The thing I love most about the garden of Villa Passalacqua is the way that it looks like a very formal giardino all’italiana when you see it from the lake, but close up, when you’re walking through it, it’s full of secret corners. There’s a rose garden, with some beautiful old English roses, there’s an olive grove, there’s an orchard with heirloom varieties of apple and pear, there’s an orange and lemon garden, there are herb beds and a vegetable garden. The garden is like a reflection of the villa itself: it’s full of different rooms. You can choose the room that suits your mood.
If you look at drawings and maps of Villa Passalacqua from the middle of the nineteenth century, not much has changed. You see many of the same cypresses that are here today, the cedars, the terraces and the fountains. What’s maybe less clear from these historic records is just how ‘lived in’ the garden would have been. We know for example that there was a vegetable garden even back then, and that many of the terraces were covered in vines. In the kitchen garden, we found an old vine with sweet table grapes that we’ve trained over a pergola. Picking and eating your own grapes is a very simple pleasure, but it’s one so many people never get to experience today.
There are flowers everywhere. They include old roses, fragrant orange and lemon flowers, and an important collection of hydrangeas, which love shade and are very happy underneath our monumental trees. We use all these flowers to decorate the Villa, but guests are welcome to wander in the garden and pick flowers to create their own bouquets, or to gather fruit and herbs. I love the idea that Villa Passalacqua today is just what it was in the nineteenth century: a natural refuge from urban life, a place of natural bounty and natural energy.
“The garden is like a reflection of the villa itself: it’s full of different rooms. You can choose the room that suits your mood.”
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