Rome wasn’t built in a day …

Villa d'Este

… but it’s best to be seen a day at a time. And just this month we were there for 4 days and most of that time we were out of Rome visiting Italian gardens.

A couple of years ago we took a short tour to Cordoba to see patio gardens with Brightwater Holidays and this year we were attracted to do similar around Rome. I’d never thought of the Italians as gardeners but Monty Don’s been there and they’re in his book so it seemed only fair to check them out. Click here for a preview and a route to buying the DVD.

Brightwater in its apparent wisdom booked us into a hotel in Rome, the Hotel Diana. Actually that was smart because our 3 days on the road took us north, then south and finally east of the city. Note you can’t do west because you end up in the Mediterranean. It was also smart because we got easy walking access to a bunch of decent restaurants.

I reckon you’re OK to eat in most restaurants in Rome; you just need to decided how much you want to pay. Our budget was about EUR100 for the two of us and we were just under that at la Matriciana (classic Italian. I rated it excellent on Tripadvisor), Alessio (sort of up-market tourist) and Amedeo (modern Italian and a nice complement to la M). I’d go to all three again.

Italian gardens seem to be characterised by water and geometry, what was it about the Romans that they obsessed with water? We saw three of these:

  • Villa Lante in Bagnaia was perhaps the most modest. It dates from 1568 and is a mix of the Italian and French styles.
  • Caste Gandolfo is one of the papal gardens which today’s Pope has opened to the public. Today’s garden dates from the 17th century. It’s a garden for walking and is complemented by an impressive view across the Lazio plain. It’s also next to the village of the same name where there are excellent eating options.
  • Villa d’Este (as in the picture above) in Tivoli is water in spades and dates back to the 16th century. There’s a gob-smacking set of fountains which merits a visit to Italy just to see them. And there’s a garden and another view over the Lazio plain.

We did one other garden, Ninfa, and that’s totally different. It only dates from the 1920s but has its origins in the 14th century when the village of Ninfa was sacked and abandoned. It was marshland for several hundred years and the combination of this fertile soil and a mild micro-climate has resulted in incredible fertility ín a garden which is all about plants and not geometry although it has its share of water.

There’s a set of about 40 photographs largely as taken at


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s