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The Garden


“The well of the past is profound”


– Thomas Mann, the Genesis postillator


The Parco Puccini - Bonacchi, littered with "memories" (buildings, monuments, columns, epigraphs), represents the most intact and conspicuous part, surviving the dismemberment of the ancient Puccini Garden. The plans for the park were initiated by the mother Maddalena Brunozzi (1782-1836) and her brother Domenico Puccini in 1822 as a landscape extension of the Italian garden that flanked the eighteenth-century villa (or "Villone") of the family. The construction of the park was completed by his brother Niccolò (1799-1852) in the course of thirty years, until reaching the considerable extension of 123 hectares, from Porta al Borgo to the outskirts of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines.


The project of the ancient romantic park wanted by Niccolò reflected the suggestions of the English gardens admired by the nobleman of Pistoia, patriot, philanthropist and patron, during his travels in Italy and in Europe. In the 1940s the complex could be defined as defined in natural spaces, enriched with ideal and pedagogical contents thanks to the "picturesque factories", inspired by the spiritual and patriotic potentials of the Gothic revival that from the England of Pugin and Barry to Schinkel Germany he had reached the most restless artistic avant-garde in Italy. Some works are "monumental" remakes from pre-existing buildings (the ruined Gothic Temple and the Gothic Castle or the Fortezza al Lago); others, such as the lake and the island with the ruins of the Temple of Pythagoras, the Pantheon of the Illustrious Men, the Romitorio, the Napoleon Bridge, the Palazzina de 'Promessi Sposi (today no longer recognizable together with the Potesteria, at the Caffè degli animali talking and the ruins of a Greek Temple near the villa of Bellosguardo) and the Tower of Catilina are innovative constructions based on a project by famous architects such as Luigi de Cambray Digny (1778-1843), Giuseppe Martelli (1792-1876), Alessandro Gherardesca (1779- 1852).




Inside the park there are three paths: artistic, patriotic and scientific, whose landmarks are marked by monuments, cippi, statues and columns. Today there are no more monuments to Niccolò Machiavelli, Cristoforo Colombo, Giovanni Belzoni, Torquato Tasso, Giovan Battista Vico, Carlo Botta, Cleopatra, Sapienza and Fine Arts: only the iconography, handed over to the prints, of the Monuments of the Puccini Garden (1845), an ideal guide created by the owner and architect. Instead, they survived the lacerations of time and neglect of man, induced by the historical-patrimonial contingencies suffered by the complex, the column dedicated to Guteberg, those "twins" already surmounted by busts of Raphael and Canova, the monument to Charles Linnaeus , the hemicycle of Galileo (once completed by the statues of Torricelli and Viviani), the monument to Michelangelo Buonarroti (now located inside the Pantheon), the monument to Dante Alighieri, the Commedia (originally located between the two lakes on the site of the current column), to Francesco Ferrucci, to the Industry, to the Friendship, the Piazzale delle Belle Arti, the Tempietto that contained the bust of Tommaso Puccini, the Madonna delle Vigne, the broken column (from another monument , now placed on the original base of the Commedia).


In the romantic sense, the park was the result of the work of nature (hills, rocks, caves, waterfalls, extensive use of tall trees and exotic shrubs with varying seasonal colors) and educational and educational aims. The architectural pavilions were selected to disseminate them according to their ability to express the link with nature (neo-gothic factories, rustic huts or log houses entrusted to the mimetic rendering of painting, such as the home of the worker annexed to the Romitorio, or the Rustic Café inserted in the south-east wing of the Castle), the "civil purpose" (the Castle of "trobadorico" taste that dominates the lake with the Ghibelline merlons, tower and turrets, drawbridge, coats of arms of the Municipalities, to remember "The idea of ​​the fortresses that the Italian republics raised to save the territory from enemy invasions"), or the victory of time (the ruins). Or, they tried to stimulate the melancholy meditation (the ordeal). to set an optical goal to stretch (the tower), to expand the space with the refraction of the surrounding areas (the lake with the island).




The main concept was explicit in the pyramidal organization that involved the naturalistic lattices at the top of the Romitorio-church, where the popular virtues, the domestic virtues and the patriot virtues were honored. Faithful to the concept of "civil mission" of art by family tradition (Uncle Tommaso Puccini had been the first superintendent of the Uffizi Gallery, meritorious for having saved the treasures from Napoleonic robberies) and personal conviction. Niccolò Puccini, in time, diverted towards different, politically valid solutions. On the concepts of homeland and progress were also imposed those of philanthropy and popular education, connected with economic and agricultural development. The recent philological investigations have clarified the role played by Niccolò with his interventions to complete the work, while there remains a margin of uncertainty in the chronology of the "picturesque factories". The cause should be traced in the condition of "monumental" remaking from pre-existing buildings that characterizes the ruined Gothic Temple and the Gothic Castle, as well as in the fragmentary and generic news handed down by the Puccinian epistolary. Researchers of local artistic historiography in the field of innovative constructions have been more successful. It is therefore easier to define over time the "factory" of the lake with the island and the Temple of Pythagoras (initial project by Cambray Digny for Domenico Puccini in 1822, completed with the ruins of the Doric temple dedicated to Pythagoras. da Niccolò): the "factory" of the Pantheon designed in neoclassical style by Alessandro Gherardesca in '27 (initially conceived as a "school of mutual teaching", during the construction was intended for the celebration of illustrious men, where the neoclassical idea of sepulcher-pantheon gave way to the educational and propagandistic romantic intent of latent national sentiments), of the Napoleon Bridge (reconstruction in 1938, with the western façade designed by Angiolo Gamberai, of the large wooden bridge by Cambray Digny-Martelli on the Rio Scornio , collapsed after '26) and of the Tower of Catiline (1840), extreme northern limit of the park, inspired by the "Torrino" of Baccani in the Garden Tor rigiani in Florence.


The events of the "Giardino Puccini" after the death of the owner



After his death in 1852, the testament with which Niccolò Puccini left all his possessions at the Orphanage in Pistoia was challenged by legitimate heirs to be made executive, after a long diatribe, in 1860. The Villa and the park of Scornio were sold to the auction two years later (1862) and bought by a Frenchman, Henry Gustavo Le Febre de Sainte Marie. The lawyer Ippolito Cristiano Solar took over, and at the first signs of crisis of the Second Empire of Napoleon III he hastened to return to France (he also seems to be in possession of a conspicuous inheritance). The Scornio estate. already affected by the passage of Porrettana (or Ferrovia Centrale Italiana), inaugurated in 1864, it was thus divided among thirty owners. Vittoria Vivarelli Colonna bought the "Villone" with its outbuildings (the lake and the wooded plots, the works of art and the area of ​​the park currently owned by the Municipality of Pistoia). In 1867 the lawyer Oreste Ciampi had bought the portion of the garden with the Castle, the Pantheon, the Gothic Temple (later given to private individuals by the heirs), some monumental episodes such as the Hemicycle of Galileo, the Tempietto with the monument to Tommaso Puccini and all the land between the Piazzale delle Belle Arti and the small lake, where numerous statues are still scattered (Dante Alighieri, Michelangelo, Comedy, Industry, Friendship, Francesco Ferrucci, Madonna delle Vigne), the surviving columns and memorials. The complex, for the wedding of Maria Letizia Ciampi with Guglielmo Bonacchi, has been owned by the Pistoia family. With the sole exception of the Fortress, used as a family residence, the other buildings were intended for improper use. The most serious consequences were the Pantheon, downgraded to a barn, after the theatrical bracket desired by Letizia Ciampi, and to the housing space of the game warden. A hundred years or almost from the death of Puccini the Scornio Park. despite the state of abandonment in which the woods and the green spaces around the "Villone" had been left behind, after the transfer of ownership from the Colonna to the Mendice Hospice in 1925, had not yet lost the landscape dimension, nor the territorial organization from. It would be up to the building boom of the sixties to permanently alter the relationship between the park and the surrounding landscape. However, the Puccini garden, which was once the source of inspiration for the Celle park in Santomato, especially in the privately owned part of Dr. Guglielmo Bonacchi, managed to avoid the fate of many other historical parks, alive only in literary memories, and so he was able to enjoy the recovery of his first vegetable, then architectural, compositional language The same can be said for the restoration of the Pantheon, on the individual initiative of the heir Guglielmo Bonacchi, aimed at recovering in historical-philological form the structures and the decorations of the important neoclassical building, within the limits of a conservative restorer reminiscent of the need for consolidation and modern comfort. A neoclassicism veined with Palladianism has thus been recovered in its structural essentiality with a vibrating sensitivity of moldings and proportions. The impeccable Ionic portico, with a semicircular plan and horizontal crowning, emerges in all its purity, grafted on a parallelepiped of harmonious proportions, expanded on the sides by two semi-cylindrical apses. The monumental effect is again entrusted to the unique emergence of the volumes, to their modulated climb from the stone steps to the bright open terrace. The interior has recovered the light distension of the surfaces thanks to the semicircular lunette, the window in the back wall and the nineteenth-century festooned flower decoration in the hemispherical vault, while in the curved walls of the stands the curtains, the stuccoes garlands, the rosettes highlighted in gold in the Ionic capitals and the marbled perimeter arches that, together with the golden trophies, contribute to the expressive continuity. On the other hand, it has not been possible to reinstate the whole fabric of busts, cippi, monuments that inside and out (on the lawn dedicated to Commerce) contributed to enhance the romantic memory of the past and the 'sublime' ideal of beauty for dilating of individual life in the broader national sphere. The reorganization of the park has also given new evidence to the paths and monuments. In this way the dream of the generous protector of studies and the arts continues to live and the garden has returned to offer itself as a "dwelling-shelter of dreamlike distance and cosmic sensations".