Thursday, June 21, 2012

Villas of Marlia

The villas of Lucca or rather palaces, are historical summer residences built by wealthy Lucchesi merchants between the 15th and 19th centuries. There are more than 300 throughout the hills of Lucca. 

We are fortunate to have 3 of the best only 5km from the Centro Storico (Historical Centre) - that’s a bike ride away! So off we go: bikes, picnic and wine and head north along the Serchio River before heading inland and uphill to our first villa.

Villa Reale was once the home of Napoleon’s sister Elisa Bonaparte (the short lived ruler of Tuscany and sovereign of Lucca). 
Unfortunately there’s no access to the house, however the 17th century gardens have been fully restored and are quite amazing. Complete with a sculptured hedge open-air theatre!

Next stop Villa Oliva, built around the 1500’s.  Again no access to the main house only the 5 hectares of gardens. The highlight of this villa is its loggia, with its vaulted ceiling and each column made from a single block of stone - I think every house needs a loggia!

If you like the look of this villa, you can stay as there’s apartment style accommodation for a mere €3000 a week!

A picnic lunch and quick siesta in the gardens before heading off to our next villa.

Villa Grabau – yay we can finally check out the inside of one of these houses!! Circa 1500’s this is my favourite. Access is restricted to the downstairs area, where all the walls are painted with landscape scenes and images of draped fabric. A decorator’s heaven!

The gardens, a mix of English and Italian style, date back to the 16th century, the French may have their Orangeries, but the Italians have their Limonaias. The limonaia is where the lemon trees are moved over winter; this one houses over 100 lemon trees in ancient terracotta pots.

All ‘food for thought’ in the planning of our tree change.

Melanie as Bronze Sculpture

Marino as Bronze Sculpture

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