THE GARDENS OF BELMOND VILLA SAN MICHELE
With the soul of the 15th Century, Belmond Villa San Michele has a garden full of history.
Belmond Villa San Michele has an ancient fifteenth century soul, and is therefore replete with history.
Everything began when Niccolò Davanzati donated a small farm with adjoining woodland to the Franciscan monks who then started to cultivate the land and construct a chapel. The current setting of the gardens, which are divided into 2 main parts, was designed in the 1950s when Villa San Michele was already a private house owned by Monsieur Tessier, who was gradually turning it into a hotel. The first garden with hedges and flowerbeds, in front of the imposing façade, welcomes the guests, after they travel along a narrow road lined with cypresses and cross the old wrought-iron gate installed in 1800. Here it is still possible to see the ancient fountain and well where the pilgrims drank, alongside the monastery.
Continuing through the Loggia, you reach a beautiful garden terrace, decorated with different species of flowers, and lemon trees which create a splash of yellow against the contrasting dark colors of viburnum, holly, cypress trees, and laurel wood. This Italian garden has two crossed paths dividing the garden into four parts; the intersection of the axes forms the centre of the garden where stands an old fountain in pietra serena sandstone (originally a cross stood here, supported by a column). There are other interesting historical architectural elements such as a column without capital bearing a damaged crest, positioned at the right side of the gardens. Furthermore, you will see two pillars which may be evidence of an ancient temple.
During the era of the monks the terraces were planted with olive trees. The upper garden held the old espaliers for lemon and orange trees, while in the bottom area stood the pomario ortho with a large variety of fruit trees and grape arbours. The abundance of water on this land was recognized by the monks. As a result, you will find many different elements such as the fountain with a large mask on the path leading to the current pool. Moreover, we have evidence of a number of ornamental plants – Chinese Hibiscus and varieties of Jasmine. During cold winters and hot summers
the monks would protect these in the Loggia by covering them with bamboo mats.
Today, the gardens of the hotel still maintain perfect harmony, like the paintings of the Florentine gardens in the 15th Century. Overlooking the city of Florence, the gardens offer a stunning and unique view of the city by day and night.
The quiet, natural beauty of the gardens is accentuated by the lighting created in the 80s by Pietro Porcinai, recognized as the greatest designer of gardens in the world. Porcinai is therefore another important name to leave an imprint on the Hotel’s history and gardens. He not only designed the charming egg-shaped lanterns which stand on the ground or in wall niches covered by ancient wisteria, but also carried out a thorough study of all plant species.
Furthermore, he launched a rehabilitation project of the park and woodland including restoration of its avenues, and the design of an entirely new pool (which did not reach fruition due to bureaucratic obstacles).
Hotel guests are not only able to enjoy the Italian-style gardens decorated with tables and wrought iron chairs desgined by Porcinai but, also explore the woods surrounded by an ancient wall originally built in 1300, or traverse some of the many paths leading up to the Chapel of San Francesco dating from 1589. The hotel gardens and small forest occupy a total of 11 hectares, the equivalent of 12 football fields. It is a large area, in harmony with the landscape and tended daily by a team of 10 to 15 gardeners from a specialist garden company which takes care of all the Belmond gardens in Italy.
List of historic plantations:
Lemons, bitter orange, Heliotropisms peruvianum, Arbutus unedo, myrtus, Verbena erinoides, Jasminum azoricum, Solanum jasminoides, Ficus repens, Lantana camara, Iberis semperflorens, Ganzania splendens, Laurus nobilis, Lilium candidum, Aquilegia hybrida, Agapanthus umbellatus, Crinum powelii (pink); Jasminum catatonic; Rhynchospermum jasminoides, strawberry grapes, Rosa Clair Matin, Plumbago capensis Plumbago larpentae; mutabilis Rosa, Cineraia Marittima, Centranthus ruber, Tritoma uvaria, Hemerocallis, Phormuium tenax, Veronica andersonii, Phillyrea angustifolia, Loquat, persimmon, cherry blossom tree, Rosano cotogna peach, Hibiscus Syracus, 900 square meters of Stenotaphrum secondatum lawn.
Notes to Editors
For more information please contact:
PR Belmond Villa San Michele
For high-res images: www.belmondpress.it and www.belmond.com/media-centre
About Belmond Ltd.
Belmond Ltd is a global collection of exceptional hotel and luxury travel adventures in some of the world’s most inspiring and enriching destinations. Established almost 40 years ago with the acquisition of Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice, the Company owns and operates 46 unique and distinctive hotel, rail and river cruise experiences in many of
the world’s most celebrated destinations. From city landmarks to intimate resorts, the collection includes Belmond Grand Hotel Europe, St. Petersburg; Belmond Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro; Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa, Riviera Maya; and Belmond El Encanto, Santa Barbara. Belmond also encompasses safaris, six luxury tourist trains including the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, three river cruises and ‘21’, one of New York’s most storied restaurants.
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