Tuscany gardens to visit?

Old Jan 9th, 2008, 07:30 PM
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Tuscany gardens to visit?

We am planning on going to Italy (Venice) Mar. 16 and return from Rome Mar. 28. We plan on taking the train if possible. I have a bunch of questions, so hopefully someone will take pity on me and give me some suggestions. Thanks in advance.


1. Would 2 days in Venice be enough to see the main sights, and are there some unique gardens there? Suggestions of them.

2. Is it difficult to get over to Murano and does anyone have any suggestions on a good glass blower to visit?

3. Ideas for places to stay in Lucca for approx. 1 week of our trip, so we can do short trips from there. We don't necessarily want a rental, cause I don't want to have to cook.!!

Suggestions on gardens in Tuscany area that are again different the the usual N.A. botanical garden. We were told Lucca is a great small town and easy to get to other places.

4. Rome - place to stay: we have heard about a walking tour of Rome done in the evening. Any comments.....Ease of getting to airport from hotel etc. would be great as well.

I feel like I am asking for the moon!!

Thank you so much for takng the time to answer my questions.

decoratordale is offline  
Old Jan 9th, 2008, 08:11 PM
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March is very early for gardens--keep in mind that you can see snowcapped mountains from Venice.

Two full days will give you enough time to see the main sights around Piazza San Marco and do some wandering. If you have only those two days, I wouldn't bother with Murano. Murano is easily reached by frequent public boats--it's about 10 minutes across the water from the Fondamenta Nuove. there are many glass factories (fornace) with glass blowing demonstrations.

The Leonardo Express train connects Roma Termini train station to FCO airport. (Leaves every half hour, 30 mins, about 11 euros per person) A taxi/car service might cost 35-50 euros for two people.
ellenem is offline  
Old Jan 9th, 2008, 08:27 PM
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This might interest you http://www.knowital.com/html/lucca_-...d_gardens.html

See http://www.knowital.com/html/lucca_-...modation_.html for accommodations.

Henry is offline  
Old Jan 10th, 2008, 06:08 PM
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There are many wonderful gardens in Italy, usually in the grounds of equally splendid villas. Some of them are described here: http://www.gardens-of-tuscany.net/
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Old Jan 11th, 2008, 01:22 PM
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If gardens are your principal interest you might prefer to visit the Veneto or Lake Como rather than Venice (although March is not the best time).
Nonconformist is offline  
Old Jan 11th, 2008, 06:06 PM
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Honestly, I've been rather disappointed in most of the gardens I've seen in Italy. It's probably because I'm a big flower person and had hoped or expected (mistakenly) to see lots of flowers.

I visited the Boboli Gardens in Florence in March and there were no flowers in sight. Just lots of trees, hedges and a couple empty man-made ponds.

Didn't see any gardens in Venice, although we happened on a public park at the end of the island past the naval yard (March).

Even the Borghese Gardens in Rome don't have a lot of flowers that I saw, but there were a few. The Borghese Villa turned museum has a lovely small flower garden at the side.

Gardens I did really enjoy in Italy were:

#1 Villa d' Este - a true Italian Rennaissance garden and fountains, fountains, fountains, absolutely delightful and unforgettable!

#2 Isola Bella, one of the Borromean (SP?) Islands off Stresa at Lago di Maggiore (May). Lots of roses, vines and peacocks. Killer views.

#3 Villa Taranto - north of Stresa on Maggiore. In May the azalas (SP?) bloom - we just missed them due to an early, hot spring. The rest of the botanical gardens are wonderful for a short visit.

#4 Axel Muenth villa on Capri. Very lovely small gardens with flowers and, again, killer views.

Hope this helps a little. Buon viaggio!
Dayle is offline  
Old Jan 11th, 2008, 06:24 PM
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March is too early.
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Old Jan 11th, 2008, 07:32 PM
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Yep, agree, March is way too early for gardens in Italy. Sicily, maybe.
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Old Jan 12th, 2008, 05:57 PM
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Gardens in Italy,

Unfortunately March is the only time I can go. Having said that the gardens of the Generallife in Grendada Spain were still fantastic even December. But then I guess I look at structure as well.

thanks for the tips. Lots to check out.

decoratordale is offline  
Old Jan 12th, 2008, 09:13 PM
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The Generalife in Granada is much further south than the areas you mention in Italy--Sicily is the same latitude as Granada. Too bad--just a month later all the azaleas and rhododendrons will begin to bloom at all the wonderful villa gardens on Lake Como. . .
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 08:55 AM
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If you want to modify your schedule some, the Royal Palace and Garden in Caserta, south of Rome will take your breath away. Statuary, falls, secluded grottoes, remains of Roman baths, specimen trees - although not much in the way of flowers. It's said to rival Versailles. It might even be the highlight of our first trip to Italy! http://tinyurl.com/2t6su6
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 09:13 AM
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Hi, d'dale,

to answer your first question, NO. 2 days is not long enough to see the main sights of venice.

also, if you are flying into Venice from the US, you need to factor in jetlag. anyway, why hurry - are you planning to come back to Venice sometime soon? No? so why skimp on it. Give it at least 3 nights.

I'm sure there are some gardens there, but it'll be too early. teh guided tours of gardens start in May.

2. it is dead easy to get to murano, you just get the vaporetto that goes there. there are loads of places selling and making glass. you might be interested in the museum of glass up by the church.

3. Staying in lucca for a week. with only 12 days in total, and a desire to see Venice, Tuscany and Rome, a week in Lucca seems a bit long. 3-4 nights would be better.

4. Rome. if you like walking to places, staying in the centro storico round the campo die fiori area or the pantheon will be most convenient. you can get a cab from the termini station to your hotel or apartment, or the metro or even a bus. you will probably find that your hotel can organise a cab or shuttle for the trip to the airport - why not ask them?

IMO you should spend at least 5 nights in Rome. 3 nights in Venice, 3 in Lucca, and 6 in Rome would give you a nice trip.

regards, ann
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 12:42 PM
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I'll address the issue of gardens. Previous threads on this topic can be found by searching the archives of this site along with those of SlowTrav/SlowTalk and TripAdvisor.

The four gardens listed on the knowitall site linked above comprise the best of the public gardens around Lucca. If you are adjusting your itinerary on the basis of getting to these and also enjoying the wonderful town of Lucca, then I can tell you that we managed to tour them all on a long October daytrip a few years ago. We were left with enough time in our two nights at the Hotel Piccolo Puccini to thoroughly explore Lucca but its charms certainly merit more.

Many of the great Renaissance or Mannerist gardens lie in the hills around Florence but you would be looking at more than an hours drive from Lucca. Our favorite day was certainly Villa Gamberaia with its wonderful topiary architectural structure, unique water parterres and grottos providing plenty of interest (as is true in general for Italian gardens, they are about architectural and iconographic programs more than horticulture) in the early Spring.
In fact in Italian gardens you will find most of the flowers in containers or in cemeteries. A few of the Renaissance or Baroque gardens were 'anglicized' in the nineteenth century so that along with their vast arboreal landscape parks you might find a bit of an English border.

We did not find much in the way of public gardens in Venice but with everything else (a week was just a taste for us) did not miss. I suppose the grounds around the Peggy Guggenheim museum give a small sense of what I understand is available behind the walls of many private palazzi.

Around Rome Villa Lante is not to be missed, it is the jewel of Italian gardens. Nearby Sacro Bosco at Bormarzo is a surprising and intriguing garden with its surreal grotesque sculptures and can be seen along with Villa Lante and perhaps even Villa Farnese in a carefully planned day. Villa d'Este makes a great day trip to Tivoli which also offers Villa Adriano.
Some people enjoy the Vatican Gardens which have a great botanical collection and historic and other value- the only way to view Michelangelo,s rear facade for example. They are only available by arranging a tour with the Vatican.

An excellent but somewhat dated (in terms of hours, availability) resource for touring Italian villas and gardens is Penelope Hobhouse's "Garden Lover's Guide to Italy" published in 1998. You might supplement with a current edition of the Blue Guide and the web. Some of the greatest gardens are accessible only by appointment.
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Old Jan 13th, 2008, 05:48 PM
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Thanks for the extra garden info. I will try and get ahold of the suggested book.

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