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A paradise, the gardens of the Villa Hanbury

A paradise, the gardens of the Villa Hanbury


The Hanbury gardens, a marvel of Nature

The gardens were built starting in 1867, thanks to the passion of the English traveler, Sir Thomas Hanbury. After making his fortune as a tea exporter in Shanghai,  he decided to settle on the Ligurian coast, and first bought the already existing palace of the Marquis Orengo di Ventimiglia, and then the surrounding land, on which he wanted to create a splendid garden with botanical specimens collected from every part of the world.

He was helped in developing the project by his brother Daniel, who came specially from England, as well as by various botanists (among whom, in particular, were the Germans Ludwig Winter and Alwin Berger, and the Belgian hydrology engineer Paul-Vincent Levieux) and a team of manual workers and gardeners who lived locally.

The garden soon became renowned throughout the world. On the death of Sir Thomas (in 1907) his son Cecil and his daughter-in-law Lady Dorothy carried on the work until the Second World War, when the site had to be abandoned.  However, at the end of the war Lady Dorothy returned to Mortola to restore the villa and its gardens, as evidenced by a plaque placed on the west side of the villa.

In 1960 the Italian state acquired the complex from the heirs, and in 1962 it was entrusted to the International Institute of Ligurian Studies. In 1979 this institute renounced the burden of the post-war reconstruction and subsequently, in 1987, the management was definitively entrusted to the University of Genoa.