What was once the monk’s old vegetable garden today is an extraordinary example of Italian formal garden nested in a unique setting: with its two-level skilfully orchestrated layout, this garden offers multiple views Gulf of Tigullio alternating belvedere terraces, pergolas laden with flowers, and more intimate corners.

The abbey complex, built starting from 1361 by the Benedictine Ottone Lanfranco, reached its highpoint between the 15th and 16th centuries. With the Napoleonic suppression of monastic orders, Abbazia della Cervara fell into neglect and in 1859 it was annexed to the Diocese of Chiavari. Entrusted first to the Somascan and then to the Carthusian order, in 1937 it became a private residence. A careful restoration of the complex was undertaken in 1990. The garden is composed of various sectors making the most the property’s uneven land. The “monastic” garden is located in the 16th-century cloister while the “gardenia garden” framed by a pergola features the Fountain of the Dolphin at its centre; a slate slab belvedere-terrace and the “mandarin garden” are adjacent to the building. At a lower level is the Italian garden, enclosed by a vine pergola embellished by a geometric cobblestone flooring: quadrangular in shape it features a central octagonal water basin decorated with a 17th century putto. Divided into rectangular and lozenge compartments it is bordered by cleverly shaped boxwoods. A nymphaeum with a marble mascaron is set at the centre of the stairway leading to the upper terrace whose walls are entirely lined with Ficus pumila. The southern “Portofino garden” overlooks the coves of Paraggi and Portofino, while the “Giardino dei Semplici” and the terrace in the woods are laid out on the upper terraces.