The following itinerary describes a range of gardens, villas and palaces which we plan to visit. Many are accessible to the public, but others require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours, flight schedules and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents prior to departure. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunches & dinners indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner.
Verona - 6 nights
Day 1: Wednesday 12 May, Arrive Venice – Transfer to Verona
- Welcome Meeting
- Welcome Dinner at Giardino Giusti
Group members travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight are scheduled to arrive at Venice’s Marco Polo Airport in the early afternoon. On arrival you will be transferred to your hotel in Verona by private coach (approximately 2 hours’ drive from Venice airport). If you are travelling independently, please meet the ASA group in Verona at Hotel Touring. ASA staff can also arrange an independent transfer for you. After check in we commence our program with a welcome meeting at the hotel. We then transfer a short distance to the famous Giardino Giusti, where our Welcome Dinner will be served as a buffet. The Giardino Giusti was originally owned by the Giusti family, who came to Verona from Tuscany in the 15th century. An archway leads into a courtyard and a large grilled gate sets off the garden beyond. An ancient cypress allée lines the path to this gate, leading across the shallow, level garden to the hill of San Zeno in Monte. The garden also features a maze and terraces which command sweeping views of the city, Tyrol Alps and Mantua in the distance. (Overnight Verona) D
Day 2: Thursday 13 May, Verona – Villa Allegri Arvedi – Villa Rizzardi – Giardini Giusti – Verona
- Villa Allegri Arvedi, Cuzzano (exclusive private visit)
- Villa Rizzardi and the Pojega garden: Guided Tour, Lunch & Wine Tasting (exclusive private visit)
- Giardino Giusti & private 20th-century apartments in the Palazzo (exclusive private visit)
Today we begin our touring program with three of the Veneto’s most outstanding gardens. First, we visit Villa Allegri Arvedi, located just north of Verona in Cuzzano. Here, we take a guided tour of the gardens and part of the Villa with the owner. The small, uniquely intact 17th-century garden uses perspective views across the terraced hillside upon which it stands to suggest visually that the surrounding countryside is part of its domain. As we walk up to the villa, we experience the spatial subtleties governing our progress and perception. The villa has a glorious panorama.
The estate of Pojega, already home to established vineyards and a villa, was purchased by the noble Rizzardi family in 1650, and in 1783 Antonio Rizzardi commissioned Luigi Trezza to design the garden. It is considered the last flowering garden in the classical Italian style, although it includes elements of the informal English style that was fashionable in the late 18th century. Rizzardi was inspired by the woodcut illustrations of the enigmatic Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499), and elements of these images can be found in the garden. Its best-known feature is its ‘green theatre’ of box and cypress hedges, connected to the villa by a cypress avenue. Set out over three levels, it also has a hornbeam avenue, a hexagonal belvedere, parterres, and a Roman ‘ruin’, a tempietto. After a tasting of the estate’s wines, we enjoy a light lunch.
We return to Verona, and the Giardino Giusti, where we dined yesterday. This afternoon we are in for a treat of a different kind. We shall take a tour of the gardens and then, by special appointment, we shall visit the Palazzo’s 20th-century apartments. This part of the building was damaged in World War II, but was restored in the 1950s by Alberto and Mary Farina, who rented the apartment from the Giusti family. The most important room is the Aurora Room, which was decorated in 1766 with frescoes of mythological scenes by the Veronese artist Francesco Lorenzi, a follower of Tiepolo. We shall also view the Dining Room, decorated with landscapes inspired by 19th-century engravings of views of Verona; the Horseshoe Drawing Room, with curious early 20th-century horseshoe-shaped furnishings; the bedroom, the ceiling of which was decorated by Lorenzi with a frescoed allegory of the Triumph of Time and Truth; the Sculpture Room; and the Fireplace Room, with painted ornamental friezes on the ceiling beams, added in 1926 by Giovanni and Eleonora Giusti. (Overnight Verona) BL
Day 3: Friday 14 May, Verona – Villa Barbarigo – Arquà Petrarca – Verona
- Villa Barbarigo Pizzoni Ardemani: Monumental Garden of Valsanzibio
- Lunch at Ristorante Miravalle: Traditional food and wine of the Euganean Hills
- Village of Arquà Petrarca, incl. Casa del Petrarca and Petrarch’s Tomb
Today we head east to the Euganean Hills, which form part of a national park and are known for their rural beauty and fine wines. Our first stop is Villa Barbarigo Pizzoni Ardemani and its Monumental Garden of Valsanzibio – one of the most intricate and unspoilt of the Veneto’s Baroque gardens. The villa was the property of the powerful Venetian Barbarigo family, who retreated to this estate from the plague in the 17th century. The design of the garden, which dates to the 1660s, is relatively straightforward but its iconography is complex. We shall take a specially-arranged Botanical and Pruning tour; our guide will also show us how the itinerary through the garden is designed as an allegorical journey, from the pagan to the Christian world, and as a journey toward humankind’s salvation. It is a world of architecture, streams, waterfalls, fountains, small ponds, water games and fish ponds, hundreds of different trees and plants, spread over an area of more than 10 hectares. The garden is home to a 400-year-old Boxwood Labyrinth – likely to be the oldest one of its kind in the world. There are also trees between 300 and 900 years old, and centuries-old specimens from four continents (Asia, America, Africa and Europe).
We continue to the beautiful medieval village of Arquà Petrarca, named as one of the ‘most beautiful villages in Italy’ (‘Borghi più belli d’Italia’). Here we lunch on the traditional food and wine of the region at Ristorante Miravalle. It was in Arquà Petrarca that the great 14th-century poet and scholar, Petrarch, found peace and calm: “I have built myself a house, small, but pleasant and decent, in the midst of slopes clothed with vines and olives”. This afternoon, with a local g, will we will explore the significance of Petrarch in Italy’s literary canon, with a visit to the poet’s little house-museum and tomb. (Overnight Verona) BL
Day 4: Saturday 15 May, Verona – Maser – Vicenza – Verona
- Villa Barbaro, Maser
- Teatro Olimpico, Vicenza
- Palladian Palaces, Vicenza (exteriors)
- Villa Rotonda, Vicenza
We travel north-east from Verona to spend a day exploring the villas, palaces and civic buildings of Andrea Palladio, who is considered by many the most influential individual in the history of Western villa architecture. At Maser we shall visit one of Palladio’s most important villas, the Villa Barbaro. Rises in grain prices during the 16th century encouraged Venetian aristocrats to build villas on Venice’s terra firma. Villas like that at Maser were therefore working farms, unlike many of their counterparts in other parts of Italy. This beautiful house was decorated by Paolo Veronese with frescoes of theatre and pastoral scenes. Its central, residential, section echoes the style and proportions of a classical temple. Two wings that housed farm machinery and agricultural produce flank this grand central element. Two pavilions that held dovecotes in turn abut these wings, framing and thus unifying the whole façade.
At the age of 16 years Palladio, son of a Paduan stonemason, moved from Padua to the city of Vicenza, where he would reside for most of his life. The majority of his villas are located in the province of Vicenza, while his palazzi (palaces) are concentrated in the city itself. We begin our visit to the city with Palladio’s famous theatre. The Teatro Olimpico (Olympic Theatre), constructed between 1580 and 1585, is the earliest surviving enclosed theatre in the world. Its trompe-l’œil stage scenery, designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi, gives the appearance of long streets receding to a distant horizon. It was installed in 1585 for the very first performance held in the theatre, and is the oldest surviving stage set still in existence.
The Basilica Palladiana’s most notable feature is its loggia. This loggia clothed an earlier, 15th-century Gothic building known as the Palazzo della Ragione. It was the seat of government and also housed a number of shops on its ground floor. When part of the building collapsed in the 16th century, Vicenza’s Council of One Hundred commissioned many architects to submit designs and selected Palladio to reconstruct the building in April 1549. Palladio added a new outer marble shell in the classical style; his loggia and a portico blanket the building’s original Gothic core. We shall also view a number of Palladio’s palace façades.
On the outskirts of Vicenza we shall next visit Palladio’s Villa Capra ‘La Rotonda’, built not as a functioning estate like his villa at Maser but as a retreat from the city in which theatrical entertainments took place. This strictly symmetrical villa is considered one of Palladio’s best-known legacies to the architectural world. Monumental, temple-like porticoes grace each of its four walls; these porticoes represent the four seasons, a favourite theme of Renaissance art, literature, music and architecture. The villa’s grand interior space rises to a majestic dome. (Overnight Verona) B
Day 5: Sunday 16 May, Verona – Mantua – Verona
- Ducal Palace, Mantua
- Church of Sant’Andrea, Mantua (time permitting)
- Palazzo Te, Mantua
- Church of San Zeno, Verona
This morning we head south to Mantova, where we visit the Palazzo Ducale of the Gonzaga family, petty tyrants who rose to Ducal status during the 15th century and made their palace the focus of a vital Renaissance culture. The Ducal Palace is a vast, rambling edifice whose major treasure is the Camera degli Sposi (Marriage Room) in which Mantegna painted his extraordinary scenes of the life of Marquis Ludovico and his wife, Barbara of Brandenburg. These paintings give a rare vision of court life during the Renaissance.
Time permitting, we then visit Leon Battista Alberti’s great church of Sant’Andrea, which prefigured the majesty of High Renaissance churches like Michelangelo’s St Peter’s.
After time for lunch at leisure we shall visit Palazzo Te, a masterpiece of Giulio Romano. Constructed 1524-1534 for Federico Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, it was built as a pleasure palace or ‘villa suburbana’, on the site of the family’s stables at Isola del Te, on the fringe of the marshes just outside Mantua’s city walls.
We return to Verona and make a stop a little to the west of the city centre to visit the church of San Zeno, which has a famous altarpiece by Andrea Mantegna. (Overnight Verona) B
Day 6: Monday 17 May, Verona – Padua – Verona
- UNESCO World Heritage-listed Orto Botanico (Botanical Garden), Padua
- Basilica del Santo (Basilica of St Antony of Padua) & Donatello’s Equestrian Statue of Gattamelata
- 16th-century Anatomical Theatre, Palazzo Bo, University of Padua
- Giotto’s fresco cycle, Scrovegni Chapel
Today we drive to the city of Padua (Padova). Our first visit is to the Orto Botanico (Botanical Garden), which was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1997. The garden is of great interest both for its age (created in 1545, it is the world’s oldest academic botanical garden that is still in its original location) and for its original purpose, still served today, as a centre for scientific research, particularly in assessing the pharmaceutical properties of medicinal plants. The gardens retain their original plan, a circular central area representing the world, bounded by a ring of water. Botanical gardens of all ages combine science and beauty; Padua’s venerable institution constitutes a particularly fascinating combination of functional, aesthetic and symbolic elements.
We next visit the great complex of Sant’Antonio, dedicated to St. Antony of Padua. This huge domed basilica resembles the architecture of St Mark’s; both derive from Byzantine domed churches. Sant’Antonio is a treasure trove of wonderful artworks, not least Donatello’s magnificent high altar with its illusionistic reliefs depicting events in the life of the saint. Outside the church is Donatello’s magnificent equestrian statue (1453) of the Renaissance condottiere (mercenary leader) Erasmo da Narni, nicknamed ‘Gattamelata’. He served the Republic of Venice, which ruled Padua at the time. This equestrian statue emulated the equestrian portraits of antiquity and directly or indirectly inspired all Renaissance and post-Renaissance equestrian statues, including 19th-century equestrian portraits of imperial dignitaries in Australia.
We next visit the famous University of Padua, with its magnificent early Anatomy Theatre situated in the Palazzo Bo. This wooden structure is the earliest surviving anatomy theatre in the world; scholars know of earlier theatres, but these were moveable and/or temporary. The dissection of human bodies which developed earlier in the 16th century by anatomists such as Andreas Vesalius (1514-64), author of De Humani Corporis Fabrica and lecturer at the University of Padua, not only advanced anatomical knowledge but also inspired artists like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci to dissect corpses in order to develop their understanding of anatomy.
In the afternoon we shall visit the Scrovegni Chapel (Arena Chapel), which derives its names from the fact that the money lender, Enrico Scrovegni, built the chapel on the site of Padua’s Roman arena (amphitheatre), whose walls still surround the precinct; Scrovegni built the chapel to atone for the sin of usury. The great artist Giotto di Bondone (1266/7-1337) decorated the chapel in 1303-1305 with one of the most important fresco cycles in Western art. The chapel has no interior architectural articulation, which suggests Scrovegni intended that it be decorated with frescoes. Giotto’s Life of the Virgin and Life of Christ and his grisaille Virtues and Vices form a watershed in the evolution of Italian art, for they are monumental and naturalistic, and in them human action takes place in three dimensional space that is energised by the gestures of Giotto’s figures. (Overnight Verona) B
Moltrasio - 2 nights
Day 7: Wednesday 29 April, Verona – Isola del Garda – Moltrasio
- Isola del Garda & the Villa Borghese Cavazza: guided tour of the Gardens and two rooms of the Villa
This morning we depart from Verona and journey west to Lake Garda, where we take a boat to Isola del Garda. In its long, varied history, the island has served as the site of a Roman burial ground, pirate lair, Franciscan monastery, fortification, and residential villa. It was acquired in 1870 by the Duke and Duchess De Ferrari, ancestors of the present owners, who transformed the villa into a Venetian Gothic-style palazzo, now known as the Villa Borghese Cavazza. In front of the villa, the central terrace features a classical Italian-style garden with shaped hedges. Nearby, there are a number of stately palms native to the Canary Islands, alongside box and grass enclosures and agaves. On the lower terrace, on the banks of the lake, fruit trees such as persimmons, lemons, pears, pomegranates, olives, oranges, grapefruit, prickly pears, jujubes and capers can be found. The park and the garden were designed to be seen from the upper terraces but also from boats crossing to the island. We shall take a guided tour of the garden and part of the Villa, and partake in a light lunch, which will include local cheeses, cold meats, olive oil, olives and wine.
We then continue to Moltrasio, our base for the next two nights. (Overnight Moltrasio) BL
Day 8: Wednesday 19 May, Moltrasio – Tremezzo – Bellagio – Varenna – Moltrasio
- Villa Carlotta, Tremezzo
- Villa Melzi, Bellagio (optional)
- Villa Monastero, Varenna: House Museum and Botanical Gardens
Today, our transport is by private motorboat. This morning we cruise across Lake Como from Moltrasio to 18th-century Villa Carlotta, a garden with a huge botanical collection and a traditional Italian formal design, unlike most lake gardens that were heavily influenced by the more fluid layouts of English landscape gardening; it thus has a wide variety of architectural features – parterres, stairways, ponds, fountains and so on. In April and May Villa Carlotta offers a sea of multi-coloured azaleas shaped in high, rounded cushions alongside the garden paths.
Our next stop is Bellagio, where there will be time for lunch at leisure, and the option to visit Villa Melzi.
We continue in our boat to Villa Monastero, on the lake’s eastern shore. Its site was originally home to a 12th-century Cistercian convent. It has undergone many changes of ownership and extensive renovations over the centuries; the present structure dates to the 17th century. In the 19th century, many personalities from the literary and cultural scene visited and stayed at the Villa. In 1918 the Italian State confiscated the Villa to pay its war debts. The house, which now belongs to the Italian state, is recognised as a House Museum. Its 14 rooms contain original furniture and decorations. The gardens of Villa Monastero are expansive, extending for 2 kilometres down the shore of the lake. Laid out in terraces, the garden has been set out in different patterns over the years while maintaining a main recurring theme. The mild climate allows numerous botanic species, both indigenous and exotic, to grow. (Overnight Moltrasio) B
Stresa - 2 nights
Day 9: Thursday 20 May, Moltrasio – Lenno – Bisuschio – Stresa
- Villa del Balbianello, Lenno
- Villa Cicogna Mozzoni, Bisuschio
- Lunch at Villa Cicogna Mozzoni (to be confirmed)
We depart Moltrasio by coach to visit Villa del Balbianello, an exquisite villa set in woods of pine, soaring cypress and oak with pollarded plane trees and manicured lawns and flowerbeds. Facing the promontory of Serbelloni, from the Lavedo point it boasts unparalleled views down the three branches of the lake. The first villa was built in 1540, but was later moved to a new site inland to protect it from flooding. Cardinal Durini erected a casino with a loggia in 1790, open to the sun and breezes; today it is trellised with Ficus pumila (creeping fig) and flanked by a library and music room.
Villa Cicogna Mozzoni, located on a steep hillside in the village of Bisuschio. Its garden looks out upon sweeping views, with a glimpse of Lake Lugano. Founded in the 15th century, the villa took its present form in the 16th century. The Cicogna family, who inherited it in 1580, still owns this lovely villa. The formal gardens rise on 7 narrow terraces and adjacent to them is a small sunken garden with formal box parterres and patches of lawn. We tour the villa residence, which houses a fine antique collection. Above the villa is a great terrace with Renaissance grottoes offering shade in summer, and a magnificent water stair. Flowing water was an essential feature of Italian formal gardens, offering a cooling spectacle and a lively, burbling sound. We shall have lunch in this exquisite villa (subject to confirmation closer to the date), then take a tour of the villa and gardens.
We continue to our hotel in Stresa, located on the shores of Lake Maggiore. (Overnight Stresa) BL
Day 10: Friday 21 May, Stresa – Lake Maggiore – Lake Orta – Stresa
- Isola Bella, Lake Maggiore
- Isola Madre, Lake Maggiore
- Orta San Giulio & Isola San Giulio, Lake Orta
We take the ferry across Lake Maggiore to Count Carlo Borromeo’s Isola Bella (1632), one of Italy’s most extraordinary Baroque gardens. Located on an island off Stresa, it appears to float like a palatial barge, with 10 terraces rising like a ship’s prow from the reflecting waters. It shares the island with the Borromeo palace and its adjacent village.
We also visit Isola Madre, with semi-tropical plantings amongst which white peacocks roam. In 1845, Flaubert wrote, “Isola Madre is the most sensual place that I have ever seen in the world”. It has a fine swamp cypress, citrus fruit trees, crape myrtle, hibiscus, leptospermum and acacias. The landscape woods have groves of native trees – aromatic cypress, bay and pine – interplanted with camphor, pepper trees and styrax. Its pathways are lined with magnolias, camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas.
This afternoon we visit Lake Orta, to the west of Lake Maggiore, a tiny jewel surrounded by hills and mountains acting as a great natural theatre enveloping local towns and villages. The most beautiful of these is Orta San Giulio, whose town hall has a frescoed façade. Its narrow streets are lined with Rococo houses. We take a ferry to Isola San Giulio to visit the 12th-century Romanesque church whose pulpit is one of the outstanding masterpieces of medieval sculpture in northern Italy.
We return to our hotel for some time to freshen up, then we shall visit another of Lake Maggiore’s islands, the Isola Superiore, also known as the Isola dei Pescatori (‘Fishermen’s Island’). Here, we dine at the restaurant of Hotel Verbano, on the lake’s edge. (Overnight Stresa) BD
Turin - 5 nights
Day 11: Saturday 22 May, Stresa – Turin – Moncalieri – Turin
- Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, Turin
- Villa Silvio Pellico – Private tour of the gardens and part of the Villa with the owners & lunch (exclusive private visit)
This morning we make our way south from Stresa to Turin, Italy’s first capital city after unification and home to the House of Savoy. Here we visit the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli. Giovanni Agnelli was in 1899 one of the original founders of what became the Fiat motor company. The Agnelli family, ‘the Kennedys of Italy’, are also known for their ownership of Ferrari since 1969 and as majority owners of the Juventus Football Club. Donna Marella Agnelli, of the Italian noble house of Caracciolo, was a renowned style icon, garden designer, author and photographer, as well as art collector. She passed away only recently, in February 2019, at the age of 91. The Pinacoteca, opened in 2002, displays 25 masterpieces from Giovanni and Marella Agnelli’s private art collection. We shall visit the gallery known as the ‘Scrigno’, or ‘treasure chest’, which houses twenty-three paintings and two sculptures, including works by Matisse, Balla, Severini, Modigliani, Tiepolo, Canaletto, Picasso, Renoir, Manet and Canova. The space itself is a work of art, having been designed by Renzo Piano inside Turin’s historic industrial complex of Lingotto.
Just outside Turin’s centre is Villa Silvio Pellico, a fine Neo-Gothic mansion (1780) with a Russell Page garden, arguably one of his three masterpieces. Page had gained an understanding of the Italian and French formal tradition of gardening from Edith Wharton and Geoffrey Jellicoe. On an ill-kempt hillside in the 1950s he created a fine terraced garden on two axes divided by pools; Page was particularly sensitive to the use of water in gardens. Symmetrical hedges create a series of ‘rooms’ of different designs, using diverse vegetation and ground patterns, as well as sculptures. The present owner, Raimonda Lanza di Trabia, daughter of the last Prince of Trabia (Sicily), and her husband Emanuele Gamna, will host us for lunch and a private tour of this extraordinary property. (Overnight Turin) BL
Day 12: Sunday 23 May, Turin
- Palazzo Reale and Cathedral, Turin
- Afternoon at leisure
This morning we visit two sites in the Turin’s centre. First, we take a tour of Turin’s Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace), seat of the House of Savoy (1646-1859) and of Vittorio Emanuele II, King of Italy (1860-1865). This grand palace, a major essay in Italian Baroque and Rococo, has sumptuous decorations and furniture from all periods. We then visit the Cathedral, dedicated to St John the Baptist. Built on the site of a Roman theatre and an earlier Christian structure, the present structure was built in the late 15th century. The Chapel of the Shroud of Turin was added two centuries later – it is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture. It is here that the relic is housed – though it is not on display to the public.
The afternoon is at leisure for you to make the most of Turin’s wide array of museums, restaurants, shops, galleries and public spaces. If you are interested in cars, the Automobile Museum (Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile) is highly recommended – it is a taxi or metro ride away from the hotel. Within walking distance are the Egyptian Museum, which houses the world’s second-largest collection of Egyptian antiquities (the largest being in Cairo); and the Mole Antonelliana, a major landmark which houses the National Museum of Cinema and offers a spectacular view of the city from its panoramic terrace. (Overnight Turin) B
Day 13: Monday 24 May, Turin – Revello – Treiso – Moncalieri – Turin
- Bramafam, Paolo Pejrone’s private experimental garden (exclusive private visit with owner & designer Paolo Pejrone)
- Lunch at Michelin-starred restaurant La Ciau del Tornavento, Treiso
- Private Garden of Silvana and Alberto Peyrani (exclusive private visit)
We are particularly privileged today to meet Italy’s leading landscape architect, Paolo Pejrone, and visit his own very private garden, designed not so much for its aesthetics, but rather as a laboratory in which the master is constantly experimenting with new plantings. Set on a steep escarpment near a ruined medieval rampart from which ‘Bramafam’ takes its name, the garden and its owner’s discussions with you will give precious, unique insights into his ideas and practice.
The Piedmont region produces some of Italy’s finest wines; it is best known for red Barolo and Barbaresco, made from Nebbiolo grapes, and sparkling Asti, from Moscato grapes. We continue to Michelin-starred restaurant La Ciau del Tornavento in the Langhe wine region, where we will sample some local varieties, and enjoy a tasting menu. Some dishes are typically Piedmontese, while others draw on French culinary traditions; there are also seafood offerings. The focus is on fresh, quality, locally sourced ingredients.
On our way back to Turin we shall visit Moncalieri to view the private garden designed by Paolo Pejrone for Silvana and Alberto Peyrani. Pejrone surrounded their villa with extensive new gardens, including decorative orchards and a fine potager. (Overnight Turin) BL
Day 14: Tuesday 25 May, Turin – Sant’Ambrogio – Poirino – Turin
- Sacra di San Michele: 10th-century abbey
- Lunch at Ristorante Andrea, Poirino
- Tenuta Banna, Poirino (exclusive private visit)
One of the Piedmont region’s most striking monuments is Sacra di San Michele, about 40 kilometres west of Turin. This abbey, perched on Mount Pirchiriano, was built between 983 and 987 and is one of the largest religious Romanesque complexes in Europe. It developed from three original chapels built in the rock under the present basilica; these chapels now house the tombs of several members of the House of Savoy, one of the world’s oldest royal families. The abbey offers breathtaking views over the Val di Susa and provided the inspiration for Umberto Eco’s famous novel, Il nome della rosa (The Name of the Rose). Dedicated to the Archangel Michael, the abbey is located at the exact midpoint between Mont Saint-Michel in northern France, and Monte Sant’Angelo in southern Italy, on the Via Sancti Michaelis pilgrimage route.
We skirt around the south of Turin – stopping for a lunch featuring a local specialty, asparagus – to arrive at a very different, but equally enchanting site. The private estate of Tenuta Banna is owned by Marchese and Marchesa Spinola and is home to the Spinola-Banna Foundation for Art – however, it is not the art foundation that we are here to see. In the 1990s Paolo Pejrone designed a modern garden around the property’s large farmhouse and adjoining church and castle. He created a series of enclosed gardens ‘organised like a Persian carpet’; they include a secret garden planted with wisterias and peonies, a potager, and a rose garden with an abundance of colour and variety. (Overnight Turin) BL
Day 15: Wednesday 26 May, Turin
- Palazzo Madama: Turin’s municipal museum of art
- Afternoon at leisure
- Farewell Dinner at Michelin-starred Ristorante del Cambio
This morning is dedicated to Turin’s Palazzo Madama, a medieval castle behind a Baroque façade, with a major art collection that includes Antonello da Messina’s Portrait of a Man. This afternoon we will be at leisure to enjoy Turin. We meet again in the evening to share a very special farewell meal at Michelin-starred Ristorante del Cambio. Opened in 1757, it is one of the world’s oldest restaurants and over the centuries its patrons have included Mozart, Nietzsche, Maria Callas and Audrey Hepburn. (Overnight Turin) BD
Day 16: Thursday 27 May, Depart Turin
- Airport transfer from Turin to Milan Malpensa Airport for those taking the ASA ‘designated’ flight
The tour ends in Turin. Participants travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will transfer to Malpensa airport to take their flight home to Australia. Alternatively, you may wish to extend your stay in Italy. Please contact ASA if you require further assistance. B