This post is a little late, but I hadn't revived the blog yet when we actually did this, last month, and I love the photos!
Dante was off from school on Friday, April 25th (Liberation Day to celebrate the end of WWII in Italy, 1945) so we were looking for something to do. I'd been getting occasional emails from a garden park urging people to visit as they were only open to the public in April and May.
We decided to take advantage of the nice weather and Dante's day off (therefore we wouldn't have to hurry to get home by 1 p.m.to pick him up from school) to go to Centro Botanico Moutan outside Viterbo. Viterbo is to the north of Rome, and we're to the south, so it wasn't exactly around the corner...but it was worth it!
The Centro Botanico Moutan is the most important and largest Chinese Peony collection in all the world--and it's privately owned. One well-to-do peony fanatic started it in the late 1980's. It's peony heaven! Unfortunately you're not allowed to wander around just admiring (people were breaking off flowers and pulling plants up by the roots we were told) so you must wait for a small group to gather so that you can take a tour. The tour doesn't take that long, maybe a half hour or so, then there's time to shop at the store which sells peony spa products or the peony plant shed, which is where the tours begin and end.
As much as I was tempted, I didn't buy any, as our garden beds weren't ready and I also thought it would suffer in the hot car while we went to eat lunch and drove home. But I will buy a bare root plant through mail order (yes, mail order in Italy!) which I'll plant this winter. Now to decide which one. I have to say...they were all beautiful! (If you live in Italy, click on the Centro Botanico hyperlink above and request a catalog. Prepare to be wowed.)