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Italian Gardens

by Judith Wade

Since the earliest Roman settlements, Italians have been expertly cultivating their land into beautiful and creative displays of nature, where terraces and walkways, plants and flowers, water and statuary are combined to provide a unique ad inspiring setting. The Italian garden has greatly evolved throughout the ages, taking on different forms, favoring different plants, and serving different purposes. Early Italian gardens made use of citrus, still regarded as an essential element for its bright fruit and shiny leaves. The ancient art of the topiary was revived in the Renaissance for its drama and elegance, and the refined parterre was developed to spread forth from the great palazzos and provide a dramatic view from their upper stories. In Italian Gardens, author Judith Wade explores more than 500 years of this tradition, discussing each of these developments and transporting the reader to 37 of the most captivating gardens of Italy. 11 regions are visited, from Lombardy and Piedmont in the north, to the island of Sicily in the south. Both small and grandiose, historic and contemporary gardens are featured. Travel with Wade to the aristocratic Villa Favorita in Lugano, where an avenue of cypresses welcomes those who approach; the English-style park of Villa Novare Bertani in Verona, with its 17th-century wine cellar; the 18th-century Avenue of the Camelias at Lucca’s Villa Reale, where the American artist John Singer Sargent painted; and great examples of contemporary Italian landscapes, like La Mortella in Naples, which boasts more than 800 species of rare plants.