Boboli Gardens. Urban Park in Florence, Italy

Boboli Gardens

Urban Park in Florence, Italy

Boboli Gardens, Florence Photo © Ed Webster

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Boboli Gardens

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Boboli Gardens - Boboli Gardens
Boboli Gardens - Boboli Gardens. Photo by Adam
The Boboli Gardens rise up behind the Pitti Palace and extend to Potra Romana in central Florence, Italy. Originally designed for the Medici family in the 16th century, the gardens were one of the earliest typically Italian gardens, which inspired so many court gardens around Europe later on. For nearly four hundred years, the Boboli Gardens were the residence of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany and even of the kings of Italy.

Nowadays, it still is a gorgeous Italian-style park, home to numerous sculptures and statues dating from the 16th through the 18th century. The most famous park in Florence, the gardens with their huge green spaces, evenly divided and decorated with century-old art and fountains and grottos, are a magnificent open-air museum. Walking the pathways and charming routes through the gardens will catapult visitors back to the Italy of the Renaissance. Together with the Florence Cathedral, the Palazzo Vecchio and the Ponte Vecchio, the Boboli Gardens are among the absolute highlights of Florence.

Boboli Gardens, Florence - Boboli
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Boboli Gardens, Florence. Photo by Ed Webster

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	Boboli Gardens
Boboli Gardens - Boboli Gardens. Photo by Richard Mortel

History

The original gardens and fields were located behind the Santa Felicita in the Oltrarno, owned by the Borgolo family. The site was purchased by Messer Luca Pitti in 1418 and in 1549 the estate was bought by Duke Cosimo de’Medici’s wife, Eleonora di Toledo. The most renowned and reputed landscapers and architects were then hired to expand the gardens into the family’s new residence.

The first design was drawn up by Niccolo Tribolo (Wikipedia Article). Unfortunately, he died shortly after, in 1550, and the design and construction was continued by the other court architects, Giorgio Vasari, Bartolomeo Ammannati, and Bernardo Buontalenti. The gardens were finished under the rule of Francis I, Cosimo’s son. Because the gardens lacked a natural source of water, an ingenious irrigation system was developed to transport water from the nearby Arno (Wikipedia Article) River.

Both the Medici and Lorraine families continued to enlarge the gardens in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, creating the present-day outdoor museum that features huge numbers of Roman and Renaissance sculptures, art and statues. The Boboli Gardens were held in such high regard throughout Europe that they became the model for several other gardens at European courts, most notably the gardens of the Palace of Versailles.

Features

Covering 111 acres, the Boboli Gardens are home to a huge number of attractions. The gardens themselves are in fact a major attraction. Additionally, there are sculptures, fountains, grottos, buildings, and all kinds of other structures.

Il Viottolone -
	Boboli Gardens
Il Viottolone - Boboli Gardens. Photo by Jan

Viottolone

The Viottolone is a large avenue that cuts through the park and is lined with beautiful cypresses, hedges and statues. It leads to Isolotto, a small island with a fountain.

Grotto Grande

One of the highlights of the park, the Grotto Grande dates from the late 16th century and consists of three interconnected chambers filled with statues

Kaffeehaus

The Kaffeehaus lies a short walk from the Grotto Grande and was built in Rococo style in the late 18th century by the Lorraine family. This grand pavilion is now used as a coffee house.

Amphitheater

Originally a quarry that supplied the stones for the Pitti Palace, the present-day Amphitheater is decorated with several statues on the sides and an Egyptian obelisk in the middle. The Amphitheater leads from the palace to a small pond with the 16th-century Neptune Fountain by Lorenzi.

Giardino del Cavaliere

The Knights’ Garden is reached after a short climb. This terrace with a rose garden and fountain offers fine views of the surrounding area. Next to the garden lies the Porcelain Museum.

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Boboli Gardens, Florence. Photo by Avital Pinnick

Visiting the Boboli Gardens

View from the Boboli
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View from the Boboli Gardens - Boboli Gardens. Photo by thom
The Boboli Gardens are open throughout the year, except on the first and last Monday of every month, on January 1, May 1 and December 25. Opening times are from 8.15AM to 4.30PM from November through February; from 8.15AM to 5.30PM in March; from 8.15AM to 6.30PM in April, May, September and October; and from 8.15AM to 7.30PM from June through August.

Tickets cost €7 ($8.05) for adults and €4 ($4.03) concession. Entrance is free for EU citizens younger than 18 and all children younger than 12. Tickets are also valid for the Museo degli Argenti, the Costume Gallery, the Bardini Gardens and the Porcelain Museum.

How to Get There

The gardens are located behind the Pitti Palace on the south bank of the river Arno River. From the city center and the Florence Cathedral or Palazzo Vecchio, the gardens can be reached by crossing the river on the gorgeous Ponte Vecchio, thereby taking in at least three major attractions.

While there are many entrances, the two main ones are situated at the Piazza dei Pitti and the Piazzale della Porte Romana.

Similar and Nearby Landmarks

The Pitti Palace lies almost literally within the gardens and is another major landmark in the city. Other historic sites that shouldn’t be missed are the Florence Cathedral and the San Lorenzo Basilica.

Other great urban parks include Central Park, Villa Borghese and Sanssouci Park.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Feb 03, 2015

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