Fantastic flowers and where to find them in Italy. Here is where to admire the best blooms and blossoms across the boot.
Spring is a magical season when flowers make the Italian landscape even more spectacular. Cities get dressed in thousands of colours and fragrances.
Our selection is an ideal journey from north to south, marked by the scents of lavender, orange blossom, camellia and flowers you would not expect to find at these latitudes. Find out which ones.
Rhododendrons in a magical oasis in Piedmont
In the 1920s, Ermenegildo Zegna, the enlightened entrepreneur and owner of a renowned textile company, began developing and enhancing the Biella area in Piedmont. He planted more than 500,000 plants, including conifers, azaleas, hydrangeas, dahlias and many rhododendrons in the heart of the natural park.
Between May and June, the flowering of Oasi Zegna is an incomparable panorama. The Conca dei Rododendri (Rhododendron Bowl), designed by architects Pietro Porcinai and Paolo Pejrone, is a spectacle within a spectacle, with plants arranged to form a harmonious multicoloured design, a romantic explosion of pinks, reds, yellows, violets and oranges.
Broom on the island of Elba
Giacomo Leopardi celebrated brooms in one of his most famous poems. This robust, bushy plant gives a specific feature to the western part of the island of Elba, which owes the nickname "yellow coast" to the colour of the flower.
When brooms are in bloom in May, it is time for excursions into the Mediterranean maquis on the Tuscan island. Treks at this time of year are swaddled in the scent of thousands of flowering plants.
Among the most evocative paths to walk, consider the 103 from Marciana Marina to Chiessi; the Via dei Lentischi, also known as the Sentiero dei profumi; and the panoramic route on Monte Calamita starting from Capoliveri.
On the hunt for the dandelion in Val di Non
Dandelion is a symbol of the Val di Non. During the flowering period, between April and May, a festival celebrates its countless detoxifying, diuretic, digestive and even culinary properties.
A medicinal plant used since ancient times as a natural remedy for the most common ailments, it is also a tasty ingredient in many recipes, like risottos, soups, pies and salads. During the celebration of Le Settimane del Dente di Leone, you will learn all about this rustic and stubborn flower through street festivals, guided hikes and gastronomic tastings.
Tuscany in yellow: here's where to see the most beautiful sunflower fields
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the iconic landscape of the Val d'Orcia becomes even more magical between June and August when sunflowers are in full bloom. The hills of Valdichiana and the Creste Senesi also turn into magnificent yellow paintings at this time of year.
In San Gimignano, sunflowers form the backdrop of the medieval town skyline; in Montalcino, flowers and vineyards alternate in an irresistible bucolic setting; in Mugello, they peep out among villas and farms.
Driving through the Tuscan countryside in summer is a real treat for the eyes, so all you have to do is move around looking for sunflower fields. By the way, have you ever heard the legend?
According to the myth, Clytia, a beautiful nymph in love with Apollo, god of the Sun, remained motionless for days in a field, staring at her beloved until she turned into a flower. A ritual that is solemnly repeated every year during the flowering season, offering a spectacle of poignant beauty.
A village of camellias in Tuscany
Tuscany is the kingdom of camellias. The plant of Asian origin has been cultivated here since the 18th century, finding a suitable climate for blooming in all its luxuriant and dazzling beauty.
There is even a camellia village, Il Borgo delle Camelie, formed by the small towns of Pieve and Sant'Andrea di Compito, in the municipality of Capannori. Gardens and noble villas such as Villa Giovannetti, Villa Borrini, Villa Torregrossa and Villa Orsi are beautifully adorned with centuries-old camellia trees.
There is also a 10,000 square metre garden, the Camellietum Compitese, where camellia is the absolute protagonist, with more than 500 species from all over the world. This unique space includes a small tea plantation, one of the few in Italy and the only one in Tuscany.
Tulips in bloom in Piedmont
Corners of Holland in Italy. Fill your eyes with the vibrant shades of tulips among the 100,000 that colour Pralormo Castle, a 19th-century residence 30 kilometres from Turin. Xavier Kurten, the Savoy court architect, designed the impressive garden.
In the province of Asti there is the Castello di Piea, an ancient manor haunted by ghosts that thousands of colourful flowers make far less threatening. From here, it is about a 40-minute drive to the Catello Reale di Govone, a UNESCO Savoy residence covered with wild tulips at the end of March and for about ten days.
On Lake Maggiore, Villa Taranto in Verbania boasts a glorious garden of 160,000 square metres, one of the most beautiful and richest in the world, with an extraordinary variety of botanical species. The Labyrinth of Tulips is a unique attraction, with 30,000 bulbs along a 400-metre pathway.
Lotus flowers where you don't expect them to bloom
The city of the Gonzaga family and Rigoletto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasts a certain oriental charm. Mantua is, in fact, home to one of the world's largest stretches of lotus flowers. The blooming spectacle colours the Lago Superiore in summer, between July and August.
According to a romantic story wrapped in legend, a young man threw lotus flower seeds into the lake in memory of his unfortunate Asian beloved drowned in its waters. Actually, the spread of the aquatic plant started in the 1920s, when naturalist Anna Maria Pellegreffi introduced the species for food purposes.
Today, the Valli del Mincio nature reserve is where to admire this unusual and evocative event. Consider also a boat tour to take in the spectacle of Mantua reflected in the waters of its river dotted with lotus flowers.
A panoramic rose garden in the heart of Rome
Have you ever seen roses with green petals? Did you know that there is a variety that doesn't smell like roses? And others that change colour as days go by? You can admire Rosa Chinensis Virdiflora, Rosa Foetida, Chinensis Mutabilis, and many other specimens (over a thousand) at the Municipal Rose Garden in Rome. This panoramic terrace on the Aventine Hill has been enchanting visitors since 1950.
The present rose garden stands on a site known since the 17th century as the Orto degli Ebrei (Jewish Garden), an area planted with olive trees and vegetable gardens. The park pays homage to the Jewish community in the design of the internal paths, arranged to form a menorah, the symbol of Judaism.
The orchids in Sardinia's largest urban park
According to the Greek myth, orchids sprouted from the remains of Orchis, the handsome son of a satyr that the gods punished for seducing a priestess of Dionysus.
The Aymerich Park of Laconi in Sardinia is the ideal place to admire the beauty of the unfortunate Orchis: the 22 hectares of the reserve near Oristano are home to many orchids, including numerous native varieties.
A true Eldorado for botanists since the garden contains a decidedly large number of rare or simply uncommon plants for the island. The nature reserve was created in the 19th century thanks to the passion of Don Ignazio Aymerich Ripoll.
Aymerich Park is an extraordinary place to walk among plants with leaves that look like fighter planes, majestic cedars, holm oaks, wild olive trees, trees of death, a medieval castle, caves and waterfalls.
Pergolas, gardens and city views framed by romantic wisteria
It seems that Marco Polo brought wisteria seeds to Europe from China. The Hanbury family, owners of the Villa della Pergola in Alassio, loved this climbing plant so much that they celebrated its flowering with a party involving British writers, journalists and celebrities.
Between May and June, thirty-four varieties of wisteria show off their beauty in the 19th-century garden of the Ligurian villa, but it is a plant that lends elegance to the spring of many Italian cities.
Wisteria peeps out of canals and gardens in Venice and looks out from balconies in Milan. It colours the roofs of trulli in Alberobello and frames the view of the historic centre in Florence. Take note: you will get to admire one of the most scenic spots in Florence by walking under a seductive pergola covered with fragrant purple bunches of wisteria in Villa Bardini.
Blooming lentils in Castelluccio di Norcia, Umbria
The flowering of Castelluccio occurs every year between May and July. However, it is difficult to make an exact prediction as snow melting influences the sowing period. Not only lentils but a multicoloured kaleidoscope of plants and wildflowers burst into bloom during "la fioritura".
The spontaneous flowering is probably lesser famous but is absolutely magnetic. It paints the path to the Mergani area with heady scents and colours.
The lentil fields create a hilly landscape worthy of a Monet painting. Who knows, among poppies, camomile, gentianella, buttercups and violets, you might even see some roe deer.
A taste of Provence in Italy: where to find the most beautiful lavender fields
The endless purple stretches of lavender in Provence are a must-see. However, in Italy, you'll find beautiful landscapes where you'll hardly resist taking loads of photos. Lavender fields criss-cross Italy from north to south in a fragrant mosaic to pin on your map. Here's where to go to see lavender in full bloom.
Sale San Giovanni in Piedmont is called the Provence of Italy. It's in the province of Cuneo, and you can reach the town in just over an hour's drive from Turin. Find other fairytale landscapes in the nearby village of Demonte. State Road 21 between Borgo San Dalmazzo and Colle della Maddalena is the best place to enjoy the view of the flowering countryside.
Summer in Liguria is also tinged with purple. The lavender harvest is celebrated at Col di Nava and Taggia in July. In Tuscany, lavender fields unfold in Maremma, Colli Senesi, and the Chianti valley. Those in Civitella Marittima are a precious sight.
In Lazio, the city of lavender is Tuscania, while in Calabria you can find many varieties in Morano Calabro, in the Pollino National Park.
Almond blossom in Sicily
Almond trees in blossom herald spring and make Sicily a romantic destination at this particular time of year.
The Phoenicians were probably the first to introduce the plant in Sicily, a region whose mild climate is perfect for cultivation. Needless to say, almonds are an essential ingredient in many traditional local dishes, especially desserts.
Almond trees are widespread in Sicily. Particularly charming are those in the Val di Noto. The hills between Ragusa and Siracusa are a production area for excellent varieties such as Pizzuta, Romana and Fascionello.
In early March, flowering in Agrigento's Valle dei Templi frames the ruins of the archaeological park, an exceptional backdrop for the annual Almond Blossom Festival, a week of exciting events with dances, shows and delicacies.