The Garden Landscape Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 3: European Gardens (500AD-1850)

Genoa Garden Design

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105.At Genoa the best garden is that of Signor de Nigro, situated within the city. It is elevated, irregular, and singularly varied; rich in views of the town, the sea, and the mountains; and abounds in fruits, botanical riches, shady and open walks, turrets, and caves. There is one large cave in which dinner-parties are frequently given by the proprietor; and once a year, we believe on his birthday, or the fete day of his patron saint, this grotto is decorated with some hundreds of religious puppets, in gilt dresses, accompanied with pictures of saints, skulls, crucifixes, relics, tapers and lamps. This forms a part of the gardener's business, who preserves these paraphernalia through the rest of the year in a sort of museum. We mention the circumstance, as characteristic of the Italian taste for spectacle, so different from that of the English. The gardens of Hippolito Durazzo, and of Grimaldi, are more extensive, but less select, than those of Signor de Nigro. Like them, they are singularly varied in surface, and rich in marine views. In the neighbourhood of Genoa there are many very beautifully situated villas. The garden of the Prince Doria Panfili is a beautiful wilderness; and the Sommelini gardens, furnished with a theatre, grottoes, and Chinese temples, are in decay, and the walks and parterres are fast returning to the state of nature out of which they were made. (Duppa's Obs., &c., p. 187.) The whole coast from Savona to Genoa, and from Genoa to Nervi, is naturally very irregular, and abounds in beautiful gardens, abundantly stocked with orange trees, partly in pots; but, in warm situations, trained against walls, or planted as standards. We visited many of these gardens in 1819; and the only general fault seemed to be the want of order and keeping, properties which are essential to the full effect of every style in every country.