Villa Garzoni once more


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.P1170407


A couple from the humidity of the butterfly house.P1040465 P1040470

And a laughing duck.P1170409Unfazed by this unimpressed couple.P1040383 P1170421 P1170416

Something in me envies this hairstyle.P1170410

P1170445 P1170420 P1170422 P1170424

A ray of light into Neptune’s grotto.P1170428 P1170429 P1040403P1170454The gates guarded by dilapidated stone giants. P1170434And statues at every turn. P1040419 P1040421Some of a less Homo sapiens nature. P1040416 P1170435 P1170439 P1170437Just to prove we were really there:P1170465

The bridge offers a vantage point over the maze of thinning box hedges below.P1040433  Which was guarded by dusty pillars P1170457And 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.P1040435P1170464This gate guarded by dragons feels as though it might lead to Cair Paravel.P1170469 This angel stands on the top layer of the frontice-piece of the garden. P1170476 P1170477Door ways come off each layer taking you down a little walk, something different to find down each. P1040456 P1170479 P1170488

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.

5 thoughts on “Villa Garzoni once more

  1. I’m so glad you enjoyed this place. For me Villa Garzoni is one of those magical places that Italy specialises in. I’m sorry the Villa was not open, it’s probably unsafe. When I saw it 20 years ago it was open if a little bare.

    1. It was lovely, thanks for the tip! To be honest, we had plenty to enjoy in the garden without a huge house as well! ;) All those national trust garden we were dragged around as children must have rubbed off on me…

      1. I remember being dragged around as well. Ask your mother but for us it was churchyards in Dorset looking for Mullens tombstones…

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