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A powder- puff of stawberry-coloured petals; “Yves Piaget”- an extraordinary rose.

G etting up before dawn for a trip to the flower market is always a bit of a sacrifice.

Yet, in the back of my mind is the knowledge that, once there, the sacrifice will be paid off as my senses are overwhelmed by colour and my soul fortified by all the hard work and enthusiasm of those whom I will find already hard at work. I throw myself out of bed.

I do feel that women struggle in the world of male rationality. Women need a touch of poetry and magic to mitigate the rigours of daily life. One day last June, on my professional quest for the right purchase ( always instructed by my subconscious quest for the poetry of things) I was pulled in a certain direction because, using the words of Savatore Di Giacomo the market “addorava de rose a centopassi” – the perfume of roses extended one hundred paces from the source. I followed that invisible thread of Ariadne which lead me to an exceptional rose.



It has a strawberry coloured powder puff with an imperfect stem, an alluring, full and joyous corolla which emanates a heady scent. This is the scent which has carried across the barriers of time and distance from the gardens of Versaille or Giuseppina Bonaparte’s Malmaison rose-garden; from the Orient-from China and Persia and the fertile valleys of the hanging gardens of Babylon.

If the classics have accompanied you through life, it is not easy to step back into reality from the all too frequent contemplation of history and time past. Yet, in that precise and very tangible moment I I had been suddenly overwhelmed by a rose and I could feel my heart racing with excitement. It was quite literally love at first sight, even for me, a timeworn lover of all flowers.

I see roses every day and I dare to say that modern- day rose usage has become such that we forget their real intrinsic value and position in the world of flowers.

When I met the grower Aniello Testa and “Yves Piaget” I was reminded of the importance of this species.

It was no longer sufficient just to see it in the market. I needed to see it growing and find out its history. The grower, amused by my enthusiasm, invited me to visit his nursery.

A few days later I was in my car and wending my way through the labyrinth of horticultural tunnels which cover the once wild and fertile Piana del Sele. My phone battery had of course died on me, so not even the illusion of GPS back- up was there to assist me but finally I drew up at the beautiful property of the Testa family.

I stood before and old stone farmhouse from whence I was taken through a groveof some 100 mulberry trees, to a sea of roses. Aniello and his children, Constantino and Antonietta showed me around and in their enthusiasm they had soon filled my arms with flowers.

We wove our way through the rows of incredible hybrids from all over the world and then, there beyond a regiment of “Lovely Reds”, I was once again united with what I can now say is my truest of true loves among roses.


“Yves Piaget” was brought to Southern Italy inthe 70s by Constantino Testa ( Aniello’s father).He would make a trip to France every year to increase the collection of varieties in his family nursery, which his father had founded in the early post war years, at the foot of Vesuvius.

In France he became familiar with the legendary Meilland rose gardens and met Alain Meilland, the sixth in the family line of generations of rose growers. It was Alain himself who introduced Costantino to the Yves Piaget rose, which was fruit of his latest research.   He introduced it to Costantino, informing him that “ she flowers throughout the warm season and you live in the South so what could be better! I love her because she has splendid character but is not perfect. She will surprise you as she changes every day from a small bud, exploding finally into a myriad of petals”.

Constantino was not difficult to convince and he purchased Yves Piaget believing it would bring good luck to his own business. Alain continued: “ The only meaning behind our work is beauty. The women who work with us have to share us with the roses; my wife forgives me when, before going to bed I repeat to her: “this evening my darling, your lips are more beautiful than any rose bud”

“Alain”, Costantino replied “ you are the typically incoriggable French romantic!

“Me? Romantic? They are not my words. I steal them straight from the Persian poet Omar Khayyam. Nothing to do with me!”

In the forty years since Costantino’s conversation with Alain, the production of roses for the flower markets became something of a single- track search for the perfect, straight stemmed, commercially viable rose ( even without thorns). Recently however there has been a return to variety and a greater spontaneity, among which the French Yves Piaget and the English roses which reflects a desire for a return to simple authenticity.

Today, Aniello Testa and his sister Giulia are the third generation of rose specialists. They believe in what they do. As we were chatting about different varieties, Aniello turned to his father and said “Papa’, are you happy?” Children always ask the best questions.

Back here in the shop, the “Testa roses” have been a great success. In reply to Aniello’s question to his father we can all say that we are happy for a return to the oldest and most interesting varieties which are once again available to us all thanks to the knowlegable and caring conservation work carried out by true believers in beauty, through those times of waning interest, crisis and adversity. They were the true poets of the roses, fully aware that the future would be requiring a good dose of beauty to help us all.



Anny Pellecchia

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