On the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the creation of the Grandi Giardini Italiani network – a cultural project established with the aim of valorizing and promoting the most beautiful gardens in Italy and helping to turn this immense heritage brimming with nature, history and art into the protagonist of the national tourist scene – the publishing house Franco Maria Ricci presents the volume Grandi Giardini Italiani: The Essence of Paradise.
Exotic and hidden gardens, Renaissance and Baroque ones, botanical gardens and Sacred Woods: today the Grandi Giardini Italiani features some 147 gardens in 14 different Italian regions. This eponymous volume is a celebration of these gardens, accompanying the reader on a path of discovery of the marvelous green gems scattered across our country.
In her preface, Judith Wade, founder and CEO of Grandi Giardini Italiani, tells of the long and at times difficult path that led to the fulfillment of the dream of bringing together in a single network the owners and curators of the most beautiful gardens in Italy. It is a story made up of people capable of sharing knowledge, enriching the network’s know-how, and contributing to improving the services for the benefit of the entire sector.
“I am very happy that this book will be printed in time to celebrate the 25 years of Grandi Giardini Italiani. It is also my way of thanking the people I have involved, from the owners and administrators, consultants, sponsors, employees and collaborators. (…) This is the story till now of a venture sui generis. it is the tale of an adventure to discover people who share the need to pass down to future generations a heritage of inestimable worth, investing time and work. They are the “greatness” in Great Italian Gardens”.
Enriching the book is the essay by the writer and journalist Delfina Rattazzi: an itinerary that traces the surprising variety of our green spaces, their worlds, and the very personal story told by each one of them. There are gardens that speak of botanical passions, such as the wonderful Centro Botanico Moutan, in Vitorchiano, hosting over one hundred fifty thousand plants of more than six thousand varieties of Chinese peonies. In other cases, it is the desire for originality that encouraged the creation of these gardens, such as in Isola Bella, one of the greatest examples of a Baroque Garden rising up on a hillock overlooking Lake Maggiore: a triumph of flowering plants, vats filled with water lilies, centuries-old trees, and lawns where white peacocks roam freely. Others still are the result of a long learning curve, like the Botanical Garden of Palermo, an institution that. with its over twelve thousand species on display, is the custodian of immense botanical knowledge. These are just some examples of all the enchanting Italian gardens that Delfina Rattazzi discusses in detail, encouraging the reader to explore them in person to better capture their colors and scents.
The book includes an anthology compiled and edited by the art historian Caterina Napoleone, whose selection of texts, some of which are known while others less so, takes the reader on a literary stroll through the gardens created by the words of writers, from those of antiquity all the way to the authors of our own day and age.
The texts are accompanied by full-page images of the most enchanting views, the most inspiring ones, and the most hidden corners, which allow the reader to admire this important and captivating part of our cultural and natural heritage.