Lucca’s Villa Grabau Review – Film Set Feel

Photo: Peter Kachergis


If one of your mental images of Italy, like mine, is an ornate Renaissance garden scene overflowing with fruit-filled lemon trees, then going to Villa Grabau may feel a big déjà vu. 




It comes as no surprise to learn that some of Manhattan’s more monied make Villa Grabau the setting for their picture book wedding. 



There is not one park but several, many with rare species of plants thanks to the help of the Botanical Gardens in the late 19th Century to make it so. 




As you enter you first see an orderly English garden that includes bamboo trees, Sequoia, and rare tree species from all over the world.


Walking into the estate you then come to an Italian garden, symmetrical in every detail and including spectacular lemon trees in vases.


These trees have a Lemon House that is their conservatory in the winter.  In the summer this is one corner where ornate wedding receptions happen.



It may look like a museum but it is not. 



Descendants of the third family of owners, the Grabaus, still live in this Villa on the upper floors. 



When you tour you can see many of the antique treasures that decorated the home and also marked  he career milestones of the German banker and diplomat, the first Grabau to own the property.



The Villa’s history actually reaches much farther back still.  In the early 1500’s one of the many powerful silk merchant families of Lucca, the Diodati family, built a mansion over a house that dated from 1412.  This was in a Renaissance style that was remodeled in a Neo-Classical fashion in the 1850’s by the second owners. 




Elegant and charming, you expect to see the Merchant Ivory Production Company to be setting up shop on the other side of every manicured hedge. 



On the edges what you do find are three houses available for rent on a weekly basis or longer.  These go to wedding guests or perhaps those who just want to taste the life of a princess and prince for a fortnight or so.


Villa Grabau 

Via di Matraia 269

55100 S.Pancrazio LUCCA

Tel. and Fax +39 0583 406098




Photos: Courtesy of Villa Grabau unless otherwise indicated




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