Thursday, May 9, 2013

Skipping School

This may turn into 3 different posts; I had so much fun yesterday! I took the day off from school to visit friends who own 2 villas in Todi near Orvieto. My incentive was to spend time with them, and Mama Rose, who is one of the sweetest women on the planet. She was going to teach me how she makes her meatballs and sauce. The plan was to make the meatballs in the morning and then go to La Villa La Foce in the early afternoon to tour the gardens, and then return for a meatball and pasta dinner at Santa Cristina. 
A little background on La Villa La Foce: last year I read the biography of Iris Origo, as well as the diary that she kept during World War II throughout the German occupation and the liberation of Italy. 
She was a fascinating Anglo-American woman, who with her Italian husband the Marquese, owned La Foce in the Val d’Orcia in Tuscany. Their plan was to bring farming back to this area in Tuscany that was virtually deserted.  With what seemed an unlimited supply of money and workers, they created La Foce.  Click here to read about La Foce, better yet, buy the books!
Iris loved gardens, having grown up in the Medici villa in Florence where the gardens were designed by Cecil Pinsent. She hired Pinsent to design gardens for her at La Foce; he lived at La Foce for years, creating different gardens for the family and designing other homes in the area.  Her story is fascinating, and these gardens are stunning. The photos can’t give you the aroma of the wisteria in bloom, the boxwood, or the lemons, but I hope this entices you to think about a trip here. La Foce is located quite close to Montepulciano, and the tours are every Wednesday at 3, 4, and 5 and the first Saturday of the month. My advice is to get there well in advance, and buy your tickets: €10. I also urge you to read her story, it’s fascinating.   

Boxwood and Cypress are everywhere--definitely an English style in Italy

La Foce is now available for rental--wouldn't this be nice?

Stepping into the first garden was like inhaling lemon and wisteria--heavenly--every Italian garden has a lemon tree

This one has a lot!

The plants that will freeze are brought in during the winter

The rear of the house from the "lemon garden"

The formal garden--they do weddings here

Pinsents' last architectural masterpiece here at La Foce was the folly in the at the rear

Iris and Antonio commissioned Pinsent to design a road for their view---I know, how much money did that take!  Eventually Pinsent designed homes on the road

Canopies of wisteria---intoxicating

Tree peonies

The Val d'Orcia

Butterfly enjoying the garden, too

This was a spectacular day to view these gardens, I hope someday you'll be able to visit. 

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