Fineschi Rose Garden
Human beings have always interested me. Their story, how they faced up to the challenges of life, the self discovery, the search for happiness and love. What has brought them to take certain decisions and not others. How much the homeland matters, the influence of the family or the historical moment in which they have been living.
These are about the questions I asked myself when walking down the few steps into the Botanical Rose Garden of Gianfranco and Carla Fineschi at Cavriglia, in the province of Arezzo. A friend and teacher at an agricultural school had described the place as very special and not to be missed.
I would have loved to meet this couple so passionate about roses, maybe even participate at the opening of the garden in the distant 1967. It would have been interesting to learn why they dedicated heart and soul to roses and not, for example, to dianthus, lilac, hydrangeas or peonies. For them, in fact, important gardens all over the world have been opened, too.
Could it be because roses have always been close to human beings, through the good and the bad? Don’t they represent the concept of love, beauty, purity and the fleeting of life? Roses, in some way, turn on the imagination and touch our most intimate desires. By doing this they help us to express our deepest and truest feelings. The corollas are ephemeral and delicate like few other flowers and even the harshest souls, sometimes, are affected by tender emotions when smelling the sweet fragrance of roses.
Walking inside the botanical garden with its roughly seven thousand species distributed in twenty one sectors, is a very special experience indeed. It is the story of the rose told from the first authentic proof of existence millions of years ago to our days. How to say, a living museum which is talking about the history of a simple, rustic rupestric flower pursuing towards the sophisticated rose coming from Syria, Persia (today’s Iran) and the Far East ending with the species we admire today. In the middle of the story, the human’s ardent desire to travel around the world to discover and bring back home the wonders unknown until then.
During our visit at the end of May we saw roses which where waiting to bloom, others in flower or even withering away. For some we would have to return because they were far away from showing their most striking dresses.
The huge rose family is subdivided in three big groups. The very beginning has been attributed to seven wild roses. From these originate, partly through spontaneous mutation, partly manmade, the so-called antique roses. Their beauty, the delicate petals and the unmistakable scent, have stolen the hearts of many populations for more than two centuries. The antique roses were followed by multicolored and re-blooming species, up to then not created by the breeders. Around this moment the extraordinary chinese and tea roses made their entrance into the rose lover’s world. It is said that the tea rose carries this name because they have been brought to Europe together with the shipments of tea.
The end of the long and exciting journey leads to the modern roses, tall, with a straight stem and corollas of remarkable size. They are the most popular varieties in the gardens of the world, at least until a lucky breeder will create an even more striking new cultivar.
The rose garden, the whole environment after all is well-protected. Cats watch over the flowerbeds with careful eyes. A peacock is checking from the roof of the main house. Others, not particularly interested in showing us the beautiful feathers, appear and disappear offhand just like plainclothes agents. They look reserved and unwilling to be approached or photographed.
Mr. and Mrs. Fineschi’s daughter and her employees carry forward the rose garden. She told us that any variety of the huge collection can be ordered. After a year she is ready to send a “Comtesse de la Morandière” (1929), a “Variegata di Bologna” (1909) or even a “Welwyn Garden Glory”(1996), to do an example. Fascinating idea which does not want to go out of my mind.
We will come back in autumn to admire the rose hips, apparently of surprising and curious forms and colors. Then I want to order an antique rose with its intense, strong and unmistakable fragrance.
Words read some years ago in an old book about roses come back into my mind …it is ornament of the earth, pride of the plant kingdom, crown of flowers, purple of the fields, reflection of beauty. It is full of love, in the service of Aphrodite, shines with scented petals, is lulled by trembling leafs and delighted by Zefiro’s smile… (Wilhelm Ludwig Doering, Die Koenigin der Blumen oder die hoehere Bedeutung der Rose, 1835)
It is true indeed. The rose family has conquered a special place in human’s hearts.