After a morning strolling around the grounds of Villa Grabeau, followed by another delicious Tuscan lunch, we found our way to Villa Reale.
In 1806, the sister of Napoleon, Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi, purchased the 16th century villa for her country residence.
She also acquired other neighbouring properties, including Villa del Vescovo.
The sweeping lawns and lake were breathtaking.
As we walked around the villa
we discovered the Italian Renaissance garden
and the abandoned inner courtyard.
There were some surprising smaller buildings like the summer house
The nymphaeum (sacred place of the nymphs), is dedicated to the god Pan.
Built around 1580, the circular grotto has a domed roof with a single opening at the top.
Nestling within niches in the interior limestone wall are the statue of Pan
along with disturbing sea figures and gargoyles.
The art deco influenced Spanish Garden was created in 1924 when the park underwent restoration.
The Palazzina dell’Orologio waited majestically at the end of the avenue
as we made our way to the 17th century Lemon Garden where more than two hundred citrus trees surround four magnificent magnolias
At one end, the fountain of the Three Graces is set in a semicircle of rustic mosaics.
At the opposite end is a large fishpond bordered by a marble balustrade.
Two statues of giants, representing the Arno and Serchio rivers, spill urns into the pond
while Leda and the Swan keep watch from their niche.
We continued on to the atrium of the Green Theatre with it’s beautiful fountain
A natural theatre formed by yew hedges, the Teatro di Verzura was created in 1652. The semi-circular stage has a series of wings 5.5m high and the spherical bushes at the front imitate footlights.
Surrounding the grass stage are terracotta statues of Columbine, Pantaloon and Punchinello.
After a closer look at the 17th century Clock Palace,
we descended the steps
to the spectacular Teatro d’Acqua. Water pours from the mouths of five masks around the semi-circular pool,
the Grotto fountain is a marvellous centrepiece.
Statues of Jupiter, Saturn, Adonis and Pomona
overlook the pool and immaculate gardens beyond.
In 2015 the Villa Reale Di Marlia was sold to a couple from Switzerland. The 18,000sq m building on 19ha of land is going to be turned in a luxury hotel.