Villa Reale di Marlia: When the Kings lived in Capannori


We’re in Capannori, near to Lucca. A place filled with splendid villas, surrounded by some of Tuscany’s most beautiful parks. Situated in the beautiful village of Marlia, we find a property which is appropriately called Villa Reale of Marlia, seeing as it has been the residence of both Elisa Bacocchi Bonaparte, Napolean’s most famous sister and Queen of Etruria, and Vittorio Emanuele II, the once King of Italy.

The three gardens are extremely different, and diverse; one being of Baroque style, one with an incredibly romantic feel, and the third having a decor typical of the 1920s and modelled on the Islamic Gardens. The fact that there are three gardens is significant, because the number three is linked with many important buildings including Villa Buonvisi Orsetti, the Vescovo villa from the 1500s.

The first knowledge of the villa dates back to the 1600′s, when it was bought by the Buonvisi. In 1651, the property was passed to the Orsetti family, who transformed the garden into the Baroque designs which can be seen today, whilst the villa became christened Marly in honour of a similar building located in the suberbs of Paris. After this, Elisa Baiocchi Bonaparte acquired a section of the land, and transformed it into an idyllic romantic style garden which was very popular at that time. Time passed by and over the course of these years the property fell into the hands of the Borbone family, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Demanio and finally the Pecci-Blunt family, the villa’s last owners to date.

The great park is an immensely huge 19 hectares of land in total, with luscious wonders set to dazzle you at every angle, and every corner of the garden. The Baroque garden has not been greatly altered over the centuries, and walking through the garden is like walking back through time to a period when rich Aristocratic families wandered through the grounds. The garden is home to numerous spectacular views, and puzzling mazes which reveal a very surprising end. Like the Lemon Gardens, the garden is divided into four sections of flower beds, where you will find large vases containing citrus fruits, in accordance with Tuscan tradition, surrounded by magnolias. Next to the flowerbeds, there is a pond, which is inhabited by white swans and decorated by statues of the Arno and the Serchio and, in a corner at the end, a group of stone representations of Leda and Il Cigno. There is also a small theatre, the so-called Theatre of Greenery created in 1652. It is an actual theatre complete with a stage, space for the audience, space for an orchestra and decorated with statues of characters from popular Italian plays.Everything in the thertre is made completely from wood and hedges!

The magnificent Water Theatre is a must see, located on the opposite side of the garden of the Palazzina dell’Orologio. The theatre was created in a Baroque style, and is richly decorated with vases, beautiful Greek statues and interesting architecture.

The design of the lower, and bigger, part of the garden was heavily influenced by Elisa Baciocchi, however it still contains some Baroque elements from the areas adjacent to the Villa del Vescovo*. Here a tiny little church and a beautiful nymphaeum called Grotta di Pan can be found, an impressive building with a richly decorated entrance hall, which gives you the feeling of being in a place of true magic and mystery. A few steps from the nymphaeum is a garden created in the 1920′s by Jacques Gréber, and inspired by a famous Islamic water garden. With a central water area, it is surrounded by beds of greenery.

If you go to the bottom of all the gardens, you will find a little lake, here you can enjoy peace and serenity, as well as the luscious greenery of the woods and foresty. A spectacular site all year round, but especially so in Autumn, when the greens are changing to luxurious browns. The mix of colour is explosive, and the site of the beautiful does and deers is totally splendid. * Villa del Vescovo, means the Bishop’s Villa.

Commenti (3) | March 15, 2010

3 Responses to “Villa Reale di Marlia: When the Kings lived in Capannori”

  1. William H. Gerdts Says:
    April 10th, 2012 at 18:01

    I am a professor of art history and a collector of 19th century sculpture. I have a sculpture of the hand of a lady, holding a rose. On it’s thick base are two isncriptions:”The Hon-Lady Naeve Fece Fare Questo Ricordo Pei Suoi 3 Figli” and “R. Villa Di Marlia 15 Marzo 1883″ Is there anyone who could help me learn more about the Villa in the 1880s–who owned it and if there is any knowelge of a Lady Naeve and her three sons, visiting theere, or related to the owner? A hsitory of the Villa? Or someone else to contact.

    Thank you very much.

    William H. Gerdts
    1120 Park Avenue
    New York, NY 10128
    United States

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  3. Ito Says:
    July 2nd, 2012 at 04:34

    Hi The most important faortcs for me are a large variety of excellent recipes, small classes so that all of the students can participate in all the dishes, and a fair price. (There are some amazing sounding classes that cost 5,000 euros, which to me is ridiculous. While I obviously want to be comfortable, I don’t want or need to stay in a 5-star villa.) If you read my review of Organic Tuscany, which was the best of the three courses I took, my only complaints were too many students, no access to the recipes, and inaccurate information about the accomodations. If you avoided those problems, and had friendly, knowledgeable cooks teaching lots of great recipes in a well-stocked, spacious kitchen, I’d certainly give it 10/10.

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