Lower Mortola and Sir Thomas Hanbury
On the Flower Riviera, a village clinging to the headland guards a small garden of Eden
What it is and where it is
We head toward the Balzi Rossi Prehistoric Museum as we pass through the seaward promontory of Lower Mortola. Admiring the crystal clear sea and lush nature, I am suddenly overwhelmed by memories that seem like a lifetime ago. In my memory I retrace the steps I took as a child when, with school, we visited the village and, later, the Hanbury Gardens. What about the Grotto of the Children? In 2 hours the museum will close.... No worries: after all, we are on our way, aren't we? Let's stop!
Why it's special
In the heart of the village, nestled on the top of the promontory, in the quiet little square dedicated to St. Maurus, stands a pink building, next to the parish. It rises like a flower from the bare rock spouting like a fountain from the smooth pavement. There, the bust dedicated to Sir Thomas Hanbury, one of England's greatest benefactors who, at the end of the 19th century, was able to grasp the extraordinary potential of this area, so much so that he immersed himself in a grandiose project, now an immense botanical garden.
Not to be missed
The hamlet holds the story of an unbreakable relationship with Sir Thomas Hanbury and keeps it as an intimate secret, as intimate is the atmosphere one breathes from this cluster of cottages overlooking the sea and surrounded by exotic plants and flowers. After visiting here and retracing the steps of the English lord, delve into his gardens and discover the wonders of nature, the colors, the fruits, the animals, the beauty of a recreated forest by the sea.
A bit of history
Hanbury immediately fell in love with this enchanting place, as happened to many Europeans who came to vacation along the coast of Liguria. He, despite being an esteemed businessman, closed his business in China in 1869 and, in 1871, decided to settle permanently at Cape Mortola, where, as early as 1867, he had purchased the now uninhabited villa from the Orengo family of Roccasterone and its gardens. Its management, now entrusted to the University of Genoa, guarantees you entry into a tropical oasis full of charm.
Both Sir Thomas Hanbury and his wife, Katherine Aldam Pease, loved the promontory so much-not only their garden, but also the hamlet outside-that they decided to be buried here. In fact, one of the best-known architectural elements within the complex is Moresco Mausoleum, called by some "the Hanbury tomb," since their ashes are buried there, which still nourish the land of their fulfilled dream, now available for all to enjoy.
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