GARDENS of COTE D'AZUR and TUSCANY
September 16 – 26th, 2006
 

September 24th was our visit out to Lucca and the Villa Gardens of Mansi and Torrigiani. Villa Mansi itself stands out among other Luccanese palaces, as do the once elaborate water gardens designed by the late Baroque architect, Filippo Juvarra. The present house was begun in the late 16th century and rebuilt in the 1630s, but it was then recast for the Mansi family in the 1670s. Juvarra altered the gardens in 1720, giving them the theatrical stamp that can be seen today. However, only the fishpond, the ruins of Diana's Grotto, a section of cascade and segments of hedge survive today. This is also where we choose to take some group photographs…the stairs were perfect for that… We stopped at a delightful local restaurant for lunch and even though they were not expecting a group this size to just pop in, what a lunch we all had. Absolutely delicious. Then it was on to the Villa Torrigiani (on 2007 tour) It and the park date back to the beginning of the 16th century. The owners then were the powerful Buonvisi family. During the first half of the 17th Century Villa Torrigiani was purchased by Marquis Nicolao Santini, the ambassador of the Republic of Lucca to the court of Louis 14th (the sun King), who wanted to transform it into a sumptuous dwelling, with a garden of flowering parterres and grand basins, into which the facade would reflect. The garden was to be built according to the plans done by Le Notre for the royal home of Versailles. Theater of Flora with grottoes and water works which still function and which are visible in the Grotto of the Winds. There is an exceptional example of a round grotto with stone mosaics and the niches surrounding with remarkable statues of the winds, fountains serving as basins, and above them a dome from which great rain pours down. We saw splendid examples of Liliodendron Tulipifera, Taxodium Disdreum, Olsmanthus Fragrans, Atlas Cedar and many varieties of magnolias and Camellia. ‘The garden was designed in accordance with strict Tuscan canons of symmetry and geometry, which also call for continuity with the surrounding countryside.’


 

 

 

 

 


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