International Camellia Register
Home News Post-congress tour, 29-31 March 2023

Post-congress tour, 29-31 March 2023

11 February 2023  620 By: wangzhonglang

Post-Congress Tour: a Short Visit Guide

 March 29th, Wednesday: Orta San Giulio 


Orta Lake is located west of Lake Maggiore. The borough of Orta, on the East side, is a miniature city for pedestrian walking; the quiet beauty of the landscape and its Romanesque and Baroque architecture are charming. Orta has a long history, with settlements dating back to Neolithic times. Orta was Christianised by a Greek missionary, Saint Giulio, after whom the isle was named. With the invasion of Langobards (circa 560 AD) a German people, after whom Lombardy was named, Orta became important. During the Baroque period, the Sacro Monte, a world Heritage, was built as well as many mansions in Orta and surrounding boroughs. Aristocratic villas with parks were built in the Nineteenth century. Nowadays, Orta is an outstanding tourism destination, with 3 starred restaurants and many cosy venues.

Figure 1 The main square of Orta, named after Mario Motta, a partisan (by Gianmario Motta)

 Dining in Orta

In Orta you can find restaurants which range from the 3-starred Villa Crespi, where you should book many months in advance, to the1-star Locanda di Orta and to many cosy restaurants around Piazza Motta, namely Leon d’Oro, Olina, La Motta Restaurant & Bistrot, Al Boecc, Ai Due Santi, Re di Coppe, Pizzeria la Campana, Arianna (only uncooked food). A romantic location is Ristorante San Giulio on San Giulio Isle. You can find address and phone on the Internet.

San Giulio Island and Basilica



According to the legend, once upon time, the Isle was dominated by a drake; San Giulio, a Christian missionary, crossed the lake and drove the drake out. In my opinion, the legend reflects the truth; the drake is a Keltic symbol; hence, I interpret the legend as the Christians invaded the isle and drove Keltic priests out. On the freed island, Giulio built his hundredth and last church. In the Middle Ages, San Giulio Isle became the headquarter of a Langobardic duchy, and a double wall ring, with a castle on the top, was built. In 962, Otto the Great besieged the Isle, which surrendered, and gave a special rule to the Riviera and Isle.

Figure 2 San Giulio Isle from Sacro Monte (by Gianmario Motta)

The Basilica of San Giulio is a masterpiece of Romanesque and Ottonian architecture. The Basilica features a double floor, with the ground floor for men and a gallery for women. During the baroque period the original structure was adorned with gold stucco, but recent restorations discovered original frescos and capitals. Inside the basilica, you find the pulpit, a masterpiece of Ottonian art. Made of black serpentine, it represents the four evangelists and an abbot or monk, who is believed to be saint Guglielmo (William) di Volpiano, born in 962 during the siege, and christened by the German emperor Otto the Great. A monk architect, Guglielmo designed and built masterpieces such as Mont Saint Michel in Normandy and Sacra di San Michele in Piemonte.

The Isle has an elliptic shape, with a ring of mansions and villas around the Benedictine monastery built in the centre of the isle, around 1840 instead of the old castle.





Figure 4 Villa Motta (by Gianmario Motta)


Villa Motta is at the North end of Orta peninsula, and its garden lies along the lake. A typical villa in the so-called Italianate style, built in the second half of Nineteenth Century, was acquired in 1920 by the Motta family. The park, designed by architect Mazzucotelli the1920s, was almost destroyed by a whirlwind in 1979 and replanted by the current owner. Villa Motta is an aristocratic park rather than a pure camellia garden. Conifers make the boundaries of the park, while bushes - rhododendron, camellias, osmanthus, etc. are planted in large beds, surrounded by paths that allow a close view of flowers. The park is divided into subject areas, with sasanqua camellias along the lake. Continuous blooming -December to January- is another characteristic of the park, which, therefore, relies on autumn and winter blooming sasanquas, early roses, and summer-blooming hydrangeas, to integrate classic spring-blooming camellia, rhododendrons, and azaleas. In 2020, Villa Motta was awarded as International Camellia Garden of Excellence. A full list of camellias is in

Figure 5 Map of Villa Motta (by Gianmario Motta)

Sacro Monte d’Orta


The Sacro Monte, located on the top of the Orta Peninsula, is made of a sequence of twenty chapels that illustrate episodes of the life of St. Francis, with sculptures and paintings. The chapels are distributed along a route that runs along the hilltop, offering spectacular views on the lake and on San Giulio Isle. The first idea for a Sacro Monte in Orta dates back to 1583, modelled after the religious itinerary of the Sacro Monte of Varallo. It only became reality in 1590, thanks to the contribution of Abbot Amico Canobio from Novara, and according to the project of Capuchin architect Cleto from Castelletto Ticino. From 1593 to 1615, Bishop Carlo Bascape became the main actor of the building process.

Sacro Monte is an outstanding example of the Catholic-Reformation art, which represented good episodes of Christianity, in our case Saint Francis. Therefore, chapels have the role of theatres, and represent scenes of Saint Francis’s life, with a multitude of statues and a typically baroque scenography taste. Given its outstanding level, Sacro Monte is a UNESCO world heritage.

 Figure 6Chapel xx, photo by Diego Bonacina, from

Locarno is a Swiss municipality, located on the northern shore of Lake Maggiore. It has a population of about 16,000. It is known for hosting the Locarno International Film Festival, which takes place in August. Like many towns on lakes, the history of Locarno dates to Early Bronze age. After being part of Milano Duchy, Locarno joined Switzerland in 1503. Thanks to its mild climate, Locarno has today one of the largest Camellia gardens in Europe.


 March 30th, Thursday: Locarno 



Figure 7Locarno view by Ozonski, CCBY3.0

Locarno City Camellia Park

( excellence/locarno-city-camellia-park)

Figure 8 Locarno City Camellia Park


The Camellia Park was inaugurated in Locarno in 2005 during the International Camellia Society World Congress (ICS). In 1975 Works began in 2004, with 5,000 square meters and 320 camellias, with the support of the late Mary Caroni, ICS director for Switzerland, in subsequent years, the park, with Daniele Marcacci as Director, continued to grow. In 2010 was awarded as International Camellia Garden of Excellence. In 2022, a new area was added, with

new cultivars, such as ever- blooming Camellia changii hybrids. Currently, the Park is on an area of 1,5 hectares and hosts 1,476 plants with 1,100 varieties and species. Every year, the park hosts the camellia show, with many thousands of visitors.






Botanical garden of Gambarogno


Figure 9 Rhododendrons in Gambarogno



The late Otto Eisenhut, a famous nurseryman, cultivated here thousands of beautiful and colorful flowering plants as 950 camellia cultivars, 450 magnolias, and azaleas, peonies and rhododendron on a 2 hectares area. In addition, ivy, pines, juniper, and other rare European and exotic conifers grow here. Since year 2000 the park became by donation "Parco Botanico del Gambarogno", which to ensure the future.










 March 31: from Locarno to Como Lake 

The garden of Sir Peter Smithers in Vico Morcote (Switzerland)

Figure 10 Piazza grande in Locarno   https://www. crossinvest-locarno. ch/

Sir Peter Smithers [1913-2006] laid out several gardens, notably Colebrook House in Winchester in the 1950s and 60s, and finally from 1970 Vico Morcote, an acre of a steep abandoned vineyard.

He & his wife commissioned a new house inspired by Japanese design and without steps in or out. He built the greenhouse attached to his study, so he could visit it even in his pajamas! He laid out exotic plants suited to the climate and soil that would mature into a self-maintaining ecosystem.

Figure 10 Piazza grande in Locarno   https://www. crossinvest-locarno. ch/


He bought from Exbury Lionel Rothschild’s collection of Nerines when it was being dispersed in 1974, using it as the basis for another successful breeding program (the collection has now gone back to Exbury where it is being continued by Lionel’s grandson Nicholas de Rothschild).

Vico Morcote eventually contained some 10,000 species and varieties, including world-class collections of magnolias, lilies, wisteria and camellias. His memoirs, Adventures of a Gardener, (1995), were published by the RHS and are a classic of gardening history, full of his own photographs and charming anecdotes.

Locarno Public Park

In the center of Locarno, close to Piazza Grande, centennial camellias thrive in large beds, perfectly visible by visitors. They include rare ancient varieties, such as ‘Bella di Etruria’ and ‘Il Garofano’, both from Italy and registered in 1851. The public park is at a walking distance from the hotel.

Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo, Como Lake, Italy 


Villa Carlotta is a villa and botanical garden in Tremezzo, on Como Lake. Nowadays, the villa is a museum, whose collection includes works by sculptors such as Antonio Canova, a top neoclassic sculptor (1757-1822) and Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844) a great competitor of Canova; painters
such as Francesco Hayez (1791-1882), a leading artist of Romanticism in mid-19th-century Milan, and Francesco Migliara (1785-1837), a nobleman painting views and historical subjects. The villa, whose architect is unknown, was completed in 1745, and had several ownerships. First owners were the Milanese noble family Clerici, then the Sommariva, who in 1843 sold the property to the prince Sachsen Meiningen. After world war I, the villa became a public property, which in 1927 was entrusted to the care of the foundation “Ente Villa Carlotta”, still responsible for the villa.

Figure 12 By Jean-Christophe BENOIST - Own work, CC BY 3.0,


The park

The botanical garden covers about 8 hectares (20 acres) and includes different sections. Immediately around the villa, towards the lake, the Italian garden with cut hedges and pergolas with orange and camellia trees. The rhododendron and 150 varieties of azalea spread up the slope. The property is also home to cedars, palms, redwoods, plane trees and other exotic plants. there is also a bamboo garden, covering 3,000 square meters which is home to over 25 different bamboo species.

The Villa

The villa includes three floors (two open to the public) with the lower floor dedicated to sculptures. The most famous is Eros and Psyche, a marble copy by Adamo Tadolini, taken from the original model that Antonio Canova made for the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. A second masterpiece is the original plaster model of The Muse Terpsichore by Antonio Canova. The sculpture was commissioned by Sommariva in 1811. An original sculpture is Palamedes by Antonio Canova, which in 1805, when it was still in the Canova's atelier in Rome, was broken by a flood. Canova personally restored it, between 1806 and 1808.A monumental work is the Entrance of Alexander the Great in Babylonia by Bertel Thorvaldsen. This work was originally made in stucco for Napoleon’s visit to Quirinale Palace in Rome,and was so admired that Napoleon ordered a marble replica for the Pantheon in Paris.

Because of Napoleon's fall thework to stopped, until in 1818 Sommariva decided to complete it.

The 33 marble slabs of the frieze arrived in the villa between 1818 and 1828. The last two characters at the end of the frieze are a self-portrait of Thorvaldsen and a portrait of Sommariva.






Figure 14 The sculpture gallery in Villa Carlotta



Share ICS Congress: March 26-28, Milan, Italy 10 Feb 2023
Share Pre-congress Tour: March 21-25 9 Feb 2023
Share Two new cultivars were registered from Italy in 2022 27 Dec 2022
Share One new registration from United Kingdom in 2022 26 Dec 2022
Share Totally 5 new registrations from Japan in 2022 25 Dec 2022