Why you need to visit
At first glance at the Florence skyline, you might think that there is an evident lack of shrubbery from the sea of red bricks before you. However, when you look a little closer, you’ll find that Florence is home to a plethora of beautiful parks and gardens hidden throughout. These gardens boast impressive horticulture and architecture features, taking inspiration from a variety of cultures, including; French, Greek and Egyptian. The dynamic range of colour and design on display is not only a marvel to look at but could also boost your mood too! It has long been known that immersing yourself in nature can boost the happy chemicals in our brains. However, more recently, a team of German researchers took this one step further and made the discovery that viewing numerous shades of green can boost creativity and motivation within us. With this knowledge in mind, we hope that you’ll take the opportunity to visit as many of Florence’s parks as you can and supercharge your days in this beautiful city. Visiting a garden or park could be the perfect prerequisite to taking one of our tours of the Uffizi Gallery, or even beautiful Florence Duomo. We recommend using the parks as a haven away from crowds, a cool off spot during the summer or just for a fresh stroll during winter. There’s never a more beautiful time to walk through a park than Fall, when the floor is awash with golden brown and the leaves of the trees are blushing red.
Our favourite of the bunch, the Bardini Gardens are situated in close periphery to the Boboli Gardens, but are thankfully far less crowded. These gardens overlook the Arno River, supplying some of the most beautiful view of the city. For those of you who enjoy a scenic hike and a hearty meal after, you’re in luck. These gardens span across the popular hiking trail ‘Costa San Giorgio’ and are adjacent to the popular gourmet restaurant ‘Leggenda dei Frati’. Work on this plot of land began during the 1700’s. However, the majority of work on the gardens took place in during the 20th century. Originally passed between families and sold from person to person, the gardens eventually landed in the hands of Stefano Bardini in 1913. Stefano extended the original 4 hectares up the hill to the walls of the city. Once the extension had been carried out, a set of walls were included to enclose the gardens, a Baroque staircase and a series of fountains were also added to improve the scenery. After Stefano, the Mozzi family took over ownership but did nothing with the grounds and let them fall into a decrepit state. Luckily, the gardens were bought over by new owners and invested in heavily, adding €12 million worth of restoration work to the landscape. This work started in 2,000 and lasted 5 years, ending in 2,005. The money and time have been spent wisely as it is clear where the millions have gone. The flower arrangements and seating areas are spectacular. Additional highlights of the gardens are; The Tunnel of Wysteria, Baroque Staircase, Mosaic Fountains and Villa Bardini. Look out for Oak Trees, Cypress Trees, Wood Pigeons, Blackbirds and Robins while here. Additionally, take a look at the Bardini website to find out about upcoming events hosted on the grounds. Some popular events hosted here include ‘music in the park’ and the art show ‘this Sicilian exhibition’.
Potentially the most awe-inspiring garden in Florence, the Boboli Gardens are situated just behind the Pitti Palace, spread over 111 acres, and have been in continuous development for over 4 centuries. Constructed during the 16th century, they were originally used as a private area for Cosimo I de’Medici and his wife Eleonora di Toledo. As time passed, there were continuous additions and amendments made by both the Medici and Lorraine Families. Due to the plethora of fountains, sculptures and artwork on show here, people commonly refer to this park as an outdoor museum. There are even multiple standalone museums sitting in a variety of spots throughout the property. If the wide variety of features wasn’t enough for you, this is also the perfect garden to get a little cosy during the hot summer months. There are many small secret enclaves to be found all throughout the grounds.
Rose Gardens (Gardinio delle Rose)
Situated en route to Pizzale Michelangelo and close to the Iris Garden, these grounds provide a beautiful view of the city. The concept for these came about in an effort to spruce up the area before the city was crowned as the nation’s capital in 1865. These were designed by the famous Tuscan architect Guiseppe Pogi, known for many Florentine structures. However, after multiple setbacks, the hectare sized plot only came open to the public in 1895. We hope this wasn’t a reason to demote Florence as the nation’s capital in 1870, but guess we’ll never know. Home to over 800 different species of Rose, each has their own unique look, colour and fragrance. In more recent years the gardens have been treated to a series of improvements, namely, the addition of 12 bronze statues by Belgian artist ‘Jean Michael Folon’ in 2003. These can be found littered all throughout the grounds and are representative of many natural poses you might find yourself in. Statues can be found reading a book on the bench, looking at the flowers and often used as apparatus in photo opportunities. The best time to visit the gardens is May, this is when the flowers are in full bloom and gardens are an explosion of colour. Another novel addition to the gardens is the Japanese area, gifted by Japanese artists Yasuo Kitayama in 1998.
Opened in 1954, this garden is spread over 2.5 hectares and situated on the opposite side of Piazzale Michelangelo to the Rose Garden. This beautiful garden is open for a limited time only, 20 days of the year to be exact, spanning from the end of April to the beginning of May. If you are lucky enough to be in Florence during this time period, we recommend you give it a look. As the Iris flower is the national symbol of Florence, these gardens hold a lot of sentimental meaning among the locals and it is important to be respectful when visiting. Over 200 species of Iris and a wide variety of endangered species are gown here. Since there are so many aquatic varieties of Iris, there is a large pond here to cultivate these. Each year there is an international Iris Competition held to elect the most beautiful iris of the year, try get to it if you can!
La Cascine Park
Although this park is just outside of the old city’s grounds, it is still wildly popular among visitors and is commonly referred to as the green lung of Florence due to its sheers size and beauty. La Cascine is the site for many large-scale events such as flower expos and street market festivals. This gigantic park has something for everyone, a playground for the kids, avenues and trails for cycling, and large open lawns for resting. There is a large public swimming pool, sports fields and cafeterias at either end of the park. Additionally, if you’re into live music, the Florence opera house is located near the entrance to the city center. We recommend you check it out!