The Storico Giardino Garzoni (Garzoni Historical Garden), one of the most beautiful in Italy, represents a felicitous synthesis between Renaissance geometry and the spectacular quality of the high Baroque.
The Storico Giardino Garzoni is an 18th-century wonder that has remained virtually intact until now. It is the result of two centuries of work, begun in the sixteenth century, which transformed a vegetable plot and a hunting grove beside the country home of the Garzoni counts into a monument to artistic taste and the good life, with ingenious use of water and an exquisite selection of plants.
The Storico Giardino Garzoni, one of the most beautiful in Italy, represents a felicitous synthesis between Renaissance geometry and the spectacular quality of the high Baroque.
The Storico Giardino Garzoni is an 18th-century wonder that has remained virtually intact until now. It is the result of two centuries of work, begun in the sixteenth century, which transformed a vegetable plot and a hunting grove beside the country home of the Garzoni counts into a monument to artistic taste and the good life, with ingenious use of water and an exquisite selection of plants. This landscape architecture exploits the apparent difficulties of the steep terrain, transforming them into splendid and unique features. It is a triumph of the spirit of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, which pursued knowledge and elevated consciousness through the senses and pleasure.
Thanks to this, we now have a landscaped monument that is unique in Europe, created in the splendid era that produced the gardens of the Lucchesi villas, which share common echoes and inspirations with gardens such as those of the Palace of Caserta and Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe in Kassel.
Wandering through the wonders of this extraordinary place, with cool, evocative artificial caves, theatres created from boxwood hedges, statues of satyrs, gods and goddesses, animals and biblical, historical and folkloric figures, and dense bamboo groves, is a magical experience. The entire garden, with its symbols and white figures emerging from the midst of the greenery (and also hidden – try finding the Turk!), seems to present visitors with a narrative, which at times can be enigmatic.
Let your imagination roam free as you enjoy the variety of plants, the discreet irrigation system supplying the water features, waterfalls and fountains, based largely on that of the eighteenth century, the shady pathways leading from the Water Staircase to fascinating places such as the Maze (recommended to courting couples, as it is said to ensure marriage and lasting romance!), the Greenery Theatre and the Avenue of the Poor, lined by picturesque figures.
The unique and special Bathroom Pavilion offers bathtubs of all types and shapes, with each space designed to be concealed from all the others. Not even the small orchestra that entertained the ladies and gentlemen from a small platform while they “bathed” could see what was happening below them. The guests could therefore enjoy the pleasure of the cool water with the utmost discretion, or indulge in naughtier amusements if they so wished.
The Garzoni Garden forms a single complex with the Villa, which stands beside it and partially overlooks it. In ancient times, it was a fortress guarding the village of Castello, then it became the country home of the Garzoni nobles, and finally a luxurious villa and monumental garden, intended as a status symbol to reflect their economic and political power and cultural superiority. The steep hill, which seemed an obstacle to the creation of a large, prestigious garden, became an amazing setting of greenery and water, while the large house was also being transformed into a grand and luxurious villa, with the cool Summer Building and chapel concealed behind it.
Inside the park it’s possible to visit the Butterfly House where tropical and equatorial butterflies – flying flowers – live, feed, breed and fly, alive and free, in a lush tropical garden housed within a glass building. It’s a garden within the garden.
High Baroque, Italian style terrace
Some highlights about the Garzoni Garden, at Collodi (Italy)
The Garzoni Villa and Garden complex is recognized as a National Monument (L. 364/20 June 1909, L. 688/3 June 1912, Article 7)
Piazza della Vittoria 1, 51014, Collodi
Pescia, Tuscany, Italy
Coordinates: 43.90039, 10.65403
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Phone: +39 0572 427314 / +39 0572 429613
From Florence to Collodi:
- By Car: Highway A1(Milano, Bologna, Roma, Napoli) take the Firenze Nord exit and enter in the A11 highway (Firenze-Mare). Take the Chiesina Uzzanese exit and follow the direction to Collodi (4 km).
- By Train: From the Firenze Santa Maria Novella (SMN) take the regional train to Lucca-Viareggio. Get off at the Pescia Station (about 1 hour).
- It’s also possible to book a taxi (+39 335494261 - +39 3397437380) or a bus/shuttle with driver (Touristata +39 0572 453112 - +39 337477602).
The ancient village of Collodi was made famous by Carlo Collodi, the author of “The Adventures of Pinocchio”, the most famous and best-loved book in the world. Carlo Lorenzini took Collodi as his penname in remembrance of the happy years he spent in this village at his mother’s family.
The historic Garzoni Garden is part of a majestic villa situated in Collodi, a village in Tuscany in the province of Pistoia 60 km north-west of Florence. The villa, also known as the “Villa of Hundred Windows” was designed in the 18th century by an architect from Lucca, Ottaviano Diodati. In the place where in the 16th century a large country mansion was built on the ruins of a Middle-Age fortress with orchards and potagers in the 17th century a Villa with monumental garden were rising as documents can prove.
The aristocratic Florentine family Garzoni bought this place as a fort and transformed it as a family home. The first mention of the Roman villa dating back to 1633 when Garzoni signed a project to build a villa more or less with the same current dimensions, while the garden was much smaller until 1652 when the park was enlarged and equipped with an Italian style terrace (the steep slope) including staircases, statues and fountains.
As the villa and the garden came to fame a lot of celebrated and high renown personalities were guests such as: poets like Francesco Sbarra, the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, Anna de Medici or, later, Napoleon Bonaparte, whose sister Elisa Baciocchi governed Lucca in the early 19th century, King Victor Emmanuel III in around 1910 and the Ambassador of the United States in the 1920s. Carlo Lorenzini/Collodi’s mother, Angiolina Orzali, worked in the Villa as a girl and met her future husband, Domenico Lorenzini, here. It’s also possible to discover some of the famous visitors in the Historical, Artistic and Environmental Documentation Centre.
In 1871 the property passed to Senator Joseph Garzoni Venturi, then to his daughters. The last descendant of the Garzoni family sold the estate in the second half of the 1920s. The Villa and Garden complex, which was in poor condition by the end of the 19th century, has been tastefully restored by the current owner, in collaboration with the National Carlo Collodi Foundation, which is entrusted with the management and care of the Garden through its subsidiary Sviluppo Turistico Collodi srl.
In 1793 thanks to a project of the architect from Lucca Ottaviano Diodati, the garden was equipped with an hydraulic system, that still today allows water games, that makes it even more spectacular. The Garzoni Historical Garden was restored (restorations inaugurated in 2007) based on a comprehensive design by the Gurrieri Associates Studio (Florence), together with the Emilio Faroldi Associates Studio (Parma/Milan), which worked in particular on the ‘Spaccio di Rosina’ (ticket office with the Documentation and Exhibition Centre) and the Collodi Butterfly House, and architect Giorgio Galletti (Florence) for the landscaping.
The Historical, Artistic and Environmental Documentation Centre consists of a temporary exhibition space and a permanent exhibition on the Garzoni Historical Garden. The temporary exhibition space features artists, photographers and researchers whose work is linked to the Garzoni Historical Garden, the Collodi Butterfly House, Pinocchio and Collodi.
The permanent exhibition retraces the history of the Garzoni Garden through annotated reproductions of archive documents from as far back as 1500, period photographs and images documenting the changes to the Garden from before to after the restoration. These materials, unavailable elsewhere, will help to discover how the garden and villa were transformed through the centuries, and the famous personalities that visited the Garzoni Garden.