Lucia Panzetta, a landscape artist from the northern Italian countryside, resides in the small village of Campitello Di Marcaria, located in the Lombardy region about 93 miles southeast of Milan. Known for her eye for beauty, Panzetta was raised on a sprawling family farm and took early lessons of the land to heart. At dinner with ASPIRE Metro, she shared her secrets to stunning design and the blooms that are her personal favorites.
Alice Garbarini Hurley: Ciao! Did you grow up immersed in natural beauty?
Lucia Panzetta: I was raised on a huge farm in Mantova, and on the property, there was an ancient palace that belonged to the Earl Malatesta in 1690. It was his summer residence, and yes, it was beautiful. I have been traveling quite a lot, but my heart always needs to come back home.
AGH: Was it a working farm?
LP: In the beginning, my father had a stall with cows. He used the milk to produce our famous Italian Grana Padano, beloved worldwide. You know it as Parmesan. Nowadays, there are no more cows on the farm, only a field for corn crops and a photovoltaic installation (which converts solar energy into electric current). It’s a real modern farm, where almost all the tractors are John Deere!
AGH: Were you a farmhand?
LP: No. My father decided that women wouldn’t work the farm with him because it was true, hard labor. So, even if I would have preferred to stay in direct contact with nature, I had to dedicate myself to the financial aspects of the farm. Eventually, my deep passion and my fate carried me to find work in nature. I always tell myself I am a daughter of the arts.
AGH: What do you love about gardening?
LP: The garden has always been my “grande passione.” I don’t consider it work to design a garden; it’s fun. I transmit this feeling through colors that are energetic, vibrant and emotional.
I am inspired by the location, but simplicity must reign unchallenged, thus creating a work of art. I design both private and public gardens from Parma to Treviso, always following the project from design to construction.
AGH: What’s inspiring about your surroundings?
LP: I live in a lovely farmhouse with garden views you wouldn’t believe. On warm, sunny Italian days, I can see the impressive shapes of the Alpi Mountains to the north and the Apennine Mountains in the opposite direction.
AGH: Tell us your favorite season.
LP: I enjoy all the seasons with their particular nuances. For me, it’s just learning what nature can offer and teach me. I’m sure I could not live in a place where there are no changes all year. I need warm, sunny weather; cold, white winters; and the changing paths that are the middle seasons.
AGH: It seems like circles play a big part in your planning.
LP: I do love round shapes; they create harmony in gardens. I love utilizing circular design to give the impression of something closed without feeling stifling. I want people to be able to go over and over the garden with their eyes; I want my projects to help them “discover” without losing simplicity. In my gardens, you can find different spaces and paths looking both inside and outside of the garden itself. I’ve always been interested in well defined lines and labyrinths too.
AGH: Tell us about the garden you designed near a historic palace.
LP: That was in Como by Palazzo Cernezzi, circa 1650. The design consists of three bands of ornamental plants to create the illusion of a bronze colored cushion. At the ends are contrasting shapes and colors, with drifts of Hydrangea paniculata (Candlelight). My intention was to create a project that was simple to understand and that could give an immediate vision of the path to be followed – a modern design within a historical scenario.
AGH: What kind of sculpture and art do you incorporate into your landscape designs?
LP: I made a steel fountain to create the effect of a water table. I also used some LED lights so that this amazing scene could be enjoyed at night. This could work in a public square or a small corner of a private garden. Just behind the fountain, I planted a little spot of Hydrangea paniculata to create a contrast in shapes and colors. These flowers are perfectly suitable for even a very old place; they’re timeless.
AGH: You inherited a gift for nature from your father. Are you passing it on?
LP: I am the mother of a 17-year-old lady with a lot of passions (guess where they came from!) that are not, for now, focused on gardening. However, she loves nature and assists me on projects. She also loves traveling and playing guitar.[nggallery id=47 template=”sliderview”]
Favorite cup of caffè?
Nice, warm Italian espresso enjoyed in a coffee shop (the Italian “bar”).
Red for energy, vibrations and strong feelings, and a bit of blue for peace and equilibrium.
Flowers you favor?
Definitely Helleborus (from the Ranunculaceae family) and Gerbera daisies, but I really do love them all.
Gardening tool you can’t live without?
Gardens that have inspired you?
I am truly and sincerely in love with our Italian gardens, but I also love the ones with grasses by Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf.
The One by Dolce&Gabbana.
PHOTOGRAPHY | Dario Fusaro
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