I have visited the “Parco Giardino Sigurtà ” in Valeggio sul Mincio in Italy about 2 years ago. I went there with an organized tour. I really couldn’t choose the best time of the day to visit it and I had to take pictures rather fast, but I think I was still able to come back with many beautiful photographs from this quite interesting, romantic historic park. I would like to share with you many of the pictures I have taken and my impressions from the visit to this quite big park, which has actually won a price as the most beautiful park in Italy in 2013 and a second place in “Europe’s Most Beautiful Parks 2015” competition.
The park is situated in the Northern Italy, not too far from the biggest and one of the most popular Italian lakes – Garda, 25 km from Verona and Mantua, 140 km from Milan. It is certainly worth visiting, especially if you are already in Lake Garda area.
Most of the garden was created in a so called romantic, English style, with some buildings especially constructed to add to the landscape. There are many decorative pools, fountains and other landscape enhancing elements, as well as plants from various parts of the world.
Over the centuries the ownership of the garden has been passed between several aristocratic families. In time, in was developed into quite large and beautiful garden. However later, it also went thought a period of great neglect and was only saved from totally disappearing by Dr. Giuseppe Carlo Sigurtà and his family, who purchased the estate, which then almost non-existent, totally ruined garden, in 1941. Now, ths is a relatively new public garden, since it was only opened to visitors around the end of XX century. Here is the story of the park in some more details.
A Brief Outline of the History of the Giardino Sigurtà.
1. The history of this park started in 1407, when Gerolamo Nicolò Contarini bought the area, where the park is now located. Initially the land was used for agricultural purposes only, but then a first small formal garden besides the main house was created. After 29 years, the estate was sold to the Guarienti family who continued to own it for almost 200 years, till 1626.
2. In 1626 the whole property, including the garden, was passed to heirs of the Maffei family, via marriages between the two daughters of Federico Guarienti and Maffei brothers. The estate was then in the possession of the Maffei family for 210 years (from 1626 to 1836).
The Maffei family made many significant changes to the property, including building a new noble house, neo-Gothic temple (now called the Hermitage), “Castelletto” (“The Little Castle”), “the Grotto” (mimicking a natural cave), which was considered a perfect place to seat and relax. In 1699 they have also applied to acquire the water drawing rights from the nearby river – Mincio and they have later received them, which allowed them to add many aquatic features to the park. The biggest work on extending and redesigning the garden, in then very trendy romantic English style, was done thanks to one of its owners – Marquis Antonio Maffei (1759-1836), who perhaps had the greatest influence on the look of the garden today.
4. After the death Marquis Antonio Maffei in 1836 the estate and garden have passed to Nuvoloni family via the marriage of Maffei’s daughter Anna with Count Filippo Nuvoloni. The garden then was in the possession of the Nuvoloni family for 93 years from 1836 to 1929. Unfortunately, while it was under their supervision, the garden slowly declined, which was already very apparent when in 1902 two daughters of Giuseppe Nuvoloni divided the area into two parts.
5. Fallowing this event, the garden and surrounding estate has fallen into ruins and in 1929 it was finally sold to Maria Paulon, the wife of Cesare Sangiovanni, the local doctor.
6. Twelve years later, in the spring of 1941, the estate and what has remained from the garden were sold again, this time to the Sigurtà family – Dr. Giuseppe Carlo Sigurtà, a pharmaceutical industrialist. He wanted to restore the garden to its full splendor during its best time in the nineteen century when the garden belonged to Marquis Antonio Maffei. Dr. Sigurtà has rebuild the important, historical structures from this period – The Hermitage, the Castelletto and the Votive Grotto. He has not only made the garden once more beautiful, but has even enlarged it from 22 hectares to the current 60.
7. Dr. Sigurtà’s grandson, Enzo (a university professor and psychiatrist), shared his grandfather’s passion in restoring and redevelopment the garden and they work together in making it great again. Presently their work is continued by Enzo’s children Magda and Joseph, who are also very dedicated to preserving and developing this beautiful and so vast garden. It is now particularly impressive in April, when millions of tulips are blooming creating one of the biggest tulip show in Europe.
8. The Sigurtà family was recognized and appreciated for their so hard work in restoring and improving the gardens and their great achievements were honored by prestigious awards. A few years ago Sigurtà Garden has received the “Most Beautiful Park in Italy 2013” award and 2 years later a second place in “Europe’s Most Beautiful Parks 2015” competition. From March to November the garden is visited by hundreds of thousands of people from around the world, who come here to enjoy its unique beauty.
My Impressions from this Garden.
It is indeed very beautiful, romantic garden created on a very long stretch of land and located between rolling hills. Because a big part of it is located on the hill, the visitors of the park can admire beautiful views onto the surrounding area. The park is so huge, that is it is hard to see it all if you don’t have much time to visit it, especially if you would like just ta walk. In my case, I was there only around 2 hours and even when I took a train, I was not able to see all interesting features of the park during this short stay. I think to fully appreciate and enjoy the garden, especially if you would also like to take some pictures and just relax there, it is best to allow at least 4 hours and choose the time when the light is less harsh – early morning or later in the afternoon.
Fortunately there is a little panoramic train, which can help you in seeing as much of the park as possible. It is riding along some important features and bringing the guests into the most interesting part of the park, where you can just continue walking. You can also ride a bicycle, the electric shuttle or rent a golf-cart. As I have mentioned in the history part already, there are indeed numerous aquatic features in the garden – several pools with many water lilies, lotuses and other plants. I have noticed many turtles, especially in one of the pools. There are also some fountains and a few reconstructed historic buildings, with add to the beauty and romantic style of the garden.
I noticed many small rose bushes along one of the longest paths from where there was a beautiful view on the park, a valley and surrounding hills. I wish there would be many more flowers, especially roses in the park, but it looks like I was probably not there at the best time to visit it since all tulips for which this park is particularly well known, where already long time gone. At least, beside roses, I was also able to see many hydrangeas, usually light pink.
I am not sure what is taken into consideration when giving “The most beautiful parks” awards, but I think I have seen much more beautiful parks in the past, like for example several royal gardens in various countries. Perhaps there are different categories and requirements to participate in such competition. Nevertheless, the park is indeed very beautiful and worth visiting, especially if you are already in Northern Italy.
To this post, I am attaching many pictures I have taken in this park. You can see bigger size and more photographs in the gallery below. They are all copyrighted by me. If you are interested in using them in any way, please contact me. They are available to be purchased for a variety of publications.
Thank you very much for reading this article and if you like it, please share it with your family and friends.
Have you been to this garden yourself? What are your impressions from this park? I am curious to hear your stories.
The Gallery with More Pictures from Sigurtà Garden.
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