Autumn has set in again. As if we ever had a proper summer. Ha!
My kitchen smells of hot food cooking, my fingers smell of the cumin that I have been pounding in the mortar with the pestle (or was it in the pestle with the mortar?) There’s a bag of apples on the floor to be dealt with, jars of stewed plums in the cupboard, a bowl of
stolen foraged hazelnuts on the table, and I’ve already dealt with the first excess of squash. My to-knit list is underway and growing, and all thoughts of light sleeveless tops to sew have been replaced with more sensible three-quarter to full length sleeved thoughts.
It seems to be a good time to remember that, although the summer never quite reached Switzerland, we did seek further south, and found her, living it up in Italy.
The pictures of the fabulous gardens of Villa Garzoni in Collodi have fastened themselves to my brain, in all their crumbling glory. I want to put more on show here: they deserve to see the light of day rather than fester away on my hard drive. Here they are, often in shades of the green and grey (win the toss and decide to bowl) of the overgrown bushes, plants and weeds (in equal measure;) and gravel, stonework and statues. In some places, the gardens reminded me of the scenes in Prince Caspian (the book, not the disappointing film) where the children find themselves in what appears at first to be a wood, and gradually, as they explore, they start to realise that it must be the grounds of an ancient castle. And as they imagine how it would have looked hundreds of years ago before the forest grew up around it, they realise that it must have been their castle. That feeling of discovery and imagination in places where the past is allowed to seep through into today has stayed with me since I was little, and I love rediscovering it.
Like stepping into another century.
A couple from the humidity of the butterfly house.
And a laughing duck.Unfazed by this unimpressed couple.
Something in me envies this hairstyle.
A ray of light into Neptune’s grotto. The gates guarded by dilapidated stone giants. And statues at every turn. Some of a less Homo sapiens nature. Just to prove we were really there:
The bridge offers a vantage point over the maze of thinning box hedges below. Which was guarded by dusty pillars And watched by a water carrier. I love the image of the green washing across the grey, as the plants creep up around his feet to envelope the stony walls.This gate guarded by dragons feels as though it might lead to Cair Paravel. This angel stands on the top layer of the frontice-piece of the garden. Door ways come off each layer taking you down a little walk, something different to find down each.
Villa Garzoni is in the little town of Collodi (made famous by the writer of Pinocchio who took the name of the town as his surname for publishing purposes,) near Lucca in Tuscany. Unfortunately the house itself is not open to the public, but we spent more than enough time inthe gardens which bewitched me with their crumbling baroque-ness. After visiting them, I looked at some other visitors’ reviews on Trip Advisor (and other sites.) Some people were as impressed and entranced as I was with the place, others dismiss it as old, unkempt, in a state of disrepair. All I can say is that if you’re looking for perfect, polished gardens, grass and topiary trimmed daily with nail scissors (may I say over-restored?) then it isn’t for you. But if you are enchanted by the juxtaposition of grandeur and wilderness; Baroque statues and life allowed to run a little free, then you’ll be delighted and charmed by these gardens.