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Italian Garden Holidays

Symmetry, order and elegance, the three ideals most central to the concept of the Italian garden, which reached its zenith during the Renaissance and established a design approach that would shape gardens across Europe and beyond. It is of no surprise to learn that a civilisation as advanced as the Romans extended their particular style of refinement and splendour to the garden, introducing the notion of an outdoor space cultivated for pleasure and aesthetics to much of Europe. Indeed, when the writings of Pliny the Younger were rediscovered in the 15th century, they provided considerable inspiration for the Italian Renaissance gardens (or Italian garden) of the 15th and 16th centuries, detailing a carefully constructed layout of courtyards, beds, borders, walks and avenues around the house. Although often overshadowed by concurrent developments in the art, sculpture and architecture of Renaissance Italy, the garden perhaps represents the principles of design more clearly than any other art form, being both a pure abstraction of the cultural zeitgeist, like art, and a physically penetrable space, like architecture. The Italian garden sought to unify house and garden, whilst also ‘borrowing’ visually from the surrounding landscape to create property that looked outwards, both physically and intellectually, an assured display of wealth, status, power and learning. During the two centuries in which the Italian garden reigned globally supreme, magnificence itself came to be seen as a virtue, driving the design of gardens that were ever-grander, larger, more symmetrical and packed with sculptures, grottos and water features, paving the way for the sheer opulence of Versailles a century later. Whether you are strolling through elegant, cypress-lined avenues, the air thick with the scent of citrus, admiring complex botanical geometry or wondering at the liquid poetry of the Renaissance water feature, our selection of Italian garden tours is sure to delight.

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