Posted by: debrakolkka | May 7, 2010

Villa Reale – Lucca

the lake and garden at Villa Reale

In 1805 Napoleon’s sister, Elisa Baciocchi,  bought and combined several properties, including Villa Orsetti to create Villa Reale.  She remodelled the Orsetti palace in the Empire style and preserved  the 17th century garden.  The open air theatre, pescheria, camellia walk and grotto survive today.

After the fall of  Napoleon, Villa Reale was owned by Dukes of Parma, Dukes of Tuscany, King Victor Emmanuel II then Prince Charles of Capua and his wife, Lady Penelope Smyth of Ballyntray.   The Prince was disinherited by his family and the couple spent the rest of their lives at Villa Reale and are buried in the chapel on the grounds.  Their son, known as the “mad prince,” inherited the property.  It was sold after his death and the contents were auctioned to recover debts.  Even the trees in the garden were cut down for timber.

Count and Countess Pecci-Blunt, parents of the present owners, bought the property in 1924, in time to stop the total destruction of the park.

The house is not open for visitors, but the gardens are quite wonderful.  I especially loved the grotto for its amateurish style and the lovely garden theatre with characters standing in the thicket.  Behind the garden are hidden areas with seats for secret rendezvous.  You could easily spend hours in the garden and let your imagination run wild about things that have happened here in the past.

the pool and fountain

part of the garden

the grotto

inside the grotto

There is an opening in the roof of the grotto and the sun was shining briefly on this mythical creature when I walked in.  A few seconds later it was in darkness.

another creature in the grotto

Statue of Colombino in the garden theatre

Isn't she lovely

right down to her shoes

the seat hidden in the trees

a happy face in the wall

on another wall

a lovely fountain


  1. Love a grotto and a secret chair…..

  2. The Italians love to add a grotto to their garden, have seen them in all grand estates. Like the photo of the shoe of Colombina, Harlequin’s mistress!!

  3. I think she is just lovely. I have been a couple of times to Villa Reale and I look for her.

  4. Pity Pecci Blunt have now sold the villa to a russian magnate. Hope the public will still be able to visit it.

    • Oh dear! This doesn’t sound good.

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