When we first visited Italy in 2014, I spent a blissful morning exploring the former estate of Napoleon’s sister, while Michael was busy building his guitar. A year later, Villa Reale di Marlia was sold and has undergone extensive restoration work. I returned with Michael this year to see the transformation. Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi purchased the 16th century villa, along with some neighbouring properties, in 1806. The reflection of the villa can be seen clearly in the pristine waters of the lake.
I thought the villa was beautiful when I first saw her but she has been rejuvenated to perfection.
The 18th century Chapel of St. Francis Xavier, protector of missionaries and tourists, has received some special treatment, too.
The statues and stonework in the Italian Garden are looking decidedly brighter
and the water now spouts from the mouths of the masks (although they don’t look too happy about it).
The mosaic work in Pan’s Grotto is much brighter than I remember but the gargoyles are just as disturbing.
The water in the Spanish garden is certainly cleaner, the fountains helping with the circulation in the main pool.
The blooms are as lovely as last time.
The scattered statues are enjoying their revival
and the rear gates have clearly been attended to.
Arno and Serchio look like new men as they relax at the end of the 17th century fish pond in the Lemon Garden.
The statues and fountain in the atrium of the Green Theatre sparkle in the sunlight
while Columbine, Pantaloon and Punchinello patiently await their audience.
The most spectacular reformation is that of the Clock House.
The stables, kitchens and servants’ quarters around the back have been given a stunning facelift.
Once again, the statues and fountains of the Water Theatre have been refreshed
and the grotto fountain springs new life.
I recall Villa del Vescovo was a magnificent building with intriguing courtyards and fabulous views across the park.
It is currently under renovation, no doubt the same attention to detail will continue.
I guess we will have to return when it is finished. To learn more of the park and the restorations, visit the website https://www.parcovillareale.it/