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Hanbury Gardens: an enchantment in the heart of the Italian Riviera

hanbury gardens

For those who are a deep connoisseur of Liguria and French Riviera, Hanbury Gardens is an institution.

Often, in fact, this magnificent park is chosen by those who want to take a break from sunbathing on the beach, by those who want to stretch their legs a little after lunch by the sea or by those who simply want to enjoy a relaxing break in the midst of history and Nature.

For all the travelers who arrive on the Riviera for the first time, however, I recommend devoting a couple of hours to the discovery of this magnificent enchanted garden a short walk from the Balzi Rossi.

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Hanbury Botanic gardens

Ventimiglia’s Hanbury Botanic Gardens stretch out over the cape Mortola headland, a few kilometers from the French border, on an area of about 18 hectares, partly cultivated by a garden with subtropical plants and coming from the different Mediterranean climate areas (Mediterranean Basin, California, Chile, South Africa, Australia).

The rest is occupied by spontaneous Mediterranean vegetation, arboreal and shrub.

The headland enjoys an exceptionally mild climate, with winter lows rarely reaching 0 degrees Celsius; the existence of different microclimates has facilitated the planting and acclimatization of essences from different latitudes.

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The History of Hanbury Gardens

The Gardens were created in 1867, when Thomas Hanbury purchased the ancient Orengo Palace and the land owned to transform it into an acclimatization garden of exotic plants.

His brother Daniel, a pharmacist and botanist, played a significant part in the design and implementation of the project. About half of the territory was used to grow exotic plants from the most diverse countries, combined according to systematic, phytogeographical, ecological, aesthetic-landscape criteria.

Since 1867 Thomas Hanbury has established contacts with gardens on both the nearby French And other areas of Europe. In the following years, the development of the Gardens gained a great boost thanks to the collaborations with scholars from all over the world.

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Already on the death of Thomas Hanbury in 1907, the Gardens were known around the world for their wealth of tropical and subtropical plants and for the scientific importance of the collections. Thomas’s son, Cecil, left the garden in the hands of his wife, Lady Dorothy, who boosted the landscaped aspect of the garden, creating panoramic views, avenues, driveways, fountains.

During the Second World War, the Gardens suffered very serious damage.

In 1960, Lady Dorothy sold them to the Italian state. Since 1987 they have been under management at the University of Genoa and since 2000 they are a regional protected area.

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Visiting the Gardens

Visiting Hanbury Gardens is always a pleasant experience: plants are grown following vital and reproductive cycles, so in each season you will have the opportunity to see both plants in full bloom and plants at rest.

At any time of the year, in fact, you will have the opportunity to witness the riot of colors of some native or tropical species.

The tour is also made irresistible by the architectural elements scattered inside the property including statues fountains stairs and small arches.

The property is also full of history because many of the oldest elements have been preserved, such as the fence walls and the ancient Via Julia Augusta.

This Roman road that crosses the property divides it between north and south. It was the access to the property before the Napoleonic road was created.

My advice is to take a map of the park and go in search of the many corners created by the Hanbury family. Here are some clues:

  • Cypress Avenue
  • Moorish kiosk
  • The Topia
  • The Walloon
  • Four Seasons Scale
  • Stalate Cave
  • Scale of amphorae
  • The rocky garden with papyri and aquatic plants under Nirvana.
  • The Australian Forest
  • The House of the Sun
  • Biodiversity Greenhouse
  • The Rustichouse
  • The Garden of Perfumes
  • The Italian gardens
  • Citrus groves
  • The Exotic Orchard
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Hanbury Gardens: How to get there

  • Cars: Highway A10 exit Ventimiglia continue on SS 1 Aurelia towards France, crossing Ponte San Luigi-km.6
  • Train: Ventimiglia FS station – taxi or bus (LINE 1 – stop: La Mortola)

Hanbury Gardens: times and prices

  • March 1 to June 15 and September 16 to October 15 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. exit by 6 p.m.
  • June 16 to September 15 at 9.30am – 6pm exit by 7pm
  • October 16 to February 28 at 9.30am-4pm exit by 5pm

From 1 November to the end of February: closed on Monday – Closed 25 December – Open 1 January

Visiting time

  • 1h – 1h30 minimum

Rates

  • Single full ticket: 9€
  • Schools ticket: 6.00 € – min.15 people
  • Reduced single ticket: 7.50€ – groups (min. 20 people) over 65, boys 6/14 years old
  • Family ticket: 25.00€ – 2 adults – children 6/14 years old
  • Audio-video guide rental: 5€ – available free of charge by blind people thanks to a dedicated application

FREE ENTRANCE for:

  • Employees of the University of Genoa, employees of the foster company, family members of workers on duty at the Gardens
  • Students of the University of Genoa
  • Children under the age of six, accompanied by parents or other relatives
  • Accredited journalists
  • Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Members
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Conclusion

Now that you’ve come to the end of this Hanbury Gardens guide, I’d know exactly what to expect from this amazing park.

Whether you have interests in history, botany, and culture, or simply want to carve out a part of the green during your trip to Liguria, I highly recommend a visit to this magnificent monument to nature.

Did you like the guide? Did I miss something? Have you visited Hanbury Gardens before?

Write it in the comments and share with me and other readers your personal experiences!

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