Liguria and the Laskett

We have had a wonderful holiday in Liguria. A part of Italy I knew nothing about but was enchanted by hill top villages of medieval houses crammed together like Chinese puzzles and almost always crowned with a baroque campanile. We were staying in a lovely old house with quirky rooms and terraces overlooking olive groves and chestnut woods, and did much reading, walking and swimming in mountain streams and the sea. The food is especially good in this part of Italy, very healthy, it is the home of pesto, and we ate well everywhere we went. We watched fireworks off the coast at Taggia and saw the wonderful altarpaintings in the Domincian convent there.

We were pleased to have such a relaxing time after our flights had been cancelled due to an air traffic control strike and we gamely rushed to London and got on an early morning train to Paris and got to our destination only a day late. Towards the end of our visit we made a visit to Villa Hanbury, the extraordinary botanical garden perched on the sea created by a 19th century Englishman called Thomas Hanbury – a most intriguing place, the palazzo was extended by Alfred Waterhouse, and the gateway designed by W.D.Caroe.

The latter was in my mind when I visited Sir Roy Strong’s home in Herefordshire on my return for a feature in Country Life, which is out this week. The garden he has created there is an extraordinary piece of theatre and his remodelling of his house is a continuation of this, reflecting the worlds of his late wife’s theatre design and his art history. It is a monument to an era in so many ways, just as the Villa Hanbury is to its time. I always long to see this garden by torch-light. The house and garden are open to public.

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