This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

A perfect palazzo

Acclaimed landscape designer Arabella Lennox- Boyd tells Arabella Youens about her childhood home in Lazio, Italy


RABELLA LENNOX-BOYD is a landscape designer who has won numerous gold medals at Chelsea. Born in Italy, she’s

married to the former conservative MP Sir Mark Lennox-Boyd and they live between Lancashire, London and Palazzo Parisi in Italy. At the outbreak of the Second World War, her father bought the palazzo, which dates from the 15th century, when it was only accessible by mule. It’s a mellow Renaissance building that sits in the Sabine Hills, about an hour and a half from Rome’s Fiumicino airport.

The history The house is in a beautiful area of Italy that’s now renowned for its olive oil—regu- larly recognised as the best in the country. It was my childhood home and I was brought up between there and Rome. My parents were both Italian, but I had an English nanny who was sent to the Vatican for the duration of the war which, being a strict Presbytarian, she loathed. My father was advised to buy the house, but it wasn’t a good investment as the land is too hilly to farm, but my mother decided to make it her life and she embraced it and became a farmer.

The changes When my father died in 2001, I took over the reins and restored the property— refitting the bathrooms, the decorations, putting an infinity swimming pool in and essentially converting it into a comfortable home. It’s very big. There’s no central heat- ing, so the winters can be a little chilly, but in the summer, it’s perfect as the walls are 3ft thick and keep the house wonderfully cool. My father didn’t want me to rent the

house as he was a bit old-fashioned, but in 2002, we started to let it for a few weeks. The rental season begins in the last week- end of May and runs until the end of

82 Country Life International, Spring 2014

Arabella Lennox-Boyd on the shady terrace at Palazzo Parisi, which is charmingly planted with roses

October. For a large family or house party made up of different families, it’s perfect— it comes with a wonderful cook and two lovely women who help and there’s a gar- dener, too. It sleeps 10.

The garden There’s a formal garden around the base of the house and I’ve created a new loggia where you can sit with a lovely glass of something and take in the views. There’s a walk down to the chapel with roses, irises and olives and, to the right side of the path, I plant perennials every year so, in theory, and if the weather is right, it flowers right up to the end of October. However, I’m a bit puritanical about water, so if it’s been a hot summer, we don’t water very much. Beyond the chapel, there are more borders and then the pool, which is also planted with olives and lots of roses, lavender and rosemary.

The setting The village is very old-fashioned and doesn’t seem to have been touched by much in years. People do a little bit of this and

a little bit of that; they are very unhurried. I always say to our guests: ‘I do hope you understand that this is Italy.’ You could be having an afternoon snooze on the terrace and find the lady from the village who sells underwear approaching. And on the first Sunday in September is the village festa, with a band, fireworks and processions to the church.

Favourite haunts nearby There’s a wonderful rose nursery in Rieti called Le Rose di Piedimonte (www., which I love to go to. And, of course, there are some wonderful gardens to visit, including Ninfa, Villa Lante (Sir Roy Strong’s favourite Italian garden, Country Life Travel, December 18, 2013) and Castello Ruspoli at Vignanello. Otherwise, there are plenty of walks and drives to do in the autumn through the beech forest as well as beautiful towns and villages that make good day excursions. Palazzo Parisi is available to rent from £5,000 a week (020–7931 9995; www.

Giancarlo Gardin

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84