ALASSIO, Italy: The Gardens of Villa della Pergola were created at the end of the nineteenth century and are a rare example of the English garden in Italy. They have a quite unique history that is intimately bound up with the English community that chose to stay on the coast of Alassio in the years between 1800 and 1900 as one of their favourite wintering holiday spots.
The Villa and the garden were originally the idea of the Scottish General William Montagu Scott Mc Murdo in 1875. In the early years of the twentieth century the grounds and the Villa della Pergola passed into the hands of Virginia Woolf’s cousin Sir Walter Hamilton Dalrymple. In 1922 the new owner Daniel Hanbury, second-born of Thomas, designer and owner the celebrated Hanbury gardens of La Mortola, Ventimiglia, began the work of developing the collections of plants in the grounds, drawing on the resources of the family’s own botanical gardens.
For a while the gardens were largely abandoned and so deteriorated. In 2006 a string of friends guided by Silvia and Antonio Ricci, always well aware of the story of these lands and eager to safeguard, protect and restore the landscape, purchased the property at auction to save it from the developers.
Painstaking restoration by the landscape architect Paolo Pejrone, we can now enjoy the unique experience of a walk through typical Mediterranean plants that grow side by side with rare exotic flora. The gardens are also the home to botanical collections of importance such as that of the agapanthus, with 400 specimens here, a unique sight in Europe in terms both of scale and importance, as well as a collection of 28 varieties of wisteria not to be missed in springtime.
The grounds are open to the public every weekend from 25th March to the end of October, with guided tours that can be booked in advance. Only group bookings can be made for weekdays.