I was wondering how Villa d’Este looked like at the end of May, so a couple days ago, late in the afternoon, I rode my motorino to Tivoli, which is at about an hour from Rome. Unfortunately, the lady at the entrance of the garden told me that the fountains had to be turned off as there was a storm coming. I was wondering how would be Villa d’Este without its fountains, probably the most amazing of Italy. I was also expecting a beautiful after storm’s light which never came but the great thing was to walk in the garden almost empty, except for a woman with a pink umbrella…

 

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I spent a very nice evening talking about gardens, art and politics with the creator of the Bosco della Ragnaia, Sheppard Craige, and his wife, sculptor Frances Lansing. Apart from the Bosco, a huge amazing garden which is his masterpiece, Sheppard is making a small private garden near his home on the top of a Tuscan hill. I like very much how he gave the feeling that the garden is melting with the round shapes of the beautiful landscape around. Frances is also doing two gardens there, much more closed and I would like to photograph the edible garden, surrounded by walls and beautiful metal doors designed by Frances, later in the season when the vegetables will have grown.
If paradise does really exist, it might be in Tuscany…

I am working on a project about Italy’s 20th century most important garden architect, Pietro Porcinai (1910-1986). As part of this project, I went yesterday to take pictures of his studio and archives space which have been preserved by his heirs, on the hills over Florence. Porcinai did not only designed many gardens and public spaces but also made furnitures, and some of them or their models are kept there.

The shape of the building reminds me in a way of the family house of Jean Prouve, the French architect, with a long main room where a rotating panel wall can divide the space (Prouve made a large panel window leading to the garden) and especially the same strong feeling of having the garden entering or being part of the room. Anna, his daughter, told me about the natural air-conditioning Porcinai built using a roof garden and air circulation from under the building. It was decades ago, during a period where not many people were thinking going green.

The view of Florence is reflected in a window of the archives room

What could be more beautiful for a garden photographer than exhibiting prints in the garden where the pictures were taken?

I was really pleased to show 21 images of Villa Stohl-Fern during the “Nuit des metamorphoses” event , where many other artists took part. The organizers were planning to get more than two thousand visitors and it seems they reached or beat their expectation. I got the chance to talk with many of those who came to look at my prints and the compliment which pleased me the most came from Gianni, the doorman of Villa Strohl-Fern, who is a very cultivated man who have been working there for more than 20 years. Gianni knows a lot about the garden and I think he is one of the very few people I met during my work on Villa Strohl-Fern who really understand the garden and feel it. Every time I was going for a photo shoot, he was telling me about the history of the garden, if I had seen that special light which comes during a few minutes on some trees, about a piece that an artist who was living there had done…

I made a slideshow on my website with the 21 pictures that were exhibited yesterday.

Before the opening of the exhibition, with Rome and St Peter’s basilica in the background:

Later in the evening, during the show, and after it was closed with the moon over the exhibition.