Down the centuries the garden has always been a place of delight, a barometer of the cultural level of the people who commissioned it, and a family status symbol.
The garden of the Borgo Storico Seghetti Panichi in Castel di Lama, eight kilometres from the charming old city of Ascoli Piceno, is living proof of this passion. The Borgo dates back to the days of the great-grandparents of Princess Giulia Panichi Pignatelli, who today owns the garden and the Borgo which also has an hotel with eleven luxury suites, a swimming pool, a spa and meeting rooms.
The Princess’s ancestors wanted to give their summer residence a cultivated and elegant air through the creation of a garden, so they decided to call in Ludwig Winter, a well-known German landscape architect. And they were not disappointed, because Winter transformed what had been a neglected rocky hill into the Parco Storico Seghetti Panichi. Which now holds the accolade as Italy’s first historical garden with bio-energetic areas and trails.
“I often imagine what Winter’s first impression must have been when confronted with that overrun hill at the top of which he found a severe brick building without any ornaments or embellishments; a sturdy building that had strong historical ties to the valley,” says the Princess.
Winter got down to modelling the hill while keeping in mind the surrounding countryside with its gentle slopes and rounded hills. He had nothing vertical, angular or aggressive to contend with, but rather lots of snaking lines, sinuous tracks and curvaceous forms. And when he was done he then built a perfect irrigation system, which is still in use today.
“In the choice of their gardener my ancestors made a refined choice. Winter had graduated in botany in Potsdam, a city which was famous as a clearing house for exotic plants. He had then worked as head gardener in the Tuilleries, and in the famous nurseries in Hyères, before taking up residence on the beautiful Ligurian Gulf, close to the French and Italian border.”
Winter had immediately realised that the entire Tronto valley enjoyed a micro climate similar to that of the Ligurian Gulf. And so – having studied the character of the land and taken the seasons into account – he took a bold step, planting rare palms in the open. In those days, in an area where it snowed in winter and which was subject to a lot of frost, palms were invariably protected in conservatories. So planting this species in a garden was a considerable challenge and called for great expertise.
“In the valley there are still some old people who recall stories about long processions of wagons, drawn by oxen, which carried fresh, soft soil from the banks of the Tronto river up the sides of the hill,” recalls the Princess.
Winter had quite a few reserves when it came to flowers. He believed that what mattered in a garden was the monumentality of the plants, and their capacity to create a chromatic palette of hues, from pale greens to red, brown, dark green and yellows, Flowers, maintained the great botanist, tended to disturb this concentration of tints, and so Winter only accepted white or blue flowers, which tend to be less obtrusive in the greenery.
“This is not a typical Italian garden,” says Princess Giulia Panichi Pignatelli. “You could best describe it as a romantic French-Ligurian garden or, to be more precise, a perfect example of the unique personality of a scrupulous botanist.”
Today the garden has acquired a new personality thanks to the Princess’s daughter, Stefania Pignatelli Magona Cortés, who called in Marco Nieri, an eco-designer from Bologna, Nieri works with Walter Kunnen who, in 1960, founded Archibo Biologica in Antwerp an important centre for scientific research on the biosphere and influences of natural and artificial elements on living beings. At Borgo Seghetti Panichi Nieri was asked to design and create a series of natural systems with the aim of optimising and amplifying positive biological radiations.
Since ancient times man has believed that plants are beneficial. Our ancestors knew it. Just think of the scared woods, those primordial sanctuaries where trees were objects of cult and respect. In more recent days the studies carried out by Professor Kunnen have proved that electromagnetic fields of biological interest, emitted by men and plants, exist in nature.
In contemporary bio-energetic gardens, like the one conceived by Nieri in Castel di Lama using his innovative ‘Bio-energetic Landscapes’ technique, it was possible to detect the areas with specific therapeutic properties.
The presence in this garden of many typically Mediterranean plants with beneficial properties has made it possible to identify vast areas and create trails that have specific influences on the biological functions. Mediterranean plants such as holly, which acts beneficially on the nervous system, holm oaks which are beneficial to the cardio-vascular system and laurel which has very positive effects on the immune system.
The interaction of the garden’s natural electromagnetism and the specific electromagnetism of the many different types of plants it contains create areas in which the different influences are concentrated and can also be perceived. Marco Nieri explains: “Sitting down or lying down and relaxing in these areas in the Borgo Storico Seghetti Panichi garden makes it easier to feel the therapeutic benefits that act on and help the proper functioning of the body.”[wzslider autoplay=”true” height=”450″ transition=”‘slide’”]
BORGO STORICO SEGHETTI PANICHI
Via San Pancrazio, 1
63031 Castel di Lama (Ascoli Piceno)
Le Marche, Italia
Tel. +39 0736 812552 Fax +39 0736 814528