty Fergusson

We will be staying at the delightful Royal Victoria Hotel on Varenna’s main square, a two-minute walk from both Villa Monastero and Villa Cipressi. A former textile mill, it was converted into a hotel in the 1830s. Furnishings are simple and traditional. There are 43 bedrooms overlooking the lake or the town square, a terrace with a swimming pool and outstanding lake views. There are two restaurants; one in a glass-fronted annexe on the town square, and one with a lake-facing veranda. The Spa Suite is available for private hire and has a sauna, steam room and multi-sensory showers.

DAY 1 Depart Heathrow with BA at 10.15, arriving Milan (Linate) at 13.15, before transferring to the lakeside town of Varenna, where we stay at the four-star Royal Victoria Hotel for the duration of the tour.

Royal Victoria Hotel, Varenna, overlooking Lake Como

DAY 2 This morning we cross the lake by hydrofoil to Bellagio, known as the Pearl of the Lake. At the Villa Melzi, exotic species thrive in the warm climate – the garden is renowned in springtime for its riotous display of azaleas. We will have lunch on the lakefront before a private visit to the Villa Serbelloni gardens.


DAY 3 Today we will visit two gardens in Varenna on foot, starting at the supremely elegant Villa Cipressi garden. After lunch at the villa we will continue to the spectacular botanical gardens at the nearby Villa Monastero.

Villa Monastero

DAY 4 We will be collected by a private boat this morning, for a cruise first to Villa Carlotta, which was built in the 17th century and spreads over 14 acres which tumble down to the water’s edge. We then continue to Villa Balbianello, which sits on a promontory in an impossibly romantic setting.

Villa Balbianello

DAY 5 We will take the ferry to the town of Como, the largest on the lake, where we will visit the cathedral and enjoy a walking tour of the town centre. Continuing on the brief ferry over to Cernobbio, we’ll enjoy an exquisite lunch at the fabulous Villa D’Este, one of the finest hotels in Italy, after which we’ll visit the villa’s exceptional gardens.

Villa D’Este

DAY 6 The morning is free to explore independently before we take the ferry north to Gravedona ed Uniti, just a couple of miles from the Swiss border on the north-west shore of the lake. We will visit a 15th-century wine cellar for a tasting of regional wines, followed by lunch.

Gravedona ed Uniti

DAY 7 We depart for Milan Linate after breakfast; depart on BA flight at 14.00, arrive Heathrow at 15.00.

HOW TO BOOK: Call Kirker Holidays on 020 7593 2284, or email oldie@kirkerholidays.com. Price per person: £3,974, which includes return flights, six nights' accommodation with breakfast, six dinners at local restaurants, six lunches including one at Villa d'Este, all sightseeing, entrance fees and gratuities. Single supplement: £890. Deluxe lake-view room supplement: £600

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