Italian gardens

Old Jan 9th, 2021, 02:09 AM
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Italian gardens

Hello,

My in-laws have started discussing a trip to Italy to visit some gardens (both gardeners) in 2023 for a big birthday. They are not seasoned travellers so have come to us for help (with the idea that we would join). I have suggested that they put together a list of gardens that might be of interest and from there we find one or two bases from which we can visit a couple of gardens as day trips.

I know Ninfa and Tivoli, and the Villa Borghese, having visited, but can any others be recommended? As a guess we would be travelling in the spring/early summer (outside of school holidays). Don't worry about opening hours etc quite yet, as dates are flexible and who knows what will be happening in 2023. We are just after a list of gardens for now that I can put in front of them to consider. I just want the places that made you go, wow that was worth a visit!

Thank you in advance.

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Old Jan 9th, 2021, 07:17 AM
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Villa Carlotta, near Tremezzo on Lake Como and other villas in the Como area. Villa Monastero, Cipressi etc.
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Old Jan 9th, 2021, 07:26 AM
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Boboli Garden and Giardino Bardini in Florence. Rome has a public rose garden.
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Old Jan 9th, 2021, 07:39 AM
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Villa Lante, although I can't imagine adapting its formality to a private garden:


The Melzi garden across the water from the Villa Carlotta:


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Old Jan 9th, 2021, 08:53 AM
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I've spent decades now visiting & photographing gardens & I have to say Italian gardens are my least favorite of all. I love English Gardens, French gardens can be interesting but I find the Italian ones incredibly boring. Not to say they ARE boring, but that I find them so. All to say I'd have a look at a lot of them, and have your in-laws look at them, before planning an entire trip around them. Also, in general, I find the absolute most interesting gardens are not the big public gardens but private gardens, those planned by individuals & retain that spark of individual creativity rather than something designed by a committee. So if gardens it is to be I strongly urge you to hunt online for private gardens open to the public.
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Old Jan 9th, 2021, 08:57 AM
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For me, the setting/location/views can be as engaging as the actual garden, so you have to decide the priorities. And a lot depends on what time of year you'd be going and generally where your itinerary would take you. If I were in Italy in April or early May, I'd definitely try to visit the Peony Garden near Viterbo and/or the Iris Garden in Florence. I think the many gardens at Lakes Como, Maggiore and Garda and in the Veneto are also stunning at that time of year. South of Rome, in addition to Ninfa, I'd visit the Vatican gardens at Gandolfo. Farther south, if I was visiting Naples/Amalfi Coast, I'd visit the royal palace at Caserta and the Cimbrone garden at Ravello.

There are beautiful gardens in every part of Italy. I would decide on a regional itinerary and then visit gardens just in that area. I'd try to mix both Renaissance, Romantic and other designs. Some gardens are better visited at specific times of the year, and some require reservations. Summer heat can be brutal in many locations. Explore this website:

https://www.gardenvisit.com/gardens/in/italy
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Old Jan 9th, 2021, 10:22 AM
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You say they are gardeners . . . I think some Italian gardens are amazing, but are not what I would call "gardeners gardens". They are mostly (not all of course) formal 'architectural' landscapes which are definitely worth seeing -- but most avid gardeners I've known are more interested/gobsmacked by the varieties of gardens one finds in England.

So I would pretty much agree with Jean to first come up with a regional itinerary in a part(s) of Italy that interest them, and then look for gardens in those areas. They will find plenty to choose from.
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Old Jan 9th, 2021, 11:37 AM
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You say they are not seasoned travelers. So does that mean they have not been to Europe? Because I agree with Mme Perdu that Italy would not be my first choice for a tour centered on gardens. I love Italy, probably my favorite country, been 13 times. And while there certainly are nice gardens scattered through out that's not what Italy does best. Landscapes - the Amalfi Coast, the Riviera, The Dolomites, Tuscany. And cities and towns - too many to mention. But gardens are just so-so. If they want the best gardens I'd suggest England and /or France.
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Old Jan 9th, 2021, 01:20 PM
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Isabel, thanks for your opinion, I often feel I'm shouting into the wind here. BTW, I too love Italy, but for other things they do so well.

Re-reading I see it's the OP whose idea is gardens rather than the in-laws. I think they should do some in-depth reading of their own to know what it is they'd like to experience. It may not be as straightforward as people who garden want to see gardens when they travel. There are so many possibilities. I would never expect someone with whom I've never traveled to guess what I might like best. The travelers really must bite the bullet & figure it out themselves & look to you more for logistical help, no matter how good your intentions are to send them in a logical (to you) direction.

I agree that if they're intrigued by the thought of Italy it's the landscapes that thrill more than gardens.


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Old Jan 9th, 2021, 01:21 PM
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There are lots of beautiful gardens in Italy but as others have said they aren't it's main feature. It might be worth trying to get hold of a book about them - I have two on my shelves but I've no idea whether they are still in print or not. Then they can decide whether gardens are their main interest or visiting Italy as a whole.
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Old Jan 9th, 2021, 03:57 PM
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I'm more a casual gardener but I enjoyed the gardens at Ravello and on Lake Como. On my wishlist for 'one day' is Villa Hanbury gardens and also the big one at Merano.

Time of year is important - I much prefer the spring. More than formal gardens I love the spring wildflowers.

I agree grabbing some books from your local library would be a good start. Or just do a google search. If interested, I know that there are tours available for keen gardeners which focus on gardens.
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Old Jan 10th, 2021, 01:57 AM
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Is the priority Italy or gardens? That would be my first question... if gardens, then I totally agree with Madam Perdue... English gardens for gardeners. France is somewhere in between.

masses of open gardens in the UK if you run out of the ‘classics’.

if it’s Italy then some of the gardens around Lake Como are lovely but I found the concrete style ones on the Borromean Islands left me cold. But that’s just me...
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Old Jan 10th, 2021, 11:03 AM
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I think the OP lives in England so probably doesn't need guidance on English gardens.

Agree with the recommendations of Ravello (which is simply breathtaking on its own, gardens or no). And I've been to Boboli gardens when they looked lovely and then when they looked not so great, but that had to do with time of year.

Caserta is on my list for the historical significance.
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Old Jan 10th, 2021, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Leely2 View Post
I think the OP lives in England so probably doesn't need guidance on English gardens.
Oops
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Old Jan 10th, 2021, 11:31 AM
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I didn’t think the Vatican gardens were all that but went because it was the Vatican. After I got to tour the Vatican Museum without waiting so that might of some interest to your in laws. That is if they are open when they visit.
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Old Jan 11th, 2021, 06:16 AM
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Nice pics!

Bet its beautiful there!


Lynn
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Old Jan 11th, 2021, 09:30 AM
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I'd look at the line of gardens along the west end of Liguria, often Victorian and built by wealthy Brits/Russians they are lovely things.
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Old Jan 11th, 2021, 03:27 PM
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A few years ago the British gardening enthusiast Monty Don presented a four-part series on Italian gardens, from history to new developments. He is always frightfully keen. and thoroughly researched. And the photography is almost sinfully beautiful to see in our wintery desert. You can view them free on YouTube:

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Old Jan 13th, 2021, 02:48 AM
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You can go "Parco Giardino Sigurtà" garden.

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Old Jan 13th, 2021, 07:01 AM
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Southam, thanks for your post. I'm enjoying the Monty Don programs...
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