In and around the Lucca region, and in particular, off the main road between Pescia and Lucca; there are many elaborate, decorative villas. We recently visited the Villa Torrigiani, a quite exquisite house originally built in the 1500′s. I am still astounded by the fact that in the times of Henry the VIII and Elizabeth the 1st in England they were building a style of house that would only be seen there more than 200 years later. The influence of Palladian geometry is strongly in evidence too.
The house was first owned by the Bounvisi family from Lucca. He was an ambassador for the court of the Republic of Lucca to the Palace of Versailles, and the additional decor of the front of the house also owes much to the French style.
We especially loved the gardens here. On a lovely spring day there are both formal and sunken gardens. Interesting features such as a hidden grotto behind an ornate wall, where lovers could tryst. A delicious pesceteria, a fish ‘pond’, that looks like a fabulous swimming pool. Magnificent trees on well tended lawns. Lots of heavily scented lemon trees and jasmine. If you visit the house there is a very enthusiastic lady who was our guide for the 45 minute tour. She herself was entertaining and highly informative.
After the tour we sat in the quiet avenue of trees that grandly approaches the house and ate a delicious picnic in the bright warm sunshine. A passer by cheerfully suggested we all looked like a we were in a painting by Monet, under the dappled light of the trees. I don’t know about that but it was heavenly. This villa was actually recommended to us by one of our recent visitors, and we are very grateful to them. There are many villas in the area that are open to the public and you can see them on the website http://www.welcometuscany.it/tuscany/lucca/lucca_villas.htm.
ps. take a picnic with you