Against the extraordinary backdrop of Val d’Orcia, with its eroded crete formations and iconic, winding cypress tree-lined avenues, this extraordinary garden, created by Cecil Pinsent for the Origo family, is an unexpected oasis of peace and rest.

The Val d’Orcia was wild and inhospitable when, in the 1920s, Marquis Antonio Origo moved here with his Anglo-American wife Iris Cutting, who had grown up with her mother Sybil at Villa Medici, in Fiesole. They transformed an estate that was run-down, its buildings long abandoned, into a place of enchantment. Antonio dedicated himself to getting the estate back up and running, hiring farmhands and restoring output; around the enlarged and restored building, Iris designed a garden inspired by Tuscan Renaissance tradition, created in multiple phases until 1939, working with Cecil Pinsent, a sensitive and cultured English landscape architect. The first formal garden in front of the residence, with a fountain and green grotto hidden beneath a laurel dome, was in place by 1927. Next came a geometrically planted Lemon Garden, where boxwood spheres prevail. A lower level is a monumental geometric garden with large box hedges, enclosed within the high walls of cypress trees, ending in a pool and a 17th-century Venetian statue representing prosperity; this in turn is connected by a staircase in Rapolano travertine to a grotto. Special openings in the cypress “wall” allow glimpses of the surrounding landscape. A long, wisteria arbor on the uphill section, a rose garden with lavender borders and herbaceous perennials, among which aubretiaand alyssumstand out, add notes of colour to the geometric greenery. A particularly panoramic viewpoint out over the Val d’Orcia beckons along a wisteria-clad pergola.


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Gardens of the 20th Century

Born in Uruguay into a wealthy British family Pinsent eventually moved to Europe where he became the architect that in the first half of the 20th century worked more than any other for the Anglo-Florentine community creating new gardens and transforming existing ones.

Great Women, Great Gardens

An internationally-renowned writer, daughter of a very rich American and an Irish noblewoman, Iris Bayard Cutting spent her childhood and youth living between Europe and America.