Spring has already arrived in Lucca because in the medieval hamlets of Pieve and San Andrea di Compito it is time for the annual camellia festival! The international event will take place every weekend from March 14 through the 29th. There are over 250 different species of camellias and thousands of varieties. In Italy, the reigning queen of the camellia, camellia japonica, arrived in the 1700’s and blooms from December through April.
The program for the 31st edition will be full of amazing events! Visitors can tour the gardens, visit the “Camelieto” protected garden, see the scientific exhibits, and various history and art exhibits. But that’s not all because there will also be concerts, tasting events, and workshops.
News this year is the kintsugi workshop which is the Japanese art and custom of using gold or liquid silver to repair ceramics. The workshop is free but places are limited.
“The Art of Tea in the World” is an exhibit running simultaneously through March 8th at Castello S. Pietro. To conclude the exhibition on March 8th there will be a tea ceremony at 5 pm. Both the exhibition and the ceremony are free admission.
The cost of the ticket – which includes car parking, shuttle service, access and visit to the village and the exhibition – is 7 euro, free for children under 12 and disabled with a guide. The art exhibitions are free. To access the Borgo delle Camelie, you’ll need to arrive by shuttle. Hours are from 10 am to 6 pm and visitors should allow for two hours. The ticket office closes at 4:30 pm.
Villa Reale in Marlia
But it doesn’t end here! The camellias also bloom in the enchanted gardens of Villa Reale in Marlia. Inside the park of the Villa, there are three splendid gardens and two avenues of camellias where you can admire more than 50 ancient plants. The first camellia plant (japonica) was planted in the villa’s English garden in 1808 and was the first to arrive in Lucca. There are also guided tours available of the entire villa and its grounds.
Since the blooming period lasts about a month and a half, you’ll be able to visit the park of Villa Reale from March 1 through March 29, 2020 at a discounted price by purchasing the cumulative ticket – camellia festival/exhibition + visit to the Park of Villa Reale (13 € total). This means that you can visit the historic garden of Marlia to see its two avenues of camellias in bloom and you will get a discount if you visit the camellia exhibition during one of the 3 weekends of the event.
For information and reservations visit Villa Reale di Marlia.