Vicenza: Gardens and Palladian Villas of the Veneto
Monday 6 to Friday 10 May 2019
The Venetian Empire, originally maritime and eastward-looking, turned, in the 15th century, towards the “terra firma” of mainland Italy. One by one, former independent city states, such as Verona and Padua, came under Venetian rule. More than any other city, Vicenza rejoiced in the cultural impact of Venetian colonisation and, in the 16th century, Andrea Palladio adorned the city with palaces and the surrounding countryside with villas for Vicentine nobility and Venetian settlers.
The five-day tour, based in the centre of this delightful city, takes in, not only the important Palladian buildings in Vicenza, but also explores nearby villas built by Palladio and his followers; some of these have enchanting gardens, others are spectacularly placed within the landscape. In a number of these villas, generous hosts will be giving us lunch.
Cathedrals, Castles, Hill Towns and a Garden in Puglia
Sunday 12 to Saturday 17 May 2019
Puglia, Italy’s heal was, from the 7th century BC, a flourishing Greek colony. It became the western outpost of the Eastern Empire, then part of the dynamic and sophisticated Norman Kingdom of Sicily. In more modern times, Puglia was quite unreasonably neglected by the traveller. However, the combination of magnificent Norman castles, Romanesque sea-girt cathedrals, gently rolling limestone hills and white stone towns, is truly irresistible. In many ways, Puglia is the Cotswolds of the Adriatic!
During this six-day tour, based in the splendid Baroque city of Lecce and a five-star hotel not far from Martina Franca, we will visit some of the cathedrals, castles and churches that are scattered across the region, we will sample wines and food in masseria, we will visit one spectacular garden and there will be time explore towns both inland and on the coast.
Late Spring in Denmark
Monday 27 May to Saturday 1 June 2019
Why is Denmark, a country so close to Britain, so intriguingly and beguilingly different? Maybe the all-pervading sea, which surrounds the 400 or so islands that make up the country and threads its way through the city of Copenhagen, has something to do with it. Maybe the gentle, rolling, soft fertile landscape has fashioned a particular Danish attitude to life.
There is a great deal to see. Away from Copenhagen, there are castles and manor houses to visit, a tiny palace set in a 19th century Romantic landscape, churches with 14th century frescoes and a cathedral with a remarkable collection of royal tombs, including that of the present Queen. There are delightful private gardens with welcoming hosts, a contemporary art gallery with views across to Sweden and very comfortable hotels.
Private Gardens of the Western Cape
Wednesday 30 October – Friday 8 November 2019
The astonishing range of the natural flora of the Western Cape Province of South Africa is testimony to the perfect climatic conditions, which give rise to an equally astonishing diversity of gardens. Gardening in South Africa is brimming with self-confidence and enthusiasm; gardeners are increasingly taking inspiration from the indigenous planting of the fynbos, while simultaneously adopting European planting ideas. In style, they range from the extraordinary potager at Babylonstoren (designed by Patrice Taravella of the Prieuré d’Orsan in France) in which everything, from prickly pears to strawberries, is grown organically, to the grand formal Cape Dutch gardens at Stellenberg (partly designed by David Hicks) and Vergelegen
The plantsmanship throughout is superb, whether in the gardens at Elgin, which we visit just after the well-known Elgin open gardens weekends, when they are at their very peak of perfection, or the private gardens in Constantia. There is something here for every horticultural taste; roses in profusion, Agapanthus beginning to flower in clouds of blue and white, Salvias grown to perfection, the Proteas, Leucospermums and Pelargoniums of the native fynbos and wonderful trees, particularly the august, almost elephantine, camphor trees at Vergelegen. To all this, add delicious food and wine and the spectacular landscape of mountains and the green rolling hills of the winelands.
In this nine day tour, we visit 19 gardens, all but two are privately owned, so we can only visit them by kind invitation of the owners. We visit gardens created around the Cape Dutch houses (which have lovely interiors) in the centre of wine estates, private contemporary gardens on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain and the sculpture garden created by South Africa’s most significant sculptor,Dylan Lewis. We are based in Stellenbosch in the heart of the winelands. This lovely university town, cradled by the Simonsberg and Hottentots-Holland Mountains, is the second oldest settlement in the Cape Province and makes the perfect base for the tour, with attractive architecture, a mass of shops, cafes and restaurants within a few minutes’ walk of our hotel, and the oldest botanic garden in South Africa.
For more details on any of these tours please contact James Bolton on firstname.lastname@example.org or by using our Contact Form