Giardino Villa Marlia - Lucca

Routes among Lucca's Villas

Elegant villas and luxurious gardens

The Villas' Gardens, their farms' hills of olive groves and vineyards, characterise the landscape of Lucca's Province: an unusual mix of art and nature created in the 1500s by the wise and flourishing economy of the rich and independent Republic of Lucca.

A heritage standing out in Italy for all that can still be seen and experienced thanks to the owners' sustained care, who through the centuries have introduced new stiles without completely changing the shape nor the sober Lucchese character. Visiting the Villas is to retrace the history of Lucca’s people, their economy and art, inspired by many European contacts, but strong in its own roots

Villa Bernardini - In 1645 Bernardino Bernardini, Ambassador for the Republic to various Princes and the Holy See, had the villa at Vicopelago built as a welcoming residence for both family and guests, a place for study and rest. The garden with its flourishing trees, shrubs and flowers blooming throughout the year, emphasises this wish to be inviting. At the beginning of the 18th century the Secret Garden was created for the household’s ladies, a place in which to rest and converse.

Villa Grabau - The “palace”, appeared for the first time in a real estate appraisal from the 16th century in the middle of a vast estate bought by the Diodati brothers. Two gates lead to the centre of the park where the villa appears. Groves with shaded avenues, large open spaces with trees and shrubsintroduced at the beginning of 19th century, thanks largely to Lucca’s Botanical Garden which contributed to making the villas' gardens true organic wonders.

Villa Mansi - The Benedetti were the first owners of the villa in the 16th century which then passed to the Cenami at the end of the 17th century and finally to the Mansi family. The elegant villa appears in the background of the English style garden between the many large trees which border the lawn. The main floor is a series of interconnecting rooms surrounding the central hall, featuring frescoes by the lucchese Stefano Tofanelli.

Villa Oliva - Alessandro Buonvisi, in his 1539 will left all his worldly goods to his son Ludovico, except the villa in San Pancrazio, which he bequeathed to his wife. The villa is original and complex, with renaissance origins and traces of Florentine and 'manierista' influences. The play on levels which intersect and chase one another is also present in the garden, where the slopes of the grounds offer many surprises: terraces, stone walls, grassy knolls, small box hedges, a large staircase protected by hornbeams, the "stanza di verzura", and a panoramic viewpoint, sheltered by a cluster of yew trees, which offers prospects of the surrounding garden, hills and city.

Villa Reale - The entrance, through the stableyard, draws you into a small wood to discover, little by little, every secret corner of the garden: a stream with little waterfalls which accompanies the avenue of camellias, bridges and ponds; a spiraling pathway up the hillside and a lake. Back up the hillside is the Bishop’s villa with an Italian-style garden. A little further on the nymphaeum decorated with stones, glass and lumps of cast iron where the fountains spray, invokes the atmosphere of a natural grotto.

Villa Torrigiani - In 1636 Marquess Nicolao Santini, Ambassador for the Republic to the court of Louis XIV, bought the sober 16th century villa from the Buonvisi family, transforming it into a small palace, inspired by Versailles and its court, and advised by Andre LeNotré. A long cypress avenue is the theatrical entrance to the Villa di Camigliano, one of Lucca’s most remarkable monumental villas. Even today the descendants of the Ambassador, who have also created the Parigi village and the large painted Chapel, preserve the estate.