How to reach
From the Highway A11 take the direction Florence, exit Lucca East, Follow the indications for Abetone for 6 km and then the directions for Matraia and Villa Reale. There is a free parking outside the park, near the entrance.
From the Railway Station of Florence Santa Maria Novella take the regional train to Lucca and then bus line 59 up to arrive at the entrance of the park.
Line 59 from Lucca: the bus leaves from Piazzale Verdi, passing from the Lucca Railway Station, and makes all stops outside the walls of the city before to reach the park entrance. The admission to the park is discounted for those showing the ticket of public transport.
Distance from Galileo Galilei Airport of Pisa: 43 Km
Distanza from Amerigo Vespucci Airport of Florence: 70 Km
The Villa Reale at Marlia has been the residence of aristocratic families and great art patrons over many generations and many changes of hand.
In the early 1800s Napoleon's sister, Princess Elisa Baciocchi, extended the majestic complex. She modernised the ancient Palazzo Orsetti and the entrance loggias following the taste of the times. However, she left the splendid eighteenth century gardens intact with the green theatre shaped out of the vegetation as well as the Camellia Avenue, distinguished by its many rare varieties from the nineteenth century. After Napoleon's downfall, the Dukes of Parma, followed by the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, owned the villa which, on the Unity of Italy, passed to Vittorio Emanuele. The King ceded it to Prince Carlo, son of the last King of the Two Sicilies, who then put the villa up for sale, the furniture for auction and cut down many trees in the park for firewood in order to honour the debts of his son.
Count and Countess Pecci-Blunt bought the villa in 1923 and commissioned a famous French architect, Jacques Greber, to carry out work in the garden: to create woodland, streams and a lake as a great, romantic complement to the series of classical Italian gardens from the time of the Orsetti family. Amongst the illustrious visitors from the past were the violinist and composer Paganini, members of all the European Royal families and the American artist John Singer Sargent, who painted watercolours of scenes in the villa.
In 2015 a young couple, having fallen head over heels in love with the by now neglected complex, bought the property accepting the challenge to revive the Villa Reale at Marlia to its ancient splendour by commissioning important restoration works both in the buildings and in the gardens.
It's possible to visit much of the park, preferring the meadows at the gravel path, if it is too difficult. Unfortunately it's very difficult to reach the Green Theater and the Avenue of the Camellias for the presence of stairs and less linear paths.
If you love picnic in the green, caressed by a gentle breeze, and sitting on a blanket lying on a grassy enviable, you're in the right place. Here in the Park of Villa Reale at Marlia is permitted to consume your own picnic, surronded by a wonderful naturalistic oasis that smells of history.
Jacques Gréber (Paris 1882 - Paris 1962) gained his first experience in the United States. An architect and urban design, he was one of only a few contemporary figures to succeed in marrying the urban scale with landscape and garden design. Gréber produced planning studies for the expansion of the cities of Rouen, Montreal, and Quebec, and designed the extraordinary garden at Casa Serralves in Portugal.
At Villa Marlia (bought by the Pecci Blunt family in 1923), Jacques Gréber introduced contemporary elements which drew freely on the art deco repertoire, with Arab-style influences. The water garden, with bouganville and evonimus, and the colourful pool, are a unique example in 1930s gardens in Italy.