May 14-25, 2019 (extended tour)


May 17 - 25, 2019

with Morna Livingston

copyright David Verrico

copyright David Verrico

About Morna Livingston

Since a childhood of discovery beneath the apple orchards of Bucks County and in Olmsted's Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Morna Livingston has pursued intersections between agriculture, gardening and food. Her daily life and research connect the arts of gardening and eating through ingredients and cultural landscapes of food. Long interested in Italian cooking and language, she first regularly explored Florence in the 1970s, later spending a year in Rome. Her most intense Italian travels culminated with a deep investment in the landscapes of Tuscany while photographingLa Foce: A Garden and Landscape in Tuscany for the landmark book in collaboration with Benedetta Origo, Laurie Olin and John Dixon-Hunt. Along the way, Morna's interest in studying natural and man-made water structures won her a Senior Fellowship from the American Institute of Indian Studies, leading to the book Steps to Water: The Ancient Stepwells of India. Soon after, The American Institute for Yemeni Studies sponsored exploration of the now inaccessible Yemeni mountains for her to photograph the unique water cisterns used for highland irrigation. As terraced landscapes joined gardens in her work, Morna went further afield, descending into the underground channels, or qanats,of the Iranian desert near Yazd, and eventually, with the help of Marco and Claudio of Whatscookin', walked for several hours in the qanats under Palermo, emerging drenched but smiling. Morna Livingston was recently named Professor Emerita of the School of Architecture and the Built Environment at Philadelphia University (now Jefferson), where she taught design, photography, and history of landscape and architecture. She cooks and grows herbs and shrub roses in an eighteenth-century house along the Delaware River.



Tues, May 14

Meet at Arrivals around noon for pick up at Malpensa international airport. Drive to hotel in Monza. If rooms are already available you can check into rooms and freshen up, if not drop off your luggage and check in later. Visit the immense park of Monza where the world-famous car racing track lies. Here can also be found the imposing royal palace and its extensive 18th century gardens. On the grounds is also a rose garden created in the old flower garden and citrus fruit orchard next to the palace's greenhouse. The ‘Roseto’ is maintained by the Italian Rose Society and is the venue for the annual ‘International New Rose Competition’, which takes place in May. In the rose garden, visitors will find all the varieties of roses that have won the previous editions of the competition. After having visited the royal palace and gardens you can visit the actual city of Monza, a very attractive town with lovely buildings, the most notable of which are the well-preserved 13th century town hall and the cathedral with its stunning Gothic facade. In the evening enjoy a welcome dinner in one of Monza's fine restaurants.

Wed, May 15

After early breakfast it's off to Lake Como stopping first at Villa Carlotta, which sits high on Como's must-visit list. The botanic gardens are filled with colour: orange trees growing on pergolas and some of Europe's finest rhododendrons (more than 150 different varieties), azaleas and camellias. A short ferry ride away is Bellagio. Here the houses defy the laws of physics as they grip the steep slopes that rise from the lake. It's impossible not to delight in Bellagio's waterfront of bobbing boats, maze of steep stone staircases, pastel-coloured buildings, dark cypress groves and flower-filled gardens. You will be given free time to get a bite to eat before exploring another highlight among Lake Como's (many) enchanting spots, the elegant, neoclassical garden of Villa Melzi, which was built in 1808 for one of Napoleon’s associates. Return to Monza in the evening to have dinner together.

Thurs, May 16

After breakfast we'll be going back to Lake Como to visit Varenna, a town which rivals Bellaggio in postcard beauty. It is a beguiling village bursting with florid plantlife, exotic flower scents and birdsong. The group will have lunch together before visiting the gardens of Villa Monastero, whose elegant balustrades and statues sit amid exotic shrubs and spiky yucca trees that frame breathtaking lake and mountain views. Return to Monza in the late afternoon; dinner on your own.

Fri, May 17

After breakfast spend the day visiting the bustling city of Milan, which is just a short train ride away from Monza. Arriving at Milan's Grand Central Station alone is impressive, as it is considered one of the most magnificent train stations in the world. Take one of the city's characteristic trams, the oldest in Europe, to reach the giant Sforzesco Castle. Stroll through its handsome inner courtyards before walking down Via Dante, Milan's main pedestrian street that leads to the huge, Gothic Cathedral, whose stunning exterior contains over 3,500 statues, many gargoyles and carved buttresses, pinnacles and arches. Visit the immense cathedral before being given free time to get a bite to eat.



After lunch we will continue to explore Milan as we walk through the elegant Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, a four-story arcade full of fancy boutiques and cafés with a majestic glass ceiling and ornate mosaic floors,. At the end of the Vittorio Emanuele Galleria is the city's illustrious opera house La Scala. No trip to Milan would be complete without a walk down Via Montenapoleone, the heart of the fashion district, to see the window displays of some of the world's most prestigious fashion houses. Return to Monza in the late afternoon to greet guests arriving for the short-term tour.

For those guests arriving at Malpensa today, see a description of the first day of the itinerary 'May 14', as your day will evolve in the same manner. In the evening all guests will meet and have dinner in one of Monza's fine restaurants.

Sat, May 18

After breakfast, we will transfer to our new venue in Piedmont. Visit the gardens of Villa della Porta Bozzolo en route. The villa was built in the 16th century and has an impressive Italian garden with stairs, fountains, water features and an aedicola decorated with frescoes. It also has an elaborate fountain cascading from terraces in the hillside, designed by the architect Pellegatta. After this first stop you can get a bite to eat before continuing on our journey. Prior to reaching our final destination, we will stop to see the 16th-century terraced gardens of Villa Cicogna Mozzoni with a long stairway of water crowned at the top by a small temple, that leads to a grotto with tunnels at the bottom. Arrive at the villa we’ll be staying in for the next week in the late afternoon: an 18th-century aristocratic villa with a pool, surrounded by hectares of park and woods. Be let into your rooms ; each bedroom in the villa has its own private bathroom. After unpacking and having a short rest, enjoy welcome drinks underneath a pergola overlooking the garden, followed by dinner.

Sun, May 19

After breakfast in the villa, take part in a fun, hands-on cooking class preparing a full-course meal of the local cuisine. Reward your efforts by savoring the dishes you prepared for lunch. Enjoy some leisure time after lunch, then go for a ride through the countryside to reach Burcina Park. See its extraordinary valley of rhododendrons which covers two hectares of the park. Return to villa for dinner.

Mon, May 20

After an early breakfast head for Stresa on Lago Maggiore from where we’ll be catching a private boat to see the Borromeo islands, starting with the well-tended gardens of Isola Madre with their great display of beautiful flowers of all different colors, palm trees and a huge Kashmir cypress, the largest in Europe. Visit the palace on the island and see its interesting collection of puppets. Isola dei Pescatori follows, a picturesque fisherman’s village where you’ll be given time to stroll through its cobble-stoned alleys and get a bite to eat. After lunch we will hop back on the boat to reach the most flamboyant of the three islands, Isola Bella, which Dickens described as ‘fantastic and fanciful’. Visit the opulent palace with its stunning grottoes and the elaborate, Baroque gardens of whimsy, where white peacocks strut about. Return to villa for dinner.

Tues, May 21

After breakfast spend the day visiting Turin, the capital of Piedmont. Begin your visit at the Valentino Palace from where we'll walk through the adjacent park which goes by the same name and the faux Medieval Castle and village built in the 19th century which now is part of the park's main attractions. From here we will take a walk through the city's elegant boulevards and stately squares to see the main sites. You will have free time on your own around noon to get a bite to eat before we continue our visit of this handsome city. Return to villa for dinner.

Wed, May 22

After breakfast visit Orta San Giulio, one of the prettiest old lakeside towns anywhere. Aside from its lovely architecture and tangle of narrow lanes, it is a short boat ride away from the tiny island facing Orta. Free time in town for you to get a bite to eat in one of the many places on the lake front. Return to villa for another hands-on cooking class, preparing a full-course Piedmont meal to be had for dinner.

Thurs, May 23

After breakfast return to Lago Maggiore to visit the botanical gardens of Villa Taranto. The grounds of this late-19th-century villa are one of the Lake's highlights. A Scottish captain, Neil McEacharn, bought the villa from the Savoy family in 1931. He planted more than 20,000 plant species over 30 years, and today the gardens are considered one of Europe’s finest. Even the main entrance path is a grand affair, bordered by lawns and a cornucopia of colourful flowers. Though the gardens are landscaped essentially in the English style, there are plenty of Italian features such as statues, fountains, ponds, terraces and waterfalls to add some extra magic to this earthly paradise. Dinner back at villa.

Fri, May 24

After breakfast take part in the trip's last cooking lesson and banquet at lunch-time on your culinary achievements. In the afternoon visit the pleasant town of Vercelli. Stroll through its cobble-stoned streets and perhaps sit at an outdoor café in the charming central square, almost entirely surrounded by porticoed houses. The town’s most important monument is the 13th century Basilica and cloister of Sant'Andrea built in the unique Romanesque-Gothic style of the area. Return to villa for farewell dinner.

Sat, May 25

After early breakfast transfer to Malpensa airport in Milan. Again as there will be only one transfer to the airport please make sure your flight departs after 10 am, if you book a flight that departs much earlier than the suggested time you risk having to get to the airport by your own means. The exact departure time will be communicated once we’ve received all flight information.



‘One can’t describe the beauty of the Italian lakes, nor would one try if one could’

Henry James


Gallery of the Villa





*All activities are subject to change on the basis of which options are deemed to be the most suitable in terms of current culinary standards, the weather conditions on a given day, and other relevant criteria.


All rooms are double bedrooms each room has its own private bathroom.

The villa also has wifi.

Please contact us to receive a booking form which includes payment methods we support along with our terms & cancellation policy.

contact us:


 Extended tour: 3400Euros

per person double room occupancy

(single supplement 400 Euros)

9-day tour 2800Euros 

per person double room occupancy

(single supplement 250 Euros)


Price does not include airfare