Summer afternoon

Henry James once said that these two words, summer afternoon, are the most beautiful in the English language.  I agree.

I have a lovely Florentine friend who has an amazing home in the picturesque hills just outside the city.  I had the great pleasure of joining her for lunch recently, and here are some pictures of her beautiful home and gardens.  I am very comfortable saying: I am green with envy! Maybe in my next life, I will be so lucky…!! What a gorgeous summer afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arianna tole me her wisteria vine is at least 30 years old.  It is fabulous!  Luckily for me, it was on its second bloom of the season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To lounge on a recliner under an umbrella tree and listen to the cicadas is about as close to heaven as I’ve ever been!

 

 

 

 

The secret garden in my neighborhood

Not far from my home in Florence lies a secret garden, the Orti del Parnaso, filled with lots of symbolism, including a ferocious snaked-shape fountain (water not playing in my pictures).

The garden’s name refers to Mt. Parnassus in central Greece.

The “snake” winds along the staircase leading to the lower garden and into the Giardino orticultura and its Tepidarium by Giacomo Roster.

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You can enter the secret garden off via Trento, where an elegant iron gate leads to a beautiful belvedere.  This takes you into the Orti del Parnaso, the highest part of Florence’s wonderful horticultural garden.  Once inside, you find yourself on a splendid terrace overlooking a gorgeous panorama of the city of Florence.

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Parnassus of course refers to the famous Greek mountain, which in ancient times was considered sacred to the god Apollo and the nine Muses who headquartered there. The mountain was the source of the river Castalia, which provided passage in mythology to the underworld and was a source of purification.

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The fountain in this secret garden completed in 1990 based on a design by Marco Dezzi Bardeschi. It is meant to represent the myth of Python, the monstrous snake son of Gea.  According to the legend, Python was covered with the mud of the Flood and could wrap  the city of Delphi 7 times round with its coils. Python’s breath was so pestilential as to dry out all the plants with which he came into contact (in ancient Greek the verb “pyzein” means “to rot”). Apollo eventually killed Python on Mount Parnassus, near the Oracle of Delphi, and in its honor the pythic games were established. These games were some of the sacred holidays of ancient Greece.

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In 2003 the Florentine Parnaso Garden became the seat of the Giardino dei Giusti, or the Garden of the Righteous, a place dedicated to the memory and commemoration of all those ordinary people who tried to save other human beings from persecution, genocide and acts of violence.

In recognition of this status, in the upper part of the park there is a Carob tree about 60 years old. This tree is symbol of the Garden of the Righteous of Jerusalem, dedicated to the memory of Chico Mendes, a Brazilian trade unionist killed in 1988 for his defense of the Indians of the Amazon.

In the same area there is also a 40 year old crepe myrtle, dedicated to the memory of the Tuscan cyclist Gino Bartali, who during the Nazi occupation courageously helped the Jews persecuted by the regime, an action that in 2013 earned him the appointment of  “Just among the nations. ”

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And, finally, here’s a video I found on Youtube:

La Foce

La Foce, or “the mouth” of the Orcia river, in the beautiful Val d’Orcia, Toscana.  If there is a more beautiful place on earth, I’ve yet to find it.

Created by Iris Origo and her husband, this incredible formal Italian garden is set amidst the rugged Crete senesi.  This was my second visit, but I know there will be more visits in the future.  Last time I was there, it was late summer and the earth and foliage was rather brown. This time, after the rains we have been getting, it was vibrantly green.  It is beautiful in any season.

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https://www.lafoce.com/it/