Lucca's Festival of Antique Camellias
March may seem early to visit Tuscany but for Camellia lovers the hills just East of Lucca are a feast to the eyes. The annual festival of Camellias is centred around the villages of Pieve di Compito and San Andrea di Compito. This unassuming collection of villages hosts one of Europe's most important shows of camellias. Examples of these beautiful plants were first brought to the area in the 16th century by local merchants. These hills harbour one of the most important collections of Camellias.
There are many events that take place over the three weekends of the festival including Japanese tea ceremonies held in the grounds of the beautiful Villa Orso but for me the highlight is wondering around the villagers and being able to visit private gardens. I also made the wonderful and exciting discovery that these hills cultivate fine organic tea, only in very small quantities. For an English girl how exciting is that!
For practical information visit the website on http://www.camelielucchesia.it
There is a shuttle bus from Lucca. Ask at the tourist office or you can park your car at either Carraia or Pieve di Compito.