Many Tuscan gardens in and around Florence are a mixture of Italian landscape and English formality.
In the late 19th Century, after the Unification of Italy and Florence’s brief period as Capital of Italy, property prices in Tuscany plummeted and allowed the expatriates to purchase at a ridiculously low cost. The advantage to today’s tourist is that these expatriates in exile used their money to re-establish these formal gardens to their previous glory and have left their heritage for us to visit.
Tuscan villas were often surrounded by farms and vineyards with beautiful gardens at the foot of the villa. Tuscans, with their artistic sense and attachments to their surroundings, create gardens that fit into their landscapes and use limited colour that doesn’t perish under the Tuscan sun.
Some details below on our proposed garden visits for October – but not yet set in stone so alternative suggestions are welcome.
If you are looking for somewhere to stay or if you want more information about the hotel and tour costs email penny.
Custom designed garden visits with garden historian Dr Katie Campbell
Whether it is a single afternoon or the full five days, walking tours within the city, day trips to nearby hilltop villas or an extended trip around Tuscany, our garden visits can be tailored to your interests and your budget.
Our schedule below offers a small group a private 5 day tour of various Tuscan gardens – many of which are not generally open to the public.
Below is our proposed programme for Autumn 2014 – may be subject to change
On our first day with Dr Katie Campbell– Sunday 5th October – visitors tour the gardens of La Foce, home of the writer Iris Origo -to see for themselves the setting for her unparalleled book War in Val d’Orcia – her diary of life in Italy during the second world war.
1.00 lunch Dopo Lavoro La Foce – the latest use of the Nursery which was once school to 20+ evacuated children during WW2 – a lovely restaurant!
Finally we drive to Montipulicano along the route taken by Antonio and Iris Origo with the evacuees and their own two daughters when they walked to Montepuliciano when ordered to leave their homes by the Germans – we will enjoy a short wine tasting before returning to Florence
Monday 6th October
09.30 Sybil Cutting’s Villa Medici with garden redeveloped by English landscape gardener and architect Cecil Pinsent
10.30 Le Balse – home of American Philosopher Charles Strong
3.00 Il Palmerino – Home of Violet Paget – aka writer Vernon Lee where there is also a small exhibition of works by Florentine women artists Elizabeth Chaplin and Lola Costa who both lived and worked in Fiesole.
On Tuesday 7th October – we move down to Rome
7th-8th October – Itinerary in Rome
Cultural Heritage Walking Tours, Italy
€500 per person – all inclusive from Rome Terminus Station
Rome Private Garden Tour
Designed and led by Dr. Diane Archibald Ph.D.
©Cultural Heritage Walking Tours, Italy
We are pleased to announce our revised 2 day Rome Garden Excursion. We have a private minivan and driver throughout the tour who will meet us at Rome Terminus Station.
Day I of our tour begins with a private visit to a renovated Medieval Castle, with the Lord of the estate showing us his home and discussing the history and restoration of the Castle owned by his family centuries ago.
Our tour is followed by a four course lunch featuring traditional Roman dishes (organic, seasonal, local produce) with paired wine tastings in the Courtyard of the Castle. Our experienced sommelier selects and discusses the wine pairings.
We then drive past the beautiful Cascades of Tivoli – subject of so many paintings in the days of the Grand Tour.
The history of this site dates back to the early Roman era with architectural artefacts of the temples of Vesta and Sybil still gracing the landscape.
A light dinner at the restaurant of the Sybil – shown as an antique ruin at the top of this image by Alexandre Hyacinthe Dunouy – this ancient Temple is now part of the decor of this famous eating place.
Day 2 of the excursion begins at Villa Adriana, Tivoli, the magnificent country estate of the ancient Roman Emperor Hadrian.
It is believed to be one of the largest archaeological sites in Europe covering 120 hectares, and since 1999 has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Our visit to Villa Adriana focuses on the intricate terraced gardens and water systems designed by Hadrian that have continued to influence architects and designers for close to two millennia.
After our morning visit, we stop to enjoy a private lunch in a hotel on the archaeological site.
In the afternoon, we visit the famous Renaissance villa and gardens of Villa d’Este inspired by Hadrian’s country estate.
The design of the Renaissance gardens and fountains by Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este and his architect Pirro Ligorio soon became the prototype for all Renaissance gardens that followed.
Features of this special tour includes
2 Days, one night superior accommodation with Breakfast
Museum and site entry fees
Transportation by private van from Rome station to sites and back to the Station
10:00 a.m. Leaving Rome centre by private car service to Medieval Castle
11.00 Visit of Medieval Castle, history and restoration
12:30-2:30 p.m. Lunch with wine tastings at Medieval Castle
2:30 Leave Castle for Tivoli
5:00 p.m. Arrive at Tivoli, check-in hotel
7:30 p.m. Dinner at Ristorante Sybil
Breakfast hotel included
9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Archaeological site Hadrian’s Villa
1:00 – 2:30p.m. Slow Food Lunch on archaeological site of Hadrian’s Villa
2:45 p.m. Transportation to Villa d’Este, Tivoli
3:15- 5:15 p.m. Villa d’Este, Tivoli
6:00 p.m. Transportation to Rome Termini Station
Cost €500 for this part of the tour – all above included
Note: for those clients wishing to stay in Rome the night before the excursion we are pleased to assist in finding accommodation from a delightful convent albergo to a four star hotel in the historic centre.
Cost will fluctuate daily for private travel in air-conditioned mini-van with Dr Katie Campbell or Dr Diane Archibald as private tour guide.
The cost will depend on distance travelled and number of passengers sharing the cost of mini-van hire and cost of garden admissions.
The most expensive days in Tuscany will be Wednesday and Thursday with longer distances and therefore more of our drivers time leading to costs of c €99 per person.
The cost for the entire Rome Tour is all inclusive €500
An earlier tour in May 2013 was for 8 days and included guided tours of public gardens such as Torre Bellosguardo, Boboli and Bardini gardens and tours of private villas such as La Pietra, garden of the late historian Harold Acton and I Tatti– home of the famous connoisseur Bernard Berenson, Villa Medici the first purpose-built Humanist villa plus the baroque villas of Gamberaia and Capponi set in the hilltop towns with staggering views of the surrounding countryside and the city beyond.
Blogs can be found about each of these gardens if you search the Posts on the right side – posts / gardens or follow the links below
We also visited the garden of Palazzo Piccolomini in Pienza an early twentieth century interpretation of the Humanist ideal at the palace of Pope Puis Piccolomini
About your tutors
Dr Katie Campbell lectures on the postgraduate Garden History course at Bristol University, she has led many tours and writes for various publications.
Her well loved book, Paradise of Exiles: The Anglo American Gardens of Florence http://www.franceslincoln.co.uk/en-gb/C/0/Book/1355/Paradise_of_Exiles.html explores the eccentric community of English and American expatriates which gathered in Florence at the end of the nineteenth century, while her earlier Icons of Twentieth Century Landscape Design looks at the seminal designs of the past hundred years.
Dr Katie Campbell is also a journalist and fiction writer; her plays have been performed on stage and radio and she has published a novel, a collection of short stories and several books of poetry as well as Icons of Twentieth-Century Landscape Design (Frances Lincoln, 2006) and Policies and Pleasances: A Guide to the Gardens of Scotland (Barn Elms, 2007).
Katie’s latest book to accompany the BBC 4 English Garden series is now available in all good book shops in the UK
Our Rome Garden tours are led by Dr. Diane Archibald who holds a Doctorate in Interdisciplinary Studies in Architecture from the University of British Columbia and is a Visiting Scholar with the Faculty of Architecture, Restoration and Conservation, University of Rome, ‘Sapienza’. Dr. Archibald was a Research Fellow at the British School at Rome, and recently appointed to the ICOMOS (International Council of Monuments and Sites) Scientific Committee on Conservation and Restoration for architecture and historic urban centres. She has taught on heritage sites in Italy for 10 years and has led numerous educational walking seminars in Rome, Tivoli, Tuscany, Umbria, Venice and Veneto, and Southern Italy.
Diane is also a talented photographer who took all the garden photos included in this post.