STOP PRESS: A VISIT TO VILLA LA FOCE IS NOW INCLUDED IN THE TOUR ITINERARY *
COUNTRY LIFE GOES TO TUSCANY
Join Villa La Pietra Head Gardener, Nick Dakin-Elliot on an exclusive tour of the best classical gardens of Florence & Chianti.
This golden late-summer tour has been carefully designed to include some of the most beautiful and exclusive gardens of Tuscany. It was here that the Renaissance took root as we will see in the gardens of the Medici villas dating back to the 15th century. This tour also incorporates some important gardens of the early 20th century when English speaking expatriates comprised one sixth of the population of Florence. We visit gardens designed by Cecil Pinsent who worked in the early 1900s for the expatriate community, ingeniously designing gardens that melded into the existing architecture and dramatic Tuscan landscapes. We also appreciate how these masterpieces of garden architecture are being managed in Italy today and for this we are privileged to have Nick Dakin-Elliot as tour host. Nick has been resident in Florence for over 15 years where he has been at the helm of the restoration work at Villa La Pietra. For Nick, the perfect garden contrasts a formal structure with the romantic touch of profuse planting; the fusion of Italian and English garden design at its best. This tour includes many rare and private visits with special invitations to lunch with the owners. We are accommodated for four nights at the 5-star Villa la Massa, a luxurious 16th century Medici villa overlooking a gentle curve in the River Arno. The hotel has its own restaurant, Il Verrocchio, serving the best of regional traditional Italian cuisine, enhanced by garden vegetables, home - produced olive oil and 300 fine wines from the cellar.
Day 1: Thursday 22nd September
Depart London Heathrow, Terminal 5 at 08:50 on British Airways flight BA0604, arriving in Pisa Galileo Airport at 12:00 noon. We drive to a restaurant in Settignano for lunch together before visiting the gardens of Villa Gamberaia, described as one of the most perfect examples of garden architecture. Although the original garden dates to the 17th century, the famous water terrace was designed by Princess Ghyka of Serbia in the late 19th century. Both were severely damaged in the Second World War; immaculately restored subsequently by Signor Marcello Marchi. We explore the unique water parterre, the bowling alley, secret garden, nymphaeum, lemon garden and bosco, and enjoy magnificent views over the Arno Valley before receiving warm welcome at Villa la Massa with time to settle in before dining together.
Day 2: Friday 23rd September
We start with a rare visit to the gardens of Villa Cetinale, a marriage made in heaven between the 17th century baroque garden and the 20th century English garden created by Lord Lambton. Count Bianchi Bandinelli of Villa di Geggiano then invites us to lunch where we see the villa with its beautiful 18th century frescoes representing the twelve months of the year created by Austrian artist, Ignazio Moder and have time to stroll around the garden to enjoy the famous green theatre and walls decorated with vases and monkey grotteschi. *The day ends with a recently organised visit to Villa La Foce, an enchanting, twentieth-century garden designed by Cecil Pinsent for author and historian Iris Origo. The garden is a striking example of Pinsent’s ability to combine Italian baroque features with English Arts & Crafts style*.
Day 3: Saturday 24th September
Today we focus on gardens of the 20th century starting with a visit to Cecil Pinsent’s dramatic treatment of the steep hillside at Villa Le Balze in Fiesole. After a visit to a contemporary private garden, we visit Villa La Pietra, the magnificent Acton family villa now owned by New York University. Here, Nick Dakin-Elliot will explain the implementation of Kim Wilkie’s ingenious restoration plan for this important site. A picnic lunch is included on arrival.
Day 4: Sunday 25th September
This morning, we visit the restored gardens at Villa Medicea di Castello, one of the most important Medici gardens, now housing the Medici Citrus Collection. There follows an invitation to lunch at Villa Capponi, a jewel-like garden with intimate compartments separated by scalloped walls. Later in the afternoon we visit Palazzo Corsini al Prato, with its wonderful parterre garden, fine collection of ancient lemon trees, and family of free-ranging tortoises (if you can find them).
Day 5: Monday 26th September
We return to Pisa Galileo Airport to check in for British Airways flight BA0605, departing at 13:05 and arriving at London Heathrow Airport at 14:30.
How much & what's included
The price per person: £3190
A single supplement of £465 per person is levied by the hotel.
The price includes: four nights’ dinner with wine at Villa la Massa’s Il Verrocchio; bed and full choice of breakfast at 5-star Villa la Massa; plus four lunches as stated in the itinerary. Those wishing to make their own flight arrangements should state this on the booking form and we will deduct £180.00 per person from the tour price.
This tour is financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate