Tuscany with its rolling hills, cities of Art and its splendid Renaissance past, has a large number of spectacular offerings for the garden-lover from the first Medici Villa gardens to some private gardens whose present owners are still lovingly building on and improving gardens first laid out centuries ago.
The itinerary begins in Florence where a visit to some of the most famous Medici Villas gives an overview of the history and evolution of Renaissance garden design. The Villas of Castello and Pietraia on the hills North of Florence are some of the most impressive existing gardens built by the Medici family. In Fiesole you will see a smaller privately owned Villa which was the first Medici Villa to be planned out along with its gardens. Letters dating back to 1450 illustrate the difficulty of creating terraces and finding water on the steep slopes of the Tuscan countryside at this site. Across the street from this Villa you will visit a privately owned Villa created in 1912 by the Landscape Designer Cecil Pinsent in the classical Italian style. You will move on to Settingano where you will see another more recent design in a spectacular position overlooking olive groves and the City of Florence.
The itinerary takes you on to Siena where the ancient banking families used their fortunes to build impressive Villas in the countryside around the City. The first is a privately owned Villa built in 1676 by Carlo Fontana for the Chigi banking family. The Villa was bought in 1977 by an English Lord whose family still owns it today. The gardens are in continual evolution combining the antique with the modern in a beautifully harmonious whole. You will continue on for a visit of one of Cecil Pinsent’s most impressive achievements. A garden built for the Marchesa Iris Origo in a landscape once inhospitable to any kind of cultivation and turned, after years of hard work into a rich and fertile landscape. The Marchesa’s children still live on the property today.
In Lucca you will visit a Villas built by a successful silk merchant of the 17th century. A testament to his newly acquired riches. A a bright and exciting ensemble of grottoes, nymph temples, flowers, masks, and water features. You will see the park which was once the property of Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister when she was the Grand Duchess of Tuscany. A Royal park made up of rolling lawns, a ‘green theater’ where Niccolò Paganini performed, a large garden pool surrounded by ancient lemon trees and more. Your final stop will be a garden bought and lovingly restored by two Americans who have painstakingly brought back the original gardens and created new and original ones. A private garden owned by garden lovers, this site is a continually evolving ‘work in progress’.