Florence, Italy is a city full of delicious wine, gorgeous architecture, and beautiful gardens. Situated on the hills beyond Pitti Palace, Boboli Gardens encompass the timeless beauty of Florence and, although it is not well known among the tourist community, it is one of the most spectacular gardens in Italy. When deciding to head away from the busy crowds of Florence’s city center, Boboli Gardens is a great place to visit.
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Situated directly behind Pitti Palace, which was previously owned by the Medici family in the 16th century, is beautiful Boboli Gardens. The palace was sold to Cosimo I de’Medici and his wife Eleonora di Toledo in 1549. The garden was not initially incorporated in the palace’s original design and was added on by the Medici family as Eleonora wanted a lavish garden to host parties and events for her guests. Boboli Gardens is situated among 111 acres of land that were acquired over time. The original architect for the garden, Niccolò Tribolo, died in 1550 and his work was passed on to Bartolommeo Ammannati. The construction and reconstruction of Boboli Gardens has occurred at different times throughout the years. The Medici family had help from the Lorraine family over the centuries to ensure that Boboli Gardens achieved its full potential. Today, Pitti Palace along with Boboli Gardens are owned by the state of Tuscany, Italy. They have turned the palace into a public museum, while the garden is open to the public.
Monuments and Sculptures
An amphitheater stands at the center of the garden. This amphitheater was purchased by the Medici family in the 16th century and was originally situated at Villa Medici in Rome. In 1789, the Medici family decided to move a 9,000-kilogram Egyptian obelisk to Boboli Gardens, where it now stands tall within this garden and the original inscription to Ramesses II is visible enough to read. Before stone surrounded the obelisk, however it has now been enveloped by gorgeous greenery.
In the Roman religion the god Neptune, god of freshwater and the sea, played a large role in the construction of fountains throughout Italy. In Boboli Gardens, there is a fountain dedicated to Neptune located in the middle of a man-made lake of water. In the middle of the fountain, Neptune can be seen holding his famous trident. The fountain of Neptune is a gift for the god to allow a water supply to run through the garden even though it was made by man.
During the early 17th century, architects Giulio and Alfonso Parigi constructed the Isolotto, or little island, within a man-made pond in the garden. Beautiful botanical greenery surrounds a statue of Andromeda that stands in the middle of the Isolotto.
The Grotta del Buontalenti is a popular attraction within the garden. It is a mere coincidence that the name of this grotto translates to Grotto of Great Talents. The original architect of the grotto was Bernardo Buontalenti, who completed this grotto between 1583 and 1593. There are three rooms in the grotto, containing works of art by Michelangelo, Baccio Bandinelli, Bernardino Poccetti, Giambologna, and Vincenzo de’ Rossi.
Among the sculptures and fountains there is a gorgeous yet unusual lane. Ragnaie Lane, which translates to Spiders Lane, was named such due to its appearance as the branches and trees that line it look like large spiders. This was where the noble families went to escape the hot sun during summer walks in the garden. Cypress Lane is another narrow lane and is lined with beautiful greenery on both sides.
The Medusa Shield is one of the many beautiful works than can be found throughout the garden. Legend has it that with one look from Medusa you would turn to stone. In this case, Bernardo Buontalenti turned Medusa herself into a stone shield.
Kaffeehaus within Boboli Gardens
Kaffeehaus literally translates to coffeehouse. Italians are known for many things and coffee is one of their specialties. Even the wealthy and nobles of the 16th and 17th century needed a place to enjoy a hot cup of coffee. What was once the site of a vegetable garden owned by the Medici family was turned into a coffeehouse by the Lorena family. The gorgeous frescos on its walls depict scenes of life, love, and serenity. This coffeehouse has remained closed over the years but is opened on special occasions for the public to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee.
1 Piazza Pitti, Florence 50125, Italy
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