Two-Year Course of Postgraduate Specialization in ‘Restoration of Historical Gardens and Parks'

Project location: ITALY, Roma, Firenze
Project start date: September 2013 - Project end date: September 2014
Project number: 2013-004
Beneficiary: Università La Sapienza, Dipartimento di Storia, disegno e restauro dell'architettura

The cultural void and the delay presently existing in Italy in the field of restoration of historic gardens, as opposed to a general European and world situation, gave rise to the idea of setting up a research and dissemination activity linked with the course of Specialization; actually, in Italy, historic gardens, both public and private, are neglected or have improper or even dangerous restorations. The awakening of interest in the art of gardens that occurred in Italy since the 80 's of last century (I.C.O.M.O.S. - Carta del restauro dei giardini storici di Firenze) was not sufficient to fill the gap; in fact the initiatives that followed, although in several cases have been of a certain value, have had a different character from that proposed in the present course: they were focused on the training of the workforce or on the modern garden design, neglecting the historical garden theme and its restoration at professional level. Therefore, considering the large and quality Italian heritage of historic parks and gardens to be protected, the above mentioned cultural void, recognized abroad as in Italy, appears today absolutely serious.

This gap is even more evident if we look at French, English and German experiences, with numerous studies, publications and horticultural experiences, that between the late 18th and early 20th centuries have built a hardy and so lasting culture permeating even popular culture. Studies and experiences of similar practices were carried out in Italy by a few men, lacking in a true cultural and economic support and without successors (in Piedmont the family of gardeners Roda, in Tuscany the family of gardeners Pucci), so as not to redeem the topic from a provincial ambit, individual sphere of action, and not to leave significant traces in the collective culture.

More specifically, for example, since 1980 (the year editor of the I.C.O.M.O.S. - Carta del restauro dei giardini storici di Firenze, the awakening of the mentioned interest has resulted in an increase in educational activities (excluding schools for gardeners) which, briefly, can be synthesized as follows:
1. single subjects taught within University courses of magisterial degree (among others the teachings offered in Venice, Milan, Turin, Florence, Rome)
2. triennial University degree courses (among others the courses activated in Udine, Padua, Turin, Genoa, Rome, Catania)
3. Masters: public or private universities, etc.(several)
4. training or updating courses organized by local authorities (regions), associations or research centers or private universities (among others the courses activated in Padua, Florence, Rome).

The quality of such experiences is varied, but generally the interest in landscape related to environmental implications and the design of the contemporary projects is prevailing; furthermore, as mentioned, historic-artistic aspects and restoration at a professional level are neglected. Also quite a lot of courses consist of workshops having informative or important updating character, so they are educationally different from the original course that is here presented.

Reasons and objectives

The course is conceived as the centre of a cultural system related to the progressive setting up of a specialized library, to the research activity, to the translation of specialized texts and to the establishment of international relations. Such a conceived system ensures the improvement and updating of teaching, but also lays the ground of a specific cultural tradition, as rightly due with regard to European and world culture. It is for this reason that the School of specialization in architectural and landscape heritage - University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’ - Department of History, Representation and Restoration of Architecture, with its primary prestige in the field of architectural conservation and educational tradition, appears the proper site for the cultural project of restoration of historic gardens.

The course is conceptually new and, despite the accuracy with which it was drawn up , it plans to be improved and implemented in progress with results. For this reason it is expected that the teaching staff verify the structure of the course at the end of each biennium in the light of its own observations and those of the students. In particular the research will start with patience and method from the acquisition of the lexicon of the garden and landscape, working to translation of classical texts – mainly French, British and Germans which have already been important instruments in the creation of the great European vegetable cultures.

The course has a theoretical-practical character. For this reason one of the most challenging tasks of the academic staff is to prepare specific programs combining past and present, theory and praxis. Such work will require teachers themselves a preliminary work of analyses and synthesis for each discipline, and then developing a kind of teaching where learning passes through the experience. The student will learn criterions and techniques of restoration plan of historic gardens through direct experience with the help of the teacher. The teaching does not take place by means of seminars (to be used only for specific objectives), but through lectures (theoretical and practical), based on a predetermined schedule. The structural form and the didactics of the course is therefore carefully planned, but the content and didactic substance are such as to safeguard the freedom of creative and critical faculties of the students in the relationship between the knowledge and the choices for the restoration plan.

The international character

The international character of the course should be considered under two opposing viewpoints, as immediately useful to the course itself and as future international cultural return. It is expected to acquire right now, and to use operationally, the knowledge arising from other cultures, in the belief that the innovative conjugation between the Italian and foreign culture on restoration of historic gardens will bring a fruitful synthesis even internationally.

The course is organized according to a two-year educational plan arranged by the school, personally by professors Donatella Fiorani, Massimo de Vico Fallani and Giada Lepri, under the supervision of director of the school prof. arch. Giovanni Carbonara. The teaching staff consists of specialists and experts of different subjects, in part already teachers at school, partly outside itself; they will play a mainly practical teaching, in classroom and in restoration sites selected from the most important Italian parks and gardens, both public and private. Classrooms and teaching materials for conducting teaching courses are provided by the applicant graduate school. The course fee includes insurance that protects the students carrying out practical exercises. As showed in detail in annex course program, the first year is substantially dedicated to the formation of a basic culture, the second year aims to specific knowledge. Fundamental disciplines in the first year are: art history of gardens, theory and history of the restoration, botany, cultivation, phytopathology, hydraulics, architecture, etc.. Specialized themes of the second year are disciplines such as tree surgery, historical forms of the gardens, vegetable and mineral elements of the garden, restoration techniques of vegetable and mineral materials. The artistic and physical complexity of gardens has to be processed by teachers in historical and critical manner, summarizing aspects deemed functional to the goals of the course.


The school is accessed by open competition, examination for qualified candidates, with the title of second level degree (300 CFU). To the competition are admitted graduates in ' architecture ' of the old regulations of the school and of the new degree courses falling within class 4/S ‘architecture and civil engineering ', considered the reference class, with full recognition of 300 credits earned. Also may be admitted applicants provided with second level degree in classes 2/S 'Archaeology', 10/S 'architectural heritage conservation and environment', 12/S 'preservation and restoration of monuments', 95/S 'art history', subject to curricula evaluation on the part of the school to identify personal instructive debts. The course of restoration of historical gardens and parks is divided in two years, for a total of 120 credits per unit. It includes up to15 subjects.

This project, which received a grant from the Nando Peretti Foundation, aims to train professional men and women who are able to immediately and effectively manage and coordinate projects of restoration of historic gardens with the quality that is required for such an important asset, providing highly specialized offer of projects for domestic and international market.

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