Little did I realize as we packed our bags for Italy the wonderful secret places that would be revealed to us; places I never imagined I’d set my eyes upon in my lifetime. And in the case of this particular place, one that very few may stumble upon or list as a destination while in Italy. Well, at least, we’d never heard of it.
Admittedly it has taken me some time to finally get this post complete. I realized the reason for my procrastination was the task of choosing a select few photos to share out of the 400 photos we took on this particular afternoon. So, I finally decided I would divide it into two posts. The first will focus on the gardens and a few structures within them and the second on the homes and other buildings on the property.
So here’s the story:
It was one of those instances where we had a decisive path set out, but we are suddenly taken off course. The plan ~ wind our way through Tuscany following a map that listed various wineries. It started off exactly that way and we arrived at our first vineyard. Time for our first Italian wine tasting ~ or so we thought. My hubby pressed the gate buzzer and explained the reason for our visit. The reply was, “no winery”. Huh? We double checked and triple checked our map, the given address, and the address we were sitting at. They all matched to that awesome looking place behind the big iron gates keeping us out.
Not to fret! My husband, being the eagle-eye tourist he is, had spotted a few cars pulling into a parking area just a ways back on the road and suggested we check it out.
While backtracking we snapped these photos. I love the abundance of photo opportunities Italy provides! I couldn’t resist sharing them: I’m sure you’ll find some garden landscape ideas in there…
Italy’s gates, gardens and architecture are a feast for a camera lens!
When we finally pulled ourselves away from the iron gates and drove back to the spot that provoked curiosity, one lone car sat in front of the building. My hubby inquired about the place and a gentlemen simply just described it as “a garden”. There’s not a garden in Italy not worth checking out. So in we went, after paying an entrance fee of course. The couple from the other vehicle had entered just before us.
I was in one of my “Che sarà sarà” moods and didn’t even bother to refer to the guide map my husband handed to me. In fact, I think I just jammed it into my back pocket. We mindlessly entered a large gate, followed a stone drive that headed off to the right and as we strolled along hand in hand, we began chatting about no particular subject.
About five minutes in we stopped to make note that the only thing we had seen were trees, shrubbery of no particular fancy sort and the stone under our feet. It came to question if we were going to get our 7 euros each (about $9.59 US) worth out of this stroll. Ah, well, a walk on a slightly cloudy day and with great company was enjoyment enough, so why not continue on.
It was at least another 5 minutes before we got glimpse of a nicely sized pond. . I thought, okay, maybe now we may have something here. It was when we rounded a bend and stepped through some overly sized shrubs that a wonderful garden structure appeared.
This was just the start. The magic would continue to unfold before us. Throughout the next four hours, both of us, cameras in hand, glided about in a state of euphoria. We’d often pause, take a deep breath as if to physically absorb the essence of it. Then we’d just smile at one another and shake our heads in amazement. It was too good to be true, it had to be. It was all too much to comprehend. Here we were, in Italy, in a magical garden that had so many secrets to share with us. And it was just the two of us wandering into one garden spot after the other. It was, for a moment of time, our garden. I hope the photos present you with at least a portion of this garden’s potency to intoxicate. I’ll leave you to enjoying its allurement in quiet reflection. Let’s take a stroll…
Grotta del Dio Pan ~ Groto of Pan (Cave of Pan)
Giardino Spagnolo ~ Spanish Garden
Gates into Teatro di Verdura (Green Theater)
Green theater with statues of Colombina, Pantalone and Balanzone from 1700.
Giardino dei Limoni ~ Lemon Garden
“Teatro d’Acqua” ~ Water theater
So, I hope you enjoyed your time viewing these special gardens. But what is this place you may asking. Well, it is a piece of property outside of Lucca, whose recorded history seems to begin about 1517. Villa Reale Marlia as it is called, was purchased in 1806 by Elisa Baciocchi Bonaparte, sister of Napolean. She lost possession of the property after the fall of her brother. It was in the hands of several different nobles since that time. Then in 1942 Count and Countess Pecci-Blunt gained ownership of the property. Their children now maintain and continue to preserve the property.
In my next blog post you’ll get a glimpse at the fabulous structures on the property. There shall be character oozing from every photo, I promise. I shall leave you with this photo, one of my favorite’s taken by my husband, In it you get a glimpse of what is to come. In fact, I do believe you’ll see it four times. You must look closely…