In 1904, Edith Wharton published “Italian Villas and Their Gardens“, on assignment from Century magazine.
During her four month visit, she documented her observations of Italy’s most beautiful gardens. Her book is considered one of the earliest and most important works on this subject. The original edition included illustrations by Maxfield Parrish.
In 1998, Vivian Russell paid homage to Edith’s pioneering work by publishing the lavishly photographed “Edith Wharton’s Italian Gardens“. We were pleasantly surprised to see that the lush lemon garden at the entrance to Villa Cetinale is featured on the cover.
Villa Cetinale was built in 1680 under the auspices of Cardinal Flavio Chigi for his uncle, Fabio Chigi, who became Pope Alexander VII. The gardens were a favorite of Edith Wharton’s and she considered them one of the most beautiful in Italy. She particularly loved the long green park, which extends peacefully from the back of the villa to the Cardinal’s spiritual retreat at the peak of the hill beyond.
The grounds are rich with distinctive statuary by Guiseppe Mazuoli, who was a close associate of Bernini.
Its recent owner has been an English earl, whose family has devoted its energy and resources to continuing its delicate preservation. Photos of Villa Cetinale are featured in Vanity Fair’s story “The Decadent Italian Interiors of Villa Cetinale in Tuscany“.
There is much to say about Villa Cetinale, and much yet to learn. Contact us about experiencing it for yourself.