Outstanding beauty !
This park is really worth a visit, it is an historical park where culture and nature mix in harmony.
Napoleon 3 used it as its headquarters in 1859, whist the park in itself was established back in 1617
Different flowers can be seen flowering in different seasons such as tulips, irises, roses and lilies. You can either visit the park walking, by bicycle or renting a golf-cart, golf-carts and bikes have a specific path to follow but it is funny and entertaining. Pic-nic is allowed in the pic-nic area, no football games nor sunbathing and I would not bring my dog along as it has to have a muzzle on and be kept on a lead at all times, but if you have your dog with you just make sure you bring along a muzzle for him to wear.. don't leave him in the car !
I enjoyed the golf-cart rid, as I was 9 months pregnant when I visited the park !
I loved the water garden part in particular.
OPEN MARCH TO NOVEMBER ONLY 9:00 TO 18:00
Children up to 4 years and disabled free, reduced ticket for children up to 14 years, and for over 65
Saint Peter's Church (the Chiesa di San Pietro in Cattedra) is located in the center/downtown of Valeggio sul Mincio, short walk from Cacciatore hotel.
I saw the church or better to say its upper part for the first time from the top of the castle hill when it was charmingly lighted by orange sunset light. On the last day we walked to visit famous Sigurta Gardens and on the way we saw the church again.
The Roman Catholic church belongs to diocese of Verona and is the largest and the tallest edifice in town. The second church (Roman catholic as well) is located in a hamlet of Borghetto.
The huge front facade of St. Peter's church looks rather simple, although it is the most decorative part of the whole edifice. Too small front steps, white large entrance with a semicircular window above, transverse pattern of bricks/stones in the lower part and vertical one in the upper part, and finally too flat roof topped with white holy cross make the whole facade a little bit strange, unique and... interesting.
The Saint Peter's Church was built in 1753 on the ruins of a former church from 17th century. Later on some parts of the church were renovated and received a concrete coating and/or were painted. Hmm... it wasn't good idea to add this white colour seen on my picture.
Keep in mind that Valeggio sul Mincio in 1405 - 1796 was a part of a state called Venetian Republic. Then it belonged to France (1 year only and again in 1805 - 1814 during Napoleon's wars) and most of the time to Austria (1797 - 1805 and again 1814 - 1866). In 1866 Valeggio and the whole former Venetian Republic was incorporated to newly established Kingdom of Italy.
Roman catholic St. Peter's parish church is built in... hmm... difficult to say, its own style, let's say mixed style. The year 1753, when the church was built indicates late Baroque or pre-early neoclassical style. Well, for sure, the church wasn't built in Baroque style at least its exterior.
ROMAN STYLE ?
The shape of the edifice with pitched but almost flat roof, building materials (stones) used, simple pattern of front facade are typical for medieval north Italian Roman style. Well, Roman style ruled in 1060 - 1250 in Italy, over 500 years before the church was built. But St. Peter's Church was put up on the ruins of a former church, thus could copy its older shape.
The entrance, on my picture, is definetely built in neo-classical style with typical triangle tympanon above the front door. The different colour (white) and coating of the front entrance than the rest of the front facade makes me think that it was added later. Indeed, the neoclassical style ruled in 1780 - 1830 in northern Italy.
The walls of St. Peter's church were doted with numerous holes in order to drain moisture out of the wall. Thus the wall could breathe. The holes gave shelter to pigeons as well which could nest inside and ruin the walls. That's why iron grids have been set in similar holes of the Visconti bridge in Borghetto.
I could see similar, full of holes, walls in Italy and other Mediterranean countries, both in Europe and northern Africa, but never in, say, Poland or Germany. Why? Maybe water freezing in the holes would ruin the stone walls in colder countries. Maybe northerners, due to more rains, had to pay more attention to build water resistant walls and then put drainpipes.
This single, square tower is added at the back, southeastern corner of the edifice of the St. Peter's church.
The tower looks too short and too thin by the bulky mass of the church. It's lower (older, I think) part is built of both bricks and stones while the upper one is made of red bricks and roofed with red tiles with something like a brick chimney on the top. Well, square shape and red tiled roof of the tower is typical for architecture of northern Italy but its assymetrical location, modest size and... chimney-like structure on the top are not.
St. Peter's parish church is mostly built of stones which are put in horizontal layers: a few of smaller stones and one of larger ones above, as you can see on my picture.
Bricks, a block made of kiln-fired material, usually clay or ground shale, date back to ancient Mesopotamia around 500 BC. So, why the church wasn't built of bricks in 1753 AD? The answer is simple. Stones were local material, easy to find and less expensive than bricks. Bricks were used in richer cities (like Verona or Venice) that time.
This edifice, on my picture, was added to the back, in northern side of St. Peter's parish church. It was and still is a house of parish priest. It is a simple, a little bit neglected and, no doubts, very modest edifice.
Does it mean that Italian priests make the vows of charity? Or just local catholic community does not want to pay for renovation of the edifice? I don't know but, at least for historical reasons it should be renovated.
I was surprised to see very thin and short, simply modest, bell tower growing from back, northeastern adding to St. Peter's church.
Why? Simply because bell towers of northern Italian churches are usually impressive in size even if they stand alone. Well, St. Peter's parish church of Valeggio sul Mincio looked unusual for many reasons.
We passed by the Town Hall of Valeggio sul Mincio walking both to the castle and to Sigurta gardens. The large building is proudly called il Palazzo Municipale di Valeggio sul Mincio in Italian.
The bright, yellow and simple edifice, with almost no extra decorations, was built in typical for 19th century neoclassical style and houses the offices and the bureaus of the city administration. it's the second largest building in the town, after the huge edifice of St. Peter's church.
On sunny Sunday (8 May, 2005), the last day of the first European VT-meeting, large group of VT-ers decided to visit the most famous place in Valeggio sul Mincio - the Sigurta Gardens. Well, when we got to know that at least 3 hours are needed to see it, some of us had to say goodbuy and didn't enter the gardens.
Well, I am not a fan of gardens at all, although, surely, I like to see beautiful plants, blooming trees and flowers etc. Additionally I don't like to pay for seeing just a garden. That's why, at first, I thought that I paid too much for a ticket to see only a garden. I was mistaken, it's much more than a casual garden I saw many times around old properties of rich and famous.
Step by step walking around ubelievable large gardens (the largest I ever visited) I suprisingly discovered more than just casual beauty of plants, flowers and green space. I mean relaxing atmosphere, watching different visitors, discovering many small, hidden places, including some small historical markers. Add here very nice and interesting talkings with a few other VT-ers which allowed me to get to know them better. The Sigurta Gardens is first of all a place to relax.
MAP OF SIGURTA GARDENS
I got a leaflet in Italian, English and German (where was French?) together with a ticket to the Sigurta Garden. There was illustrated, schematic, but good enough, map of the gardens with two walking itineraries and their highlights marked. Unfortunatelly all explanations on the map were written hmm... exclusively in Italian, I wonder why? This map is available to download (in PDF) from here
Adults: € 8.50
Children 6 - 14 yo: € 6.00
Children 0 - 5 yo: free
More up-to-date details here
there is a discount coupon, worth € 1.50, available in a free leaflet on Valeggio, look for the leaflet at your hotel lobby.
Entrance: daily (March 6, 2005 - November 6, 2005) at 9.00 am - 6.00 pm; gates close at 7.00 pm (= no sunsets to see in the park, at least in May and summer). Up-to-date info here
When we entered the Sigurta Gardens, we turned left (west) towards Giardini Aquatici (Water Gardens) and after a short walk, we found, on the right, probably the best place to take pictures in the park. The bright red bushes on bright green grass made beautiful background for pictures. We had to wait the previous visitors to finish taking pictures at this place.
There are 18 charming and beautiful ponds in the Sigurta Gardens but they are mostly hidden among trees and the light is much more difficult for pictures there.
Numerous, colorful, blooming trees, flowers and bushes look very nice but the Sigurda Gardens offered more than just beautiful plants.
The highlights of the Gardens are listed and marked on the map I got with the ticket. There are 11 points along southern red trail and 8 points along the yellow trail in the northern part of the gardens. Let me share only a few best highlights, in my opinion:
1. Water Gardens with the view over Scaligero Castle (Giardini Aquatici);
2. The Little Castle ruins above a pond (Castelletto);
3. Avenue of Roses (Vialle delle rose)
4. The Little Lakes with Japanese fish of Koi family (Laghetti fioriti)
5. Bronze monument to Carlo Sigurta
6. Horizontal sundial (Meridiania orrizontale)
7. Cemetery of the Dog (Cimitero dei cani)
8. Neogothic church (Eremo).
Points 1-3 are along the Red Trail, points 4 -8 in the northern part of the Sigurta Gardens.
Thuja, coniferous, often tall tree of thin, conoidal crown, is common, decorative plant, in Mediterranean countries including Italy. They grow especially in the middle and southern Italy. And I surely found them in the Sigurta Gardens.
AMERICAN VERSUS EUROPEAN THUJAS
There are larger in size American species of thuja and smaller ones originating from... Eastern Asia (Korea, Japan ?, brought to Europe by Marco Polo?). The decorative, smaller in size, kinds of thuja are usually cut in tall conoidal shape or just grow that way. Thujas called Western redcedar, I saw in Washington and Oregon state (northwestern USA), in the wild, looked quite different not only because they were taller and larger (like almost everything in the USA :-): they had naked trunk with wider spread crown.
THUJAS VERSUS CEDARS
Thujas are known by the common, but incorrect name cedars which grow in the mountains above 1,000 m; I saw cedars in Morocco Atlas Mountains and on VT-pages on... Lebanon (look at the national flag of Lebanon to see one). I found a lot of "cedar" names in the USA but never cedar trees growing in the wild, instead, many cedar trees planted as landscape/decorative plants.
THUJAS, MEDICINES, PERFUMES
Thujas are also known as arborvitae (tree of life in Latin language), due to the evergreen leaves and the fact that the tree was a source of many traditional medicines. Extracts of the thuja's resin increase blood pressure and reduce fever. And sniff thuja's leaves or... some perfums, with a fragrant, balsamlike odor of thuja.