Abbadia d'Ombrone

Abbazia di Vallombrosa

Villa Arceno

Bardini Garden in Florence

Bernard Berenson

Boboli's Gardens

Il parco dei Mostri di Bomarzo

Villa Bottini

Castello di Brolio

Villa Cahen

Villa della Capponcina

Villa Capponi

Villa Medici at Careggi

Villa di Catignano

Cecil Ross Pinsent

Castello di Celsa

Villa Certano Baldassarrini

Certosa di Pontignano

Villa di Cetinale

Villa Chigi Saracini

Villa Farnese (Caprarola)

Gardens in Fiesole

Villa Gamberaia

Villa Garzoni in Collodi

Villa di Geggiano

Villa Grabau

Villa Guicciardini Corsi Salviati

Horti Leonini di San Quirico

Villa I Collazzi, Firenze

Iris Origo

L'Orto de'Pecci (Siena)

Villa I Tatti

Villa Medicea La Ferdinanda

Villa La Foce

Villa La Gallina in Arcetri

Villa Lante

Villa La Petraia

Villa La Pietra

Villa La Suverana in Casole d'Elsa

The Medici Villa at Careggi

Villa Medici in Fiesole, Firenze

Garden of Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Firenze

Villa Medicea at Poggio a Caiano

Medici Villas in Tuscany

Villa di Monaciano

Giardino degli Orti Oricellari | Firenze

Orto Botanico, Siena

Villa Orlandini in Poggio Torselli

Il Palazzone

Villa Palmieri and Villa Schifanoiai

Villa Peyron al Bosco di Fontelucente

Palazzo Piccolomini in Pienza

Villa di Pratolino

Villa Reale di Marlia

Villa San Donato in Colle (Bagno a Ripoli)

Villa Santini Torrigiani

Villa di Vicobello

Villa Vistarenni

Il Vittoriale degli Italiani

Gardens in Tuscany
Villa Gamberaia near Settignano


Probably the most perfect example of the art of producing a great effect on a small scale... because it combines in an astonishingly small space, yet without the least sense of overcrowding, almost every typical excellence of the old Italian garden: free circulation of sunlight and air about the house; abundance of water; easy access to dense shade; sheltered walks with different points of view; variety of effect produced by the skilful use of different levels; and, finally, breadth and simplicity of composition...

Edith Wharton, Italian Villas and Their Gardens (London, 1903), pp. 33-37.


Villa Gamberaia


Set high upon the crest of the hill, the Gamberaia stands above the adjacent agrarian countryside. Its terraces are filled with simple but elegant architecture and ordered greenery. Entering through its gates, one is struck by its other-worldliness, the surreal character of the enclosed space. One cannot foil to see its beauty, to feel its grandeur, to marvel at its intimacy and to puzzle at the assemblage of separate garden spaces within. The siting and composition, a result of over four centuries of over-lapping interventions by its owners and their architects, is a simple yet subtle progression of garden design. Yet the villa is on integral port of the Tuscan landscape and its agreement with its surrounds clearly evident to the educated eye.[0]

Set on the hillside of Settignano, with extraordinary views of Florence and the surrounding Arno valley, the Villa Gamberaia is renowned for its splendid terraced garden. Built in the early 1600s and noted for its magnificent gardens, Villa Gamberaia is located about fifteen minutes by car from the center of the city. The unique garden plan and setting in the Tuscan landscape have been studied and celebrated by architectural historians and garden designers throughout the centuries.
Villa Gamberaia itself was home to two artists in the first decades of the twentieth century: the Romanian Princess Jeanne Ghyka, who purchased the property in 1896, and her American companion Florence Blood.

Villa Gamberaia is characterized now by 18th-century terraced garden.[1] The setting was praised by Edith Wharton,[2] who saw it after years of tenant occupation with its parterre planted with roses and cabbages, and by Georgina Masson,[3] who saw it restored by Sig. Marcello Marchi after its near ruin during the Second World War.[4] to the immaculately clipped and tailored condition today.

Settignano is a picturesque frazione ranged on a hillside northeast of Florence, Italy, with spectacular views that have attracted American expatriates for generations. The little borgo of Settignano carries a familiar name for having produced three sculptors of the Florentine Renaissance, Desiderio da Settignano and the Gamberini brothers, better known as Bernardo Rossellino and Antonio Rossellino. The young Michelangelo lived with a sculptor and his wife in Settignano—in a farmhouse that is now the "Villa Michelangelo"— where his father owned a marble quarry. In 1511 another sculptor was born there, Bartolomeo Ammanati. The marble quarries of Settignano produced this series of sculptors.
Roman remains are to be found in the borgo which claims connections to Septimus Severus — in whose honor a statue was erected in the oldest square in the 16th century, destroyed in 1944— though habitation here long preceded the Roman emperor. Settignano was a secure resort for estivation for members of the Guelf faction of Florence. Giovanni Boccaccio and Niccolò Tommaseo both appreciated its freshness, among the vineyards and olive groves that are the preferred setting for even the most formal Italian gardens.

Mark Twain and his wife stayed at the Villa Viviani in Settignano from September 1892 to June 1893, and greatly enjoyed their visit. Twain was very productive there, writing 1,800 pages including a first draft of Pudd'nhead Wilson. He said the villa "afford[ed] the most charming view to be found on this planet."

In 1898, Gabriele d'Annunzio purchased the trecento Villa della Capponcina on the outskirts of Settignano, in order to be nearer to his lover Eleanora Duse, at the Villa Porziuncola. Near Settignano are the Villa Gamberaia, a 14th-century villa famous for its 18th-century terraced garden, and secluded Villa I Tatti, the villa of Bernard Berenson, now a center of art history studies run by Harvard University.

Built around 1610 by Zanobi Lapi, it passed through many hands before being purchased in 1896 by the Rumanian Princess Ghyka. Villa Gamberaia was reportedly in a sad state by then, but under Princess Ghyka’s loving care it again became a place of enchantment and beauty, to which a privileged few had access.

Jeanne Keshka

'Known as a ravishing beauty from birth, Jeanne Keshka was born in Nice, France, and was raised in the late 1860s in Florence, Italy. As a young adult, in the early 1805, she went to Paris as an art student and circulated socially with the students of the male-only Ecole des Beaux-Arts. She was also reputed to be a courtesan among the Parisian nobilities; her signature feature was her collection of jeweled toe-rings. She mixed freely in these two circles and is even recorded as one of Gertrude Stein's friends attending her famous soirees. (...)
As an art student in Paris, Jeanne Ghyka had known numerous gay artists and was free to lead a bohemian and un-orthodox life.(...)
Jeanne Ghyka was a product of the attempt of women of her time to achieve equality and was, thus, considered one of the 'New Women.' Entering the male-dominated art world of artists, critics and dealers, Ghyka was among the first women to attempt to study and point in the milieu of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. That she was not allowed entrance and did not achieve notoriety, the lack of recognition of her artistic talent was not surprising. Only a few women achieved entrance into the Ecole des Beaux-Arts; Rosa Bonheur was among only a handful of women who was to succeed in that man's world.' [5]

During the eighteenth century the Capponi family made various improvements in the grounds, embellishing them with statuary and fountains.

The preservation of the garden at Villa Gamberaia Edith Wharton astutely attributed to its "obscure fate" during the nineteenth century, when more prominent gardens with richer owners in more continuous attendance had their historic features improved clean away. Shortly after Wharton saw it, the villa was purchased in 1895 by the Romanian Princess Jeanne Ghyka, sister of Queen Natalia of Serbia[10], who lived here with her American companion, Miss Blood.[11]
At the end of the 19th century, Princess Ghyka began the transformation of the old parterre de broderie into beautiful flower-bordered pools, enclosed at the southern end by an elegant cypress arcade, while the following owner, the American-born Mathilda Cass Ledyard, Baroness von Ketteler, introduced the wide box borders and topiary forms that still give the parterre its distinctive architectonic effect. It is believed that the sculptures found throughout the gardens were works by Princess Ghyka, who was educated at the School of Fine Arts in Paris.

Mr. and Mrs. Berenson of Villa I Tatti were among the privileged few who had the entrée to Villa Gamberaia at the time of Princess Ghyka’s ownership.

The liquid and the solid… nowhere else in my recollection have these been composed with such elegant refinement of taste on so human a scale.(…) The whole conception of a garden to live with and in on intimate terms, responsive to loving care and constant culture, has been realized and expanded. It leaves an enduring impression of serenity, dignity and cheerful repose.
Harold Acton, Tuscan Villas. (London 1973).


Opening hours

The gardens are opened from 9am to 6 pm. (Sunday 9am to 5pm)
Cost of the entrance:€ 10,00 regular | € 8,00 students
Even if not necessary, a booking is appreciated. The visits at the interiors of the Villa are reserved for the groups of minimum 10 persons and the cost is € 10,00 per person (except on Sundays).
To reach the Villa from Florence, you may take the bus number 10 directed to Settignano, from Piazza San Marco and go until the last stop in Settignano. After that, there are 10 min. walk to reach Via del Rossellino, 72. By car, kindly follow the indications for Via Gabriele D’Annunzio and follow to Settignano.


Villa Gamberaia, Via del Rossellino, 72 50135 Settignano - Firenze
It is possible to rent several holiday accommodations within the grounds of Villa Gamberaia. A number of houses and other buildings within the grounds of Villa Gamberaia have been transformed into fully-furnished guest houses and apartments, available for short holidays and longer vacations.
Cappella and Nettuno (along the Garden Avenue), the former belonging originally to the 17th century chapel, the latter once an indoor ball court for palla a corda.
Limonaia (adjoining the Lemon House), an historic 15th century farmhouse, which belonged to the family of the distinguished sculptor and architect Bernardo Rossellino.
One can even rent the entire villa.
More information how to rent Villa Gamberaia on
Comune Settignano |




The villa, originally a farmhouse; was owned by Matteo Gamberelli at the beginning of the fifteenth century. His sons Giovanni and Bernardo[6] became famous architects under the name of Rossellino. After Bernardo's son sold it to Jacopo Riccialbani in 1597, the house was greatly enlarged. The designer of the Villa Gamberaia has not been identified, but it is known that the villa building was begun in 1610 for Zanobi Lapi whose nephews and heirs first laid out the gardens between 1624 and 1635. [7] Documents of his time mention a limonaia and the turfed bowling green that is part of the garden layout today.

In 1717 La Gamberaia passed to the Capponi family as one of his ten or more poderes. Water rights were then in dispute as the Capponis drained lands to the east and channeled water throughout the site. Andrea Capponi laid out the long bowling green, planted cypresses, especially in a long allée leading to the monumental fountain enclosed within the bosco (wooded area), and peopled the garden with statues, as can be seen in an etching by Giuseppe Zocchi dedicated to marchese Scipione Capponi,[8] which shows the cypress avenue half-grown and the bowling green flanked by mature trees that have since gone.

"Certainly the minds of the Florentine family of Capponi were original and inventive. First, in 1570 they created the beautifully detailed asymmetrical garden at Arcetri overlooking Florence ..... and in 1717 they finally synthesized and completed the slowly evolving complex of Villa Gamberaia at Settignano across the Arno valley whose concept of a domestic landscape is by general concent the most thoughtful the western world has known." [Geoffrey Jellicoe, Italian Gardens of the Renaissance, (London, 1925 and 1953)]

The villa already stood on its raised platform, extended to one side, where the water parterre is today. The parterre was laid out with clipped broderies in the French manner in the eighteenth century, as a detailed estate map described by Georgina Masson demonstrates. Olive groves have always occupied the slopes below the garden,[8] which has a distant view of the roofs and towers of Florence.

The monumental fountain set into a steep hillside at one lateral flank of this terraced garden has a seated god flanked by lions in stucco relief in a niche decorated with pebble mosaics and rusticated stonework.
In 1925 Princess Jeanne Ghyka sold the property to the American-born Baroness von Ketteler. In 1952 Marcello Marchi acquired it and restored the house, which had been badly damaged during World War II. The Gamberaia now belongs to Signor Marchi’s son-in-law Luigi Zalum (see the anthology Revisiting the Gamberaia, ed. P.J. Osmond, Florence 2004).
During World War II, the villa was almost completely destroyed. Marcello Marchi restored it after the war, using old prints, maps and photographs for guidance.

Edward G. Lawson. Measured drawing shows rendered site plan.
The small inset shows a facsimile of old drawing showing original garden.

'The Gambaraia has been measured several times, but only in modern history.The first plan was recorded in 1906 by the English landscape architect, Indigo Triggs, and showed the new Ghyka water garden along with its classical armature..
There were, however, many inaccuracies in the drawing. It wasn't until 1919 that the villa and its gardens were accurately measured by Edward G. Lawson, the laureate of the Rome Prize in Landscape Architecture who was then in residence at the American Academy in Rome. Lawson's drawings recorded the the entire villa and recorded the garden at its peak of refinement and elegance.'[12]

“For the student of Italian villas in general, the Villa Gamberaia offers several advantaged characteristics, not only because it expresses the perfection obtained by the Renaissance Architect, but also because at the present day it practically retains its original design, both in the subdivision of parts and in the plantings. The original design and beauty of a villa can be completely changed or spoiled by the substitution of exotics or other plantings not intended by the original designers.....but in the case of the Villa Gamberaia, it is known from an old original print that the main planting exist essentially the same as when it was first designed. The formal garden, originally a parterre garden, is practically the only part of the villa that has undergone any radical change in design.

“In the accompanying plan of the villa, there is given a complete list of the planting, and special attention is called to the small variety of different kinds of trees and shrubs employed. This conservative use of plant materials is one of the chief elements of its beauty, and is a point which the Landscape Architect of today may well bear in mind."

Edward G. Lawson

[0] R. Terry Schnadelbach, Hidden Lives / Secret Gardens: The Florentine Villas Gamberaia, La Pietra And I Tatti, Universe, 2010, p.6
[1] Garden plan and schematic view illustrated by Margherita Azzi Visentini, "The Italian Garden in America 1890s-1920s", in Irma B. Jaffe, ed. The Italian Presence in American Art, 1860-1920 (Fordham University Press) 1989.Villa Gamberaia
[2] Miss Wharton called it "probably the most perfect example even in Italy of great effect on a small scale" in her book designed to inculcate a more nuanced appreciation of Italian garden art among Americans, Italian Villas and Their Gardens.
[3] Georgina Masson, Italian Gardens pp 92-99.
[4] The Villa was burnt out by the retreating Germans.
[5] R. Terry Schnadelbach, Hidden Lives / Secret Gardens: The Florentine Villas Gamberaia, La Pietra And I Tatti, Universe, 2010, pp 17-18.
“Ghyka was rich, beautiful and hated men and mankind,” 37 and Ghyka's hatred of men could be little suppressed. The marriage with Serbia's leading Prince Eugene Ghyka-Comanesti did not last long.
The Prince made a settlement of money to Jeanne in exchange for her permanent exile from both Paris and Bucharest, With the emotional support of her sister, Queen Natalie of Serbia, Jeanne returned in 1896 to the place of her youth, Florence. For Jeanne, it provided the best of all worlds then available to her. In its warm climate she would find herself sufficiently close to both her Balkan homeland and Parisian friends so that she could reasonably be in touch with both in their travels. Bul more importantly, Florence was the city of choice for lesbians, as all forms of homosexuality was practiced and tolerated there.

Although still against all Italian social strictures, the open practice of lesbos had not been deemed illegal in Florence as it had throughout England, and, with the exception of Paris, Europe.

When Jeanne separated from Eugene and established Florence as her new city of residence, Natalie ( Princess Ghyka's sister, Queen Natalia of Serbia ) joined her there by setting up a winter residence of her own.

Through her Serbian connections, Natalie was able to rent a villino, or petite villa, on the estate of the Villa La Pietra, located just outside the walls of Florence. Located in the adjacent hillside community, the small but refined palago and podere owned by her sister Jeanne, was close enough for visits between the two when the Queen was in town and yet far enough to provide for separate personal lives. With their Florentine residences, the sisters settled into the life of the expatriate community that was increasingly populating the hills surrounding the city."(p.20)
[6] Bernardo Rosselino built the Palazzo Piccolomini and other structures at Pienza for Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, Pope Pius II.
[7] Georgina Masson noted that an inscription stone dated 1610 and claiming that Lapi "founded" the villa was unearthed in the garden in 1900.
[8] It was included in Zocchi's Vedute delle Ville, e d'altri luogi della Toscana (Florence, 1754).
[9] Georgina Masson remarked on "the olive groves and vineyards that, as in Pliny's Tuscan villa, come close up to the house" (Masson, p. 96.)
[10] Masson, p.96;
[11] Janet Ross, in Florentine Villas, 1901, reported that she was "restoring the beautiful old-fashioned garden to its pristine splendor with infinite patience and taste" Ross illustrated her remarks on Villa Gamberaia with the Zocchi etching.
[12] R. Terry Schnadelbach, p.
[13] Kimberlee S. Stryker, 'Pietro Porcinai and the modern Italian garden', Studies in the History of Gardens & Designed Landscapes: An International Quarterly, Volume 28, Issue 2, 2008, pages 252-269

Villa Gamberaia | | Panoramic view

Catena: Digital Archive of Historic Gardens + Landscapes | Patricia Osmond, Villa Gamberaia, Settignano (Florence) | Interactive Plan |

R. Terry Schnadelbach, Hidden Lives / Secret Gardens: The Florentine Villas Gamberaia, La Pietra And I Tatti, Universe, 2010
Hidden Lives / Secret Gardens is a synthetic history about gardens and human sexuality.
Schnadelbach exposes the engaging and intertwined lives of a group of expatriates, their secluded hillside villas and secret new gardens that ushered a new direction in garden design. Three successive new gardens at Villas Gamberaia, La Pietra and I Tatti were among the earliest Modernist landscapes and were an inspiration many landscape professionals in Britain and America.
While hidden lives / secret gardens manuscript focuses on the revival of the Renaissance aesthetic in Florence and paints a picture of each garden's history, it explores the new and emerging field of sexual psychology through the hidden lives of the Villa's owners and designers, revealing their artistic life styles, their commercial and sexual mores.
For a description of the Villa Gamberaia garden, see pp 26-78 or click here.

ISBN: 1440131155 - Hidden Lives / Secret Gardens: The Florentine Villas Gamberaia, La Pietra And I Tatti |

Michel de Montaigne, Travel Journal (1580–1581). Transl. Donald M. Frame. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1983.

An Intimate Garden With Grand Appeal: Villa Gamberaia at Settignano |

Osmond, Patricia, ed. “Villa Gamberaia: Sources and Interpretations,” in Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes. Vol. 22, No. 1, Spring 2002 (Special issue).

Osmond, Patricia, ed. Revisiting the Gamberaia: An Anthology of Essays on Villa Gamberaia. Florence: Centro Di della Edifimi, 2004.

Kimberlee S. Stryker, 'Pietro Porcinai and the modern Italian garden', Studies in the History of Gardens & Designed Landscapes: An International Quarterly, Volume 28, Issue 2, 2008, pages 252-269
Italian landscape architect Pietro Porcinai (1910-1986) brought modern garden design to a nation rooted in classic garden tradition. His designs are based on a strong identification of ‘place’ and sensitivity to ecological concerns, while they are also innovative in construction and form. He was one of the 17 founding members of the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) in Cambridge in 1948. Though lesser known than his contemporaries Geoffrey Jellicoe, Sylvia Crowe, Thomas Church and Roberto Burle-Marx, Porcinai is one of the most important landscape designers of the twentieth century. Porcinai’s place in the canon of modern landscape design has only now started to receive its rightful appreciation. [Taylor & Francis Online |]


An ancient medieval burg, which used to consist originally of a fairly sparse number of houses, famed in the past for having contained the workshops of numerous stone-masons.
The most famous stone-cutter became an artist of the first rank and was known as Desiderio da Settignano, a sculptor of the 15th century, whose statue stands triumphantly in the middle of the main square of the village. During the last century, Settignano became a residential centre and holiday resort of renown: Niccolò Tommaseo, Telemaco Signorini (the painter) and Gabriele D’ Annunzio all lived there. The latter lived in Villa la Capponcina between 1898 and 1910, during which time one of his guests was Claude Debussy. The village contains the ancient church of Santa Maria, founded before the 12th century, but much restructured, chiefly in the 16th and 18th centuries. the Madonna and Child, in glazed terracotta, on the main altar, is by the workshop of Andrea delia Robbia at the beginning of the 15th century, whilst the Saint Lucy above the second altar on the left is attributed to Michelozzo (1430). Of further interest in the village, see the Oratory of the Holy Trinity, the 19th century Cemetery, containing the tombs of Tommaseo and Aldo Palazzeschi, the Oratory of st. Romano and the Oratory of Vannella which contains a fresco attributed to Botticelli (c. 1470). A kilometre away from Settignano, in the direction of Compiobbi, is the Villa Gamberaia. Built as the unpretentious summer resort of a monastery, it was restructured by the Lapi and chiefly by the Capponi in the 17th and 18th centuries; the villa underwent further changes at the beginning of the 20th century, when it belonged to Princess Ghyka, sister to the Queen of Serbia. The ltalianate garden, with its statues, beds, pools and flowering shrubs and its magnificent view of Florence down in the valley, is one of the best kept in Tuscany.

Hidden secrets in Tuscany | Holiday home Podere Santa Pia


Podere Santa Pia
Podere Santa Pia, view from the garden
on the valley below

Il parco dei Mostri di Bomarzo

Villa Cahen



Villa Cahen has a well-equipped public park while the latter has the state-owned park with Villa Cahen, in Art Nouveau style, and the hidden jewel in the center of the Park. In the marvellous gardens you can find various and rare arboreal and herbaceous species.

Villa I Tatti, near Settignano, outside Florence
Castello Torre Alfina

Walking around Florence | 7 | From Fiesole to Settignano

In Florence, the number 7 bus leaves from outside San Marco every fifteen or twenty minutes and takes about the same time to get to Fiesole. The walk starts in the via Giuseppe Verdi, a narrow street tucked away in the south-east corner of the main square. The narrow picturesque Via Giuseppe Verdi leads steeply uphill, and you will see a red and white stripe painted on the wall at the corner of the street. (This is the sign of the Club Alpino Italiano or CAI, which is responsible for way-marking so many of the walks in Italy). The red and white stripes are intended as an aid to walkers and are painted on walls, trees and rocks. The via Giuseppe Verdi climbs quite steeply for about two to three hundred yards before reaching a fork and the first of many panoramic views.

Villa Gamberaia, Impressions

After leaving England, Cecil Pinsent settled in Florence in 1907, where he joined the circle of the famous art historian and critic, Bernard Berenson, and Geoffrey Scott.
Pinsent began by making alterations to connoisseur Charles Alexander Loeser's Villa Torri Gattaia, in 1907; and went on to design gardens at Berenson's Villa I Tatti (1909-1914), Strong's Villa Le Balze (1911-1913), the Origos' La Foce (1927-1939) and Villa Capponi (from 1939).
Berenson entrusted Pinsent and Scott with the design of Villa I Tatti, in Fiesole. Pinsent transformed the residence and classical gardens, managing to make them blend in with the surrounding hills, creating a series of tree-lined avenues leading to the open countryside. In this way Pinsent became famous as an Italian Renaissance style garden specialist.

Bernard Berenson

March 4th, (1948) I Tatti
Walked over to Villa Gamberaia, found it neglected, unkempt, grass not mown, trees with branches broken looking like elephants with broken tusks, the house burnt out with the beautiful courtyard fallen in, vases and stone animals on parapet thrown down and broken - and yet the place retains its charm, its power to inspire longing and dreams, sweet dreams. Its beauty though so uncared for is still great enough to absorb one almost completely, the terraces, the ponds, the great apse of cut cypresses, the bowling green as you look at it from the grotto toward the south like a great boat sailing through space, the view over the quiet landscape of the Chianti hills and further over domes and towers to the snow-capped Appennines and the Arno glimmering in the plain.

March 5th, I Tatti
Fifty years ago I began to frequent this paradise, then belonging to a narcissistic Rumanian lady who lived mysteriously in love with herself perhaps and certainly with her growing creation, the garden of the Gamberaia. ... for years the Gamberaia remained one of the fari (beacons), one of the haunts of my life, well into his century, till 1910 at least.

Bernard Berenson, Sunset and twilight - the last diaries 1947-1958 (Milan, 1966) pp. 54-55

Cecil Pinsent

Today... the garden should give the impression of a house extended into the open-air, and its diverse aspects should succeed one another in such a way that when walking through it one is confronted by a series of impressions rather than a single effect...
The best example of this design is at... Villa Gamberaia... after having walked in that garden, relatively small in size, one goes away with the impression of having spent more time there and having discovered more than was in reality the case.

Harold Acton
Nowhere else in my recollection have the liquid and solid been blended with such refinement on a scale that is human yet grand without pomposity... It leaves an enduring impression of serenity, dignity and blithe repose....

Harold Acton, Tuscan Villas (London, 1973) p. 151.

R. Terry Schnadelbach
The Villa Gamberaia of the Princess Ghyka era was a wonderfully small villa that the Princess endeavored to make only better. If architecture is frozen music, then the Gamberaia's gardens were composed like a waltz, swirling from one space to the next. There are no straight line marches in experiencing this site. One constantly turns, moving smoothly through gardens that are connected one to other. One terrace wraps around the main villa only to meet another leading away in the opposite direction. The waltz ends in a grand, sweeping panoramic view or, in the opposite direction, in the oval hillside grotto. The waltz is danced through brilliant sunlight into the darkest shade, then back into light, in an ever-changing sequence. With direct connections, the eye, as well as the body, turns this way, then that; each space ending where the next begin – all in a continuous movement. The Gamberaia garden's musical tone throughout is a constant - either the green architectural walls of the planting or the yellow ochre walls of the villa buildings.

R. Terry Schnadelbach, Hidden Lives / Secret Gardens: The Florentine Villas Gamberaia, La Pietra And I Tatti, Universe, 2010, p.26
The Villa Gamberaia is a member of the Grandi Giardini Italiani, an association of major gardens in Italy. Its members include some of the most important gardens in Italy.

List of member gardens | Fondazione Pompeo Mariani (Imperia), Giardini Botanici di Stigliano (Roma), Giardini Botanici di Villa Taranto (Verbania), Giardini Botanici Hanbury (Ventimiglia), Giardini della Landriana (Roma), Giardini La Mortella (Napoli), Giardino Barbarigo Pizzoni Ardemani (Padova), Giardino Bardini (Firenze), Giardino dell'Hotel Cipriani (Venezia), Giardino di Boboli (Firenze), Giardino di Ninfa (Latina), Giardino di Palazzo del Principe, Giardino di Villa Gamberaia (Firenze), Giardino Ducale di Parma, Giardino Esotico Pallanca (Imperia), Giardino Giusti (Verona), Giardino Storico Garzoni (Pistoia), Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle (Merano), Giardino del Biviere (Siracusa), Serraglio di Villa Fracazan Piovene (Vicenza), Vittoriale degli Italiani (Brescia), Cervara, Abbazia di San Girolamo al Monte di Portofino (Genova), Venaria Reale, Museo Giardino della Rosa Antica (Modena), Museo Nazionale di Villa Nazionale Pisani (Venezia), Oasi di Porto (Roma), Orto Botanico dell'Università di Catania, Palazzo Fantini (Forlì), Palazzo Parisio (Malta), Palazzo Patrizi (Roma), Parco Botanico di San Liberato (Roma), Parco del Castello di Miramare (Trieste), Parco della Villa Pallavicino (Verbania), Parco della Villa Reale di Marlia (Lucca), Parco di Palazzo Coronini Cronberg (Gorizia), Parco di Palazzo Malingri di Bagnolo (Cuneo), Parco di Pinocchio (Pistoia), Parco Giardino Sigurtà (Verona), Parco Idrotermale del Negombo (Napoli), Parco Paternò del Toscano (Catania), Parco Storico Seghetti Panichi (Ascoli Piceno), Varramista Gardens (Pisa), Villa Arvedi (Verona), Villa Borromeo Visconti Litta (Milano), Villa Carlotta (Como), Villa del Balbianello (Como), Villa della Porta Bozzolo (Varese), Villa d'Este (Como), Villa d'Este (Tivoli), Villa di Geggiano (Siena), Villa Durazzo (S. Margherita Ligure, GE), Villa Farnese di Caprarola (Viterbo), Villa Grabau (Lucca), Villa La Babina (Imola), Villa La Pescigola (Massa), Villa Lante (Viterbo), Villa Melzi d'Eril (Como), Villa Montericco Pasolini (Imola), Villa Novare Bertani (Verona), Villa Oliva-Buonvisi (Lucca), Villa Peyron al Bosco di Fontelucente (Firenze), Villa Pisani Bolognesi Scalabrin (Padova),   Villa Poggio Torselli (Firenze), Villa San Michele (Napoli), Villa Serra (Genova), Villa Trento Da Schio (Vicenza), Villa Trissino Marzotto (Vicenza), Villa Vignamaggio (Firenze).
Grandi Giardini Italiani (Italian) | 

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Tuscan villas Selected bibliography

Judith Bernandi, Italian Gardens, Rizzoli (September 14, 2002), ISBN-10: 0847824950 | ISBN-13: 978-0847824953

Since the earliest Roman settlements, Italians have been expertly cultivating their land into beautiful and creative displays of nature, where terraces and walkways, plants and flowers, water and statuary are combined to provide a unique ad inspiring setting. The Italian garden has greatly evolved throughout the ages, taking on different forms, favoring different plants, and serving different purposes. Early Italian gardens made use of citrus, still regarded as an essential element for its bright fruit and shiny leaves. The ancient art of the topiary was revived in the Renaissance for its drama and elegance, and the refined parterre was developed to spread forth from the great palazzos and provide a dramatic view from their upper stories. Later, in the nineteenth century, the influence of the English garden took hold, with its meandering paths, asymmetrical lakes, and blossoming trees.
In Italian Gardens, author Judith Wade explores more than five hundred years of this tradition, discussing each of these developments and transporting the reader to thirty-seven of the most captivating gardens of Italy. Eleven regions are visited, from Lombardy and Piedmont in the north, to the island of Sicily in the south. Both small and grandiose, historic and contemporary gardens are featured.
Travel with Wade to the aristocratic Villa Favorita in Lugano, where an avenue of cypresses welcomes those who approach; the English-style park of Villa Novare Bertani in Verona, with its seventeenth-century wine cellar; the eighteenth-century Avenue of the Camelias at Lucca's Villa Reale, where the American artist John Singer Sargent painted; and great examples of contemporary Italian landscapes, like La Mortella in Naples, which boasts more than eight hundred species of rare plants.

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Sophie Bajard, Raffaello Bencini, Villas and gardens of Tuscany, Terrail, 1993

Attlee, Helena. Italian Gardens - A Cultural History, Francis Lincoln Limited Publishers, 2006

Katie Campbell, Paradise of Exiles: The Anglo-American Gardens of Florence, Frances Lincoln Ltd, London 2009