Fall gardens, Italian wonders
Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once claimed he preferred autumn to spring because
in the autumn one looks at heaven – in the spring at the earth. The father of existentialism had such a strong preference for this season that he even hoped to die with someone at his side who could love him as much as he loved autumn.
Drama aside, we can understand his appreciation for these cooler months in visiting Italian gardens that are at their most beautiful in the fall – when new beginnings might be an unexpected surprise.
Scenes from “Gardens in Autumn”, a 2006 film by Georgian director Otar Iosseliani, come to mind: the story of a man who gave everything up to start a new life…
We have selected some of the most wonderful images of gardens and parks in Italy immersed in the autumn mood, so you can get lost in the colors of this magnificent time of the year.
We start our tour from the fields and woods of Borgo Valsugana (above), in the province of Trento, where every year since 1990 the Associazione Arte Sella – which we featured in this past article – organizes a contemporary art show with artists from the whole world coming to create their works in ongoing dialog with nature..
Before leaving Trentino we drive ten kilometers west to Levico Terme, where the largest historical park in the province of Trento was created in the early 20th century. The Terme di Levico Park is a 12-hectare natural oasis, home to a huge range of botanical species from every continent –firs from Canada, giant sequoias from North America, magnolias from South America, cedars from the Himalaya, ginkgo biloba from China and many more.
Entering Piedmont, we head to San Secondo di Pinerolo, in the province of Turin, where the Miradolo Castle – a neo-Gothic villa from the second half of the 1800s – is surrounded by a splendid, six-hectare park full of precious botanical collections. The Castle and the Park are the headquarters of the Cosso Foundation, which organizes many interesting cultural initiatives.
While in Piedmont, we also visit Sezzadio, in the province of Alessandria and its Villa Badia historical park, part of the complex of the Abbey of Santa Giustina – named after the Romanesque church founded by the Benedictine monks in the early 11th century. The 19th-century villa faces the beautiful park, which is home to a delightfully romantic lake and to a number of secular trees – including cedars, chestnuts, oaks, firs, pines and plane trees.
We enter Tuscany, and the province of Lucca, and head to Marlia, famous for its Royal Villa. The structure dates back to the Middle Ages and was bought in 1806 by Napoleon’s sister, princess Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi. Niccolò Paganini and Klemens von Metternich were two other of its famous residents. It is surrounded by a magnificent, 16-hectare park that still features the 1600s’ layout in one part and bears testimony to the 19th-century taste for English landscape gardens in another.
Known as Termae Stygianae in Antiquity, nine therapeutic springs still irrigate the Stigliano Botanical Gardens in Canale Monerano, near Rome. Thermal springs that have made these twenty hectares luxuriant with exclusive, local plant species and much more: Roman pines, oaks and giant bamboos are home to owls, porcupines, hawks, herons, foxes, badgers and other animals.