The Vatican Gardens are a natural, architectural and artistic space of great beauty and spirituality, boasting an area of 23 hectares occupying most of the Vatican Hill. It was finally opened to the publick in 2014. The garden combines in itself 3 different styles Italian, Frech and English, each with their respective characteristics.
Villa Borghese of Rome is one of the largest urban parks in Europe. The State acquired the gardens from the Borghese family in 1901 and opened them to the public on 12 July 1903.
What differentiates Villa Borghese from other large parks such as Hyde Park or Central Park is the perfect combination between nature and Roman art. Villa Borghese is home to interesting architectural elements, sculptures, monuments and fountains created at different times by famous artists.
If you have enough time in Rome, travel with children or are looking for a little relaxation, the Villa Borghese is a mandatory stop in your itinerary. If you want to tour the Villa Borghese and take advantage of the time to do some exercise, it is possible to rent rollerblades, bicycles and other forms of transportation at the main gates.
The Parco dei Mostri (Park of Monsters) of Bomarzo, a large park with gardens, buildings and fantastic sculptures, is a fun and different excursion, one that also inspired Salvador Dalì; meanwhile, the ancient village of Montecalvello develops around a castle where the famous Balthus, a contemporary painter, lived for thirty years.
Near the Gesú Nuovo church, there is the monumental complex of Santa Chiara, one of the most important buildings commissioned by the French Kingdom of Anjou for the Franciscan order. Built in 1340, it is a rare example of Medieval architecture in Napoli. The convent was to accommodate both monks and nuns in two separate buildings but at the same time depending on the same church. The church was then built in a simple Gothic style, with the typical Neapolitan yellow tufa. Unfortunately, the church has been reconstructed changing the original features into the Baroque style with marbles, polychrome stuccos and exorbitant decorative elements by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro between 1742 and 1769. Sadly, in 1943 the church was partially bombed during the second world war. It was decided that it would be rebuilt in its original Gothic style. It was reopened in 1953. Most of the antiques sculptures have returned to their original location, including the splendid tombs of the member of the Anjou family, like the monumental tomb of Robert of Anjou dated 1343, the tomb of Mary Valois, second wife of Robert, and his son's tomb. A small part of a fresco still remains from the medieval decoration attributed to Giotto (who stayed in Napoli between 1328 and 1333) and his workshop.
The fine cloister outside the church is richly decorated with majolica tiles and it is a pure gem of the eighteenth century, designed by Domenico Antionio Vaccaro. He left the original medieval plan of the cloister but redesigning parts of it, adding two wide paths in the middle, the fine majolica decorations on the pillars with motif of vine shoots and wisteria twisting up, flowers, lemons while the seats are decorated with scenes of the city and country life in the eighteenth century.
Built by a wealthy merchant family in the 13th century, the villa has a rich and storied past. Boccaccio, one of the earliest authors of the Italian renaissance, wrote a story about the villa and its owner in his Decameron, which was published in 1353.
In its prime, it was one of the largest and most expensive villas on the Amalfi Coast, and legends grew about hidden treasure on its premises.
In the 14th century, the Rufolo family hosted banquets for King Robert II of Naples and other Norman royalty.
The gardens and grounds of the Villa Rufolo are open year around and attract visitors from all over the world. Juxtaposed against the sea, the sky, umbrella pines, and the Church of the Annunziata below, the gardens, with their profusion of flowers, have a magical quality to them.
Sitting high atop a promontory that offers stunning views of the Mediterranean and the dramatic coastline below, the Villa Cimbrone is the crown laurel of Ravello.
Its origins date back to the 11th century, but the villa and the gardens were extensively renovated by a British nobleman, Lord Grimthorpe, in the early 20th century.
With its expansive gardens and dramatic views, the villa is a popular place for weddings, honeymoons, and receptions. The villa is a private 5-star hotel (Hotel Villa Cimbrone), but the gardens are open to the public and it ranks, perhaps, as the most memorable sight on the Amalfi Coast.
A century ago, shortly after it was renovated by Grimthorpe, the Villa Cimbrone became a popular retreat for London’s famed Bloomsbury Group, a circle of early 20th century intellectuals that featured Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey.
Other noted guests, included Winston Churchill, author E.M Forster, and famed economist Maynard Keynes. D.H. Lawrence, the author of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, literally left his mark on the villa’s garden, when he and a friend decided to give the Statue of Eve a fresh, and unauthorized, coat of paint.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Cilento e Vallo di Diano National Park is the second-largest park in Italy. It stretches from the Tyrrhenian coast to the foot of the Apennines in Campania and Basilicata, and it includes the peaks of Alburni Mountains, Cervati and Gelbison and the coastal buttresses of Mt. Bulgheria and Mt. Stella. The extraordinary naturalistic richness of the heterogeneous territory goes hand in hand with the mythical and mysterious character of a land rich in history and culture: from the call of the nymph Leucosia to the beaches where Palinuro left Aeneas, from the ruins of the Greek colonies of Elea and Paestum to the wonderful Certosa of Padula. And everything else you can find in such an unexplored territory.
The National Park of Cilento and Vallo di Diano houses many animal species. Their undisputed queen is undoubtedly the golden eagle that nests on the highest peaks. But other birds fly over the territory of the Park, including peregrine falcons, buzzards, sparrow hawk, owl and the owl. The territory is also inhabited by wolves, wild boars, foxes, martens, badgers, weasels and other mammals that bear witness to the progressive enrichment of the ecosystem of the Park of Cilento.
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.
Kornati National Park covers the major part of the Kornati water area and was proclaimed a national park in 1980 due to its exceptional landscape beauty, interesting geomorphology, well-indented coastline and a rich marine ecosystem.
The Kornati Archipelago encompasses an area of about 320 km2. This most indented island ecosystem in the Adriatic Sea has 89 islands, islets and cliffs. It was named after the largest island of Kornati. Because of its uninhabitedness and wildness, intact nature and outstanding beauty, the Kornati are appealing to many tourists and important for the development of excursions, sports and nautical tourism.
Mediterranean Monastery Garden of St. Lawrence was restored and opened in 2007, after being forgotten for a hundred years. It is an integral part of the St. Lawrence Monastery and was restored according to the project of architect Dragutin Kiš.
It is the only garden of its kind in Croatia. In the center of the garden, there is a water source, surrounded by medicinal and spicy Mediterranean herbs.
Brijuni Islands are situated near the city of Pula and represent the only National Park in Istria County. They were declared as National Park in 1983. With its 14 islands, 743,30 ha of area and water surface of 2652 ha (total area of 3395,00 ha), they represent the most indented and interesting islands in Istria. By arriving at Brijuni Islands and walking on its gentle paths, one can immediately notice why they deserved almost mythical status with its pleasant and mild climate. There is an important archaeological site on these islands in the northern Adriatic, and there is a rich cultural ancestry of the islands from the earliest to modern times.
The area was proclaimed national park in 1985. The National Park includes one or more preserved or insignificantly altered ecosystems. By the submergence of the riverbed, the Krka River is about 72.5 kilometers long and has its source at the foot of the Dinara mountain. With seven travertine waterfalls and a total fall of 224 meters, the Krka is a natural and karst phenomenon. The beauty of Skradinski buk, the longest travertine barrier on the Krka River and one of the most famous beauties of Croatia, is particularly remarkable
Eight kilometres south of Rovinj on an area of about 20 hectares in the rainy periods and two hectares in periods of drought, near the sea and the bays Cisterna and Gustinja, it is located the only ornithological reserve in Istria, the "Special ornithological reserve Palud - Palù" whose trademark is the Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus).
Palud was a freshwater swamp that the Austro-Hungarian army connected to the sea in 1906 by digging a channel with the hope that the increased salinity of water would stop the development of mosquito larvae and thus prevent malaria. They didn't manage to suppress malaria but as a result of the mixing of fresh and saltwater in the swamp, mullets and eels, fish that prefer brackish water, found their habitat.
Red Island (Crveni otok), one of the most renowned tourist locations in Rovinj. Actually, it consists of two artificially connected islands: St. Andrew’s Island (Otok Sv. Andrije) and Maškin Island (Otok Maškin).
Red Island is a fifteen-minute sail away from the town center. Taxi boats arrive from and depart for Red Island every hour, from a small pier on the main town square, and from Delfin pier. The sail to the island is very pleasant, passing by Katarina Island, Lona and Zlatni rt bays that will surely enchant you with their beauty.
Dense Mediterranean underbrush and old coniferous forest are predominant on the island, and there are cultivated flower parks with paths near the hotels and annexes. In 2002, Red Island was hit by a heavy storm, almost entirely destroying the 100-year-old pine forest, which has been providing shade and shelter from summer heats for numerous tourists. The biggest damage was caused on Maškin Island. A lot has been done towards cleaning and renovating the island since last year so that you could enjoy its beauty and intimacy again.
You can find a really large number of beaches on the island. They are mainly stony beaches with typical coves covered with pebbles. The most frequented beaches are the ones situated on the south side of St. Andrews Island, near the hotel and the annexe. Numerous services are offered nearby, namely: a restaurant, a pool, miniature golf courses, a diver centre and others. A small part of the shore near the little port has been covered with gravel, making it suitable for children and seniors.
The forest park Punta Corrente (Golden Cape) is one of the most important natural attractions of Rovinj. At the end of the nineteenth century, Georg Hütterott bought four Rovinj islands (St. Andrew, Maskin, Sturag and San Giovanni) and began cleaning up an area of about 90 hectares on the Golden Cape to build a spa. His premature death interrupted the realization of this ambitious project, but his vision remained and contributed to the development of tourism in this area.
The uniqueness of Punta Corrente has been recognized in 1961 and declared a nature park.
Golden Cape is ideal for various sporting activities such as running, cycling, gymnastics. The old quarry has been transformed into a paradise for lovers of free climbing. The park is perfect for a leisurely stroll. The whole area is closed to traffic from motor vehicles.
The beaches of Punta Corrente are worth a visit. As in the rest of the coast, there are rocky capes and pebble bays suitable for children. In several places along the coast there are beach bars where you can refresh.
Near the road Rovinj-pula, about 2 kilometres far from the centre of the City of Rovinj, in the locality of Monfiorenzo, is situated the quarry phantasy, a geological park of remarkable beauty and importance. According to the expert opinion of numerous scientists, it is one of the most significant natural monuments in the world in the perspective of the karst phenomenon. The lime-stone of the quarry phantasy, like the open book pages, illustrate the history of the evolution of the terrestrial crust.
Various layers give evidence of the existence of the fossilized meadows consisting of sea-weeds, which, blended with lime-stone silt, were drifted on the shore by strong currents during the last 130 million years.
The quarry phantasy will reveal to a more careful visitor a considerably big number of furrows made of black and white dolomiti layers. Furthermore, there are fissures formed by tightening and exsiccation of the silt that had been squeezed into the previously created sediment.
The lower part of these stony layers was formed below the sea level, while the upper part is the result of the high-tide.
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.
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.
Located right in the centre of Opatija, St. James’ Park is a recognisable landmark of the town. The well-manicured green lawns and the harmony of colourful flowers make a perfect setting next to the Church of St. James.
The park is distinguished by its neo-baroque fountain with sculptures of Helios and Selene (the god of the Sun and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology), a work by the sculptor Hans Rathausky. The park stretches down to the sea where the Juraj Šporer Art Pavilion is located – the venue of many artistic events and exhibitions.
Visit the Villa Angiolina, a former summer residence and today the seat of the Croatian Museum of Tourism. The museum hosts various exhibitions, workshops and projects that will explain to you why Opatija was a favourite destination for many historical figures.
This is the building that certainly marked the beginning of the tourist epoch in the history of Opatija. Pending its building in 1844. (actually a reconstruction of an older building owned by baron Haller von Hallerxtein); Opatija was a relatively large settlement with about 120 houses, clustered mainly around plots further away from the sea coast and chiefly oriented towards fishing and seafaring. With the arrival of Iginio Scarpa, a patrician from Rijeka, and building of his summer house Angiolina (named after Scarpa’s then already deceased wife, originating from the Sartori family), Opatija opened her doors to a whole line of guests and passengers, among whom it is noteworthy to mention the Austrian empress Mary Ann, the botanist Heinrich Noë, the croatian ban Josip Jelačić and others who in their enthusiasm for the local vegetation and climate spread the fame about Opatija and thus prepared the ground for the future health resort.
Mlaka Park, also known as Giardino Pubblico, is one of the oldest and most beautiful parks in Rijeka. It was designed in 1874 by Filibert Bazarig, PhD as indicated be based on the proposals of Rijeka’s mayor at the time, Giovanni Ciotta as a kind of frontier between the city centre and the western suburbs as well as the announcement of the historical centre for those arriving from that direction into the centre.
Originally a spacious park irrigated by natural resources, it was once a favourite popular meeting point, although today it occupies a smaller area due to the construction of buildings that have been constructed around it in its surroundings over time. In spite of its reduced size, this park located close to the train station is still a pleasant place for relaxation and walking.
Apart from Mlaka Park, Nikola Host’s Park is one of the oldest in Rijeka. It was created in the 19th century as a botanical garden close to Villa Androch when it was owned by Archduke Joseph, a great lover and connoisseur of the art of gardening. Located on the rocky terrain and stretching over several levels, the park, with its sculptures, fountains and exotic plants brought by the archduke from around the world, has assumed the appearance of an English garden. This appearance has partly faded away over time. The park was named after the Austrian botanist who participated in its creation. Today Villa Androch houses the State Archives.
The botanical garden, directed by the University of Cagliari and streched for 5 hectares. Currently the garden contains some 2000 species, predominantly of Mediterranean origin but with a good collection of succulents and tropical plants as well.
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.
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.
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.