Italy boasts a large number of beautiful private and public gardens, from medieval cloister gardens to classic “giardini all’Italiana” of the Renaissance era, to Baroque and botanical ones.
And what better time to visit a garden than Spring time, when you can admire the magic of Spring blooming - so, when planning your primavera trip to Italy, make sure you take some time to immerse yourself in the serene and elegant atmosphere of an Italian garden.
Here are three magnificent gardens in Northern Italy you should visit this Spring!
1. La Cervara, Abbey of San Gerolamo al Monte di Portofino, Santa Margherita (Liguria)
On the coastal road leading to Portofino is an abbey complex built in 1361, Cervara, now designated National Monument of Italy. Within the complex is the only “Giardino all’Italiana”, Italian Renaissance style garden, remaining on the Italian Riviera. The view from the gardens is quite impressive as they directly face the sea, looking out onto the promontory of Portofino on one side, and the Gulf of Tigullio on the other.
As all Italian-style gardens, the layout is simple, linear and proportionate. Walk among the hedges of boxwood, topiary cones, framed pergolas, Mediterranean and citrus trees; admire the 17th century marble fountain and relax in the shaded 16th century cloister. A traditional vegetable garden, where the monks used to grow medicinal plants and local herbs, has been preserved.
The abbey is now privately owned, and it is thanks to the current owners that it has been restored and brought back to its former splendor. It is open to the public for cultural performances, concerts, and guided tours (to be booked in advance). Click here for more information.
2. Villa Carlotta, Tremezzo, Lake Como
Featuring a breathtaking view over the Bellagio peninsula on Lake Como, the Italian garden at Villa Carlotta, built in 1690 for the Milanese marquis Giorgio Clerici, extends over 17 acres in Tremezzo. It was laid out according to the late Lombard Baroque style and features stairs, terraces, fountains and sculptures; particularly impressive are the statues of Mars and Venus by Luigi Acquisti. Over the years, Villa Carlotta has built up a sophisticated botanical garden with 800 different species and varieties, including 1,000 trees, 400 camelias, 250 rhododendrons and 200 roses. The gardens of Villa Carlotta are especially famous for the spectacular spring flowering of their rhododendrons and azaleas, making April and May the ideal months to visit.
Any trip to Lake Como should include a stop to this villa and its gardens, where you can also admire beautiful works of art preserved inside the museum, featuring masterpieces by Canova and Hayez among others.
For information on opening hours and fees, click here.
3. Giardino Giusti, Verona
The Giusti Garden, located east of Verona, across the river from the historic center, is considered one of the finest examples of an Italian style garden. Built in the 16th century along with the Neo-Classical Giusti Palace, it features a splendid series of terraces climbing upon the hill, with lovely views of Verona. The garden includes a parterre, a hedge maze, statues, ancient trees, gargoyles, fountains, grottoes and ancient inscriptions. The villa, unlike in other gardens, is located in the lower area, rather than in the higher part. A legend says that lovers who succeed in finding each other in the labyrinth are destined to eternal love.
The Giusti family, who has owned the palace and garden since the 16th century, became known as the “Giusti del Giardino”, reflecting the importance and fame of the gardens. Famous visitors include Goethe, Cosimo De’ Medici, Mozart and Emperor Joseph II.