A classic formal Tuscan garden

The garden of Villa Gamberaia

       Villa Gamberaia in Settignano

Villa Gamberaia garden

The formal gardens of Tuscany are often overlooked by visitors to this part of Italy. In fact, they should rank near the top of the list of worthwhile sights for visitors to Tuscany in terms of pure enjoyment as well as aesthetic and historical interest.

Here we quote from a book by Mrs. Linda Villari (1836-1905), an English writer and the wife of the Italian historian and politician, Pasquale Villari. In her book "On Tuscan Hills and Venetian Waters", published in 1885 in London by T. Fisher Unwin, the first chapter is entitled "A Tuscan Villa" which describes Villa Gamberaia at Settignano, on the hills outside Florence. The villa, which originated in the 14 C, takes its name

After a brief description of the villa, Mrs Villari concentrates her attention on its 18 C garden. Villa Gamberaia is in a beautiful position: "No position could have been better chosen, no outlay [has been] spared in planning its groves and gardens. It clings midway on the olive-clad slopes rising from the basin of the Arno to the pine-fringed ridge that sweeps round from Monte Ceceri to Compiobbi; and its ilex woods and cypresses interrupt the soft monotony of the grey-green foliage above and below its terraced walls" (p. 6). "In the middle of the main garden", she continues, "where vines and vegetables, fruits-trees and Egyptian wheat are bordered with pink and red roses, there is a fountain where Cupid on a dolphin 'sprinkleth water' on the goldfish below, and can on occasion shoot jets of spray almost as high as the eaves of the house. Across the grass, and directly opposite the eastern door, is a narrow enclosure of the true rococo style. It has miniature flower-beds and paths; a fine oval fountain of granite, with graceful handles, set in a circular carved basin, decorates the alcove at its end. Stones deities and troubadours are set in niches round its walls and draped with climbing weeds, while two dainty flights of steps on either side communicate with the ilex wood and the upper garden. Great bushes of lavender guard these steps with their fragrant spikes, and roses lean down from the trellised arbours that are fit entries to the treasury of flowers above" (pp. 17-18). 

The chapter is provided with illustrations by Mrs Blanche Strahan Lemon: 'A Tuscan Villa' (p. 7), 'The Val d’Arno From the Terrace' (p. 11), 'The Villa Terrace' (p. 19).

The Val d’Arno From the Terrace of Villa Gamberaia Terrace of Villa Gamberaia

More about Villa Gamberaia and the gardens of the Tuscan villas.

Visit the gardens of Villa Gamberaia.

Villa Gamberaia limonaia

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