The Villa.

Villa Paolina is built on a rolling terrain of about twelve hectares, called the “Hillock” (“Monticello”) slope, overhanging the historical borough of Monte San Quirico. The first documents concerning the villa date back to 1670 and report that this property belonged to the Ottalini family. According to Belli Barsali in her “Ville e committenti dello Stato di Lucca”, the villa and its garden were built on lands belonging to the Buonvisi family, the owners of villa Spada below. After the Ottolini, in 1822 the villa passed to princess Paolina Bonaparte Borghese, who placed the main body on the eastern façade, decorating it with a low-relief lunette, the mosaic of the straircase and the big tympanum. In 1836 the villa passed to the Boccella family, then to the Ruggeros and, after a series of father passages, today it belongs to the Pardini. The current appearance of the villa is the result of the works done after the middle of the 19th century. Some decorative elements have been added to the body of the building, as the tympanum on the western side, on the same axis of the original one and the balustrade running along all the roof perimeter. Among the other architettural elements in the property, the lemon-house is especially precious; it belongs to the same periodo of the main body and is currently inhabited. The façade design is characterized by big arched windows and in front there is a small formal garden.

The Garden.

The garden of Villa Paolina was created, as it is now, in 1822. That year the villa purchased by Paolina Bonaparte, who wanted the construction of the big park and who for this purpose called an English landscape architect. From the main entrance, costituted of two big brick pillars in which the name of Paolina Bonaparte is engraved, we walk a long curved alley, which forks, reaching the side of the villa. But the original lay out wanted by Paolina wasn’t like this: the main entrance must have been constituted, as repoted in an old watercolour and in the old papers of the new cadastre, of an alley leading directly to the villa. At the end of the last century this space was raised and closed by a wall, dramatically changing the original plan. Today, on the main side the villa faces a small formal garden, later than the original plan of the English garden, too, as well as the big rectangular basin, trasformed into a swimming pool. The English garden develops instead, still following the original pattern, in the northern area of property. The old sinuous paths, where we can find traces of the old cobbled pavements and of the lateral drains, strech in the inner part or border the big trees, mainly evergreen oaks and oaks, with some examples of century old lime trees and peculiar species as the big bilobed maidenhair-three and the two evergreen sequoias. Following the paths we finally discover the big camelia plants, even twelve metres high, which grow to form a grove, in the shade of the big trees. Besides, the garden contains ornamental elements of special interest: a gazebo, with an ironwrought structure, dating from the middle of the 19th century, with a mosaic floor, placed on the side of the main path; a curvilinear basin whitewashed inside,which, considered the water supply sistem, seems to date from the end of the last century; an ice-house, placed behind the camelia grove; finally, the remains of a large basin which, according to the old owners, must have been in the shape of a heart, because specially built for Paolina. We must also remember the enclosure, which defines all the property and, on the northern side, where it faces Via della Chiesa, is constituted of real bulwarks. Another peculiar element is a big water tank, which collected rainwater and used to supply the whole complex.