Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 21, 2014

Faded glory at Villa Bottini

Lucca is full of wonderful old buildings. I have passed Villa Bottini in Via Elisa many times, but on a recent rainy day I wandered through the old door to the gardens. The Villa was built by Paul Buonvisi in the second half of the 16th century, so it can be excused for looking little old.

The entrance is quite imposing.


The roses in the garden were recovering from a heavy shower.

The house is a box shape with a loggia on top.


The gardens have some wonderful old trees and empty fountains.

After the rain there was more water outside the fountain than in it.



There are a couple of lovely old doors in the wall around the garden.

Best of all,  the crumbling archway leading to an even more crumbling fountain.


The poor old fountain on the back wall has seen much better days.



The area must have been very beautiful in its day, and a delightful, cool retreat on a hot summer day.


Technically Villa Bottini should be a Palazzo, since it is inside the walls of Lucca. (A villa is a country mansion and a palazzo is an urban mansion). However, when it was built it was outside the wall…this wall.



The town expanded and the current outer wall is now on the other side of Villa Bottini and it is within the town boundary.

At the beginning of the 20th century the villa was owned by the Marquis of Bottini. It passed through a couple of other families until it was bought by the Region of Tuscany and was given to the town of Lucca.

The house is open to the public, but the day I was there a private function was about to begin and my visit wasn’t encouraged. I will have to return.


  1. Wow Deb who would have thought – on my list for next visit

    • I have walked past many times, but it was only when I walked down a side street that I saw the arch at the back of the garden that I was drawn in.

  2. Faded glory but good to know it’s back in use. Beautiful buildings of this era always make me a little melancholy somehow but the garden looks well-loved and I love the door at no. 15!

    • I would love to see the back of the garden restored a bit…not too much.

  3. Gosh we didn’t see this when we where in Lucca. It’s beautiful, stunning, love it. I’m so sorry that we missed it

    • There is much to discover in Lucca.

  4. I love these old places. I think it’s one of the ubiquitous qualities of Italy that makes me feel “at home” here in a way I never did in the US. I need to have oldness around me to feel perfectly grounded.

    • I love these old things too. I find it amazing that they still stand.

  5. the Villa has some interesting exhibitions throughout the year when its magnificent interior can also be admired.See, for example,

    • Thanks for the tip.

  6. Debra…wow, certainly missed seeing Villa (Palazzo) Bottini last year……on the must do list for next years visit. Your discoveries make researching so much easier. I keep giving out the name of your blog to friends coming to Italy…keep finding magical places…..ciao

    • This one is easy to find, but be sure to go behind the house to see the best bit of the garden.

  7. I love all of the old faces carved into the stone. I try to imagine the person who etched them by hand (I assume).

    Did you learn about Paul Buonvisi during your visit? I wonder what he did for a living to be able to afford such a stately villa.

    • I didn’t find out much at all as the house was not open, but I will try again another day to learn more.

  8. I think I saw this place (might have been another) from the walls a few years back, but couldn’t find a way in from the town itself…very disappointing.

    • It is in Via Elisa, one of the main entrances to Lucca from the Porta Elisa.

  9. Faded yes, but definitely glorious. I learned something new from this post as I didn’t know, until now, the difference between a Villa and a Palazzo

    • Wouldn’t it be great to see the old fountains running again?

  10. Lovely old buildings and gardens, obviously someone is still taking quite good care of them! The roses are stunning!

    • The roses are almost finished for the year. Autumn seems to be coming early this year. We have had some cold mornings and evenings.

  11. Stunning glory to a time past.

    • It must have been magnificent in its day.

  12. Debra,

    I love Google Earth for research into things like this! I went to the city and, based on your description of the house, found it. When I dropped into “street view”, there was the gate and the sign next to it confirming the correct location. Lovely place! I still want to come to Italy and meet you, even though Martha won’t be with me. Maybe we can make a day of it touring Lucca and all costs will be on me for the pleasure of your company and your guidance! Have you considered writing a book – “Hidden Lucca” – like the “Hidden Venice” book you’ve enjoyed so much?

    • I would love to show you lovely Lucca. It really is one of my favourite places in Italy. It would be fun to do a Secret Lucca and Bagni di Lucca, we have so many treasures around here.

  13. It is so nice and cool there under the trees. I’ve paused there to sit on one of the benches, and just enjoy the solitude. One year, it was one of the locations for the Lucca Digital Photography exhibit in November. Not sure they still have those, due to funding.

    • It is a beautiful garden, I often walk through.

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