Spread over an area of approximately 15,000 m2, the Exotic Garden is home to a thousand cacti and other succulent plants with stems or hypertrophic leaves which store water. Originally from the planet’s main semi-arid regions, these plants still produce plenty of flowers. The principal flowering seasons are winter (January–February) for South African succulents such as Aloe and Crassula, and spring and summer for cacti, a family native to the American continent.
The enormous trees which line the paths of the Exotic Garden illustrate the age of the collection which served as the basis for the creation of the garden at the instigation of Prince Albert I. Opened to the public in February 1933, and supplemented in the 1960s by a botanical centre and specialist tree nursery, the garden is one of the Principalities most visited tourist attractions.
At the base of the cliff on which the Exotic Garden is situated (called “the observatory” due to the long-standing presence of a small astronomical observatory), at an altitude of 100 metres, there is a subterranean chamber equipped to receive visitors. The limestone rock, carved out by water containing carbon dioxide, is studded with caverns adorned with geological formations bearing evocative names: stalactites, stalagmites, draperies, columns, soda straws...
Expert guided tours of the cave are included in the entry ticket for the Exotic Garden. The tour travels from a depth of 98 metres to a depth of 40 metres (around 300 steps). The chamber plunges down almost to sea level and is regularly explored by local cavers.
The presence of prehistoric humans in the region of the cave is confirmed by the bones of the animals that they ate. These remains also illustrate the climate variations that have taken place over the last 250,000 years.
Fontvieille Park encircles the Big Top, providing the district with an urban landscaped park that is much appreciated by families. It features Mediterranean plants such as olive, pine and cypress trees alongside more exotic species like Strelitzias, Stenocarpus and Araucarias.
Those who take a stroll through the gardens will be able to discover all the essential components of a Japanese garden: a pond, islands, a waterfall, lanterns, bridges, a tea house and a Zen garden. This green oasis is a rich mix of Japanese tradition and Mediterranean touches, the result of close collaboration between gardeners from Monaco and Japan. The bamboo hedges, tiles (Awaji Island), stone lanterns, and the woods used in the various structures (gate, tea house, etc.) were all imported from Japan, while the plants, all Mediterranean (pine, olive and pomegranate trees), were pruned and looked after by Mr Beppu for three years to give them a Japanese appearance.
The city’s original site, the Castle Hill (Parc De La Colline Du Chateau) once boasted a reputedly impregnable citadel that was entirely dismantled by the soldiers of the French King Louis XIV in 1706.
Truly a maze of greenery that has become popular for its cool undergrowth and surprising waterfall, this wonderful place for strolling offers a wonderful viewpoint over Baie des Anges, Old Nice and the Port (orientation table). Spectacular lighting at night.
It offers many activities and exhibitions on Nature all year long, with - some twenty theme gardens display 2,500 plant species. A lake, where a hundred birds - ducks, pelicans, black swans - live together in peace and in which are reflected the white marble façades of the Asian Arts Museum designed by the Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. Also one of the largest greenhouses in Europe: the ‘Green Diamond’, that takes visitors through 6 different tropical climates to discover several thousand rare plant species, including tree ferns, an orchid collection... and many more plants. And you can see crocodiles, iguanas and exotic birds. A family of Varis lemurs are currently delighting visitors.
At the tip of Cap d'Antibes, on a superb plot of 11 hectares, you will find the villa Eilenroc. This exceptional residence symbolizes the luxury and voluptuousness of the Belle Epoque. It was built in 1867 following plans by Charles Garnier, the architect of the Paris and Monte Carlo opera houses.
The Park Exflora is the most recent Antibes garden. The 12 acres of land are composed of an olive grove and different types of Mediterranean plants. Fountains, jets and ponds form a “water path” 500 metres long. Along the alley leading to the sea, many rose bushes are planted, as a reminder of the famous rose productions of Antibes.
First maritime park in Europe, Port-Cros National Park covers 690 acres on land and almost the double on sea. Its missions are multifold, from devising protective measures to leading campaigns to raise awareness about the park’s natural habitat.
The Parks of Nervi are an important historical/nature complex formed from the combination of several gardens that once belonged to private villas: Villa Gropallo, Villa Saluzzo Serra, and Villa Grimaldi Fassio. Today, these villas belong to the City of Genoa and have been transformed into museums.
Built in around 1720, Château d'Alphéran was for many years the country home of the Alphéran de Bussan family.
It stands in grounds of 30 hectares with a swimming pool, and a cedar 300 years old in the centre. This 18th-century chateau, 10 minutes from Aix-en-Provence, has been restored in traditional style.
The estate also enjoys a commanding view of Sainte Victoire mountain.
The oldest of France’s national parks, the Parc national de la Vanoise was created in 1963 to protect the mountain goat. Situated in Savoy, between the Maurienne and Tarentaise Valleys, it contains almost a hundred peaks of over 3,000 metres.
The Vizille Estate is first and foremost a chateau that played a key role in history and a landscaped park that has been classified as a “Remarkable Garden.” But it’s also the only museum dedicated to the French Revolution that brings together so many valuable works. Set foot in this historic and natural landscape.
Inside the park, you will be able to admire the tremendous ornamental lake which often served as a playground for swans, ducks, and even herons. Along the banks, you will discover the French-style gardens and magnificent rose gardens.
An animal park is a home to stags, deer, and roes roaming together more or less freely. With 100 hectares of protected natural landscapes, the gardens of the Vizille Estate bring together human history and wild nature. It is, for sure, the ideal place to play, stroll, and dream.
The Mont Avic natural park was established in 1989 to preserve the resources ofthe high valley of Torrente Chalamy (Champdepraz); in 2003, a part of the great valley of Dondena was also included in the protected area, reaching up as far as the mountain ridges of the Val Soana and the Valle di Cogne.
Just a few kilometres from the hubbub of tourists visiting Pisa and its splendid piazza dei Miracoli, there’s an island of nature that sits silently and far away from the changes of urbanization. We’re talking about the Migliarino, San Rossore and Massaciuccoli Nature Park, a protected site that includes wet areas, marshes, sand dunes and the large Lake Massaciuccoli, once an ancient salt water lagoon.
The San Rossore Estate is the most important environment in the park: hugged by the Serchio to the north and the Arno to the south, the area conceals dense pine groves and woodlands of deciduous trees from the old-growth forest. The estate’s accessible itineraries zigzags through dunes and tombolos, marshes and woods that hide a wealth of fauna and flora.
Isolino Virginia is one of the oldest pile-dwelling settlements in the Alps and was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2011 as part of a serial property known as the “Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps”. The tiny islet is home to a LIPU (the Italian Society for the Protection of Birds) sanctuary that acts as a stopover for many species of migrating birds, and attracts many visitors as there is so much to see and do. As the area around Lake Varese has a long tradition of marvellous cuisine it also has many traditional restaurants and eateries serving local produce, and Isolino Virginia is no exception – a meal at the islet’s restaurant is a memorable experience. Tourists come to admire Lake Varese’s wonderful sights and culture and small boats ferry them to and from the islet from different points of the lake depending on the time of day.
One of the public buildings in Varese that is well worth a visit is Palazzo Estense, which was the summer and autumn residence and court of Francesco III d'Este, the Duke of Modena and Lord of Varese. It was built to the designs of the architect Bianchi in the second half of the eighteenth century. The “Salone Estense” (Estense Hall) with its large fireplace made from multicoloured marble is quite stunning. Palazzo Estense is now the Town Hall.
Behind the palace are the Estensi Gardens, one of the most charming public parks in Italy, which were built in the same style as the gardens of the Schönbrunn Palace, in Vienna, and finished in 1787.
Culture and nature promenade across beauty, innovation and Como's treasures. A path through Villa Olmo, Villa del Grumello and Villa Sucota where art initiatives grow. A place to meet and "breathe" culture for citizens and tourists.
Influenced by the style of an English garden Le Parc de la Tete d’Or is the largest urban park in France and contains numerous attractions for all the family including a zoo, boating lake, botanical gardens, miniature railway, pony rides for children and more.It’s an excellent place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty and includes dozens of trails for walking, jogging or bicycling and large open spaces for activities and picnics.Created in 1857 by the brothers Denis and Eugène Buhler in the same year as New York’s famous Central Park, Le Parc de la Tete d’Or has seen numerous additions since it’s initial creation, including in 1865 the impressive glass houses containing species of plants and flowers from all over the world and in the 1960’s the inclusion of the rose gardens featuring 30,000 rose bushes comprising 350 different varieties.The name of the park originates from a legend that says treasure with the “head of Christ” could be buried somewhere in the park.France’s second public zoo after the Ménagerie du Jardin des Plantes in Paris contains almost 400 different animals divided into 64 different species.The last 10 years have seen improvements to the zoo’s infrastructure including in 2006 the new African Savannah featuring zebra, giraffes and pink flamingos. The zoo is a member of EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is dedicated to the preservation of species threatened by extinction.
Le Jardin Rosa Mir, or the Rosa Mir Garden, located in the heart of Croix-Rousse in Lyon’s 4th arrondissement, is one of Lyon’s unique treasures, founded in the dreams of a self-taught artist.
The Rosa Mir Garden is a small, originally private garden located in the courtyard of an apartment building. Created between the years of 1957 and 1977, the garden is a tribute to the creativity and artistic vision of its creator, a Spanish mason called Jules Senis Mir.
Made up of pillars, basins, obelisks and pergolas sculpted from pebbles and shells, the monument pulls its inspiration from Arab-Andalusian motifs and styles. It is filled with over 10,000 plants, from cacti to perennials to roses to oregano and lemon.
The Villa Medicea at Castello just a few kilometers from Florence's historical center is an ancient complex which boasts an elegant villa and a splendid Italian garden, second only to the Boboli Gardens in Florence.
The villa reached the height of its splendor with Cosimo I dei Medici, Florence's new Duke, who turned it into a magnificent residence to celebrate the greatness of the Medici family. He ordered Giorgio Vasari to restore the villa and Niccolò Tribolo to project the Italian garden.
The villa presents a simple and geometric design with two floors and Renaissance windows. It was built around a courtyard of the 16th century with Tuscan lodges and pillars. Within the building, we find only one original fresco left from this time: the Annunciation by Raffaellino del Garbo. On the first floor, there is a large hall with frescos representing landscapes painted in the 1800th century, the Sala degli Armadi, the Sala delle Pale and a chapel.
The Villa is not accessible to the public since it has been the home of the prestigious Crusca Academy since 1583, a school dedicated to the study of the Italian language. You can, however, visit the splendid gardens without paying!
This enormous palace is one of Florence's largest architectural monuments. The original palazzo was built for the Pitti family in 1457, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi and built by his pupil Luca Fancelli. The original construction consisted of only the middle cube of the present building. In 1549, the property was sold to the Medicis and became the primary residence of the grand ducal family. The palace was then enlarged and altered; from 1560, Bartolomeo Ammannati designed and added the grandiose courtyard and two lateral wings.
Today, the Pitti Palace houses some of the most important museums in Florence: on the first floor is the Palatine Gallery, containing a broad collection 16th and 17th century paintings (including works by Raphael), and the Royal Apartments, containing furnishings from a remodeling done in the 19th century.
On the ground floor and mezzanine is the Treasury of the Grand Dukes (formerly known as the the Silver Museum or Museo degli Argenti) displaying a vast collection of Medici household treasures, from table silverware to precious stone vases, rock crystals and precious jewelry.
The Gallery of Modern Art is on the top floor, holding a collection of mostly Tuscan 19th and 20th century paintings.
A city like Florence, well known for its amazing art collections, monumental architecture and rich historic past can sometimes have you forget about the natural beauty that abounds in the form of well maintained gardens and parks. And then, when you do think about them, it is places like Boboli Gardens, the colorful iris and rose gardens, and even the Botanical Garden in the city center that come to mind first.
The magical silence and stunning architecture in the Bardini Gardens seem to get lost in the crowd of places to visit while in Florence.
Virtually unknown, and many times almost deserted, this 4 hectare garden was recently restored to part of its original glory and is now slowly being rediscovered by the locals and guests to the city of Florence. First time visitors to the Renaissance city just might not have time to fit it into their already full itinerary; however, those who are coming back to Florence again should really find time to walk the grounds. In an hour you can stroll the entire garden easily and calmly, and that is what this garden deserves: time for a short stroll that will sooth your soul.
The National Park covers - including land and marine areas - 20,180 ha, with a coastal development of 180 kilometers. La Maddalena, mother island and capital of the homonymous Archipelago, is the Park gateway. It is the one and only inhabited island, except for the village of Stagnali in Caprera Island and the settlements of Santa Maria.
The Botanical Garden of the University of Bologna is one of the oldest in Italy. It was founded in 1568 on the initiative of Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605). After several transfers found its permanent home in Via Irnerio, in the heart of the University area.
The promontory of Capo Caccia, also known as the Sleeping Giant, is the undisputed symbol of Alghero, standing just north of the town’s bay. These sheer cliffs, known paradise for climbing lovers, drop to very deep water providing fantastic views of the coast. Not to be missed is the breathtaking panorama from the cliff in front of the island of Foradada.
“When I was small, I thought the Château and the Collégiale were the same thing. They were so close, they seemed to be interlinked. Was it a church or a château? Most of all, it was the wonderful playground of my childhood! The years passed but the two emblematic monuments remain inseparable.
Chasseral, observation deck of the Swiss Jura, has many faces. Vineyards, meadows and plateaus alternate with gorges and valleys. Its proud inhabitants are still leaders in the cutting-edge world-famous watch industry as well as cheese production. Reliable values, too. Here you can discover the true joy of life.
Chasseral Nature Park is spread over a triangle between La Chaux-de-Fonds, Neuchâtel and Bienne. It was named after the 1606.2 metre highest peak of the Bernese Jura. The top of the mountain is easily accessible, even with public transport.
Standing an impressive 2,858 feet above sea level, Uetliberg Mountain offers some of the best views of Zurich and the surrounding Alps. Once at the top, travelers will find multiple trails for hiking, biking and sledding. Paragliding at the mountain's peak is another popular pastime here.
Though traveling to and from this local attraction will set you back about an hour, visitors rave about Uetliberg Mountain's stunning views and superb hiking paths. For an educational twist on your average hike, take the mountain's Path of the Planets, which is designed to mimic the sizes of and distances between the solar system's planets. The trail stretches between Uetliberg and Felsenegg mountains and takes about two hours to complete.