The Garzoni Villa: A Fairytale in Green

The Garzoni Villa: A Fairytale in GreenCollodi, situated near to Pescia, is known worldwide for its park which, dedicated to the treasured story of Pinocchio, is fairytale land for children everywhere. However, more often than not, the parents of the many children which flock to these gardens throughout year are dragged here against their will by their children, crazed fans of the world famous puppet. However, what they fail to notice is that, just a few hundred metres away at the top of a rather steep hill lies one of the most beautiful gardens in Tuscany, perhaps even in the entire Italian peninsular. It is a green and luxurious paradise within which traces of the Renaissance and Baroque art movements can be seen everywhere with its statues, its neatly arranged flower beds, its hedges which are trimmed to form great mazes and theatres, its mysterious caves and its small lakes featuring tranquil waterfalls.

Immediately above this garden, the distinct profile of a villa arises, a villa which once belonged to the powerful Garzoni family. The Garzoni Villa was built during the second half of 17th century by the restoration of an existing building which, originally Roman, was previously used for defence purposes. The palace, which can be reached only by ascending an ample stone staircase, is decorated by many frescoes which are a testimony to its rich past. It also features numerous large, richly decorated lounge areas, sumptuous bedrooms with four-poster beds, galleries with endless paintings hanging on the walls, concert halls and dance theatres, all of which are adorned with luxurious, Venetian style furniture and possesses a truly magical atmosphere which makes you feel as if you are part of great fairytale or epic love story.

It was within these very walls and on these very tables that the young writer Carlo Lorenzini, son of the Garzoni family’s personal chef and waitress, wrote some of his very first works. Carlo Lorenzini, who was in fact the author of the world famous Pinocchio, was so attached to this marvelous place (the village of Collodi) that he decided to go by the pen name of Collodi thus the name we see on the cover of his many works today. It was most probably his mischievous antics as a child in these magical gardens that gave him the inspiration to write the marvellous tales of his famous puppet.

The garden itself also has a certain mischievous character, which would explain why it has always been so popular with children, like the young Carlo Lorenzini. The cheeky ambience of the garden was the idea of villa’s owners, the Garzoni Family, and evidence of their devilish, imaginative input can be seen throughout. An example of their childlike creativity can be found within the splendid Cave of Neptune. When visitors to the garden enter this cave, attracted by the mysterious darkness of the cave’s entrance, they are surprised to discover an illustrious statue at the centre of the cave which, hidden within the darkness, can only be seen at close range. What the visitors also don’t know is that the statue contains a device which, when visitors lean in to get a closer look of the statue, sprays small blasts of water all of sudden soaking any unsuspecting victim within range, to the delight of the gardens owners who watch on with glee from the rooms of their villa, laughing at the misfortune of the many visitors who fall victim to such practical jokes.

And the mischief continues to become more and more malicious as you approach the Padiglione dei Bagni. The Paglione dei Bagni is a true architectural treasure from the 17th, situated on a hilltop, which is essentially a very colourful and scenic labyrinth of hedges where visitors used to bathe in the many bathtubs dotted throughout the maze whilst being entertained by a string quartet who would play a succession of elegant, classical pieces of music. As a general rule royalty and figures of power bathed in a separate part of this area of the gardens, however a trick involving mirrors, done in typical devious style, allowed those not permitted into this strictly upper class area to have the last laugh as they could take a sneaky glance at those unaware members of royalty bathing in the altogether!

So, as we have already noted, it was the light, jovial mood of these gardens which inspired the young Carlo Lorenzini to write the first pages of his beloved fairytale (Pinocchio) during his years as a resident of the villa. However, today visitors to the park no longer risk getting soaked by unexpected sprays of water and the Paglione dei Bagni no longer feature the sound of orchestral music and the laughs of frolicking bathers although it is still worth a visit as continues to be a spectacular sight in the eyes of almost all of its many visitors. It is truly a unique experience to lose yourself amongst the many wonders this park has to offer. Be careful, however, because who knows what devilish tricks still lurk in the darkest corners of these magical gardens!

Commenti (2) | March 29, 2010

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