About Me

Born in Toronto, Canada I was raised in the strongly Anglo-Saxon milieu that Toronto once was. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t like mucking around in the dirt and growing things, so my love of gardening was innate.

Italy was an acquired taste, one that in many ways began with my decision to enroll in the  University of Toronto’s Third Year Abroad program.  By the end of that year, which began in the south of France and was supposed to finish up in Germany, I had traded German for Italian – which I found was a lot easier to speak after a glass or two of wine – and was living in Florence.

When I eventually returned to Canada, I re-enrolled at the U of T  (this took some doing, as they were not pleased that I had abandoned their program and “gone native”) finished my degree, taught Italian at York University for a few years and settled into life back in Toronto, where, gardening-wise, I now volunteer as a guide for visitors to the TBG and Allan Gardens, and am active in the Leaside Garden Society.  Recently I started to give talks on the gardens of Italy.  It was the wonderful feedback from the people who attended these talks that inspired me to create this blog.



8 Responses to About Me

  1. Andy McCraw says:

    Hi Donna, saw your super presentation at the TBG last night and made so wanting to get back to Italy as soon as possible. Mary found your website and it’s even more outstanding. You can now count me in as a “follower”,Cheers,

    • donnafenice says:

      Hi Andy, am so glad you liked the presentation – and my website too! (and kudos to Mary for finding it – usually I mention it when I give a talk, so that garden club members who aren’t able to make it to a meeting – especially on a bitterly cold night – can have a look on-line, but it totally slipped my mind the other night)
      Hope you and Mary can make it back to Italy soon. Grazie, Donna

  2. Zara says:

    Hello Donna,
    Before I read about you, I came across your “In the Garden of Amateurs” article as I was looking for some information about Villa Cimbrone. I visited it 10 years ago and wanted to revive my memories by viewing some photos and reading about it. I found a few articles and I have to confess that yours is by far the best. It’s not about listing all the celebrities who have ever visited the Villa or featuring the most famous view from the terrace, but about exploring every corner of the gardens, including the lesser known ones, the statues, the inscriptions, etc and attempting to express the spirit of the place and its creators. To my delight when I then clicked on “about me” page, I discovered that you are from Toronto, because that’s also my home town. Please let me know if you’ll be doing any presentations on Italy any time soon as I’d love to attend! Thank you again! Zara

    • donnafenice says:

      Hello Zara, Thank you so much for your comments. You have beautifully captured what I aim for in my posts. I hope to meet you at one of my talks. Several are in the works right now and as soon as I have the dates and locations – Toronto Reference Library for sure – I will let you know.
      Mille grazie, Donna

  3. AJ Alberti says:

    Hello Donna,
    I saw a notice that you are scheduled to give a presentation in Toronto’s west end on 24 October but I didn’t note where you will be speaking. Can you enlighten me? Thanks.

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