A green fortress that dominates Bordighera and inspired Claude Monet

Bordighera is dominated by the elegant white outline of Villa Garnier, private residence of the famous French architect Charles Garnier (1825-1898), who designed the Opéra in Paris, the Casino in Monte Carlo, and the observatory in Nice.

Bearing witness to the hospitality offered there and the cosmopolitanism of the visitors, in the manuscripts of his son Christian there remains an interesting document where the following sentence appears: “To visit the garden of Villa Garnier ring at the second door” translated into thirty-nine different languages, including Javanese, Siamese, Sanskrit, Malayan, Armenian, Hebrew and Chinese.

Among the trees that adorned the park there were olive trees and date-bearing palm trees that gave an oriental character to the area, while the prickly pears, the fig trees, the lemon trees, the medlar trees and the succulent plants helped to accentuate its Mediterranean character.

Edmondo De Amicis defined this garden “The palace of palm trees”, while Claude Monet, who stayed in Bordighera in 1884, sought inspiration among palm trees and citrus fruit trees confessing “I would like to do some orange and lemon trees that stand out against the blue sea.” In the part of the park that today can be visited the original appearance of much of the greenery has been faithfully recreated. Currently there are ten different types of palm trees, and numerous centuries-old trees like an exemplar of Nolina Longofolia. In the garden the visitor will be amazed to find a column of the Tuilleries Palace in Paris, probably brought as a gift by friends to Garnier, a great estimator of this construction and unwillingly given the task of demolishing it.

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