Making Shade

July 25, 2011 / Local Interest
Porano, Umbria
quintovillapaolina4 -We are republishing this note in fond memory of Lisa Finerty, friend first and foremost, and ItalianNotebook contributor. Our thoughts are with her husband, Tom, and with her children… con tanto affetto.

Quinto, the self-taught gardener at Villa Paolina in Porano, Umbria near Orvieto, is retiring this year after 40 years.

Villa Paolina is not just a pretty place: this late Baroque garden is also a research venue for the Italian National Research Council studying Climate Change in Italy. Quinto’s garden log — of climate phenomena and bloom cycles in the ten hectar garden (1 hectar equals approx. 2.5 acres) — is a valuable record which University of Perugia scientists are now studying.

Quinto ends his career in pursuit of the remedy for a virus carried by beetles which is impacting Italy’s pines and other softwood trees. In the past two years, this virus has reached the Villa Porano pine viale (alley), for which the garden is famous; a tree is alive one week, and secco (bone dry) the next. Quinto and his single assistant work quickly to identify and burn infected limbs, but it is a round-the-clock vigil. quintovillapaolina3

Although Quinto has been responsible for the garden’s post war historical landscape renovation, he is not a dogmatic purist: his first year on the job he planted three redwood seedlings. These New World natives have grown to become the tallest tree specimens in the Villa Paolina hunting woods. As they say, a true gardener plants trees whose shade he/she never expects to sit under. Lucky for us, we have Quinto for another few months, and the shade he created in this beautiful spot forever.


Lisa Finnerty

by Lisa Finnerty

Founder of Secret Gardens Italy,, a tour company of the grand and historic Italian gardens, and, a social network for gardeners.

15 Responses to “Making Shade”

  1. This was a beautiful and touching story. I love the statement that a true gardener plants trees whose shade he never will sit under. How do we say that nel l’Italiano. Grazie, John B

  2. Stef Smulders

    Inspiring. This story brought back memories of a beautiful garden I happened to discover by accident last year, in Arezzano, Liguria. Not prepared for one of the most beautiful gardens in Italy (according to the guide I consulted later), I almost became extatic by the discovery of such beauty. Thanks Lisa, for inspiring me, I might write a note about the Arezzano garden soon!

  3. Lovely! I wish I had known about this when we lived in Perugia! We discovered our own secret garden there – one of the jewels of Perugia – il Giardino dell’Usignolo – a private garden our landlords owned and we had private access to. Thank you for this inspiring note.

  4. Mary Lou Branson

    This was, again, a delight! Thank you.
    However, it came into my spam folder, which these never have before. Editor, can you tell me what to do to make it not do that?

  5. Thank you Quinto, for making this world a prettier place…What would life be without beautiful people like Quinto…Love that name…

  6. Al Melkonian

    Love the story about Quinto. Maybe he would like to come to SB and help me order my chaos?


    I’ll send you an email soon.

  7. Sara Altshul

    I hope Quinto is retiring to a beautiful secret garden somewhere where he can putter among the plants for the rest of his days. Wonderful story…makes me want to see some Italian green, and soon!

  8. Penny Ewles-Bergeron
    Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    So sorry to hear this news about a talented and plainly much lamented friend. Our sympathies and best wishes to her family.

  9. Barbara Goldfield

    I remember reading this and thinking that Lisa always knew how to cut to the quick of an issue. She was a true watchdog and guardian of this planet. Who will take her place?

  10. Terry Ann Greenberger

    How sorry I am for your loss and her family’s. One hopes that she spent much of her life taking pleasure in the beauty of the gardens she shared with others.
    Sincerely, Terry Greenberger

  11. Alessandra Mallozzi

    I’m so sorry hearing about this new. I had the chance to “meet” Lisa only on the web and I will always remember her kindness.
    My most sincere condolences.
    Alessandra Mallozzi -Umbria- Italy

  12. So sorry to hear the news about Lisa. She was so wonderful and such a talented woman. She was always so happy in her life with her husband and children and doing what she always wanted to do in life.
    My sympathies go out to her family.
    Claudia McCadden

  13. Paula Cullison

    Lisa was a loverly flower in the garden of life.
    with sympathy to her family and friends,
    Paula Giangreco Cullison

  14. Thank you for republishing this in tribute to Lisa. I was very sorry to hear that she passed away. She was a good friend and very helpful to me. I enjoyed several garden visits with her in Rome and loved visiting her at her house in Umbria that she and Tom had worked so hard for.


Leave a Reply