27 May 2014

Lunch amongst the Peonies

It was another beautiful day and there was another stunning garden to be discovered on 
Elizabeth Agnew's "Spring in Italy" tour.

 The little town of Bagnaia

In our usual style we stopped for coffee on arrival

Villa Lante is considered to be a perfect renaissance garden and 
is one of Prince Charle's personal favourites!

We also thought it was quite lovely with its fine use of 
symmetry, water features and statues ...

This amazing stone table has a central water trough - ideal for chilling the wine and apparently used in recent times by the disgraced Silvio Berlusconi. 

 The Fountain of Pegasus

 Cardinal Gambara commissioned these gardens in 1566
 and this sculptural water channel is in the shape of crayfish claws(or gambero)- his heraldic symbol.

On to lunch at a perfectly pretty peony farm 
located about an hour out of Rome.


Divine, don't you think?

 Even more heaven on earth xx

Heaven on Earth !

It is now almost midnight in Rome and although I should be sound asleep, I am still reflecting on the glorious garden and memorable experiences we enjoyed today.
The highlight of which was visiting the Garden of Ninfa ...

Our usual welcome coffee stop after travelling out of Rome

Ninfa is located in the province of Latina in central Italy 
about an hour's drive from Rome.

       Looking through to the hill top village of Sermoneta

Its creation began in 1921 by Gelassio Gaetanti who was the son of Lady Adele(Ada)Bootle Williamson(his English mother))and Onorato Caetani, Duke of Sermoneta(his Italian father.

Built on the medieval ruins of a once thriving and prosperous Etruscan toll city which fell into decline in the 1300's, Ninfa 
was featured in the BBC series presented by the rather appealing Monty Don.
Most women I know seem to think he could leave his galoshes at the door of their garden shed anytime, but moving on ...

In the episode on Italian gardens Monty Don enthused that Ninfa 
"was the most romantic garden in the world" and all in our group 
heartily agreed.

This garden can only be visited with a guide and we were most fortunate to have the wife of the director of the garden 
show us around in a most gracious and informative way.

Stella, our charming and knowledgeable guide

For the next two hours we wandered in awe with the garden all to ourselves apart from the team of five gardeners who manage the 
8 hectares of landscaped garden that lies within the 105 hectares 
of surrounding park land ... 

Here are just a few of my many photos which I have to admit
 do the Garden of Ninfa very little justice, but may transport 
you to a magical place even for a brief moment.

We all drank the crystal clear water from the source of the spring

Time to leave this very special place called Ninfa with visual memories etched in our imaginations forever ...

Roses and Architecture

An interesting programme on a glorious sunny day in Rome.

Our trusty driver Antonio was waiting to whisk us through the traffic with his usual calm, but collected manner.

We arrived at the Municipal Rose Garden of Rome situated on the eastern side of the Aventine Hill overlooking the Circus Maximus arena.

Along with the locals out to enjoy the sunshine we admired the entries in this year's Premio Rosa competition.

In total contrast we were then taken to the MAXXI - the Museum of 21st century Arts which certainly presents a definite WOW factor 
on entry.

Designed by Zaha Hadid who was born in Bagdhad in 1950 and studied architecture in London. She is well known as someone who consistently pushes the boundaries in architecture and urban design.

A brave design in the ancient city of Rome, but I love the juxtaposition of the old and new - always an exciting element.

The view from the attractive cafe where we ate lunch

I thought even her shoes looked architectural!


24 May 2014

The Spring in Italy Tour begins ...

Now it was time for me to join Elizabeth Agnew's 
"Spring in Italy" Tour.

For the next 10 days our group of seven women, plus Libby, will visit some of Italy's most beautiful gardens, many of which are privately owned, not easy to reach independently and therefore very, 
unique and special.

Our tour leader, Elizabeth Agnew

Normally I love to plan every detail of my travel and make the decisions, but this year, as my wise daughter insisted, I needed a complete break and a recharge of the somewhat depleted batteries.

As Sarah suggested I am to simply "stop and smell the roses" and 
I plan to do just that during this holiday in Italy.

It is time to relax and make the most of every precious moment.

Of course Libby has done the hard yards over the many years 
she has visited and lived in Italy.
She speaks Italian, is familiar with the culture, the customs and all those little quirks that give a country its personality.

This insider's knowledge also makes for a smooth and 
seemingly seamless experience for us setting off each morning on
 our new and fabulous adventures. 

Having complete faith and trust in your guide means we literally, can just sit back and enjoy the ride ...

Our happy band of travellers

If you love the idea of seeing a different side of this 
wonderful country,
 you too may consider one of Libby's Secret Italy tours.

In the meantime, perhaps you will check out what's happening 
each day on
 "The Daily Baguette".

Ciao for now - there's a new day to enjoy!