British Gardens in Italy
|Bernard Berenson and Geoffrey Scott in the recently completed garden (1913)|
Royal Oak Foundation
one in six people living in Florence spoke English as their native tongue.
1. It was cheaper to live in a grand style
2. Expats could reinvent themselves
4. Sons could be sent to Italy, if they proved unsatisfactory
5. Industrialization had transformed the British countryside and some felt it was blighted
6. The retreat to Florence represented a sense of “backwaterdom”
7. Journals, diaries, sketches could be written
8. Women found considerably more freedom in Florence than at home
But the guy who plays a pivotal role is the guy you haven’t heard of: Cecil Pinsent (1884-1963). He arrived in Florence at age 24, joining his friend Geoffrey Scott on a study-tour of Tuscan architecture. He designed 8 major gardens between 1921-1928. Pinsent met the right people: each owned a large property and wanted a garden. He understood the architecture of the Renaissance and the settecento. This was his genius. He made Italian gardens for British expats. He used the Italian garden idioms and elements; creating designs more Italian than their ancestors’.
Pavord took us through Pinsent’s gardens, describing his landscapes, peppering her stories with the personal histories of the occupants of the houses and doing it all with a dose of British humor.
“…And then three years later, after my American great-grandmother had given my parents
enough money for a water pipe from a spirng six miles away,
he(Pinsent) was able to start this first little garden.”
In passing, Pavord mentioned Torre di Bellosguardo. Her husband had taken her there on holiday after a bout with cancer. “Today, Torre di Bellosguardo is still surrounded by the silence of the garden and the hills, a haven of ancient and noble history that it shares with its guests everyday as a hotel of rare comfort and atmosphere”. She recommended a stay. I googled it and decided this little piece of heaven would take a few more pennies in the piggy bank to become a reality.
|Torre di Bellosguardo|