Italian Gardens

As the Renaissance spiraled out of Florence and into the rest of the world, a new found respect for natural beauty went along with it, as many of the richest Italians spent untold money creating magnificent villas in the country"s fertile hillsides. Terraced gardens and giant fountains are found on many of these estates - luckily a good number of these have been carefully preserved throughout the years - and allow visitors to bask in the sprawling beauty that many Renaissance aristocrats called home.

Arguably, the most scenic garden in Italy, Florence"s Boboli Gardens was once the favored grounds of the Medici family. Located behind the famous Pitti Palace and constructed by Triboli - who at the time was the first name in Italian garden design - this is the foremost garden in Italy. The dirt paths seem to drift for miles, and a quick climb up the Fortezza di Belvedere includes one of the best views of the city at its summit. Aging statues, winding pathways and intricate botanical gardens abound. And if that"s not enough, a ticket for the Boboli Gardens will also allow you entrance into the nearby Bardini Gardens too, in case the former was unable to sate your desire for touring Florentine gardens.

As one of the most scenic regions in the country, its no wonder that Tuscany offers many other fine Italian gardens. The Villa Reale de Marlia lies just outside Florence, and includes the garden in Italy that Napoleon"s sister would use to entertain members of Europe"s royalty. Also nearby is Villa Gamberaia, whose hilly location and accommodating pools are the utmost in Italian garden design.

Another major center for Italian gardens is Lake Como, where the wealthiest aristocrats of the 1800s built their villas. These lake front properties beneath the Dolomites still exude privilege and prestige to this day - readily apparent not only in the luxurious dwellings but also in Italian gardens such as the Villa Cicogna Mozzoni and Villa Carlotta. The former shuns Italian garden design in preference for the vaunted English style, marking a slight contrast to the territorial models dotting the hillsides.

Spitting gargoyles, cascading waterfalls and top-heavy cypress trees are spread across another excellent garden in Italy, the Villa d"Este, located just 20 miles east of Rome in the city of Tivoli. The city also boasts famous Italian gardens such as Villa Gregoriana and Hadrian"s Villa, where only the ruins remain of the estate where the Roman Emperor lived out his final days.

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