When you think of the Renassance glories of the jewel in Tuscany‘s crown, Florence, highlights suh as Michelangelo‘s David, the Piazza della Signoria, and the Ponte Vecchio spring easily to mind. But legion are the corners of this magnificent city that can also steal the breath away. One particularly leafy example is the Boboli Gardens.
It’s said that Florence’s most historic green space, the Giardini di Boboli (pronounced “Bo-bo-lee”) is to gardens what the Uffizi Gallery is to museums. Lying just behind the grandiose Pitti Palace of the storied Medici, when these 45 hecta1res (111 acres) were built in the 16th century, they revolutionised the concept of gardens in Europe at that time. Designed by another of the Renaissance’s talented artists, known as Il Tribolo, Boboli is an exquisite and carefully planned balance of oak trees and luxuriant vegetation with statues, ponds, pergolas, obelisks, fountains, grottoes, and an amphitheatre, all with expansive views of the city.
As you can imagine, keeping all this maintained is no trifle, and these for some years now, the person who has been in charge here is Paolo Basetti, a botanists who is steeped in its history. Among his goals is to preserve the essence of this magnificent space – for example, ensuring that all of the flora are the same as that in the gardens’ catalogue from 1800 – as he puts it, “here the dictates of history are followed”.
And it’s precisely this obsessive fidelity to history that allows visitors to fully enjoy this remarkable space reflecting the greener side of Florence’s Renaissance glory. It also makes a wonderfully à propos oasis to rest between the many museums, monuments, and churches that fill this city. You could easily spend as much as two hours here before exhausting all there is to see and experience.