Villa Gamberaia in Settignano is truly a paradise for me. But what on earth (ha ha, get it?) do I mean by “paradise?”
I mean a walled garden where tranquility is found. A refuge. A place to restore.
In fact, the word “paradise” entered the English language from the French paradis, inherited from the Latin paradisus, from the Greek parádeisos (παράδεισος). The Greeks borrowed the word from an Old Iranian paridayda meaning “walled enclosure.” By 500 BCE, the Old Iranian word had been adopted as Assyrian pardesu or “domain.”
In general, “paradise” was first used to indicate the expansive walled gardens of the First Persian Empire. The garden is constantly used as a symbol for paradise, with shade and water as its ideal elements. ‘Gardens under which rivers flow’ is a frequently used expression for the bliss. The four main rivers of paradise are traditionally thought to be , one of water, one of milk, one of wine and one of purified honey.
This is the origin of the quartered garden, which were divided by means of four water-channels and all contained within a private, walled enclosure.
With or without masses of blooming flowers, Villa Gamberaia is paradise to me. Even without literal rivers of milk and honey. :-)) Quiet and birdsong is enough.