This time back in June, I was preparing to fly to Florence and a ten day tour of Italy.  This was the back-packing I should have done maybe 30 years ago, but better late than never.  I ditched the back-pack in favour of a four wheel suitcase; so easy!

We planned our itinerary so we could have most time in the South.  We started in Florence, then two days in Venice and then two more in Rome and then five in Naples as a base to explore the coast and islands.

I was super impressed with the inter-city rail system; on time, comfortable and cheap – £97 for three rail journeys – I can spend that much getting to Newcastle!

Whilst I enjoyed the food, the sunshine, architecture and general ambience; I also paid attention to the gardens and how people used the spaces available to them.  Here’s what I discovered:

A cool and shady inner courtyard in Florence
We found a rose garden on the way to Piazza de Michelangelo
Arno river and countryside

Then on to Venice and the colourful houses and planters of Burano.  In Venice, flowers tumbled out of every possible vertical space.


I found that away from the tourist spots around Rialto and St Marco, Venice was mostly empty!  I stumbled upon some very pretty squares and gardens.

It seemed to me that Rome had the least green to offer and most of it was to be found at the Forum and Colosseum



Then we moved further south to our base in Naples from which we explored Pompeii, Capri, Sorrento and Positano

We stayed in the old town.  Imagine the size of the gates!  The whole area was full of window boxes and a flower market as well as shoes!
With views like this, it’s easy to see why people wanted to live in Pompeii

I was also impressed by the ancient water pumping systems for courtyard fountains…


Then on to Capri and the chairlift to Mount Solaro.  On the way, we passed over gardens and allotments.

There was a lot of terracing

and this garden was definitely designed to be admired from above


Then along the Amalfi coast, where the bougainvillea was at its best.

There was so much to see in Positano: the shady streets created by swags of bougainvillea and wisteria, the houses climbing up the cliff face, sculptures in hidden gardens, huge cactus plants and what has to be some of the prettiest street scenes anywhere.

The pottery had to work hard to stand out…


and finally, look at the size of these lemons.  At first glance, I thought they were grapefruits!