Italy is well known for its classic elegance and hides botanical beauties found in its luxury villas and gardens. Throughout the country there are spectacular places to enjoy the natural beauty and amazing surroundings and landscapes. Here we offer just a few examples of some of the best places to see.

As you, know, we love sharing off-the-beaten-track destinations in Italy. Here are 6 botanical gardens to visit in Italy.

Leonardo’s Vineyard (Milan)

Vigna di Leonardo, Milan / Christine Wagner Flickr

While Leonardo Da Vinci was painting the Last Supper (1495-1498), under patronage of Ludovico “Il Moro” Duke of Milan, he was given a 16 row vineyard as a gift. Nature lover and self taught botanist, Da Vinci tended to his vines with both love and scientific accuracy. In 2015 the Portaluppi Foundation started the Vigna di Leonardo regrowth project and opened the residence, the Atellani House to the public. Both can be visited. Tasto Atellano is the name of the wine produced and can be enjoyed at the Museum bistrot.

Best time to visit

Open all year. The vineyard is sometimes reserved for private events, it’s always best to check the website before visiting.

Where to stay while visiting

If you really want to get a feel of what it was like to live where Da Vinci walked, stay at the apartments in the Atellani House. Modern and comfortable, but historical just the same.

The Monumental Gardens of Valsanzibio (Padua)

Monumental Gardens of Valsanzibio / C. Abernethy

The Monumental Gardens of Valsanzibio at the Villa Barbarigo Pizzoni Ardemani is often referred to as “The little Versailles” or “The Pearl of the Euganee Hills”. A seventeenth century Venetian palace built by Giovani Francesco Barbarigo and his sons. The villa is embraced by a classic Italian garden with 18 distinct sections. Each area invites the visitor into a world of its own. A lush, green labyrinth, a majestic promenade with dancing water fountains, ponds with exotic fish and a pool with rare black swans are just some of the surprises Villa Barbarigo Pizzoni Ardemani holds. The villa itself cannot be visited, as it is occupied by the current residents.

Best time to visit

Open from the last weekend of February to the second weekend of December

Where to stay while visiting

The area is rich with natural hot springs and hilly roads great for mountain bike enthusiasts, Galzignano Terme is located 26 km (16.5 mi) south of Padua. Take advantage and stay at one of the local spa hotels in this off-the-beaten-track destination. Galzignano Terme welcomes visitors all year long.

Villa Carlotta (Lake Como)

Villa Carlotta, Lake Como / Jean-Christophe Benoist Wikimedia

Villa Carlotta and gardens can be found in the Italian Lake District, in Tremezzo, on Lake Como. It is spread over 17 acres, so allocate plenty of time in order to get around and see it all. The gardens themselves were partially redesigned in 1801, and the once very formal gardens have since developed into a botanical garden, it has over 1000 trees and 200 roses. As a matter of fact, there are more than 800 species of plants to be found here.

The villa museum holds the private art collection of previous owner Giovanni Battista Sommariva. Among the collection are sculptures, paintings by Antonio Canova and Bertel Thorvaldsen as well as the stunning 1823 canvas by Francesco Hayez,The Kiss.

Best time to visit

Open from mid-March to early November but they also host special events and educational botanical workshops during the winter months.

Where to stay while visiting

Tremezzo is accessible by ferry from Bellagio or can be reached easily from other towns of Lake Como. The luxury hotel Grande Hotel Tremezzo is found within walking distance.

Villa Taranto Gardens (Lake Maggiore)

Villa Taranto Botanical Gardens / Villa Taranto press

Located at Lake Maggiore, the Villa Taranto Botanical Gardens were established between 1931-1940, although not open to the public until 1952. It hosts almost 20,000 different varieties of plants and vegetation. Spend the day leisurely strolling through the over 7 km of pathways that wind throughout the gardens. Don’t miss the Lotus Garden which is absolutely spectacular. The villa and gardens were bought by Scottish Captain Neil Boyd Mc Eacharn after having seen a “For Sale” ad in The Times. He peacefully died one day while admiring the garden from the veranda. The grounds were donated to the state and open to the public during the spring months, the villa however, cannot be visited.

Best time to visit

Open from mid-March to early November

Where to stay while visiting

The Botanical Gardens of Villa Taranto are located on the western lakeshore of Lake Maggiore in Pallanza. Just 96 km from Milan by car, or go to the Verbania railway station (and a short bus ride), or arrive by ferry from other parts of the lake with “Navigazione Lago Maggiore” to the “Villa Taranto” ferry stop.
Stay at Villa Elena a privately owned villa transformed into a b&b is located within walking distance and has a beautiful lakeside view.

Giardino Giusti (Verona)

Giardino Giusti, Verona / CC0 Wikimedia

Head to Verona, the city that inspired the unforgettable Shakespearean play, Romeo and Juliet and delight in the terraced gardens of the Giardino Giusti. The gardens were created in the late 1400’s and today has a hedge maze and a beautiful collection of statues dotted around the gardens. The views of the city of Verona from the terraces are equally breathtaking. One unique feature of this garden is the fact the house is located on the lower level of the grounds, instead of the higher grounds as many other villas built during that period. The house can also be visited and is a step back in time to elegance and fine art. The walls are decorated with frescoes by Veronese painter Francesco Lorenzi (1720-1784) depicting mythological themes and motifs.
Get a discount on entry tickets with a Verona visitors card.

Best time to visit

Open all year (closed Christmas day, Dec 25)

Where to stay while visiting

The Giardino Giusti is located in the heart of Veronetta, the vibrant district of Verona near the University of Verona. Within walking distance are hotels Hotel Accademia Verona or the Hotel Colomba D’Oro.
Both offer comfortable, beautifully decorated rooms.

Roseto Botanico di Cavriglia “Gianfranco and Carla Fineschi”(Tuscany)

Rose /CC0 image

The Roseto Botanico di Cavriglia is the largest privately owned rose garden in the world and is home to over 7000 varieties of the flower. Some of the roses here were once thought to have been extinct. If you love roses, then this living museum is the place to visit.

Best time to visit

Open from May to June

Where to stay while visiting

The Botanical Rose Garden Gianfranco and Carla Fineschi is located in Tuscany, in the town of Cavriglia (Arezzo) about an hour’s drive from Florence. Take the A1 toll road south and exit at Valdarno. You can easily find accommodation in Cavriglia as there is an abundance of B&Bs, hotels and luxury accommodation in the area.

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