Our next stop left Suzy parked up outside the gardens of La Foce. These are a short distance from Pienza and were made famous by Monty Don the British TV gardener who made a series on Italian gardens. We parked up talked to Bruce an Australian who was visiting Italy to look at gardens. He was interested in Suzy as he had hired a motorhome in New Zealand and fancied buying one. No Suzy is not for sale.
We were early so we walked down to the hostelry just down the road and had a coffee and guess what our Americans were there again!! We felt like stalkers.
The garden office opened at about 2.30 and we bought our tickets for the 3.00 tour. Tours only take place on Wednesdays and Saturdays between 3 and 7 and cost 10 euros each. We were informed that we needed to be in the courtyard prompt at 3 or they would go without us.
At 3 pm the guide turned up and in perfect clipped English with an Italian accent she told us that there were too many of us and that we would need to divide up into two groups
which we did . We went in the first group – our American friends in the second and no sign of Bruce.
We entered the garden which originally was built as an inn (Osteria in Italian) at the end of the 15th
century. It was located at the historical Via Francigena between Canterbury and Rome.
In 1924 it was purchased by Italian Antonio Origo and Iris his English Anglo American wife . They engaged the English garden designer Cecil Pinsent to enlarge the house, the farm, the school and to design the garden for them.
We were taken down to the main courtyard first with its domed ilex trees and the guide filled us in with a brief history of estate. We entered the lemon garden which was enclosed in clipped box hedges. The problem with guided tours meant that we were forced to move on before we really wanted to. There is a giant wisteria arch but sadly this had flowered in early April and had now gone over. It must have been a wonderful sight in full flower.
I had hoped for peonies in full bloom but some of these had finished flowering and
others had not come into bloom. Roses covered the arches but none of the summer bedding had come into flower. The main thing people come to La Foce for is the view across the archetypal Tuscan landscape all of it manufactured by Pinsent and the Origo family. The farms were now less productive but the whole valley was a national park and protected by Italian law. Nothing could change. The trees could be manicured and cut back but little else could change.
The low box hedges of the lower garden had been clipped and were less regimented than those of a Tudor garden. I was slightly disappointed at the greenness of everywhere and longed for a bit of colour. The garden did escape into the wild as the travertine steps led into the bosco above. Orchids grew on the banks and I had a discussion about the lack of orchids in North Wales with a lady from Dorset . The chalk of her home country encourage orchids. I was odd to hear the guide speaking English and the garden vistitors also all speaking English. It showed how much we love gardens that we can come all the way to
Italy to see an English style garden.
Our last visit was to the Mediterranean garden full of herbs, rosemary and thyme, cystis and lavender and beyond that the landscape itself.
What did we think : Disadvantages : The fact that the garden was not open every day and that you needed to go on a guided tour . There was not the opportunity to smell the flowers or take time to look round. The entry price of 10 euros was rather high although it is a special garden in a special place. There were no flowers just green trees .
Advantages well its La Foce and it gives fantastic views across the Cretes and the Tuscany Landscape. If you go in early April the Wisteria will be fantastic . If you like guided tours it is good as you learn so much about the garden and the landscape.
We enjoyed it but have to say probably being able to go on your own , to smell the roses and spend as much or as little time as you wish would be better for us. And so it was goodbye to La Foce and onto Lake Garda
as we start to head home.
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