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Villa Massei

Listed under Gardens in Tuscany, Italy.

  • Photo of Villa Massei
  • Photo of Villa Massei
  • Photo of Villa Massei
  • Photo of Villa Massei
  • Photo of Villa Massei
  • Photo of Villa Massei
  • Photo of Villa Massei
  • Photo of Villa Massei
Photo of Villa Massei
Photo by Donna Dawson
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Villa Massei – the garden of Paul Gervais de Bedee and Gil Cohen. Paul is a thirteenth generation New Englander, descended from the family of Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand. Gil is the rose lover and philanthropist. Gil was there to greet us and we all agreed that he was a true ambassador of his new homeland. This garden is totally private and only open when they so choose. We felt very privileged to be taken around by him, a man who said ‘ that he had a finger in every part of this estate in its planting’ . This was an exquisite ending to our tour, sun shining, a borrowed landscape to complete the garden and with a man who was passionate about his piece of earth. They have orchards, vegetable garden and formal gardens. What I found interesting were the rounded bricks that they had used in the columns….very unusual.

Paul’s Blog on the garden

a gorgeous article on the garden

The edifice, dating back to the 17th century, was built in the southern hills of Lucca in a zone, agriculturally rich for its production of olives, vines and mulberries for silk worms.

For a long time, the villa was the country residence of the Senibaldi family, and after many changes of hands, was bought in 1981 by Gil Cohen and Paul Gervais, the present owners. The latest owners are responsible for the restoration of the portico on the façade facing uphill, which had been previously walled up in order to increase space inside the villa, and for the precise architectural and botanic composition of the garden. The portico has five arches on the façade facing uphill, forming an area linking the building to the garden. This is a very important and frequent characteristic of the Lucchese villas. The garden is very interesting for its variety. There is also a little nymphaeum in the garden. An Italian style garden, comprising 16 flower beds with low geometric hedge borders has been planted recently.

It is sad that the villa is now up for sale….we count ourselves lucky those who have seen it.

Written by  Donna Dawson.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

I saw a large poster of Massei unknown to me while in the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Coincidentally we find ourselves coming to Tuscany and when I looked it up it didn't sound as if visitors were welcome unless in a large group. Just thought you would like to know that from a very lovely poster I was inspired to visit. Sorry to read that you are selling. Sounds like it was quite an effort. Hope it was as rewarding as it looks.

Viviane Gentile

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