One reason that might have helped us get in is that at this time of the year there was not a soul in that garden (except for two gardeners, one trimming a hedge and the other planting annuals in a formal knot garden). What ever the reason, it was very kind of the hotel staff to let us wander wherever we wanted through the place for an hour.
When we got to the main entrance of the hotel at the set time (2:30 pm), one of the three doormen said "You are here to see the garden, no? - You are expected, signori," and he had us take a seat in the foyer. It was so luxurious we hardly dare sit down (below is not the foyer where we waited, but another room of the hotel, which gives an idea of the opulence of the place).
Then Giorgia, the person we had made the arrangements with, greeted us and took us to the garden where she said we could wander (wonder?) as much as we wanted. I asked her if we had to leave through the same door we came in (thinking she would want to know when we left). But no, we could leave through any of the open gates, "our staff has been informed you are here". I then realized that, understandably, for security reasons, our every step must have been monitored on cameras. In fact, why she stepped outside with us for a minute must have been to give the security personnel the opportunity to identify us as the ones allowed in. At the end of the visit, by the service gate from which we left, we had a glimpse of a fellow watching a bank of monitors.
Touring the place, we asked ourselves what was most impressive in that garden. We came to the conclusion it was the maintenance. It is by far the very best maintained garden we have ever seen. Every pot of annuals is fresh, all these gravel alleys are perfectly raked, lawns are magnificent and the shrubs are pruned to perfection.
|This hedge actually hides the swimming pool|
Here is a close-up.
There are some beautiful old trees, including this mature weeping beech as well as a century-old cedar of Lebanon.
Of course there were many terracotta pots, at this time of the year all filled out with cyclamens. You might wonder about my advice in a previous posts that terracotta pots be emptied in winter to make sure they did not break? I think at the Four Seasons they don't do repair jobs as they do at the Giardino dei simplici, they simply replace. I would guess the Four Seasons has a large pot budget.
There was one incongruous thing, a statue of the sacred heart under an arch was surrounded by at least 5 stark naked bronze beauties in lascivious poses. It hints about different periods in the history of the garden.
Something close to a nativity scene, meant I suppose to be non-denominational.
There was at least one temple and several fountains. A whole post could be given over to the very attractive modern sculptures in the garden.
Here is something I believe you can only see in a place like Italy.At one point we noticed stone steps made with recycled stones, nothing special there. What is special if that these stones must have been part of a monument as they still bear the writing that was carved on them in a previous incarnation!
It is a strange feeling when the gates have closed behind you to find yourself back in the street again. The contrast is striking with hundreds of honking cars, scooters and pedestrians, when just on the other side of that wall and gate, you have seen how, as the French poet Baudelaire puts it, "Là tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté, luxe, calme et volupté." (Over there, all is calm, orderly, luxurious, beautiful and voluptuous).