Best gardens in Italy

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Last Updated on May 28, 2024 by Laura Teso

What are the best gardens in Italy? Italy, a land of sun-kissed landscapes, is a haven for garden lovers. From the manicured elegance of Renaissance masterpieces to the romantic allure of hidden groves, Italy’s gardens are a delight for the senses.

Imagine strolling through a labyrinth of sculpted hedges, the scent of roses filling the air, or seeking shade beneath the ancient canopy of olive trees. Italy’s gardens offer a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle, a place to reconnect with nature and embrace the beauty that surrounds you.

Whether you’re a history buff or a nature enthusiast, Italy’s gardens will captivate your imagination. So come along on a playful, cheerful journey through some of the best gardens in Italy.

Best gardens in Italy – North of the country

Trauttmansdorff Castle gardens- Merano, Bolzano (Alto Adige – Südtirol)

The Trauttmansdorffs family realized them in the 19th century as an oasis of peace and tranquility in which to spend their free time. Lucky them! I visited these gardens and I can say they’re one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Located close to the lovely mountain town of Merano, they extend over an area of 12 hectares and host over 80 botanical environments, divided by theme. Among the main attractions of the gardens are:

  • Rose Garden, which houses over 8,000 roses of over 1,200 different varieties;
  • Japanese Garden, with its Zen atmosphere and its plants and flowers typical of Japanese culture;
  • Sculpture Garden, which houses works by contemporary artists;
  • Garden of Ancient Roses, which houses roses dating back to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance;
  • World Woods Garden, which features plants from around the world, including tropical, temperate and Mediterranean forests.

In 1870, empress Sissi stayed at Trauttmansdorff Castle and liked the gardens so much that she decided to finance their renovation and expansion. Photo below by Harald Hoyer via Wikimedia Commons.

Best gardens in Italy

Arte Sella – Borgo Valsugana, Trento (Trentino)

Arte Sella is a land art park dating back to 1986 thanks to the the initiative of a group of artists and art enthusiasts, with the aim of creating a dialogue between human creativity and the natural world. Every year, Arte Sella hosts new works by artists from all over the world. They use only natural materials such as wood, stone, iron, and plants. Here you can read my article about Arte Sella Sculpture Park

Arte Sella, Best gardens in Italy
Me Through the soul at Arte Sella

Sigurtà Garden – Valeggio sul Mincio, Verona (Veneto)

Sigurtà garden is a 60-hectare park located in Valeggio sul Mincio, Verona. Open to the public since 1978 and winner of numerous international awards, it was created by the Sigurtà family in the 16th century. Among the main attractions of the park are the Roses Avenue, the Tulips, the Great Lawn, the Labyrinth and the Deer Valley. Here you can read my article about Sigurtà Park.

Great Lawn, Sigurta Park, Best gardens in Italy
Sigurta Park, Best gardens in Italy

Villa Giusti – Verona (Veneto)

Speaking of Verona, it may be interesting for you to also visit the garden of Villa Giusti. It is an Italian style garden located in the center of Verona. The Giusti family built it in the 16th century to create an oasis of peace and tranquility in which to spend their free time without moving from the city. 

Giusti Garden, Best gardens in Italy
Giusti Garden

Valsanzibio garden, Galzignano Terme, Padova (Veneto)

The garden of Valsanzibio is a baroque garden, created in the 17th century by the Barbarigo family, as a vow to God for the end of the Plague of 1630. The garden extends over an area of 12 hectares and is a unique example of a symbolic garden. Each element conveys a moral or religious message. Among the main attractions of the garden there is certainly the beautiful box hedge labyrinth which represents the path of life. Here’s my article about Valsanzibio garden

Valsanzibio Gardens, Best gardens in Italy
Diana Portal, Valsanzibio Gardens, Best gardens in Italy

Botanical Garden in Padua (Veneto)

The Botanical Garden of Padua (Orto Botanico di Padova) dating back to 1545, is the world’s oldest university botanical garden still in its original location, and therefore a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. The garden covers an area of 2.2 hectares  and houses over 7,000 plant species from around the world. One of its most notable features is its collection of medicinal plants dating back to the 16th century and including over 500 species of plants. Here’s my article about Padua’s Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden in Padua
Greenhouses and Santa Giustina, Botanical Garden in Padua – best gardens in Italy

Miramare Castle Gardens, Trieste (Friuli Venezia Giulia)

Founded by Maximilian of Habsburg, it is divided into different areas, each with its own character and focus:

  • Italian garden: it is the central nucleus of the park and hosts geometric flower beds, statues and fountains.
  • Botanical garden: hosts a great variety of plants and flowers from all over the world.
  • Romantic garden: it is a landscape garden, inspired by the English gardens of the 19th century.
  • Exotic garden: houses plants and flowers from tropical and subtropical areas.
facade of the miramare castle trieste italy
Photo by Mattia ⠀ on Pexels.com

Villa Carlotta, Tremezzo, Como (Lombardia)

The garden of Villa Carlotta is a botanical garden located on Lake Como and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The garden was created in the 17th century by the Clerici family and covers an area of approximately 7 hectares. The main attractions of the garden are:

  • Azaleas collection.
  • Rhododendrons collection.
  • The water lily pond.
  • The artificial cave.

Photo below by Diego Bonacina via Wikimedia Commons.

Villa Balbianello Gardens, Lenno, Lake Como (Lombardia)

Villa del Balbianello is known for its scenic location and its beautiful gardens. Its gardens are a unique blend of Italian, English, and French styles. They are divided into a number of terraces, each with its own distinct character. The lower terraces are formal, with manicured lawns, hedges, and fountains. The upper terraces are more natural, with winding paths, trees, and flowers. One of the most famous features of the gardens is the Loggia, a small pavilion with a panoramic view of Lake Como.

trees near lake
Photo by Fleur van Deijck on Pexels.com

Villa Melzi d’Eril, Bellagio, Como (Lombardia)

The Gardens of Villa Melzi d’Eril, in Bellagio, on Lake Como, are a harmonious example of an English style garden, located along the east-west shore of the lake, at the foot of the Villa of the same name. Built at the beginning of the 19th century with the contribution of illustrious artists, craftsmen, decorators and architects, they are a place of rare beauty.

white mansion beside the river
Photo by Marian Florinel Condruz on Pexels.com

Oasi Zegna, Trivero, Biella (Piemonte)

The Oasi Zegna is a protected natural area located in the Biella Alps, in Piedmont. The Oasis covers an area of approximately 100 square km. The creator was the textile entrepreneur Ermenegildo Zegna, founder of the Zegna Group, with the aim of preserving nature and promoting sustainable development. The Oasis is home to a great variety of flora and fauna, including roe deer, deer, foxes, badgers and birds of prey. Photo courtesy Grandi Giardini Italiani.

Best gardens in Italy

Isola Bella, Lago Maggiore, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola (Piemonte)

The Isola Bella garden is a baroque garden located on the Isola Bella island, Lake Maggiore, and It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Borromeo family created the garden in the 17th century over an area of approximately 20 hectares, divided into 3 terraces:

  1. First terrace: it is the lowest and houses an Italian garden, with geometric flower beds, statues and fountains.
  2. Second terrace: houses a baroque garden, with exotic plants and flowers, fountains and caves.
  3. Third terrace: it is the most panoramic and hosts a landscaped garden, with trees and shrubs from all over the world.

Photo by MM, via Wikimedia Commons.

Best gardens in Italy

Villa Taranto Gardens, Verbania (Piemonte)

The Botanical Gardens of Villa Taranto are an unmissable attraction for lovers of nature and beauty. You can visit them in Verbania, on Lake Maggiore. The creator was the Scottish captain Neil McEachran in 1931. Photo by Irene Grassi via Wikimedia Commons.

Villa della Pergola Gardens, Alassio, Savona (Liguria)

The Gardens of Villa della Pergola were created at the end of the 19th century. They cover an area of approximately 22,000 square meters and are divided into different areas, each with its own character and focus:

  • Panoramic terrace: it is the highest area of the gardens and offers a splendid view of the Gulf of Alassio.
  • Italian garden: it is the central nucleus of the gardens and hosts geometric flower beds, statues and fountains.
  • Botanical garden: hosts a great variety of plants and flowers from all over the world.
  • Mediterranean garden: hosts plants and flowers typical of the Mediterranean scrub.
  • Exotic garden: houses plants and flowers from tropical and subtropical areas.

Photo below courtesy Villa della Pergola.

Labirinto della Masone, Fontanellato, Parma (Emilia Romagna)

Not really a garden, it is a labyrinth composed of approximately 300,000 bamboo plants of 20 different species, over an area of 7 hectares. The creator is the publisher, bibliophile, designer and collector Franco Maria Ricci, who wanted to create a place that stimulated imagination and reflection. The Labyrinth also houses an art collection, which includes works by Italian and international artists, including Giovanni Boldini, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Andy Warhol. Photo below courtesy Labirinto della Masone.

Reggia di Colorno Gardens, Parma (Emilia Romagna)

The Gardens of the Royal Palace of Colorno date back to the 16th century. They feature 2 main areas:

  • Historic Garden: it is the oldest nucleus of the gardens, characterized by formal architecture, with symmetrical avenues, fountains and statues.
  • English Garden: dating back tothe 19th century, it extends in the southern part of the palace and has a more informal architecture.

Photo below by Franchinidiletta via Wikimedia Commons.

Best gardens in Italy – Center

Giardino di Boboli, Firenze (Toscana)

The Boboli Gardens is a historic park in the city of Florence. In the beginning it was the garden of Palazzo Pitti. It was built between the 16th and 19th centuries by the Medici, then by the Habsburg-Lorraine and the Savoys, on an area of approximately 45,000 square meters. It is a perfect example of an Italian garden, with geometric flower beds, statues, fountains and caves.

Also in Florence, do not miss Giardino Bardini and Giardino delle Rose, both lovely in my opinion.

Rose Garden Florence
Rose Garden Florence, Best gardens in Italy

La Foce Garden, Chianciano, Siena (Toscana)

The La Foce garden is a private garden located in Val d’Orcia, Tuscany. It is a place of rare beauty, an inspiration for writers, artists and poets, a place that enchants those who come to admire the perfect balance between plants, history and landscape. Countess Iris Origo created it between 1925 and 1939. Other than being a lovely garden per se, it ensures amazing views on the surrounding landscape. 

Best gardens in Italy
La Foce, Best gardens in Italy

Villa Lante Bagnaia, Viterbo (Lazio)

Villa Lante Bagnaia is a Renaissance villa near Viterbo, famous for its gardens, among the most important examples of a 16th century Italian garden. The gardens extend over an area of approximately 4 hectares, distributed over three main terraces and characterized by geometric flower beds, fountains, statues and caves. Photo below by Deb Nystrom via Flickr.

Sacro Bosco di Bomarzo, Viterbo (Lazio)

The Sacred Forest of Bomarzo, also known as Monster Park, is a garden adorned with numerous basalt sculptures dating back to the 16th century and portraying mythological animals, deities and monsters. The park was commissioned by Prince Pier Francesco Orsini as a place of meditation and leisure. It is indeed a fascinating and mysterious place, which has inspired artists and writers from all over the world. Photo by Benedicta Mary Lee via Flickr.

Villa d’Este, Tivoli (Lazio)

Villa d’Este is a Renaissance villa famous for its gardens, one of the most important examples of an Italian style garden of the 16th century. They were created between 1550 and 1572 for Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este, inspired by the gardens of ancient Rome. They extend over an area of approximately 2.5 hectares and are home to a large variety of fountains and caves.

Ninfa garden, Cisterna di Latina (Lazio)

The gardens of Ninfa are an English style garden, begun by Gelasio Caetani in 1921, in the area of the medieval town of Ninfa. Today only several ruins remain of that village. The gardens cover an area of 8 hectares characterized by romantic and suggestive architectures. Photo below by Giorgio Rodano via Flickr.

Best gardens in Italy

Best gardens in Italy – South 

Reggia di Caserta Gardens, Caserta (Campania)

The Gardens of the Royal Palace of Caserta extend over an area of approximately 120 hectares. The architect who designed them was Luigi Vanvitelli, who created a complex system of avenues, fountains and waterfalls, which wind between centuries-old trees and flower beds. The gardens features two main areas:

  • Royal Garden: it is the most scenic part of the gardens, with monumental fountains, waterfalls and water features.
  • English Garden: is a more naturalistic part of the gardens, with ponds, streams and paths that wind through the vegetation.

Giardini La Mortella, Ischia island (Campania)

The La Mortella Gardens are a botanical garden located in Forio, on the island of Ischia. The gardens were created starting in 1958 by Lady Susana Walton, wife of the English composer Sir William Walton. Among the most important attractions of the gardens are:

  • Camellia Garden: with over 500 varieties from all over the world.
  • Cypress Garden with a suggestive and mystical atmosphere.
  • Orchid Garden: with over 1000 varieties.
  • Water Garden: with fountains, lakes and waterways.

Photo below courtesy of La Mortella gardens.

Villa Rufolo Ravello, Amalfi Coast  (Campania)

Villa Rufolo is known for its gardens, among the most romantic and spectacular places on the Amalfi Coast. The highlight of the garden is certainly the Infinity terrace, which offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the Amalfi Coast. Other notable sections include the Nymphaeum Garden, the Orange Garden and the Lemon Garden. The mansion has been used as a location for several films, including “The Godfather’‘. Photo below by Mentnafunangann via Wikimedia Commons.

Best gardens in Italy

So, how did you like the best gardens in Italy? I know, there are many others I did not include. As usual, I’d need to write an entire book rather than a blog post!

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