Gardens of Tuscany

Formal Tuscan gardens of the villas of Tuscany, Italy

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For centuries the landscape of Tuscany, Italy, has exerted a powerful hold on the imaginations of Italian city dwellers and foreign visitors with its human scale, and the merging of vineyards and olive groves into gardens and then into the villas themselves. With the revival of Classical culture from the fourteenth century, this landscape has been incorporated architecturally into the villas and gardens that grew in the environs of the cities of Florence and Siena, and later the villas created from castles, fortified abbeys and towers throughout the province.

More than anywhere else, the topography here allowed use of hillsides and distant vistas. The early Renaissance villas and gardens were designed as retreats from public life in the busy city. They were the ideal place for humanist debate.

Gardens of the late Renaissance and Baroque periods became more elaborate symbols of power, adorned with rare plants, sculpture and water works. Uniting natural and artificial beauty, they were designed to recreate Paradise on Earth, an achievable Utopia, an accessible Arcadia.

After a period of landscape design in the English style in the nineteenth century, the Tuscan formal garden returned in its most glorious form in the early twentieth century, this time designed mostly for wealthy foreigners, often by garden designers who were themselves foreigners, foremost among them being Cecil Pinsent, an English architect resident in Florence.

Here we feature some of the lesser known gardens in the Chianti Classico wine region between Florence and Sienna and throughout Tuscany.


Villa Gamberaia at Settignano near Florence

Villa Gamberaia - stay at a famous Tuscan villa

Villa Gamberaia is one of the classic Florentine villas, with a "hanging" garden laid out to draw the eye to the splendid views out over the farms towards Florence. Astonishingly, it is possible to rent vacation apartments in converted farm buildings on the grounds, as well as to rent the entire villa. There is no better way to experience and understand what a villa meant in Renaissance times.

The villa is located on the outskirts of Florence and is worth a visit for the gardens alone - the gardens are open to the public by appointment. Villa Gamberaia can be reached from Florence in 20 minutes by car and also by ATAF bus number 10 (30 mins. from Piazza San Marco to the village of Settignano plus a 15 minute walk to the villa).

Click here for more about Villa Gamberaia.

Villa Poggio Torselli - visit this splendid Tuscan villa

Villa Poggio Torselli

Villa Poggio Torselli is already mentioned in the land registry of 1427 under its current name and was then owned by the Machiavelli family. In later centuries, the property passed to the Angiolini, the Corsini, the Macalli and the Capponi. In the 18 C, it belonged to the Orlandini del Beccuto and finally to the Antinori.

The famous garden of Villa Poggio Torselli probably dates from the late 17 C, and consists of an italianate garden divided into two terraces to the south and an English park area in to the north. In the upper terrace on the south side, the original arrangement with flower beds has been preserved along with a very ingenious irrigation system, one of the best preserved of Tuscany.

Click here to learn more about Villa Poggio Torselli.


Chianti formal gardens

In English

Garden of the Villa di Geggiano
near Sienna

Villa Poggio Torselli
near San Casciano Val di Pesa

Villa Cetinale
near Sienna

Villa Gamberaia
Settignano near Florence

Villa Vignamaggio

near Greve in Chianti

Villa Medici
at Fiesole, Italy

Castello di Uzzano
at Greve in Chianti

Vincigliata Castle
near Fiesole

Villa Monaciano
near Castelnuovo Berardenga

In italiano

Giardino della Villa di Geggiano
vicino Siena

Villa Poggio Torselli
vicino San Casciano Val di Pesa

Villa Cetinale
vicino Siena

Villa Gamberaia
Settignano vicino Firenze

Villa Vignamaggio
vicino Greve in Chianti

Villa Medici
a Fiesole

Castello di Uzzano
a Greve in Chianti

Castello di Vincigliata
vicino Fiesole

Villa Monaciano
vicino Castelnuovo Berardenga

Auf Deutsch

Villa di Geggiano - der Garten
nahe Siena

Villa Poggio Torselli
nahe San Casciano Val di Pesa

Villa Cetinale
nahe Siena

Villa Gamberaia
Settignano nahe Florenz

Villa Vignamaggio
nahe Greve in Chianti

Castello di Uzzano

bei Greve in Chianti

Bibliography of Italian Gardens

Tuscan formal gardens

Bardini Garden in Florence

Il Giardino Bardini in Firenze

Der Garten Bardini von Florenz

Bardini Garden in Florence

Brolio Castle
near Gaiole in Chianti

Castello di Brolio
vicino Gaiole in Chianti

Schloss Brolio
nahe Gaiole in Chianti

Castello di Brolio

Villa Chigi Saracini

near Castelnuovo Berardenga and Sienna

Palazzo Piccolomini
in Pienza

Villa Chigi Saracini Palazzo Piccolomini

The prestigious Renaissance "lemon garden" begins with a magnificent gate and ends at an exedra decorated with pillars at its corners and a large central rounded arch opening, framed by cypresses hedges. The upper part of the exedra is crowned by the family court of arms, surrounded by two vases. More about Villa Chigi Saracini

This is a small "hanging garden" which forms an integral part of the Palazzo and indeed of the entire town of Pienza, a small renaissance jewel in central Tuscany. More about the Palazzo Piccolomini in Pienza

Horti Leonini

in San Quirico Val d'Orcia - a small and perfect Italian
formal garden, laid out by Diomede Leoni in 1580.

Villa La Foce

near Montepulciano in the Val d'Orcia -
created by Cecil Pinsent for the late Iris Origo

Horti Leonini Villa La Foce

Villa La Pietra in Florence

Formerly the home of Sir Harold Acton and now part of New York University.

Garden of Villa La Pietra in Florence

Roman formal gardens

Villa d'Este

in Tivoli - one of the finest fountain gardens in Italy, indeed, in Europe, and should not be missed by anyone visiting Rome and its environs.

Villa Lante

at Bagnaia on the via Francigena near Viterbo - regarded by some as the most perfect garden in Italy. It is in any case a wonderful harmony of cascades, fountains and dripping grottoes.

Gardens of the Villa d'Este Villa Lante

While you visit the gardens of Tuscany, stay in self-catering accommodations with a swimming pool in the Chianti Classico wine zone. And don't forget to tour the castles of Chianti!
Click here for beautiful vacation rentals in Tuscany.

castles of Chianti

Directory of Italian Gardens

Accommodation in and near Rome

Accommodation in and near Rome

Villa Bordoni luxury hotel and restaurant

Villa Bordoni luxury hotel and restaurant

Tuscan Villas to rent for your holiday in Tuscany

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