Royal Villa of Marlia

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

Located some 5 miles from Lucca, the Royal Villa of Marlia is an enchanted place, which has been the residence of noble families and great patrons of art over the centuries.
It was born as a fortress of the Duke of Tuscia, in the early Middle Ages; then it passed first to the Avvocati family and then to the noble Buonvisi, merchants and bankers, who transformed it into a stately palace. When the Buonvisi family went bankrupt, the villa became a property of Olivieri and Lelio Orsetti in 1651: the new owners made several changes and rearranged the Park according to the Baroque style, creating courtyards, streets and scenic gardens – including “Teatro di Verzura” (“Green Theatre”) and “Giardino dei Limoni” (“Lemon Garden”). They also built the elegant “Palazzina dell’Orologio” (the “Building of the clock”) to house the farm and the stables.

At the beginning of the XIX century, Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister, Princess Elisa Baciocchi, expanded this grandiose complex. She modernized the ancient Palazzo Orsetti and the front loggias to serve as the main entrance according to the taste of her time; she left the splendid XVIII century gardens intact, with “Teatro di Verzura” carved into the vegetation, and preserved “Viale delle Camelie” (“Camellia Avenue”) – full of valuable varieties dating back to the XIX century.

After the fall of Napoleon, the Dukes of Parma and later the Grand Dukes of Tuscany took possession of the villa which, with the following unification of Italy, passed to King Vittorio Emanuele. The latter gave it to Prince Charles, the brother of the last king of the Two Sicilies. Disinherited, following his marriage to Penelope Smyth, Charles and his wife spent the rest of their lives in the villa. To honour their son’s debts, the villa was put up for sale, the furniture auctioned, and many trees in the park were cut for timber.

The Count and Countess Pecci-Blunt bought the villa just in time to stop the destruction of the park. They commissioned a famous French architect, Jacques Greber, to restore the garden and they created woods, streams and a lake – all those elements were intended as a grand, romantic complement to the series of classic Italian gardens of the time of the Orsetti.
The Pecci-Blunt family also resumed the tradition of generous hospitality in the villa: among others, they welcomed the famous violinist Arturo Paganini, some members of the European royal families, and the American painter John Singer Sargent, who portrayed the villa in several of his evocative paintings.

The current owners, a young family passionate about the park and the villa, are now dedicating themselves to bringing them back to their past splendour. In the meantime, they have made the park a pet-friendly and family-friendly facility: there are already many people who spend some leisure time there with their children and their dogs; it is also possible to bring a packed lunch and enjoy it in the historic gardens, surrounded by such a suggestive atmosphere.

The Villa is currently undergoing restoration and cannot be visited. The park, on the other hand, is open.

The Exhibition of Camellias

In March, the park of Villa Reale di Marlia is part of “Antiche Camelie della Lucchesia exhibition”, competing with its avenues which feature more than 30 ancient varieties of camellias – those flowers were originally brought here in the early 1800s by Elisa Baciocchi, the sister of Napoleon Bonaparte and Princess of Lucca.

Since March 2020, the interiors of the Villa have also been opened to the public, renovated according to the very Empire style favoured by Elisa Bonaparte, the sister of Napoleon and the Princess of Lucca, when she happened to be the owner of this residence.

A café has also been opened inside the park, offering refreshments every day, from 10.30 to 17.30.

The park will be open to the public until November 1st. From November 2nd, 2020, to February 28th, 2021, it will be closed to the public to continue the restoration works. It will reopen again on March 1st, 2021.

In March, the park of Villa Reale di Marlia is part of “Antiche Camelie della Lucchesia” exhibition, with its wondrous avenues of camellias (“Viali delle Camelie”), boasting more than 30 ancient varieties inserted in the gardens by Elisa Baciocchi (the sister of Napoleon) in the early 1800s.

Opening times:

Until 01/11/2020 – the garden will be open 24/7, from 10:00 to 18:00.
From 02/11/2020 to 28/02/2021: the garden will be closed for restoration works.
It will reopen on 01/03/2021.

Dogs on a leash can enter the Park.

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)


Via Fraga Alta 2 Marlia - 55014 Capannori(LU)

0583 30108

Altre info

8,00 euro a persona; 7,00 euro per ragazzi da 14 a 17 anni e per gruppi minimo 10 persone; 6 euro per tesserati FAI e TOURING CLUB ITALIANO (sconto del 25% sul prezzo del biglietto intero). Gratuito per ragazzi fino ai 14 anni (escluso gruppi), disabili, accompagnatori/guide/autisti per disabili . I cani condotti al guinzaglio possono accedere al Parco.

tutto l'anno, ma attualmente la Villa è in fase di restauro ed è visitabile solo il Parco. Nei giorni e negli orari di chiusura la visita è possibile su prenotazione. I cani condotti al guinzaglio possono accedere al Parco.

1 marzo – 31 ottobre : tutti i giorni dalle 10:00 alle 18:00; 1 novembre – 28 febbraio: tutte le domeniche e i giorni festivi dalle 10:00 alle 16:00. Ultimo ingresso 30 minuti prima dell’orario di chiusura.

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