Welcome

When you think of Italy what comes to mind?  Magnificent Roman ruins?  Breath-taking scenery?  Exquisite works of art?  Or maybe your interests lean more toward Italy’s gastronomic treasures – its wines and food.   Maybe all of the above.  But its gardens?  You’re not alone if you’re thinking, “Not so interesting”.  Too much green. No flowers. Just a lot of boxwood trimmed to death, with a statue or two to break up the monotony.

Giardini Giusti in Verona exemplifies a commonly held perception of the Italian garden.

Giardini Giusti in Verona exemplifies a commonly held perception of the Italian garden.

But how is this possible?  How could a culture of such extravagant creativity and variety in all the other art forms ever have managed to exert such restraint and self-discipline in its gardens?

The short answer is – it didn’t.  Loving Italy’s Gardens is my version of the long answer.

Grotto in the gardens of Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore.

Grotto in the gardens of Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore.

In Loving Italy’s Gardens you will find the most beautiful and interesting gardens – public and private – that I have visited in my travels around Italy.  Baroque extravaganzas, secluded medieval gardens, Versailles wannabes, flower-filled English gardens, winery gardens, park-like landscape gardens, even simple front door gardens overflowing with colourful potted flowers.

Front door garden in the tiny village of  Volpaia, Tuscany

Front door garden in the tiny village of Volpaia, Tuscany

Some of these gardens were created by the rich and powerful to impress visitors or as retreats from life’s disillusions; others were carved out of barren rock, and in desolate, forgotten corners of the landscape.  And yes, il giardino all’italiana  – the formal Renaissance garden – only, as we’ll see, at the time it was about a lot more than shades of green and trimmed box hedges.

Villa d’Este , Tivoli.  The ultimate power garden.

Villa d’Este , Tivoli. The ultimate power garden.

I’ll also be writing about the historical forces and individuals – always strong, sometimes eccentric – behind the creation of these gardens.

The gardens of Villa Cimbrone on the Amalfi Coast were designed by a banker and his tailor.

The gardens of Villa Cimbrone on the Amalfi Coast were designed by a banker and his tailor.

Ninfa.  An English garden in the ruins of a medieval village.

Ninfa. An English garden in the ruins of a medieval village.

Il Giardino Ravino.  The creation of a cactus lover on the island of Ischia.

Il Giardino Ravino. The creation of a cactus lover on the island of Ischia.

And, since even the most passionate garden enthusiast needs to come up for air now and then, our garden tours will be interspersed with visits to medieval hilltop villages, wineries, markets, ancient Roman ruins and much, much more.

Villa Vignamaggio.  A renowned winery in the Conca d’Oro (Golden Triangle) of the Chianti Region.

Villa Vignamaggio. A renowned winery in the Conca d’Oro (Golden Triangle) of the Chianti Region.

Making a treccia (braid) at a mozzarella factory in Sorrento.

Making a treccia (braid) at a mozzarella factory in Sorrento.

But where to begin?  In the palatial gardens surrounding Rome?  The dreamy gardens of Italy’s northern lakes?   Or maybe the gardens of Tuscany?  Again and again I was drawn back to Florence.  Could this in any way have had anything to do with the fact that I had once – as in “once upon a time” – it now seems so long ago – lived there?  Even so, what better place to begin than the city universally regarded as the birthplace of the Renaissance?

DSCF2741

I hope you enjoy the journey.  

Buon viaggio!

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Welcome

  1. I’ve been to several of the well-known, magnificent gardens you speak of and have photographed here, but I have to say what touches me most is the way Italians beautify their daily lives with their gardens along their stone walks, in front of their doors, and on their windowsills.

    • Absolutely! I am working on a post right now – set in Taormina – and in many ways the little gardens you write about are as touching as the garden I’m ostensibly focussing on.

  2. Hi Donna. I just finished marrying another couple in Allan gardens! And taking my granddaughter to count the turtles! I just found your blog. I am interested in your knowledge of the giardini botanici in the Veneto. (Padova obviously, e Vicenza) but we live in Venezia in Ottobre. Can you suggest some train trips? (or that boat that goes along the Brenta?). I am trying to plan a potager in Stratford and want some inspiration. (and yes, of course I love the giardini guisto in Verona) but I want to visit some PRACTICAL potagers. I do go to the Cloisters each year to check the quince trees and the elecampagne, etc but I want angelica and finocchia and lovage (maggi!) and anise hyssop, etc. And carciofi and puntarelle! Any advice welcome. Meanwhile, I’ll look through your Northern Italy journeys. Grazie tanto. Mary

    • Hello Mary, When I did my first Allan Gardens Christmas post, it was with some hesitation. What was a garden in downtown Toronto, even a rather lovely one, doing on a blog called ‘Loving Italy’s Gardens’? So I am delighted to learn that those posts are how you discovered my blog. As for helping you discover botanical gardens in the Veneto with practical potagers that would be useful for someone planning to create one in Stratford (Ontario, I presume), two thoughts come to mind. First, as you read through my posts on the gardens of northern Italy – or the gardens of the Loire Valley in France for that matter – I am sure you will quickly realize that ‘practical’ is not something the creators of these gardens were particularly interested in. (Definitely not the gardens you would see if you took the Burchiello, the boat along the Brenta.) Secondly, although these gardens are astounding and beautiful (astoundingly beautiful?) and a pleasure to visit and revisit, I would think that local gardens in Ontario – the Toronto Botanical Garden in Toronto for example – or even as far as the Cloisters in New York City (are they the cloisters you visit?) would be a much better source of practical ideas for your potager. However, although I am sorry not to be of much help to you, I have to thank you for helping me. After my most recent post (G7 Woes in Taormina), I was looking around for something more calming to write about. Your query got me thinking of all the potagers I have visited and it struck me that would be the perfect topic as we wait for spring to arrive. Especially today, as the snow shrouds the city skyline under a dull, grey veil. And who knows, perhaps there will even be a few ideas for your potager! Good luck and mille grazie, Donna

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s