Michelangelo’s Top 10 of the most beautiful gardens and parks in Italy

Italy offers a wide variety of different attractions for visitors and the country’s many ornate gardens offer one of the many reasons to travel there. A Garden tour of Italy provides numerous opportunities to discover wonderful oases of beauty for the traveller. Discover a range of wonderful handpicked gardens and parks with us and you will be astounded by their individual histories, special features and beautiful blooms. You will marvel at the fine detail and styling of each and every one  and how they live in harmony wih the Italian countryside in which they have been created, and will be delighted by the array of beautiful and unique plants which thrive in the mediterranean climate.

As the original Renaissance Gardens were created in  Italy during the 15th Century, they are often known as Italian Gardens. Even back then, their creators sought to produce an area of beauty and recreation, and today too they are not merely beautiful looking, but are places of refuge where you can escape hectic day to day life and recharge the batteries.

1) Villa Taranto on Lake Maggiore

These beautiful gardens were designed by the Scot Neil McEachern in 1931 and span an area of approximately 16 hectares (40 acres). Strewn between the terraces, ponds, fountains and waterfalls is a wonderful botanical garden with more than 20,000 different varieties of plants, which yield a wonderful display of lavish blooms from spring to autumn.

2) Giusti Garden in Veneto

Goethe was not alone in being in raptures over this garden. Featuring lawns, fountains, statues, labyrinths and belvederes, it offers a magnificent view of the city of Verona and the broad plains that continue until the Apennines.

3) The Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle in South Tyrol

Visitors can embark on their own botanical world tour as they make their way round this 12 hectare (30 acre) natural amphitheatre which is arranged over a series of broad terraces recreating no fewer than 80 different garden landscapes above Merano. A unique blend of botanical garden and recreational attraction, the gardens, with their intriguing animals offer a colourful world with a range of different experiences in a gorgeous looking out to the mountains of the South Tyrol. The castle itself houses the interesting Touriseum, a museum detailing 200 years of alpine tourist history, which is also well worth a visit.

4) Sigurtà Park in Veneto

The park, which belongs to the Sigurtà Villa, is certainly one of the most beautiful in Europe and spans over  50 hectares (120 acres). It was created by the pharmaceutical industrialist Count Carl Sigurtà, who bought the plot of land in 1941. Through careful irrigation using water drawn from the River Mincio, the former unremarkable farm was transformed over the next  40 years into a green oasis. Open to visitors since 1978, the vast array of plants and box trees and no fewer than 18 ornamental lakes make this a truly special place. The scale and grandeur of the park is such that visitors should allow 4 hours to see it. A panoramic train and electric golf buggies transport visitors around the park, and there is even the chance to hire cycles to explore the grounds.

5) Heller Gardens on Lake Garda

These gardens offer a playful and colourful mix of art and nature. Amongst the many palm trees, beautiful and fragrant orchids, trick fountains, may be found a range of statues from India and Morocco, which rest in the therapeutic shadows of the southern vegetation and radiate meditative relaxation.

6) The Kolymbethra Gardens in Sicily

These gardens, located close to Agrigento on the southern coast of Sicily, date back to 500 BC and are considered to be an archaeological and agricultural gem. When the FAI (Italian National Trust) acquired the grounds, it breathed new life into Kolymbethra. The 5 hectares (12 acres) of gardens at the edge of the temple of Castor and Pollux in the Valley of Temples, are filled with magnificent orange trees, flowering prickly pears and numerous other herbs and flowers, and continue to give up archaeological treasures to this day.

7) The Gardens of the Borromean Islands on Lake Maggiore

The Isola Madre is the largest of the Borromean Islands and Islets and contains a unique botanical garden which is home to many brightly coloured birds as well as exotic and refined plants. It was created and has been maintained in the style of an English Garden since 1823.

The neighbouring Isola Bella is particularly well known for its palace and beautiful gardens built along baroque and neo-classical lines, which were completed in 1671. The Borromean Islands are a major tourist attraction in the area.

8) The Bomarzo Gardens in Lazio

This park, also known as the Park of Monsters, was created in 1552 by Pirro Ligorio who had completed St Peters Basilica in Rome following the death of Michelangelo. Created as a 16th-century horror show within a lovely Italian garden, it was not meant to be particularly pretty, but was filled with bizarre and fascinating sculptures, producing some kind of 16th century version of Surrealism.

9) Villa Barbarigo Pizzoni in Veneto

Widely considered to be one of the finest examples of baroque gardens in the world, the Villa Barbarigo Pizzoni blends history, art, beauty and excellence. The beautifully manicured maze contains 90,000 sq m of boxwood, plants, and fountains. Visitors to the Villa are entranced by the hundreds of scultures made of Istrian stone and no fewer than 300 individual varieties of tree.

10) Labyrinth della Masone  in Emilia Romagna

The Labirinto della Masone is located close to Parma and is the largest of its kind in the world, being made up of over 200,000 bamboo plants. The maze contains over 3km of walkways flanked by a variety of different bamboos and the site also houses a museum and a small cafe. Designed to be a place where people can ‘‘lose themeselves“ for a while in safety, it offers an intriguing visit and a playful interlude for tourists to Emilia Romagna.


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