I will be going to Italy in two weeks. What gardens should I be sure and see?
The Vatican Gardens, of course.... What else, I've no idea.
Fiesole and Villa Lante are fabulous.
If you're anywhere near Verona check out the Giardini Justi. Take a lunch and some wine; you'll likely have the place to yourself!
Make that Giardini Giusti, mea culpa. Unfortunately, you'll be back beofre you even see this!
Where in Italy are you going? We just returned from Southern Italy, Amalfi coast and Island of Capri. Everywhere you look is a garden and everything is blooming. Capri is a garden paradise.
Tell us how it went. Many times, major gardens undergo restorations/construction, or suffer serious storm damage (and the websites/travel agents don't necessary offer bad news). Forewarned is forearmed for us that follow.
I'll be traveling to Alto Adige and Tuscany in October. I'm interested in what others have experienced this year in Italy.
Hey, Gardenklutz, (bet you're NOT)
I'm going there for 10 days the first of October. Know the season has changed, will check out your spots. Any other good hints on shopping, heard there were some flea markets and a ceramic district.
In Venice I took a tour of private gardens. I was expecting house gardens, but it was gardens of a convent, a hotel, and a monastery but they were interesting. Not much in the way of public gardens in Venice. I think any hotel has infor about this tour.
My wife and I will be going in 2004 from May 4th through June 1st. Thought I'd bump this up in case I can get any more feedback.
Where in Italy will you be going? On your own or with a small tour? We went in June with a tour of 4 people and it was fantastic. Went to Rome, Sorrento, the Amalfi coast and then on to Capri - what a fantastic trip it was. We've also been to Venice, Florence, Milan and toured northern Italy. We would go back to Italy in a heartbeat! The people are warm and friendly and the food is fantastic. You will have a great time, so much to see and to there.
If you were talking to me above, klutz :-), we will be on our own. We don't like being rushed so we'll be taking our time. I've got a map up now with stick pins and we're going to plan our trip based on the gardens *I* want to see. Isn't my wife great!?! She's not really a plant person but she's willing to go along with this.
Give some idea of what part of Italy that you may be traveling in, if you are showing any restraint! And, how will you be traveling; are you most interested in plant collections, history, garden design, etc.; entry fee vs. free; ability/disability in walking/climbing.
I can pass along tips of places my wife and I traveled to in September 2000, and just back from three weeks in October 2003. Sorry, no advice on spring/early summer travel. We covered a lot of ground in Italy north of Rome.
A really good text to get started is Penelope Hobhouse's The Garden Lover's Guide to Italy (Princeton Architectural Press, 1998; ISBN 1-56898-130-9). Written from a British perspective, it covers the gamut of the famous to the little known with a wealth of functional information.
My wife and I have traveled to Europe many times in our 16 years of marriage; she wasn't much of a plants person at the beginning, either, but I wore her down. Now, we often go to gardens at her suggestion. The key is to make sure that there is plenty of good food, wine, and other sightseeing along the way to as many gardens as you can get to. And chocolate.
"Give some idea of what part of Italy that you may be traveling in, if you are showing any restraint! And, how will you be traveling; are you most interested in plant collections, history, garden design, etc.; entry fee vs. free; ability/disability in walking/climbing."
Seriously, at this time, all we have is tickets to get there and back. We're still researching and planning the pert in between. We would like to travel by rail as much as possible but are guessing that we'll probably have to rent a car to get everywhere...???
I'm more interested in history and garden design. As far as entry fee goes, if we get that far, I wouldn't miss something worthwhile because of an entry fee. Walking and climbing are not an issue; we're early 50's but in great health (work out 5x/week).
THANKS for the lead on the book! That sounds perfect. I found one titled Italian Gardens by Georgina Masson in an antique shop; it was just one of those books they decorate the bookcases with. There's not a date in it but it's kind of old. It still looks like good info but I'm getting the one you recommended, too. Better to be prepared!
Some years ago my husband and I had a wonderful holiday by Lake Maggiore. If anyone is in that vicinity, do visit the gardens on the islands - Isola Bella and Isola Madre. Another worthwhile place is the Villa Taranto near Verbania which is said to be one of the world's finest botanical gardens.
I would strongly second the gardens at Lago Como and Lago Maggiore in the Lakes District above Milano. Both Isola Bella and Isola Madre are fabulous gardens, and arriving by boat is an experience in itself. Villa Lante outside Roma is also an incredible garden, and worth a couple of days to soak it all in. Lady Walton's garden near Sicily is another great garden, with fabulous design by Russell Page, and the entire Amalfi Coast is a dream landscape. Enjoy your trip!
If you are interested in garden history and design, then Villa d'Este is a must. It's a major landmark in landscape architecture.
Are any of you familiar with Kathleen Christain Ph. D., leading a Renaisance Garden tourin Tuscany in June?
I, too, would go back to Italy in a heartbeat.
One thing that impressed me was the way almost everyone seems to have a vegetable garden of some sort. Gardens are squeezed in between buildings, along roadsides, and on rooftops.
To see some 2,200 year-old landscape design, go to Pompei. I almost skipped it, but I'm glad I went. It changed my perspective! If you go to Pompei, try to get a tour guide to show you the highlights, then see the rest on your own.
Drink an espresso for me.
I too second Villa d'Este. Pronounced "Villa Desta."
Many, many fountains -- made before electricity -- they all run on gravity, I don't know how they do it. It is too beautiful for words. Undescribable. The eighth wonder of the world. See it for YOURSELF. Then, please, please, please, report back!
Italy, Round 2!
As it turned out, we cancelled our trip to Italy because our daughter decided to go to London for study abroad. So, we went to spend some time with her in November and decided to not go to Italy, also, this past year. All worked out well. With the airline tickets being charged on a credit card, we were able to get a full refund... luckily! Oh, I did get to go to Kew twice, once with my wife and one day - ALL day - all by myself! :-) Even in November is was wonderful!
Now, I may be going to Italy without my wife (her choice) in the summer of 2006 with a group of horticulture/landscape design students and may even have some say in where we go. With the trip so far away, I feel that I have time to really prepare well. The Hobhouse book recommendation was terrific - it's the best! - and I've got a lot of good info on where we might go... definitely the northern lake region!
I was thinking, given the amount of time that I have, what else might make the trip the best it can be? I had purchased some Italian language materials and have already started working on that. I know that, like most places, there will likely be plenty of people who speak English but it could come in handy. What else, from your experience, would you suggest? What have you come back and said, "I wish I had _______ before I left on my trip" because it would have made it so much better?
I posted a similar message (different perspective) on the Italia message section of the Gardenweb forums so, hopefully, I'll get some feedback there, too.
Brad: If you are planning to visit gardens in Italy, you would be well advised to get in touch with Benedetta Origo, who, with her sister, has the lovely gardens at La Foce in Tuscany, near Chianciano Terme, in the beautiful val d'Orcia. She can be reached by googling "La Foce" I'm sure. Cecil Pinsent helped her parents create the gardens following WWII, during which time her parents rescued orphan children and hid partisans and Allied soldiers in the woods. So you'd get a lot of history along with the beautiful gardens. Through staying on houses on the estate I have learned that in Italy, all gardeners know each other, and they often can arrange other visits for you. We are going to be in Rome in October, and I think Benedetta can help us arrange visits to places like Ninfa (anaother gem), and other gardens around Rome. There are such magical gardens in that country - you will have a wonderful time. IF there is any room on your tour for non-professionals, please let me know. Betsy S
I loved the Boboli Garden in Florence. Large, old, a little down at the heels, but the spaces were lovely and there are terrific views of Florence,
Western coastal region is famous place to visit gardens in Italy. Also,Tourist can visit gardens like Pompeii,Villa La Pietra, Villa Medici Castello,Orto Botanico, Ninfa, La Mortella in Italy.
When we went to Lake Maggiore, we tried to see both Isola Bella, and Isola Madre, we didn't have enough time for the second one, and maybe we'll get to Isola Madre some other time.
The ferry between the islands runs in a set circuit and it costs quite a bit to hire a smaller boat to run you over to one or another island to cut down on the time.
Isola Bella's garden is a hoot, it looks and feels like Las Vegas; it wasn't my first pick, but we had a great time. There is a house tour, and in the 'basement' is a collection of early pre-historic pottery from settlements that were found around the lakes.
Ignore the websites that say there is no food on the islands. I don't know about Isola Madre, but there are quite a few options on Isola Bella for finding something to eat, from ice cream to a wonderfully garlicy smelling restaurant with tablecloths.
This website helps quite a bit, but it takes some hunting to find the ferry schedules, and hours. Don't worry about driving in Italy, they drive on the same side as we do.
Here is a link that might be useful: Gardenvisit.com
I lived in Italy off and on for a total of 16 years. We lived in Verona, Vicenza, Oderzo and Tivoli. From my time in Italy I learned that it is more enjoyable to visit places that are less frequented by tourists. Of course you must see Rome, the Vatican and maybe Vinice. When I dined, I frequented the family owned small resturants. I visit the local vinyards and stay in bread and breakfast establishments. I find this approach more enjoable.