Take a botanical break in Italy. These are our top 5 gardens, from the Lakes in the north to Sicily in the south.
Villa Balbianello, Lake Como
With a cameo role in a series of big Hollywood movies and set on a wooded peninsula overlooking Lake Como, Villa Balbianello is surrounded by a series of terraced gardens, threaded by gravel paths and shaded by sycamore, pine and ilex trees.
We love the simplicity of the layout, its location and incredible panoramic views.
Chill out at Relais Villa Vittoria, a charming 12-room luxury boutique hotel, with a lake-front location and an infinity pool that reaches down to the shores of Lake Como.
Boboli Gardens, Florence
A haven from the crowded streets of Florence, the design of the vast and extremely elegant 16th century Boboli Gardens was used as a basis for many royal gardens in Europe, including Versailles.
Perfect for some calm contemplation and open space!
Enjoy the welcoming atmosphere of the Albion Hotel, right in the heart of Florence.
Villa d’Este, Rome
If you’re after a theatrical extravaganza, few gardens can compete with the Villa d’Este near Rome.
Spectacularly elaborate fountains and waterworks, balustraded balconies, ornately decorated grottos and marble statues still impress as much as they were intended to back in the 16th century – this is a garden designed to create a stir.
Keep the stylish theme going with a stay at Hotel Leon’s Place in Rome, close to central Rome and perfect for sightseeing and the odd spot of retail therapy.
La Mortella, Ischia
Best-known for its incredible collection of exotic and rare plants, ponds and streams give way to papyrus, lotuses and tropical water lilies and an Orient-inspired garden boasts peonies, bamboos and oriental maples.
The biggest drawback is focussing on the plants when those stunning sea views creep into your peripheral vision.
Stay at the Garden Villas Resort on Ischia in a room set amongst lush Mediterranean-style gardens planted with rosemary, sage, lavender and shaded by fruit trees and palms.
Villa Comunale, Sicily
Shelter from the fierce Sicilian sun with a gentle stroll round the gardens at the Villa Communale in Taormina.
The gardens are crammed with rare and Mediterranean plants and filled with cool shady seating areas and ornamental pavilions.
Stay at the Hotel Villa Angela in a room with a terrace overlooking the sea and Mount Etna.