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.
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.
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.
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.
Thursday 8th May
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
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.