I am always attracted to green spaces…I love walking the belt line in Toronto, hiking in the Rockies, golfing as much to hit the ball, as to take in the scenery. It is no different in cities. I always seek out the parks and gardens.
Initially walking the streets of Florence is was not easy to see a lot of green..narrow streets with high walls, but I soon discovered that the city blocks of high walls held hidden gardens…most of which regrettably were private. With front green gardens not being a norm in Florence, I checked out the Florence city map and indeed found green slices for exploration.
The first of these was close to my first Florence apartment and I found I was skirting this large green space without my knowledge as I made my way to the old city. The map indicated it was Giardino Della Gherardesca…but as is typical in Florence it was surrounded by walls or homes. At 4.5 hectares it is one of the largest private gardens in the city and has been in existence since the 15th century…and like most things of value was owned at one time by the Medici family. Constanza de Medici married Count Guido Alberto della Gherardesca hence the name. I discovered walking the block where the map indicated the garden was located, it was flanked on two sides by entrances to the Four Season’s Hotel… and so I had my entrance.
Years ago, traveling with my friend Mary in Paris she shared with me a great traveling tip. In the great cities of the world, research the famed hotels, dress up and of a late afternoon, stroll in, make your way to the bar, and experience some of the best cocktails and wines in the most beautiful bars of the world and simply enjoy!!! the surroundings, the drinks and the people. So that is what I did in Florence.
Of a late Sunday afternoon I strolled into the Four Seasons and asked to be shown to the garden bar.
It was delightful!! First of all the terrace, the impeccable service and to my delight the garden was filled with art!!! All in all a priceless day, a lovely glass of wine and the experience of a beautiful garden museum.
The second garden is the famous Boboli gardens—a park behind the Medici’s Pitti Palace.
Entrance to the Pitti Palace includes entrance to the Boboli. It is 111 acres!!! In Medici times it was for the exclusive use of the Medici family—no entertainment or parties ever took place in it. A shame for as far as I am concerned, it would have been an amazing venue for a grand event.
The Boboli were laid out for Eleonora di Toledo, the wife of Cosimo I de Medici. The gardens had no natural water source, so a conduit was built from the nearby Arno to feed water into an elaborate irrigation system.
Even today the gardens are elaborate. I can only imagine what they must have been like in the Medici times. Statuary, an Egyptian obelisk, an ampitheatre, a hippodrome—a classical race course, garden temples, an orangery, fountains, Neptune, the Grotto of Vulcan and Bacchus.
Both these gardens were definitely worth the hours spent wandering through them.
The Last Garden I want to introduce you to is Giardino Incantanto ( Garden in Bloom). This was the name of the second apartment I rented in Italy. Just outside of Firenze ( a mere 10 minute bus ride into town) near Imprunetta, this lovely Tuscan home was surrounded by an amazing garden, the love of Fiametta, mother of Lorenzo my host. I spent 3 weeks in Giardino Incantanto a marvelous airbnb location.
The house was beautiful and large enough to host family and friends. I welcomed my daughter, my sister and brother in law, friends and cousins ..all of whom marveled at this beautiful space. We enjoyed it with coffee in the mornings and with wine in the evenings. It soon became the most photographed garden in Tuscany!!!