Gardens of Florence #9: giardino di Boboli, the paradigm of a 16th century Italian garden

Gardens of Florence #9: giardino di Boboli, the paradigm of a 16th century Italian garden

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The Boboli Gardens date back to 1418, when Luca Pitti bought its land in Oltrarno with the intention of building the magnificent Pitti Palace, later owned by the Medici family. The landscaping was commissioned by the Medici to Niccolò Tribolo, the famous architect responsible for the gardens of their villas of Castello and La Petraia. However, after the premature death of Tribolo, it was Bartolomeo Ammannati who finished the job. The Boboli is the paradigm of the 16th century Italian garden, as well as one of the largest historical parks in Florence. Around the main axes are placed avenues, hedges, terraces full of statues and fountains. The first operas of history were also represented in its open air amphitheatre.
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Gardens of Florence #8: giardino dell’Orticoltura, a locals’ garden in the city centre

Gardens of Florence #8: giardino dell’Orticoltura, 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, 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 #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 #6: giardino dell’Iris

Gardens of Florence #6: giardino dell’Iris

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Each year Florence is ready to witness the flowering of the iris in the giardino dell’Iris. It is located in piazzale Michelangelo and was founded in 1954 with the aim of organizing an annual international contest to reward the best varieties of iris. Florence is considered the natural home of the iris because of the bond that this flower always had with the history of the city. The emblem of Florence is a red iris in a white field, and not a lily, as is mistakenly believed. The site offers panoramic views of the city thanks to a surface of approximately two and a half hectares on the hill of an olive grove. It is divided by paths and stone paths, flowerbeds and stairs. Here one can see the variants of the iris: intermediate and dwarf bearded, Japanese, Sibiric, Louisiana … In addition to guided tours in Italian and English, watercolor painting courses are also offered.
Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Last admission, half an hour before closing time. Free entrance…

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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 #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 #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 – 10 euros admission)…

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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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Stibbert Park, a romantic English garden on the outskirts of Florence

Stibbert Park, a romantic English garden on the outskirts of Florence

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There is life beyond the historical centre and, above all, many areas for the bucolic self-recreation. In this not so travelled — excluding joggers and some gite scolastiche — public garden of Montughi, in the vicinity of Florence, there are an exotic Egyptian temple by Frederick Stibbert in the middle of an artificial lake, a circular Hellenic temple with a dome of enamelled tiles, as well as sculptures, caves, benches and picnic areas here and there. One just needs to take a pleasant half-hour walk from the historic centre to reach the Stibbert Museum. Born in Florence in 1838, Frederick Stibbert, a regular traveller and passionate collector of antiques, brought together the three family traditions, the British, the Anglo-Indian and the Italian, which influenced his education and cultural taste. The great project of his life was to transform the family house of Montughi into a museum, which today belongs to the cultural heritage´s of Florence. There´s nothing like to start the day feeling intoxicated by the life and the freshness of these gardens.
Museo-Parco Stibbert

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Glamour and garbage disposal in Florence

Glamour and garbage disposal in Florence

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I think to myself quite a lot of nonsense every time I throw the garbage in Florence. Depending on where one resides, garbage disposal in Florence requires a walk of 200 or 300 meters to the nearest container. In other cities you can do so in pyjamas or in slippers, with tousled hair and sleepy dust in the eyes, but in Florence certain composure and sophistication is needed. One never knows whom you could meet on such particularly long journey … I would normally expect “no one”, although I admit this garbage issue always makes me blush. Especially, as I live in a busy street in the historic centre. I come across tourists with their bags from Gucci or Miu Miu, while carrying mine full of rubbish, with plenty of bottles of Coca Cola Zero Gusti Limone, beer, wine, champagne, wet butts and tee bags, dry bread, used tissues and fish remains with its pervasive and putrid aroma. Above all, I’m afraid someone will suddenly appear and perceive all contains. Undoubtedly, one can deduce almost everything from a person by looking into the contents of his garbage bag.…

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