English Garden on Italian Riviera!
The gardens of Villa Della Pergola will opening to the public every weekend from 29th March to the end of October 2014. Every Saturday and Sunday from March to October, and on weekdays for groups, this little corner of paradise opens its gates for guided visits.
They enjoy incomparable views that take in the whole of the gulf of Alassio and the island and Gallinara, with Corsica visible in the distance. The villa itself was built at the end of the nineteenth century and is a rare example of the English Garden in Italy, closely associated with the British community that chose this stretch of the Riviera as its preferred holiday destination.
Rare Plants & Exotic Flora
In 2012, after six years of careful restoration work overseen by the Landscape Gardener Paolo Pejrone, the 22,000 square metres of Garden were finally returned to their original splendour. They now sit in perfect harmony with their surrounding Mediterranean vegetation and rare plants and exotic flora, which in 1903 inspired Edward Elgar to write his symphony “In the South (Alassio)”.
The gardens offer a unique opportunity to walk amidst the typical Mediterranean vegetation of marine pines, carob trees, olive groves and holm-oaks that has been cleverly interspersed with jacarandas and giant bird of paradise strelitzias from South Africa. Add to this, Eucalyptuses from Australia, bananas, all kinds of palms, aloes, agaves, Indian figs, cacti from every latitude, wisterias, tumbergias, spirea or meadowsweet, hydrangeas, oleanders, scented pelargoniums, lavender, bougainvillea, daturas, bignonias, solanum and jasmine. The gardens also host a number of botanical collections including the citrus trees and wisterias as well as a very important collection, unique in Europe in terms of quality and quantity, of more than 300 varieties of agapanthus.
Fountains and ornamental lakes
The pergolas are a characteristic feature of the gardens, giving their name to the Villa and the Villino themselves architectural masterpieces of the late nineteenth century in their own right. Climbing over the pergolas are the splendid old roses of Rosa banksiae, the bougainvillea and many varieties of wisteria that form the unifying thread between the various levels of the grounds, snaking their way along the contours of the hill while leaving the view over the gulf of Alassio open to the gaze of guests.
The numerous fountains and rocky water gardens with pink water lilies that have been here since the times of the original British owners, to which have been added tropical blue water lilies. Ancient tanks also gather water for irrigation and above these great basins have been created for the cultivation of lotuses. Wide paths with chippings or paving, such as that of the Sunshine promenade, and stone steps link the various terraces, including the panoramic terrace with the very tall Phoenix canariensis palms and that in front of the Villa with a eucalyptus that is over a hundred years old and the lawn terrace alongside the villa.
“Grandi Giardini Italiani”
The gardens of the Villa della Pergola are part of a network of Italian gardens called “Grandi Giardini Italiani” (www.grandigiardini.it), winners of the Gran Premio Giardini 2013 for being the best maintained, well run and cared for in Italy.
The gardens are open with guided tours for visitors who book for dates from 29th March to the end of October on Saturdays and Sundays with tours from 9.30 to 11.30 and 3 until 5 pm. Bookings can be made for groups for weekdays. Guided visits can be carried out individually or in small groups, for a tour lasting around an hour and a half. Most of the garden’s area are accessible to disabled persons. There are just a few areas that may be out of reach due to the lie of the land and the need to climb short flights of stone steps.
Entry tickets can be purchased on site and include the cost of a guided tour. Single: €12. FAI members: €10. Free for children up to 6 when accompanied by an adult. School students: €6. Entry tickets can be booked in advance for groups that include Ligurian buffet and aperitifs at a cost of €20 per person. All visitors are welcome to use the bar and the restaurant at the Villa della Pergola Historical Suites Relais.
“…one of the wonders of the Riviera…” William Scott, The Riviera, 1908.