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Gardens of Florence #8: giardino dell’Orticultura, a locals’ garden in the city centre

Gardens of Florence #8: giardino dell’Orticultura, a locals’ garden in the city centre

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Born as an ‘experimental garden’ in the middle of the 19th century, the Via Bolognese park in northern Florence is today one of the most beloved and quiet places to visit during spring and summer. In addition to the renaissance Loggetta Bondi, in the giardino dell’Orticultura there is also a large glass and iron greenhouse, considered one of the most beautiful in Italy, as well as the rarest when built following design of Giacomo Roster. The greenhouse is used today for celebrating events, parties, food and cultural activities, while the garden houses the Municipal Library of Horticulture, hosting since 1862 horticultural exhibitions in order to promote the ‘knowledge of good horticultural practices.’ The feeling here is that of a ‘neighbourhood park,’ despite located not far from the tourist hustle in the historic centre. It has a bar with terrace which is frequented mostly by university students.

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Gardens of Florence #2: Walking through lemon trees and turtles in giardino Corsini al Prato

Gardens of Florence #2: Walking through lemon trees and turtles in giardino Corsini al Prato

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The unexpected Florence is found in Porta al Prato, a surprise standing among the noise of the tram and the traffic, in Via della Scala. Here lies the garden-oasis at the back of Palazzo Corsini al Prato, an impressive but decadent building from 1590. Its garden is home to about 180 citrus trees (mostly lemon trees), as well as wisteria, lecithins, roses, tulips and peonies. Additionally, a hundred turtles roam freely around the land. This site is preserved from mass tourism and offers an unprecedented experience. Also, the garden hosts every May the exhibition of craftsmen of the palace.
(Via il Prato, 58 – EUR10 admission)…

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Gardens of Florence #7: giardino delle Rose

Gardens of Florence #7: giardino delle Rose

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The giardino delle Rose is one of the most beautiful panoramic gardens of Florence. Here bloom some varieties of roses even in late autumn. Created by the architect Giuseppe Poggi in 1865, the giardino delle Rose is nowadays a sculptural park of reduced dimensions. Located on the hill of San Miniato, just below the piazzale Michelangelo, this garden holds a privileged position and stands as a perfect «green balcony» towards San Niccolò. From this place it is possible to view the whole city at a glance. The garden of the Roses has around a thousand varieties of roses and other ornamental plants, in addition to twelve sculptures by Jean-Michel Folon. Here one can sunbathe, read, take a nap, walk and contemplate other not so typical architectural sites of the city.
Giardino delle Rose – Viale Giuseppe Poggi 2 – open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m – free entrance

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Gardens of Florence #1: giardino dei Semplici

Gardens of Florence #1: giardino dei Semplici

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The Garden of the Simples is the third oldest botanical garden in the world. It displays a rich variety of medicinal plants within its grounds and greenhouses, reaching up to nine thousand samples of Tuscan conifers, palm trees and edible plants, as well as exotic flora from different climates and countries. Today it belongs to the Museum of Natural History of the University of Florence, and is located next to the Basilica of San Marco. It was conceived in 1545 by Cosimo I de’ Medici as a space for complimentary lessons to students from the nearby medical school. Nowadays, rather than by tourists, this green space is most frequented by school groups.
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Gardens of Florence #5: il giardino di Santa Maria Novella, flowers and fruits of Florentine tradition

Gardens of Florence #5: il giardino di Santa Maria Novella, flowers and fruits of Florentine tradition

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The garden of the prestigious perfume brand Santa Maria Novella is located in Firenze-Castello, close to the Medician villa of La Petraia. In this 161,458 ft² paradise still operates the ancient tradition of harvesting the hortus conclusus, just as the Dominican friars used to do in the monastery as of thirteenth century. In the garden and orchard of Santa Maria Novella grow all extracts and essences needed for the elaboration of the perfumes and other products of the legendary brand. The aroma of plants, trees and shrubs; the butterflies and lizards; the Tuscan sun; the Duomo of Florence in the distance … A perfect anti-stress frame prone to relaxation in a pure natural state. (Un)fortunately, it is not open to the public, so better ask for an appointment. (visiteofficina@smnovella.com).
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Gardens of Florence #14: Giardino Villa La Pietra

Gardens of Florence #14: Giardino Villa La Pietra

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Villa La Pietra is currently the headquarters of New York University (NYU) in Italy. Its garden is by far my favourite private garden in Florence and it is one of the most renowned in Italy. Built by the Acton Family between 1908 and the beginning of the Second World War, its design is very much inspired by the real Renaissance gardens of Florence, though it also contains elements of the many gardening trends and styles popular since then.…

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Gardens of Florence #3: giardino Bardini, splendour in the grass

Gardens of Florence #3: giardino Bardini, splendour in the grass

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Florence reaches its climax in early April as wisteria flowers blossom at Giardino Bardini. This historic garden, built with fountains and statues in English and Baroque style, is placed on a steep hill of Oltrarno. Its open green space was made public after restoration in 2007. Best to explore it is — possibly with someone loved — at eight in the morning, when just gardeners are around. Further wonders include the Belvedere, Giardino Boboli or the hike up to Costa San Giorgio and Porta San Giorgio, before pleasantly walking down to Porta San Niccolò along the trace of the old city wall.

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Gardens of Florence #12: Serre Torrigiani

Gardens of Florence #12: Serre Torrigiani

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It is a real privilege to visit the Torrigiani garden and greenhouse (serre) in Florence. Linked to the Serre Torrigiani greenhouse, Vieri Torrigiani Malaspina has always devotedly taken care of the garden. You can see this is his real passion when he talks about its charms to visitors. «I was born in this garden, and I have spent here and in the countryside all my entire life. I graduated as Agrarian Engineering in Florence, and in the seventies, I expanded the existing small plant nursery to exploit it as a company, besides taking care of the garden for my family and me,» comments Vieri. At the same time, I think to myself, “What a marvellous thing to have grown up here.” Torrigiani is one of the oldest aristocratic families of Florence. The first fashion show linked to the Pitti fashion events took place in this location.

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Gardens of Florence #13: parco delle Cascine, the largest public park in Florence

Gardens of Florence #13: parco delle Cascine, the largest public park in Florence

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It takes longer to cross the Park Le Cascine (parco delle Cascine) than to cross the historical centre of Florence, this gives an idea of its size. This park is the favourite for those who want — or try — to get fit. Its proximity to the river Arno also makes it an ideal place to organize a picnic or lie down to sunbathe. Usually, it is not very busy, not even on a Saturday at noon on a mid-spring sunny day. Except for some fountains, an eccentric pyramid, and some other ornamental lamps, there is no other human imprint or artifices made by the man, not even terraces or cafes, except the two food trucks that are next to a recreational mini-zone with decadent fairground attractions for children.

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Gardens of Florence #4: parco mediceo di Pratolino

Gardens of Florence #4: parco mediceo di Pratolino

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This monumental complex, property of the City of Florence, is included since 2013 in the Unesco World Heritage list. In addition to housing The Colossus of the Appenines, the work of Giambologna for which it is perhaps best known, the Medicean Park in Pratolino contains two Italian gardens and another one in romantic style due to modifications in the 19th century, when the property passed to the Lorena and later to the Demidoff. …

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