The Most Beautiful Gardens in Italy
The fjord-like beauty of the three great lakes of northern Italy—Lake Como, Lake Maggiore and Lake Garda—have inspired artists, writers and gardeners since they were born from glacial melt hundreds of centuries ago. The ancient Romans built holiday villas with magnificent gardens here, a tradition renewed by the northern Italian aristocracy during the Renaissance.
During the 18th century, the lakes’ renown spread across Victorian Europe. This explains the unique landscape architecture and gardening style here today, a juxtaposition between the Renaissance love of order and symmetry and the Romantic penchant for a carefully crafted “wildness.”
For travelers looking to experience the beauty, there are many luxury homes and resorts to choose from. The sweeping 20 acres of gardens at Villa Carlotta were designed in the Romantic style of the 18th century and are notable for their azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons and citrus trees—stunning plants and flowers that come alive with colors and scents that please the senses. Villa Balbienello is lush with wisteria, laurel and rhododendrons, along with centuries old magnolia, cypress and plane trees.
The most original of the great gardens at the Italian lakes is found on the tiny and aptly named Isola Bella (Beautiful Island) in Lago Maggiore. These gardens were first planted in the 17th century and today include exotic plants and trees as well as resident white peacocks and a Baroque amphitheater topped by a statue of a unicorn. Some might argue that this is the most beautiful gardens in the world, and it would be a hard argument to disagree with. Once you see for yourself, we think you’ll agree.