Spring in Florence….love is in the air, flowers in bloom. And it makes for a perfect visit to Florence’s famous sixteenth century Italian gardens behind the Pitti Palace…. the Boboli Gardens.
In this episode I take you on a lush journey through a Renaissance natural masterpiece.
Palazzo Pitti was originally built in mid 1400’s for banker Luca Pitti, big rival of de Medici family, the political and banking dynasty of Florence. A century later, when the building costs bankrupt Pitti’s heirs, the Medici bought it. Talk about adding insult to financial injury.
The gardens were planned in the mid 1500′s for Elenora di Toledo, the wife of Duke Cosimo I de Medici. What we see today is a process of enlargement that has occurred through the centuries.
Centered behind the Palace is the amphitheater, unifying the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens. Reminiscent of an ancient hippodrome, or racetrack, the amphitheater was dug out of a large stone quarry at the foot of Belvedere Hill creating the center stage…a stage that is still in use for concerts and plays. The top of the seating area contains 24 niches which hold ancient mythical statues. A glimpse of the ancient world can be seen in the tall Egyptian obelisk brought from the Villa Medici in Rome….and garden sculptures that includes Roman antiquities along with 16th and 17th century pieces can be seen throughout.
Beyond the amphitheater is the fountain of Neptune, where the pagan god is surrounded by tritons.
Before we move further into the gardens, there are a couple of unique things I’d like to show you. To the left of the amphitheater is The Large Grotto, or Grotta di Buontalenti, named after Bernado Buontalenti who worked on it in the late 1500′s.In the video we explore this unusual and fascinating cave, its unusual frescoes, drip-like formations, and splendid sculptures.
Grotta di Buontalenti was also featured in the recent novel by Dan Brown, “Inferno“. If you’ve read Inferno, in the video you can see what this incredible cave looks like!
After you leave the grotto, you will pass by the Bacchus Fountain! The chubby figure was supposed to be Cosimo the I’s court dwarf as Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. He’s here straddling a turtle. He looks like he dabbled into a bit too much vino, no?
Making your way upward through the gardens, you get the impression that it’s tiered. In the midst of this scenic delight, you’ll find many people sleeping, reading, relaxing…and me, of course, eating!! What a better place for a picnic with a view than at the Boboli Gardens!!
You can spend all day exploring the Boboli Gardens, but I’ll take a moment to smell the roses in Giardino del Cavaliere, or Garden of the Knight, at the top of the hill in a private enclosure. In spring, especially in May, it’s in bloom with fragrant peonies. Once in a while you hear bees buzzing around, see butterflies flying from one flower to another. It’s a magical place that literally invites you to stop and smell the roses! And the glorious Tuscan hillside view with the old Fort Belvedere in the background, is absolutely enchanting. You could spend hours here admiring it and being inspired by it. On the other side of this garden terrace you can catch a splendid view of Florence and its famous Dome. The building on the terrace is a porcelain museum.
You have to purchase a ticket to visit the gardens. Spring hours for April and May are usually from 8:15 AM to 6:30 PM. Check in advance for prices, closing dates, holidays, and changes in schedule during different months. The view that greets you as you enter is worth the admission fee!! You’ll stroll and wander through the landscaped open air museum and indulge in the fascinating Renaissance lifestyle of the rich and famous of by-gone eras.
Spring, with the fragrant flowers in bloom, lush manicured gardens, and ideal weather, it’s the perfect time to visit Boboli Gardens…a classic paradise, hidden from the street behind a 15th century palace belonging to the most powerful Florentine dynasty.
Online Ticket Purchases and Websites:
Uffizi Gallery or Accademia Gallery museum tickets online booking:
Boboli Gardens online tickets:
~ Snackbar Anna
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