Our pilgrimage through the most beautiful gardens in Italy continues. Today we return to Florence. No churches or museums this time; instead, we go straight to Boboli, and by that I mean the Garden of Princes. I’ll take you to explore a park where plants and architecture are intertwined: a mingling of hedges, columns, flowers, trees and fountains.
The first thing that’s hard to believe is that we’re right in the city centre, behind Palazzo Pitti. The park was in fact created in the 16th century as the residential garden of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, who at the time were the famous Medici.
You see lawns like perfect green carpets, hedges and bushes, terraces, avenues and paths, statues, balustrades, perspective views, fountains and water features... today, the Boboli Garden is an open-air museum, virtually enchanted and perfectly preserved. Delving into this botanical maze is like moving back the hands of time and immersing yourself in the Renaissance atmosphere at the Medici court...
To be fair, I wouldn’t look good in those puffy breeches or a damask doublet jacket, but you can’t help but feel like a prince in this paradise. Maybe princes with trainers...
Boboli is a resplendent example of an Italian garden, with gentle, green slopes that follow the hillside, and at the peak stands the bordering Fort Belvedere, providing one of the most panoramic views of Florence.
WE ARE IN ITALY, AFTER ALL...
It certainly seems obvious why this place is known as an ‘Italian garden’. In reality, it is a style of green planning dedicated to balance and symmetry. Nature is tamed by pruning done down to the millimetre, amid classical-style decorations scattered here and there, gravel paths and parapets with balustrades, statues and water spouts, and myriads of flowerbeds.
I remember a flute concert right here in Boboli. I was very young and, I admit, not really a fan of classical music. And yet... the enchanted atmosphere of this place cast such a spell on me that I stayed nailed to my seat for the entire performance... Only at the end did I realise that it was Severino Gazzelloni who had played, one of the world’s most famous flautists! That instrument sounded like a nightingale chirping in the trees above our heads, the music soft and spreading everywhere... What an initiation, eh?!
That same time I discovered the Limonaia, an 18th-century lemon house that still contains plants from the Medici era. Unbelievable, right?! And if the idea of thousand-year-old trees tickles your fancy, you can always hop over to Sardinia, remember? ;)
While we’re on the topic of Italian gardens, next Sunday I’ll reveal an English garden to you, but one in Italy. A big hug to you, and have a good week!