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Photographs Cristina Archinto
Text Carla De Agostini

This year, the Gardens of Villa della Pergola are officially The Most Beautiful Park in Italy, winning this prize among more than a thousand private parks, and indeed it is of unparalleled beauty: here wisteria of every shape and colour, flowers and trees from all over the world alternate on a unique view overlooking the entire Gulf of Alassio.


One of the terraces

Villa Pergola is a rare example of an Anglo-Mediterranean garden. It was created in the second half of the 1870s by the taste of General Montagu McMurdo and his wife Lady Susan Sarah Napier, who fell in love with the place and chose to maintain the classic Ligurian terracing of the previous farm and add palm trees and cypresses. Between 1900 and 1903, the estate was bought by Walter Hamilton Dalrymple and in 1922 by Daniel, son of Thomas Hambury, creator of the famous Hanbury Botanical Gardens at Mortola, not far away. To him we owe the scenic pergolas covered with wisteria and the many exotic cacti, agaves, aloes and eucalyptus trees.
After a period of neglect and decay, the Gardens were restored in 2006 by Paolo Pejrone, together with Silvia Arnaud Ricci, to whom we owe the creation of the botanical collection of wisteria with 34 varieties and that of agapanthus, today the most important in Europe with almost 500 different species.


The area of succulents

The visit to the garden is accompanied by the stories of a passionate guide. The tour begins with the succulents, where the crestate variety stands out and the eye is immediately caught by the 'monster', the Trichocereus bridgesii monstruosus, whose Mexican legend tells how one only by looking at the plant while eating any food can have strong hallucinations. Then there are several agaves, including the white agave and the very interesting Myrtillocactus whose fruits are edible and similar to blueberries.