History of the Garzoni Garden

History of the Garzoni Garden


History of the Garzoni Garden

The Garzoni Historical Garden is an 18th-century wonder that has remained virtually intact until now. It is the result of two centuries of work, begun in the sixteenth century, which transformed a vegetable plot and a hunting grove beside the country home of the Garzoni counts into a monument to artistic taste and the good life, with ingenious use of water and an exquisite selection of plants. This landscape architecture exploits the apparent difficulties of the steep terrain, transforming them into splendid and unique features. It is a triumph of the spirit of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, which pursued knowledge and elevated consciousness through the senses and pleasure.

Thanks to this, we now have a landscaped monument that is unique in Europe, created in the splendid era that produced the gardens of the Lucchesi villas, which share common echoes and inspirations with gardens such as those of the Palace of Caserta and Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe in Kassel.  Wandering through the wonders of this extraordinary place, with cool, evocative artificial caves, theatres created from boxwood hedges, statues of satyrs, gods and goddesses, animals and biblical, historical and folkloric figures, and dense bamboo groves, is a magical experience.

The entire garden, with its symbols and white figures emerging from the midst of the greenery (and also hidden – try finding the Turk!), seems to present visitors with a narrative, which at times can be enigmatic.

Discover some of the remarkable people who were involved with the Garzoni Villa and Garden, such as Octavian Diodati, Francesco Juvarra, Francesco Sbarra, count Mazzarosa and Carlo Lorenzini Collodi!


Let your imagination roam free as you enjoy the variety of plants, the discreet irrigation system supplying the water features, waterfalls and fountains, based largely on that of the eighteenth century, the shady pathways leading from the Water Staircase to fascinating places such as the Maze (recommended to courting couples, as it is said to ensure marriage and lasting romance!), the Greenery Theatre and the Avenue of the Poor, lined by picturesque figures. The unique and special Bathroom Pavilion offers bathtubs of all types and shapes, with each space designed to be concealed from all the others. Not even the small orchestra that entertained the ladies and gentlemen from a small platform while they “bathed” could see what was happening below them. The guests could therefore enjoy the pleasure of the cool water with the utmost discretion, or indulge in naughtier amusements if they so wished…

The Garzoni Garden forms a single complex with the Villa (currently undergoing restoration and closed to the public) which stands beside it and partially overlooks it. In ancient times, it was a fortress guarding the village of Castello, then it became the country home of the Garzoni nobles, and finally a luxurious villa and monumental garden, intended as a status symbol to reflect their economic and political power and cultural superiority. The steep hill, which seemed an obstacle to the creation of a large, prestigious garden, became an amazing setting of greenery and water, while the large house was also being transformed into a grand and luxurious villa, with the cool Summer Building and chapel concealed behind it. The place has welcomed illustrious guests: Napoleon Bonaparte, whose sister Elisa Baciocchi governed Lucca in the early 19th century, King Victor Emmanuel III in around 1910 and the Ambassador of the United States in the 1920s. Carlo Lorenzini/Collodi’s mother, Angiolina Orzali, worked in the Villa as a girl and met her future husband, Domenico Lorenzini, here. You can discover some of the famous visitors in the Historical, Artistic and Environmental Documentation Centre.

The Garzoni family owned much of the farmland and woods in the surrounding area and the buildings around the bottom of the garden were collection points for the produce of the land. They now house services for visitors: the ticket office, the Documentation Centre and the restaurant and cafeteria.

The last descendant of the Garzoni family sold the estate in the second half of the 1920s. The Villa and Garden complex, which was in poor condition by the end of the 19th century, has been tastefully restored by the current owner, in collaboration with the National Carlo Collodi Foundation, which is entrusted with the management and care of the Garden through its subsidiary Sviluppo Turistico Collodi srl.

The Garzoni Historical Garden was restored (restorations inaugurated in 2007) based on a comprehensive design by the Gurrieri Associates Studio (Florence), together with the Emilio Faroldi Associates Studio (Parma/Milan), which worked in particular on the ‘Spaccio di Rosina’ (ticket office with the Documentation and Exhibition Centre) and the Collodi Butterfly House, and architect Giorgio Galletti (Florence) for the landscaping.


Emblema della Repubblica Italiana

The restoration was supervised by the Superintendency for Architectural and Landscape Heritage and the Superintendency for Historical, Artistic and Demo-ethno-anthropological Heritage of the provinces of Florence, Pistoia and Prato, with the contribution of the Italian State.

The Garzoni Villa and Garden Complex is recognised as a national monument (Law 364/20 June 1909, Law 688/3 June 1912, art. 7).

See the statues in the Garzoni Garden