We started Tuesday with a visit to an innovative Italian nursery. Again a multi generation family firm, Groupa Zelari, have grown a farm nursery company to become a group of three companies offering total plant production, landscape design and construction of innovative and ecologically sound landscape projects. As Italy is a little behind Canada in ecological awareness in the landscape world, Groupa Zelari are leading the field in Italy with large national and international projects.
Our lunch was at a spectacular location on the peak on Monsummano Alto, the remains of a medieval village. It is home now to a modern restaurant and B&B, a few crumbling cottages and one elderly lady. Our lunch was wonderful with Tuscan cured meats, cheeses and fresh pasta. Following lunch Pauline, one of our tour members, broke the language barrier with the sometimes garrulous elderly lady and shared our admiration of her garden (and cats). As we came out from lunch many smiles were shared and photos taken. As she blew kisses to our parting bus, we knew that these few spontaneous moments would be one of the highlights.
For the afternoon we visited Pescia where a nursery of ornamental (and sometimes edible) citrus trees welcomes us. The sizes, shapes, colours and tastes of a wide variety of lemons far exceed the single variety we see in the store.
Our last stop was the village of Collodi, birthplace of Carlo Lorenzini Italian author best known for his wood to flesh creation, Pinocchio. First we toured the somewhat sad and decaying gardens of Villa Garzoni. We can picture the once grand spectacular of the sculptures, water features and plants of this garden now in need of much love and restoration. Nearby is the private villa visited once or twice a year by its wealthy owners.
pictures to follow
Just above the villa is the jewel of Collodi, in my mind, the village itself. We had only a short time to visit a few of the narrow picturesque streets tumbled one on top of each other as the narrow pedestrian lanes are more staircases climbing the steep hill connecting house upon house built up the hillside in a steep narrow reach.