It must be ten or twelve years ago, when I first came across Fattoria Maionchi’s rose garden just outside Lucca in Tuscany. Situated beyond the villa it was well sheltered from curious eyes and, in fact, nobody would imagine that a thick grey stone wall could hide such a stunning roseto. It was
filled with all sorts of roses in bright and shiny colors and soft fragrances fluctuated in the air. Small paths crossed the flowerbeds and a fountain sprinkled water drops like diamonds onto the plants nearby. Big trees gave pleasant shadow and benches invited to sit down and enjoy the cosy little paradise. I knew well cured rose gardens from my childhood, my mother had a beautiful one, too, but in this one, there was a very special atmosphere indeed. However, I had not come to rest and restore but to work: my deal with the owner, Maria Pia Maionchi, was that I would gather the petals from the perfectly open roses, just about to die, which I needed for my
vinegars and pot-pourris, in exchange for cutting the dry and completely faded ones. She never told me, but I suppose that Maria Pia did not always agree with my Prussian pruning style, but we respected the agreement for several years until I closed my shop and moved and she died. It surprises me, too, but I never forgot this magical place and each year, when the smell of roses fills the air, my thoughts return to Maria Pia and her rose garden. This is why I asked one of her children for an appointment in order to see the garden again. I was told
that Maria Pia had given so much attention and love to the rose garden because her husband was fond of roses. However, it was not before I spoke to their son that I came to know how deep their love had been. They met and married when she was only seventeen, a young and charming beauty and he a handsome twenty-four old man with an important carrier in front of him. They were together for a lifetime. He showered her with all kinds of gifts and she, in turn, accepted to pass their wedding anniversary fishing on a lake, a river, the sea, instead of organizing a big party. They went through good and bad, leaving three children, a well organized factory, prized olive oil, excellent wine and this superb rose garden, which is witness to their deep and never ending love.
Anneliese Rabl …. finding a life in Tuscany