Woodlands, botanical rarities and green treasures.
23 Mar 2020
Amazing villas, parks, English gardens... Italy is full of famous gardens and hidden corners that are well worth a visit or two when we will come back to travel. Come with us on a stroll through Italy and its meadows, north to south, in this guide for people with green thumbs and those who only admire plants from a safe distance.
Borromeo Palace and its Baroque Garden on Lake Maggiore.
Isola Bella, one of the Borromean Islands, is in Lake Maggiore, very close to Stresa. The island is almost entirely occupied by a seventeenth-century palazzo and its gardens, all still owned by the Borromeo family. From the Palace, one may access one of Italy’s best-preserved Baroque gardens. Although the garden was built during various periods, it maintains an architectural coherence. Pyramidal in shape, it spans ten terraces bordered by walls and balustrades.
On your walk, you’ll encounter pools, fountains, and statues dating back to the second half of the seventeenth century that personify the natural elements. On the Canfora floor, which takes its name from the monumental Cinnamomum camphora tree planted in 1820, you can revel in six flowerbeds full of exotic plants. Lake Maggiore’s mild climate has fostered the growth of rich, luxuriant vegetation: azaleas, grapefruits and bitter oranges, rhododendrons, orchids and carnivorous plants. The high point of this magical garden is its statue of a unicorn ridden by Love.
Staying near Lake Maggiore: Varese.
Mark this address on your notes. Varese, or “Little Versailles” as Giacomo Leopardi described it, is about thirty kilometres from the baroque garden on Lake Maggiore. Varese is where you’ll find Gruppo UNA UNAHOTELS Varese, an ideal starting point from which to explore this beautiful region and set off for Palazzo Borromeo.
Discovering Villa Taranto in Piedmont.
Our next stop is Piedmont, famous for its views of nature and architectural elegance. A visit to Villa Taranto is a must, between Pallanza and Intra, 170 km from Turin. The history of this location, sixteen hectares of pure beauty, is linked to Neil Boyd Watson McEacharn, a captain of Scottish origin and a lover of botany, who in 1931 bought the property from the Marquise of Sant’Elia and decided to transform it into an English garden.
Highlight beauties of this garden are the Viale delle Conifere, featuring a series of rare conifers from all over the world, the Fontana dei Putti, which in spring is surrounded by splendid blooms, the Labirinto delle Dalie, with over 1700 plants in bloom, the Mausoleum where the garden’s founder is buried, the greenhouses, and the terraced gardens with splendid water features.
Where to stay in Piedmont.
Mark this address on your notes. To ensure that you fully enjoy getaway without missing the beauty of Turin, we recommend you stay at the Gruppo UNA Principi di Piemonte | UNA Esperienze historical 5-star hotel, in the heart of Turin and a symbol of its long-standing splendour.
Escape to Giardino Bardini, in the Heart of Florence.
We travel from Piedmont to Tuscany, to Florence. The Bardini Gardens are far too little known for their beauty. Since the Middle Ages, it has belonged to wealthy families who over their years have added something extra. When it was first created, it was purely agricultural; over the years, it has been transformed into beautiful gardens. It is divided into three green spaces; the Italian garden, with a baroque staircase enriched by mosaic backdrops, six fountains, and a panoramic view of the city; an English wood, where the Dragon Fountain stands, giving it an oriental appearance. And an agricultural park, with an orchard and a wisteria-covered pergola.
This green treasure boasts brightly-coloured azaleas, viburnums, camellias, roses, irises and over 60 varieties of hydrangea, as well as a more “functional” garden with a large collection of typical Tuscan fruit trees.
Where to stay in Florence.
Mark this address on your notes. A quarter of an hour’s walk from Giardino Bardino is Gruppo UNA Leone Blu Suites | UNA Esperienze, where we recommend you stay in Florence to discover a timeless place where Italian art blends with the works of the finest Florentine craftsmen, including bronze artists, blacksmiths and stonemasons.
The Garden of Ninfa in Lazio, a Place that Inspired Virginia Woolf.
An oasis of ancient beauty nestles at the foot of the Lepini mountains, in the municipality of Cisterna Latina. Welcome to the Gardens of Ninfa, owned by the Caetani Foundation, gardens built on the ruins of a former town. The ghost town preserves the memory of the past, in the process becoming indestructible; the remains of the small medieval town, in fact, remain visible. The garden covers an area of eight hectares; its name comes from a Roman temple dedicated to the Naiad Nymphs.
The garden is criss-crossed by waterways and streams, the Ninfa River and the small lake it forms, forming one of Italy’s most beautiful botanical gardens with 1300 species of plants, from ornamental apple trees to holly, Japanese maples, cherry trees, magnolias, many varieties of roses, wisteria, hydrangeas and beautiful bamboo. It also has no shortage of tropical plants, including avocado, bananas and gunnera. Numerous creatures have made their home among the trees and shrubs, including over a hundred species of birds. It is a perfect place to breathe in the spring.
Where to stay near Rome.
Mark this address on your notes. If you’d like to go on a trip to discover the stunning Gardens of Ninfa but stay close to the Capital, we recommend you stay at the Gruppo UNA UNAHOTELS Decò Roma, a refined and comfortable hotel with Roman charm located right in the heart of the Eternal City.
Ravino Gardens, a Botanical Oasis in the Middle of the Gulf of Naples.
This place was founded to create an acclimatization garden, inspired by the concept of biodiversity. A magical pathway winds through never-seen-before plants and shrubs, along paths without architectural barriers, giant Saguaro columnar cacti many metres high. These globular with colourful thorns reflect sunlight in ever-changing ways, alongside Sempervivum and Sedum, Europe’s only native succulent plants. The garden also features Aloe, Agave plants and imported Opuntias. All in all, the garden has 5000 specimens, 400 different species, mostly cacti and succulents, plus around 200 Palms and Musaceae.
Spontaneous-growing Mediterranean flora also includes olive trees, citrus trees, aromatics and medicinal plants. The Ravino Gardens are not only a botanical park but the realization of a dream of culture and sustainability, hosting exhibitions, craft exhibitions, photography, editorial reviews and much more.
Where to stay in Naples.
Mark this address on your notes. To easily reach this botanical oasis in the heart of the Gulf of Naples we suggest you spend the night in the heart of Naples at the Gruppo UNA UNAHOTELS Napoli. In a historic building, thanks to its location this hotel offers not only warm hospitality but great urban convenience.