Italy

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Since 1530 the landscape design of Italy formed into two main styles. One of them, closely related to the ideology of the Catholic Church, soon led to the Baroque style. The other, called Renaissance. From the East, numerous crusades brought new cultural movements to the Europeans. This circumstance brought about the epoch of Revival (Renaissance) in Europe which most vividly appeared in Italy in XIV-XVI c. landscape design became integral artistic works. Some of the best works of this time included the garden casino of Cardinal Farnese Villa in Caprarola (1547-1550, architect Giacomo Barozzi de Vignola), the garden of the Villa Lanta in Bagnaia (1560, architect Giacomo Barozzi de Vignola), the garden of the Villa d' Este in Tivoli (1549, architect Pirro Ligorio), and others. The mountainous nature of the locality assumed the stepped arrangement of gardens on steep and high terraces. The total number of terraces could be different, for example, in the gardens of Farnese Villa there was three, in the Villa Lanta - five, and in the gardens of the Villa d' Este in Tivoli - eight.

Italy - the successor of ancient culture - began to accentuate buildings like palaces or villas as the center of the landscape composition for the first time in the XIV- XV c. Specifically, entire landscape was formed around the architectural "heart". The terraces of the gardens were connected to the house and each other by means of stairs, water cascades and ramps. The Italian gardens of the epoch of Revival were separated from the environment by walls, being the final and self-contained work of skill. The epoch of Revival signified by the return of interest in landscape design. The descendants of the emperors of ancient Romans again turned to the tradition of the design of gardens on terraces and the adornment of them with sculptures. Christianity of the early middle ages demanded allegiance, but in the XV c. even the Vatican acquired an appealing outward appearance. The second epoch of Luxury began, Caesar's Rome was revived and became even more luxurious under the leadership of the Pope. Because of the abundance of paints and gold they characterized design preferences of this period.

The economic meaning of villas declined, and traditional orchard was transformed into a small amphitheatre, which was used for domestic plays. Courtyard Belvedere at the Vatican Palace in Rome served as scene for performances, and the surrounding parts of the garden were decorations. This method became characteristic for Italy in the XVI c. and it was repeated in the amphitheatre of the Boboli Gardens and Villa of Pope Pius. In the Madama Villa in Rome (1517) the separation of the garden into rooms by walls made of trimmed verdure was used for the first time and part of the garden was an enfilade of green rooms. The Madama Villa consists of three parts: the first - in the form square, that resembles the gardens of the early middle ages because of  its simple and clear planning. The second - in the form circle with porticos on the perimeter, in which antique sculptures were placed. The third - a stadium with platforms for spectators.

The strictly planned garden also harmonized with nature and the special features of the area. The green walls made of hedges surrounded it. The system of waterfalls and ponds was pulled through the entire garden, in the secluded corners of the garden pavilions and gazebos with small fountains were arranged. White and pink marble was the favourite material for making stairs and ponds. Geometric planning became more intricate than in the early feudal period. This was, in part, the winding of the alleys, which lead to the secluded green rooms or to a small pond with a fountain. In the garden there was a set of elements of antique architecture: steles, herms, amphoraes. Frequently the villa was built at the apex of a hill, and gardens descended through the use of large terraces to its foot. The monumental stairs, surrounded by two cascades of water, pointed to the entrance into the house and marble benches as well as antique sculptures were situated at the front of the house. Floral preferences were the same as in the ancient Roman times: laurel, cypresses, neatly figured trimming of the hedges from boxwood and magnificent rosaries.

The landscaping of the epoch of Revival is characterized by the planning and composition unity of the architectural ensembles. The Italian landscape design - this is a complete artistic work where nature and skill harmoniously merge. The common features utilized in the landscape design are inherent in the gardens of the Italian renaissance:

1. Gardens are located on terraces and connected together with stairs. Retaining walls and grottos are covered by stone. The terraces, crowned by balustrades and sculptures, compose the basis of the Italian garden.

2. Water is the basis of the gardens of the epoch of Revival. It is plentiful, is positioned to produce a shine and  is accompanied by music at fountains, cascades, and ponds. Water became the composition center of the Italian gardens.

3. Wide crown trees are used: sycamores and oaks , for creating neatly figured hedges boxwood, laurels, olive trees and cypresses were used. Deciduous and fruit trees were also used in gardens. A new trimming method  appeared here called the bosquet. It is enclosed by regular paths and has a geometric outline. Inside of the bosquet there are trees, which are framed by rows of trees or hedges. The flower assortment has a lot of variety.

4. Regular Italian gardens are closed. Their regularity is not hard. Gardens are magnificent and rich, but subtle.

5. There are many colors in the garden.

The transition from the Renaissance to the Baroque style in  landscaping cannot be precisely deter­mined. Many typical features of the Renaissance style, for example, the water features which took on the quality of theatrical spectacles, the spacious terraces integrated into the landscape, or the art of symmetrical plant bed  ornamentation, were taken over in the Baroque style.

The Baroque style in  landscaping was affirmed in XVI c. and it became the privilege of the rich. A new element appeared in the composition of gardens - radial alleys, whereas in the villas the epochs of Renaissance adapted only square and diamond-shaped division of territory. Flowers and bushes were planting in round and semicircular shapes with the retention of the abundance of water elements, stairs and sculptures became popular at this time. The abundance of carved stone was characteristic, reliefs and alto-relieves decorated walls, intricate frieze went on the rails of stairs. The Baroque style assumed that the garden must be the logical continuation of the palace, i.e., to have rooms, corridors and corresponding luxurious decoration. Monetary expenditures for the development of gardens became equal to that of the construction of the palace itself.

Until the end of XVI c. Italian gardens were small in size (from 1 to 3.5 ha). The alleys of that time were designed to be narrow and short, the palace was usually arranged along the central axis of symmetry of the site and occupied the dominant position. Trees and bushes were planted in thick groups around the garden. These groups formed a visual closure, the views for surrounding landscapes were limited to fixed points and directions of observation. At the beginning XVII c. Italian baroque gardens increased in size, they became spectacles. This is also reflected in the changes in their design. Alleys acquired important significance, they no longer simply connected green rooms amongst themselves, but rather unite into the rooms into a luxurious enfilade and directly control the movement of the people in the garden towards the most interesting objects.

In XVI-XVII c. in the times of the late Renaissance and Baroque, the gardens acquired special splendour. Their creators attempted to surround visitors with astonishing recreations of natural scenery, which astonished by their size and uniqueness. The latter emphasized unexpected scene  - the arrangement of natural elements and the sense of dynamics which is given off  by the inanimate objects which are built in the garden or park. Elaborate decor, aqueous theatres and elaborate compositions with powerful fountains completed the effect. This artificiality characterizes many examples of the landscape design of that time.

The Baroque style used alternation of perspectives, contrasts of light and shadow, trimmed verdure, cypresses were planted in thick rows for the creation of green theatres, arrangement of sculptures, adornment of parterre with complex patterns and arabesques. The designers of this period perfectly decorated the sculptures of the gardens with immense fountains and cascades. This was the quintessence of luxury, which luckily was preserved to the present, so that during a trip through Italy it is possible to visit the villas of the popes and princes, who preserved a large part of their beauty and grandeur. The Isola Bella Garden on Lake Maggiore is considered the most successful garden on a terrace in the history of the baroque period of landscape design. Its composition slightly resembles the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It is located on ten terraces. Five lower terraces are formed by nature, while five upper were artificial. In the garden there is an abundance of small architectural forms: balustrades, columns and statues are common. The baroque style contributed to the appearance of the complex and intricate architectural solutions, such as, for example, the theatrical effect of the Borromini's Corridor (1599-1667) in the Palazzo Spada in Rome. The corridor leads to an illuminated statue, its arch and columns decrease in the sizes, visually increasing the depth of space. The most famous fountains are designed and created in the period when the baroque style was popular. Some of these fountains are still admired to this day, for example, the Trevi Fountain in the Palazzo Poli (architect N. Salvi). Он оформлен декоративными скалами, скульптурными группами, которые подчинены большой центральной фигуре Нептуна. It is decorated with ornamental rocks, groups of sculptures, which are located around the large central figure of Neptune.

The emphasized architecture of the classical gardens of the Italian Baroque was manifested in the use of a contrasting relief, paths and areas paved by plates and many rock structures: high bulkheads, sculptures, pavilions, grottos, balustrades, stairs. The presence of a large number of decorative ponds and all possible water devices - cascades, channels, fountains and other, it was also a key component. The bloom of Baroque was also the bloom of topiary style where vegetation acquired fantastic forms.