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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Settimana del Tulipano at Villa Taranto

There are 40,000 tulips blooming this week at Villa Taranto. 65 varieties. Today is the first day of the annual Settimana del Tulipano,” “Week of the Tulips”, festival. Since 1957, the gardens have started off each new season with this explosion of tulips. It’s a beautiful way to draw visitors back to one of the most spectacular gardens in the Stresa area.

While you’re admiring the thousands of tulips that cover the 16 hectares of gardens here, ponder these tulip facts. Keep in mind that tulip bulbs are not easy to cultivate on a year-after-year basis, especially in climates such as this. The bulbs need to be planted deep here, at least 12 inches, to protect them from summer heat. This forces them to regenerate one large bulb each year, rather than several small, nonblooming ones. But eventually, soon actually, the bulb size degrades and no new flower develops. In other words, while you are admiring these tulips, be aware that these 40,000 bulbs are planted new each summer, to be enjoyed only for this week the next spring. They are ephemeral, and therefore should be appreciated all the more…

This year some of the more special varieties on display are the very rare 'Queen of Night' black tulip, the 'Big Chief', whose blossom is an enormous 10 centimeters in diameter, and the 'Fancy Frills' tulip, whose petals edges are not smooth, but ruffled like those of an orchid.

I was at Villa Taranto last October, during the last week of last season. As each season begins with a tulip festival, each season ends with a dahlia festival. I had posted a few photos from my day (see them here). That's what's so wonderful about a garden like this; no matter how often you go, it's never the same place twice...

Here's the Villa Taranto English homepage. The gardens are open from April 1 through October 31, from 8.30 to 19.30 each day. The best way to get there from Stresa is by boat; the imbarcadero in Pallanza is directly across from the entrance to the gardens. Taking the bus is also possible, but this does require a few minute walk from the bus stop. By car, Pallanza is about 15 minutes from Stresa, but parking may be difficult to find.


One other interesting note... The property of Villa Taranto adjoins both Villa San Remigio and the Chiesa di San Remigio. However, due to the topography of the land, the entrances are not an easy walking distance from each other. And anyway, two such gorgeous gardens in one day might be just too much to bear...
All photos courtesy of Villa Taranto Web site.

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