Poggio Alto – Paradise on Earth

Flavia Arzeni, acclaimed writer and one of our house owners writes about her country home Poggio Alto (available to rent exclusively through Tuscany Now & More) and the many benefits of spending time in the garden. Read the article about her book “Il Paradiso è sulla Terra” on the Italian magazine Case e Stili below.

Flavia Arzeni, professor of modern and contemporary German literature at the Faculty of Humanitarian Studies at La Sapienza University in Rome, was for years the great woman behind a great man. She followed her husband Boris Biancheri-ambassador in Tokyo, London, and Washington and great mediator between Italy and the US, as well as being an acclaimed journalist and writer-all over the world. Flavia shared and made the most of these experiences, enriching he culture and her sensitivity, cultivating the desire to communicate and transmit. She was born into the art world. Her father, Bruno Arzeni, was a translator and a poet. She followed in his footsteps writing “Berlin”, “A Literary Journey”, “The Picture and the Sign”, and “The Japonism in European Culture”. However, it is with her other work; “An Education to Happiness” and “The Lesson of Hesse and Tagore” that Flavia reveals the secret to happiness hidden in the German philosopher’s and Indian poet’s works: The secret of happiness is in the garden where everyone can curate the flowers, trees and plants of their choice. Her book in fact is a small manual on how to be happy based on the life and works of Tagore Rataindranath and Hermann Hesse: Both representatives of different worlds and cultures but unided by the same ideal of harmony and wisdom. Her book offers a four step course to happiness, exploring the literary aspect of gardens through the quotes and verses of two masters: 1) The act of giving to nature; 2) Creating and cultivating green space; 3) Using gardening as a meditation; 4) Applying the teachings of Hesse and Tagore.


A life project.
These are the views of the garden surrounding Flavia Arzeni’s house. Olive and cypress tress can be seen throughout with fields of sunflowers, and beautifully kept shrubberies. A small waterfall splashes in the background and the smoke of burning twigs in a circle of stones represent the elements of a purification ritual that brings man closer to nature through meditation. An inner journey to happiness made of small things and gestures in the garden. On the right is the teacher and writer Flavia Arzeni. A life project. Views of the garden surrounding the house Cetona and Flavia Arzeni personally. Olivoe cypress trees alternate with shrubs and fields of sunflowers edi flowers; the splashing of the small waterfall or the smoke of burning twigs in the circle of stones represent elements of a purification ritual that brings man closer to nature and predisposes to meditation as inner journey to happiness, made of small things and gestures not utilitarian, how to take care of the garden. In the right picture, the teacher and writer Flavia Arzeni. The natural order. The unbreakable bond between man and nature is an incentive to create green spaces. A small oasis of stability taught by the coexistence of different plants.


Flavia writes about the inner stability linked to the cyclical rhythms in nature. Her writings are a way of life inspired by the secret garden in her country home between Umbria and Tuscany on the rolling hills of Cetona with stunning views of the villages of Città della Pieve. A myriad of brightly colored plants and fruits and their sweet scents become a symbol of humility and authenticity. The writer agrees with Hesse and Tagore on the theory that the garden produces a profound joy and a serene and life-giving spirituality. New freedoms can be enjoyed increasing discipline and patience by observing nature’s process over time. A slowness that Flavia lives intensely when working on her magical garden, kneeling to tend to her plants; watering them, planting new ones, or reaping their fruits and flowers. These gestures become her symbolic rites, that induce her to meditate, to cheer her up and that inspire her to be more gentle with the world. Her mood is heightened by the bubbling water of the artificial lake and by the smoke of the burning twigs in the stone circle; both created with her own hands. This dream like state release Flavia from daily stress. Working in the garden is for her, a perpetual meditation exercise, which leads her to give the answers that each of us seeks on the meaning of life and the fruitless search for the secret to happiness.

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