Faces

Spring has Sprung!

Mother Nature knows what is coming, and she is ready. When our guests start arriving in May, the lush Grand Hotel Tremezzo gardens will be waiting in all their floral glory. From new blades of grass to green shoots on the hydrangeas, from a carpet of pink heather to thick buds on the azaleas, everything is beginning to stir. Spring has sprung; it is Lake Como’s sweetest season – and the busiest time of year for two men in particular. “Italian, Mediterranean and tropical elements all come together,” explains Riccardo Penuti.

This specific botanical blend was the brainchild of the great landscape architect Emilio Trabella, dubbed “the plant whisperer” by world-renowned architect Renzo Piano. “Emilio was a true master among us,” Penuti recalls, “but above all he was a friend who taught us to channel our passions and “live and breathe” this place. Caring for his most beautiful creations is our way of paying tribute to him every day. Only Emilio could have imagined the poetry of a jasmine vine transformed into the undulating ripples of the lake. I remember when he first showed us his designs in watercolor: We simply followed his instructions and, as the seasons progressed, everything turned out exactly as he had envisioned it. The colors – pinks, fuchsias, the reds of the azaleas and the rhododendrons – all blended into one another just as they had in his designs.”

For the last 20 years, Roberto Mezzanotti and Riccardo Penuti, gardeners of extraordinary sensitivity, have been the official “green thumbs” of Grand Hotel Tremezzo. So in tune with the rhythms and rhymes of our tranquil haven, they know every leaf, every root and every secret corner stretching from the snow-capped mountains down to the blue reflections of the lake. On a splendid sunny day, they are also the ones who guide guests down the paths meandering through our seven acres of unparalleled Italian landscape architecture.

“Lake Como, thanks to its microclimate, is one of the rare places we can find such a unique horticultural synthesis.”

Yet nothing is ever quite as majestic as Mother Nature herself – this is also a vital lesson we learned from Trabella. The Grand Hotel Tremezzo gardens area true testament to nature’s majesty. “At the top of the hill, there is an olive tree that is more than three hundred years old,” Roberto Mezzanotti reports. “And it is by no means the garden’s only centenarian. The monumental Deodar cedar that frames the pool and T Pizza is more than a century old, as is the Arbutus unedo, or strawberry tree, next to the T Shop – we just celebrated its 150th birthday!” After Italy was first unified in 1861, strawberry trees like these were planted for patriotic reasons, not only in the bygone gardens of the palace that would one day become Grand Hotel Tremezzo, but also in other famous villas on Lake Como, from Villa Carlotta and Villa Maria to Villa Passalacqua and Villa Margherita. The green leaves, white flowers and red fruit mirror the tricolor of Italy’s flag, so aristocratic families of the time planted them as a symbol of their allegiance to the Risorgimento movement and their affinity for the House of Savoy.

The magnolia at the entrance is young by comparison, a mere fifty years old, while the creeping fig covering the walls and the nineteenth-century archway is in its mid-twenties. Still others are more recent arrivals: In addition to new jasmine vines, palm trees, azaleas, rhododendrons, olive trees, maples and bamboo, more than six thousand pansies were recently planted across the park. Their white petals dotted here and there invite us to pause. To pause and prepare for nature to unleash its triumph of color and countless shades of green. Here, life is at once centuries-old and fresh-as-dew. That is why we feel such a sense of harmony and balance in the Grand Hotel Tremezzo gardens. All things remembered; all things born anew.