Though long regarded as one of the most perfect Italian gardens, little is known about its design history. Gambereraia has the simple structure of an early renaissance garden combined with the rich decoration of the mannerist or baroque styles. The long lawn, peopled with statues, is a bowling green. There is a nymphaeum, fountains and a lemon garden. The water parterre was a late nineteenth century addition, by a Serbian princess and her close American friend, Miss Blood. Gambereraia was badly damaged in the second World War but has been restored.
Via del Rossellino, Settignano, Firenze, Tuscany, Italy, 50135
Villa Gamberaia is without doubt the most perfect and romantic Italian garden in Tuscany. The presence of the Princess can be felt, you almost feel as if she is watching you or you are intruding in her private space. She was a very private person and was hardly ever seen. There are elements of the renaissance but strong elements of the baroque as well in the design. The nymphaeum and bowling green are sublime although maintenance is needed on the nymphaeum walls because of the damage being caused by the roots of the trees. I took 40 students to visit this garden in April 12 and all considered it the most perfect space. The garden has a small office which is also a shop/ticket office which sells some excellent books on the garden. I look forward to the day when I return.
A wonderful garden, a testament to the fact that gardens are a living art, not one to be frozen at the moment of creation with its combination of Renaissance, Baroque and 20th century styles.
I would also add that there has been some study of it in recent years and those interested should seek out the following:
Patricia J. Osmond (ed.), Revisiting the Gamberaia: An Anthology of Essays, Florence: Centro di, 2004.
Studies in the History of Gardens & Designed Landscapes, 22, 1, 2002, a special edition devoted entirely to the Gamberaia
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