The Gavinell Botanic Garden is located approximately 3 km outside Salsomaggiore. The garden extends over a planted area of 12 hectares, with some 50,000 m. open to the public. There are more than 450 species of medicinal plant and herbs to admire, some of them very rare and native, arranged by family and healing properties. Among them, one of the most notable for its beauty and importance is the extraordinary White Lavender of Salsomaggiore, which is found only in the Botanic Garden.
Surrounded by a beautiful landscape of rolling hills, visitors can linger in the ‘Hortus Conclusus’, or enclosed garden, a historically accurate reconstruction of an area of medieval gardens used for quiet contemplation. In this section of the Gavinell estate, the gardeners have drawn on period documents and accounts to recreate a garden precisely like those that would have been found in many ancient monasteries and medieval castles, where prayer and meditation went hand-in-hand with working the land and studying the beneficial properties of herbs. In 1995, an innovative research project was launched, involving the Faculty of Agriculture of Parma University and the National Research Centre of Scandicci (Florence), to collect olive tree varieties that were more cold-hardy, in order to assess their adaptability to different climatic conditions compared to those traditionally encountered. The flourishing olive grove of the Gavinell Botanic Garden represents the return of an ancient crop, as olives were grown on the hills of Salsomaggiore in the middle ages. Gavinell is open for unguided visits by tourists and families, and also welcomes organised group visits.
The Botanic Garden, a pioneering scientific research centre, also offers visitors the chance to enjoy a guided tour accompanied by an expert guide, in order to appreciate and learn more about the plants in their natural setting. For schools, there is a guided tour programme complete with teaching support material. One programme specifically tailored to school groups is “Scuola in Fattoria” (Schools on the Farm), a series of proposals and educational opportunities designed to bring together the key aspects of nature, farming and the use of medicinal herbs and products made from them.
The garden has a Herbalist Shop selling herbal teas, infusions, creams, bath salts, medicinal herbs, honey and other food preparations made with the famous thermal salt of Salsomaggiore, plus a Perfumery, where visitors can sample fragrances, perfumes, oils and cosmetic and food products created with the garden’s precious herbs.
The garden is located 3 km far from the city centre on the SP 359 R in the direction of Pellegrino Parmense.
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