Italian Botanic Love

Wednesday 21st March 2018

The importance of Italian values and customs is easily seen in the symbolic
flowers of Italy. The Lily in the national flower of the country but according to
its popularity the Violet is also considered a floral symbol, and still there are
many more flowers and plants which are part of the Italian traditions and its
beautiful landscape.

Pictured: Lily, the national flower of Italy and Violet, an Italian favorite

The most traditional flowers used for gifting in Italy are the Orange tree flower,
White Lily, Violet, and Roses. Hand-crafted, edible and decorative Italian
confetti flowers are also liked by Italians especially for birthdays and
celebrations. To be avoided is the Chrysanthemum, only used for funerals and
mourning. The flowers which the Italian people love to grow in Italy are
Oleanders, Bougainvillea, Jasmine, Crocus, Cyclamen, Bluebell, Iris, Violets and

Pictured (L to R): Oleander, Bougainvillea, Jasmine

In addition to these wonderful flowers, is the backdrop for such colourful
plants. Who could imagine Tuscany without olive groves, cypresses, pines and
vineyards? This idyllic landscape of the Pratomagno region, where I
live, boasts these Tuscan wonders and which helped inspire my first fabric
and wallpaper collection. Higher up, on sunnier and gentler slopes, within the
chestnut groves, below the beech forests and the high pastures, there are
villages that once existed on the resources of these landscapes. I live
upon the slopes of the Pratomagno hills where my house, especially during the
spring and summer months, is surrounded by beautiful flowers and plants.
The Sambuco or Elderflower plant and the Ailanthus tree are two such
flowering plants and trees which inhabit the Tuscan region of the Ferragamo
estate near Arezzo. They are two of Ailanto’s first ever designs, with particular
focus on the fragility of the leaves, delicate flowers, seeds and berries. The
botanical focus on the first collection highlights my delight at the
natural beauty which is on my doorstep.

Pictured: Elderflower (or Sambuco), Ailanto’s Sambuco design in Coffee & Pink (right)

Ailanthus (or Semi), Ailanto’s Semi design in Lilac seed & coffee (right)

Living immersed in landscapes of great natural beauty, Tuscans have always
had a deep love of flowers and gardens. The Medici family dedicated much of
their fortune to re-creating stunning gardens in their villas and palazzos both in
cities and the countryside. In the 15th Century Botticelli’s paintings include
floral attributes. Primavera, commissioned by Lorenzo de Medici and first
recorded by art historian Vasari who saw it at Villa Castello, just outside
Florence in 1550, is a stunning mythical portrayal of Venus and Spring in all its
glory. The talented Vasari had some experience as a botanical artist in his
youth. When he was 26 years old and working in Arezzo, he focused on the
drawing of plants “portrayed and coloured from nature”. Flowers have also
been used in sacred art for centuries to distinguish Saints and biblical stories.
The Lily, as the national flower of Italy, is also used as an attribute for the
Virgin Mary, as it symbolizes purity and chastity, and often seen in depictions
of the Annunciation – as seen here in Rossetti’s painting where Gabriel
presents Mary with a Lily.

Primavera, Sandro Botticelli, 1482

A detail of botanical detailed embroidery, Primavera

The Annunciation, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1850