Saturday, November 19, 2011


The list of places to visit never gets any shorter around here. Last week I visited, for the first time, the sublime Villa Gamberaia located in Settignano, one of the hill top towns that, like a faithful watch dog, overlooks Florence. I recommend this little ‘gita’ (trans: excursion) to anyone who would like a peaceful few hours, away from the hustle and bustle, when visiting Florence, or for those who live here and wish to do something relaxing and new. Bus number 7 from piazza San Marco in the historical centre finishes at Settignano and from here it is a pleasant 15minutes walk to the villa.

The photo moments begin immediately.  With the wonderful vista of Florence down below, and the wide open space of the country side, it's a welcome relief from the tightly packed historical centre and suburbs.

The villa Gamberaia, so named because of the gamberi pond that the owner in the 1600’s created, is privately owned and so only the ground floor of the villa is possible to visit, but the real reason to come here is the garden. The views of Florence and the surrounding countryside, having already been enjoyed on the way here, are spectacular, and the garden is beautifully kept. 

The garden has everything that a good mannerist and Baroque garden should have; grotto, lemon house, parterre, sculptures and a bosco (a wild area ‘untamed’ by man). The ticket for the garden only is 10 euro and, for an extra 5 euro, the ground floor of the villa can also be visited. I loved it at this time of year when there were no flowers, but I look forward to returning next Spring when all will be in full bloom.

The garden is open for visits every day 9am-6pm during the warmer months and from November - March by appointment only (although they were still operating as normal when I visited last week in early November). Tel: 055 607205

Some other gardens close to Florence centre are:
Villa di Castello & Villa di Petraia - a bus ride away, important renaissance villas owned by the Medici family. Open daily, small admission fee.
Villa I Tatti - owned by Harvard University, bus number 7 to Settignano. It was the home of Bernard Berenson (art historican at the beginning of the twentieth century). A tour of Berenson's art collection and the gardens by appointment only (offered on Wednesday afternoons, no admission fee).
Villa le Balze - owned by Georgetown University. Bus number 7 to Fiesole The gardens are beautiful as is the view of Florence below. Visits by appointment, admission fee.
Villa Torrigiani - in the centre of Florence, privately owned by the Torrigiani family. Visits by appointment only, admission fee applies.


  1. Hi, did you take this photo of The villa Gamberaia? Please let me know, I would like your permission to reuse it in a text about this artwork:

    please contact Karen Gunderson:

    Thank you!

    Sorry for posting this comment on the wrong post before.