In a document that Bernard Berenson entitled “On the Future of I Tatti,” composed towards the end of his life in the 1950’s, he dedicated a short but significant paragraph to the garden and grounds of Villa I Tatti. His intention was “that not a single square yard of the grounds…ever be alienated” because he wanted this land to “serve as a protection against the invasion of the suburbs and to promote a feeling of free space and of distance.” Today, for anybody who takes a bus to the area from downtown Florence, the first green space they encounter are the fields, vineyards and olive groves that were meant to constitute the “free space” surrounding Berenson’s villa and his garden. Aerial photographs of the property and its surroundings furnish an eloquent testimony of how this green area has not only survived, but has also continued to provide the protection Berenson envisioned half a century ago.
The gardens and grounds of Villa I Tatti are very much part of an integral visual experience. The gardens and the grounds constitute an inherited landscape with a strong historical component that also needs to be kept in order to offset the ravages of time. This need for conservation partially reflects laws with regard to historic landscape preservation that have been passed by the Italian government from the early 20th century up until 1991, as well as reflects I Tatti’s intent to maintain the agricultural land as well as possible while still producing above all wine and oil. The gardens cover ca. 3.2 hectares (7 acres), while the rest of the property covers a total of more than 30 hectares (66 acres).