Last June we published an article on the Villa Torrigiani, one of many villas and parks in the Lucca/Pescia area. The Palazzo of the Villa Reale is no longer open to the public unfortunately. The stucco crumbling from some of it’s elegant walls testimony to the fact that it’s current owner now have neither the money or the will to renovate this once proud house. However the park and gardens are open, and what a joy they are. Extensive lawns and formal gardens descend the gentle slopes toward a lake in grand vistas, with superb mountainous specimen trees in magnificent clusters.
The house was once owned by the Princess Elisa, Napoleon’s sister and sovereign of Lucca and Tuscany. It was also home to a Irish woman, Penelope Smyth of Ballynatray who had married Prince Charles of Capua in the mid 19th century. Now that’s a holiday home if you like. The prince was disinherited because he eloped with Penelope to Gretna Green, The royal family were later reconciled and she became the Princess of Capua. At any rate the house has an illustrious history and the gardens continue the romantic theme. There is a lovely topiaried open air theatre where Paganini, the violinist, once entertained guests; formal gardens with fountains and many statues; grottos with interesting carved stone faces; a Spanish garden, all replanted and restored in the early part of the 20th Century.
Everything is well at Casa Verde for the start of summer here, our third season, and we have guests arriving a very regular basis now. After a very showery spring this year everything is especially green and the trees are laddened with many sets of fruit. However dangers are always afoot down on the vegetable patch! A giant slug may at any moment be about to chew up your courgettes, a porcupine may leave an incriminating black and white quill where your potatoes used to be, a deer may have rooted around and dug up your cucumber plants. So this year has been, aside from considering camping out with a gun, has been about putting up the defences; wires and barriers to keep them out….several plantings later we are finally winning the battle.