The crumbling, abandoned villas above Florence proved irresistible to an eccentric colony of late 19th-century English and American expatriates. This entertaining book features 20 of these characters and the unusual gardens they created. They include bereaved philosopher Charles Strong, whose Rockefeller in-laws financed his villa retreat; crossdressing English essayist Violet Paget; beautiful Serbian Princess Jeanne Ghika, who lived in seclusion with her American companion Miss Blood; and eccentric English romance writer Ouida. These Anglo-Florentines injected new life into Tuscany's decrepit gardens, touring the countryside for inspiration and trawling old libraries for treatises and manuals. Some smothered their walls with scented climbers, replaced gravel terraces with emerald lawns, and stuffed box parterres with bright bedding plants and orchards with exotic shrubs. Gorgeous photography, archival images, literary references, and gossipy tidbits bring this irresistible intersection of bohemia and nature to life.
Brand: Frances Lincoln
Used Book in Good Condition
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
More or less excentric, the persons in this highly entertaining book are mesmerising. Most of them posess massive bank accounts allowing them to follow every whim while creating homes in the old villas around Florence. You don't read this book mainly out of horticulturel interest and it doesn't adress design issuses extensively either. It is the line up of personalities that is capturing. They are devoted to the estetics of Italy and the renaissance i particular. Restoring crumbling houses and filling them with objets d'art from the past as well as tending neglected gardens take up most of theire time. But there's always time to gossip and intrigue within the community where everyone knows everyone. The halcyon days end with World War II and a lot of the villas are today hotels and a few are university property. But som are still privately inhabited and still lived in. The author writes in a language both easy to read and marvellously rich. Most recommended.
This is a lovely book with fascinating information about some of the important gardens of Florence. Anyone who loves Florence or gardens or both should be intrigued. Katie Campbell writes in a charming way (I've had the good luck to meet her, and she is really charming) that draws the reader in and keeps you there!
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