When we first moved into the Casale (country house) our wonderful neighbours gave us a book titled The Best Gardens in Italy by Kristy McLeod. After reviewing the book, my husband and I decided we would visit as many Italian gardens as we could during our time in Tuscany. At home, on the East Coast of Canada our growing season is somewhat “stunted” by cold weather and a shortened summer, thus an opportunity to see, smell, touch (as appropriate) and plant in this growing environment appeals to us.
Earlier this month, we went to the La Foce, an Italian garden located in the famous Val d’ Orcia.
The Val d’Orcia is a Unesco World Heritage site and is one of the most enchanting and scenic drives you can take while in Tuscany. The added benefit of the drive is stopping at one of the surrounding villages dotting the hilltops such as Montepulciano, Montichiello and Pienza for the day. You can simply walk through an out-door market while enjoying the Tuscan sun, visit a historic site, shop or do it all! Then stop for a typical Tuscan meal over a glass of the local wine (Vino Nobile).
The Val d’Orcia is breathtaking, I believe the photograph I took from La Foce looking southward toward the Val d’Orcia will provide you with a full appreciation. In the spring of the year the vivid greens, white roads and brilliant blues in the sky blend beautifully together. The photo has not been retouched!
I view this picture as a gift to me from nature. Imagine driving through those rolling green hills dotted with cypress trees!
Now back to the garden! Le Foce garden tour is by appointment only and you must have a guide. The tour is reasonably priced at 10 euro and is generally around 45 minutes long. A great deal of information about the history of the family, location and garden is provided. There is a downside though, as the tour is guided you cannot dawdle amongst the lemon tree or rose gardens or sit awhile on the cooled baroque-inspired stone seats. I wanted more time to fully appreciate the distinctive views of the Crete Sinese (Sinese clays) as seen from the lower garden. Having said that, garden enthusiast or not, will appreciate the beauty of and beyond Le Foce.
Of note is the owner of La Foce kept a diary during the war between 1943-1944 and it provides a simply written albeit intense account of the war during that period. The daily struggles of the population as well as the liberation of Tuscany by partisans and the allies (Canadians participated) is chronicled.
War in Val d’ Orcia by Iris Origo is a great read for anyone visiting this garden or if you are just wanting to breath in the views of the Val’ d’ Orcia.
Time for a glass of vino!