The Hillside Villas of Lucca

March 28, 2014 / Places
Capannori, Tuscany

We were on retreat in Lucca. A friend suggested we travel to the hillsides surrounding Lucca to see a couple villas, built in the late 1500’s. Our driver took us to two of the more popular–Villas Torrigiani and Reale.

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A mile of cypress trees escort you to Villa Torrigiani in Camigliano S. Gemma, a Baroque paradise for nobility. Pulling up to these architectural masterpieces will take your breath away. Seventeenth century frescoes greet you at the patio.

Villa Torrigiani
Frescoes at Villa Torrigiani

The ground floor is open for guided tours during the warmer parts of the year. Once inside, you are transported back to the Renaissance, as you admire elaborate needlepoint tapestries and frescoes.

Then meander through the gardens, graced by centuries old statues. Look also for the sunken Garden of Flora, into a magical area  dedicated to nymphs, female nature deities.

Image 5 Torrigiani nymph

Villa Reale has a stunning garden, built in the 1500’s. Napoleon’s sister, Elisa Baciocci, the Princess of Lucca, lived here. It was a favorite gathering place for artists, patrons and philosophers. You can just imagine enjoying this outdoor theater with the serene pool as a backdrop, surrounded by camellia bushes. Be sure to step through the ‘doorways’ of the hedges and beyond.

Walk through the opening in the bush-wall
Villa Reale water garden

I had been to Lucca many times before, but seeing the villas and their gardens reminded me why I love this gem of Tuscany.

by Lenora Spatafore Boyle

Lenora guides women into the sweet life each year through her popular Italy Retreat for Women to Live La Dolce Vita. A Sweet Life coach for 23 years, Lenora sets an irresistible stage for colorful travel adventures and transformational workshops. She is a happiness and belief expert who guides women into la dolce vita in Tuscany and the Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera.

21 Responses to “The Hillside Villas of Lucca”

  1. Mary Bachini

    My family home is near Lucca and we have been visiting and staying there for the past 30 years. I somehow have managed to drive by the signs to these villas hundreds of times without ever taking the time to visit. Shame on me (but a mistake that will be corrected in about a month from now ;-)

    • Ahh yes, when I walked into Villa Torrigiani, I imagined the parties and the men and women elegantly dressed and refined. And then walking into the gardens was the feeling is vibrantly alive of days enjoyed in nature.

  2. Instantly I was transported back to a time when these villas were new. If they are breathtaking now… I can only try to imagine how pronounced they would have been back then when life was so much simpler. We can drive up a miles worth of cypress trees, they walked or were upon horses. Thank you for your pictures and article this morning. I feel like I just had breakfast.

    • Tom,
      Part of Italy’s charm is the preservation of the past so we can all imagine and almost ‘see’ how life unfolded then. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Linda Boccia

    I lived just outside of Lucca about 6 chilometers in a small village called Pieve San Paolo. My husband and I often passed these villas and there were more inside the gates of the fortress city that Napoleon gave to his sister Elisa in the 19th Century. It is well worth not just seeing the old Roman amphitheater, but talking the time to visit the exquisitely decorated buildings. Have a coffee in Piazza San Michele diagonally across from the entrance of the church of same and say greetings from their San Francisco friends to the family. Lucca is a charming city.

    • Linda,
      Charming is the exact word for much of Italy, but especially in and around Lucca. I’ll say hello at the coffee shop diagonally from the San Michele Church.

  4. I too love this area,When we visited Villa Reale, my husband kidded me that Napolean stole my house as my grandmother’s name was the same as the owners prior to Napolean’s invasion.

  5. Beautiful photos and great description. I’m putting those on my list of things to see next time I am in the area. Just love those old villa gardens.

    • @ItalyLovers,
      I know. I could have stayed in those gardens for months, roaming, writing in my journal and dreaming the days away!


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