MR and Noo

MR and Noo


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- often  artists & writers 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 May – 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  info@beyondtheyalladog.

Book by Dr Katie Campbell - our guide

Custom designed garden visits with garden historian Dr Katie Campbell


Our schedule below offers a small group a private 2 day tour of various Tuscan gardens – many of which are not generally open to the public.

Wednesday 7th May – visitors tour the gardens of La Foce, 

Beautiful garden of the Anglo-American writer Iris Origo – to  see for ourselves the setting for her unparalleled book War in Val d’Orcia  – her diary of life in Italy during the second world war.

11.30 – Pienza – a beautiful walled city – famous for Pecorino cheese – an aroma which greets us as we walk through the gates.

We visit the site of Palazzo Piccolomini inside the walls. This city was redesigned and renamed through an early twentieth century interpretation of the Humanist ideal by  Pope Puis Piccolomini

Pintoricchio 012.jpg

1.00 lunch at DopoLavora La Foce – a family restaurant in what used to be the school for the children of the tenants at La Foce – and during WW2 became school also for the 23 children who were evacuated to the country.

3.00 La Foce – Famous gardens of  author Iris Origo, designed by Cecil Pinsent

4.30  we drive to Montipulicano for a short wine tasting at Il Gattavecchi before returning to Florence.



Thursday 8th May

private tour to gardens in and around Fiesole 

09.30  Iris Origo’s childhood home where her mother Sybil Cutting redeveloped Villa Medici with English landscape gardener and architect Cecil Pinsent

11.00  Le Balse – home of American Philosopher Charles Strong – villa and gardens were also developed by Cecil Pinsent

12.30 Villa Maiano – another villa redeveloped by Temple Leader – now used for period films such as A room with a View and Tea with Mussolini.

 3.00 – Il Palmerino – Villa and gardens of American writer Vernon Lee who stayed just outside Florence in the Palmerino villa from 1889 until her death at San Gervasio in 1935 , with a brief interruption during World War I Her library was left to the British Institute of Florence and can still be inspected by visitors. In Florence she knit lasting friendships with the painter Telemaco Signorini and the learned Mario Praz, and she encouraged his love of learning and English literature.

She is shown below as painted by her university friend  John Singer Sargent


 The Villa is home for the next 20 days to a small private exhibition of the work of two expat women artists of the 1920-30s – Elizabeth Chaplin and Lola Costa , who also lived in the Villa Palmerino during her stay in Florence.


Private travel in air-conditioned mini-van from Tuscany Car Tours with Dr Katie Campbell as private tour guide.

Our costs will depend on distance travelled and number of passengers sharing the cost of mini-van hire and cost of  garden admissions.

A €25 fixed price lunch has been arranged for each day.


Cost – €99 per person per day + lunch.