Inside the Secret Gardens of Italy’s Most Beautiful Hotels

It’s easy being green at these magical hotel gardens from Florence to the Amalfi Coast.

Villa d’Este

Everything about Villa d’Este—from its exquisite guest rooms and four private villas to its stunning location on the shores of Lake Como—is designed to impress. The main villa, which was built in 1568 as the summer residence of a wealthy cardinal and patron of the arts, features a world-renowned swimming pool that floats on the lake. Even more impressive is the property’s 25-acre garden—a true masterpiece of Italian Renaissance landscaping. Hotel guests enter the gardens—planted with azaleas, camellias, jasmine, oleander, cypress, and dozens of other fragrant botanicals—through a stunning 16th-century gateway known as the Mosaic. The view is especially lovely from the stone pergola that shelters a statue of Hercules and offers a panorama of greenery framed by the deep azure lake.

Belmond Villa San Michele

Set on a hillside high above Florence, the terraced grounds of Belmond Villa San Michele delight guests with the heavenly scented serenity of rose bushes, lemon and orange trees, Chinese hibiscus, and 300-year-old wisteria vines that form a fragrant purple carpet when in bloom. The original gardens date to the 15th century—they were once tended to by the property’s resident Franciscan monks—while the formal Italian garden and terraces were designed in the early Eighties by the celebrated landscape architect Pietro Porcinai. The property features just 49 rooms and suites, many offering garden vistas from patios or terraces, as well as a sublime pool with divine views of the red rooftops of Florence.

Hotel Caesar Augustus

A garden needn’t be formal to be fabulous. For proof, head to the 55-room Hotel Caesar Augustus, perched on a cliffside some 1,000 feet above the Bay of Naples on the Isle of Capri. Here, wild and rustic simplicity—meandering dirt paths, hand-hewn wooden railings and benches, and bird feeders swinging gently in the breeze—meet a hypnotic view of the Amalfi Coast and Mt. Vesuvius. Soothing aromas of rose, lavender, and jasmine fill the air, while palm and olive trees create an unmistakably Mediterranean aura, especially around the infinity-edge pool. Foodies can also venture into the 2-acre organic garden during a cooking class or a Kitchen Garden dinner on the first Thursday of every month at the splendid La Terrazza di Lucullo.

Four Seasons Hotel Firenze

The largest private park in Florence, the Four Seasons Hotel Firenze’s enchanting 11-acre Giardino della Gherardesca is the ultimate Italian Renaissance garden, filled with pools, fountains, statues, and evergreens—including taxus baccata, the longest living plant in Europe. More than 500 years old, the garden is the perfect spot to relax with a good book, sip a pre-dinner cocktail—or even enjoy a private al fresco dinner with views of Florence’s illuminated red cathedral. In the hotel’s 116 rooms and suites, located across the 15th-century Palazzo Della Gherardesca and the 16th-century La Villa (a former convent), the feast for the eyes continues with expertly restored frescoes and other works of art.

Borgo Santo Pietro



The owners of Tuscany’s 200-acre Borgo Santo Pietro planted more than 300,000 flowers, trees, herbs, and vegetables to fulfil their vision of creating a working farm, complete with a biodynamic culinary garden. The sanctuary-like estate—which features a total of 20 rooms, seven of which are housed within a 13th-century villa—focuses on farm-fresh cuisine, showcasing local sheep’s milk and cheeses, ricotta, prosciutto, free-range eggs, and raw honey in the restaurant. Guests can enjoy tours of the farm or explore a 13-acre manicured garden lined with cypress trees and antique roses. Those seeking total botanical bliss can book one of the 11 Garden Suites, each of which has its own private Mediterranean garden courtyard landscaped with lemon and orange trees.  Original post: