• 2020.10.01
  • Ventimiglia’s Hanbury Gardens: a gem of Liguria
Summer is slowly but surely coming to an end and the fall is approaching…
We are getting a bit worried here in Italy because with the Covid 19 situation we will soon run out of things to do because it will soon get cold and the outdoorsy activities will be just a memory of the warmer months…
But September is still a pretty good month to get around and have some short getaways nearby so I have recently visited the Hanbury Gardens Park in Ventimiglia, one of the many beautiful parks we have here in Liguria.

Hanbury Gardens Park in Ventimiglia and Villa Hanbury

These gardens are located in La Mortola a small village close to Ventimiglia the last town in Liguria before the Italy-France border.
This park is a collection of many outdoor gardens where there are various types of plants and flowers, but this park also offers some greenhouses, research laboratories and a beautiful palace, Villa Hanbury, which takes its name after its founder.
These gardens are a very rich reality, in fact they are within a regional protected area of about twenty hectares which also includes the marine area in front of it (because the villa overlooks the sea) and is managed by the University of Genoa. This is also a site of community importance: it is part of the Liguria Nature network and the gardens are current candidates to get UNESCO recognition as a World Heritage Site.
The park is privately owned still today and therefore one must pay to enter it but it is worth the price ticket and the money you pay goes to the maintenance of the gardens and the costs for the research studies performed in it.
Plants here are grown following their natural life and reproductive cycles, so some species look drier during the summer season while others are in bloom during the hottest months.
August is the month of the bougainville, the hibiscus and the lavender so you can see a riot of colors.

Bougainville in bloom

In the park there are also maritime pines, palm trees, several cacti species, agaves and many more trees and shrubs.
The fruits are left on the plants to ripen because the seeds are collected both from the gardens and from the vegetable gardens within the park and then studied in the lab here or sent to botanical institutes around the world.
Here flowers and plants perfectly decorate arches, stairs, gazebos, fountains and statues.
This wonder was created by Thomas Hanbury in the 19th century. This English philanthropist loved plants and gardening and came on holiday to Liguria once and fell in love with the place.
The Mortola gardens already existed back then and he took over but, rather than changing them, together with his brother and many collaborators, he improved them and made them as magnificent as they look today. The existing paths have been maintained, such as Via Augusta, the ancient Roman road from which the villa was accessible before the construction of the Napoleonic road and this Via Augusta still divides the gardens into an upper and a lower part.
There is also a gorgeous cypress-lined path which ends with a Moorish pavilion and another gazebo where there is a vine pergola adorned with climbing plants.
Furthermore, there is a rock garden with aquatic plants, a pond with koi fish and frogs and even an Australian Forest, with its collection of eucalyptus trees in the eastern part of the property grounds.
Thomas Hanbury's work was continued after his death by his son and his wife who did a great job and turned the gardens into botanical gardens because the plants and the trees were grouped by type.
In those later years olive and cypress trees were added to the original park together with hedges, fountains and a sumptuous staircase. His wife, lady Dorothy, also built the House of the Sun, a very well exposed building with large windows so that she could enjoy the sunshine as much as possible even during the winter.
The Greenhouse of Biodiversity is where plants from the Alps are exhibited, including the Maritime Alps and the Ligurian Alps: here some of the most significant environments have been recreated, those that could adapt to the climate of Ventimiglia.
If you want to take a break, there is a refreshment point, where one can eat sandwiches, wraps and stuffed focaccia.


  • Patrizia Margherita
  • Jobtranslator, interpreter, teacher

Although she was born in Italy, she is half Italian and half American and she has become a "multicultural person" who can speak five languages. She has lived and worked in the US, Brazil, Australia, France and the UK so she considers herself a citizen of the world. When she is not teaching or translating, she likes cooking Italian food, hiking and traveling around the world...She has traveled to 80 countries and counting!

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