These 16th century gardens climb the hills surrounding Florence, located behind the Pitti Palace they are a maze of greenery and lavish fountains. With their own unique mix of art and nature, you can imagine the aristocrats of Florence strolling the lawns and holding grand lawn party’s.
When the Medici family brought the Pitti Palace they called in Niccolò Pericoli, also know as Tribolo to create a masterpiece of “landscape architecture”. He created formal gardens for the rich family to show off to their friends, today these world-famous gardens have been extended and form 11 acres of tranquillity within the centre of Florence. Tickets cost £10 per person and include entry into all the gardens and access to the display of clothing and a small ceramic museum.
The garden has several entrances but Piazza Del Pitti is the most popular, the Piazza itself is overshadowed by the enormous Pitti Palace and it is here you will by able to buy you tickets for the Palace and/or the gardens. Entering through an exterior section of the Pitti Palace, you get a little glimpse at how massive this palace really is!
The elaborate architecture in the court-yard separates the palace from the gardens and to the left of the courtyard is the art filled Grotto Grande (Currently under restoration) and the Rococco style Koffeehouse.
The sprawling gardens are a great breather from the busy city and even in their slightly neglected state you could easily spend an entire day exploring the grounds. A full tour of the gardens will require a lot of uphill walking and the only place to get refreshments is at the Kaffehous so I would recommend bringing plenty of water and some comfortable shoes.
The spectacular lawns climb up Boboli Hill from the amphitheatre, passed an Egyptian obelisk and to Neptune’s fountain. If your legs can handle it, a grand staircase will lead you further up to Giardino del Cavaliere. the small garden is bordered by the porcelain museum and well worth the uphill hike as it provides amazing views not only over the city but also the rural hill sides of Florence.
Towards the east of the gardens is a shady cypress alley called The Viottolone, this axis runs down a steep slope past woodland, through the Island Park and beyond the walls of the garden. The wide gravel avenue is lined with Cyprus and laurel trees, dotted with classically-themed statues and majestically leads you down to Isolotto Pond. The Isolotto is an oval-shaped garden surround by tall green hedges, the large island centre is adorn with lemon tress and wildlife. Connected by two bridges and emphasized by elegant gates the island garden is a must see, from here there is a splendid view back up towards the wide avenue of trademark trees.
Water features played a huge part in Italian garden design and at the end of the Viottolone (just before the Isolotto) is a large mosaic star. Hidden under the star was the mouth of a water jet, the water which travelled down elaborate water ways from the Garden of Cavaliere is reported to have “shot upwards to a height of seventy-one feet! As the gardens lacked a natural water supply a conduit was built from the Arno to feed water into the impressive water system.
Although the garden is packed with dramatic water features a lot seem to have been without water on our visit, which was a shame. Have you visited and seen any of the water displays working?