The Boboli Gardens are the Pitti Palace gardens. What is special? Read and you will understand why you should have a good shot.
There are four entrances, one from Pitti Plaza, one of about half of the Roman street 37 / a called Annalena entrance, one from Fort Belvedere and the last from the plaza Porta Romana.
The cost of entry is: full price € 7,00 reduced: € 3.50, from the entrance of Porta Romana entire € 10.00 reduced € 5.00 and if you are in Florence with Identity Card in hand comes free, same thing if a minor and over 65 years. The gardens are open every day from 8.15 to 16.30 (November febgraio), 17:30 (March), 18:30 (April-May, September-October) and 19:30 (June-August), the last admission is one hour before closure. The gardens are closed on 1st and last Monday of the month, 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
Tel. +39 055 218741 detailed information at this LINK.
Finite technical information, comfortable but little romantic, let’s get to the Boboli Gardens.
The design of this work of art in the open air starts in 1400 and lasts until 1900. The original plan was to Niccolo ‘Tribolo and after his death they were cared for by Vasari, Ammannati and Buontalenti. The land already partly belonged to the Pitti family, purchased in 1341 by Cione di Bonaccorso Pitti from the church of Santa Felicita. Others were bought by Luca Pitti and originally belonged to Borgolo family, hence perhaps the Boboli name. The palace and gardens of properties passed in 1549 the Medici family that managed to improve and expand them. A new Boboli expansion occurred towards Porta Romana under the government of Cosimo II; these successive modifications and improvements make them the wonder that we enjoy today and which occupies an area of 45,000 square meters. Boboli is diventatio heritage site in 2013 honoring the history of these gardens that were (and are) the role model of many European gardens beginning with Versailles.
Today the Boboli Gardens appear vaguely triangular shape with two almost perpendicular axes that intersect near the Fountain of Neptune. On these two axes are developed streets and alleys. The main axis is centered on the rear facade of the Palazzo Pitti and climbs the slope until arriving at the Knight Garden which is located above one of the ramparts of the city walls designed by Michelangelo in 1529. The other axis is represented by this avenue, an avenue that extends until Porta Romana and the path is crossed by three cross streets and opens in Piazzale islet and then in the hemicycle.
The path that I’ve come up to see the Boboli Gardens excludes certain all the structures and statues present but some of them, the ones that you can not get lost. Not even treat the appearance purely “garden” in terms of plants and arrangements, only the vision can give credit. I will be a bastion against it, but I would not go there from Palazzo Pitti, it will be via Romana from Fort Belvedere, the more hidden entrance and small, that of Porta Romana allows you to visit the Boboli Gardens in crescendo expanding later encountered wonders .
The entrance of Porta Romana (O) remains at the top of the hypothetical triangle on the right.
As you enter in the Boboli Gardens we have a rondo with geometric hedges from which three different roads, the central said Viottolone (J) is the second axis. You notice on the right the Fontana della Botticella made by a farmer who empty a barrel (by Giovanni Fancelli 1560) in a tank obtained with a Roman sarcophagus. Beginning to walk the Viottolone is on the right three grotesque figures by Romulus Tadda depicting Venus, Cupid and the personification of Architecture.
Following the Viottolone you enter the Hemicycle or Lawn of Columns (N) a large semi-circular open space characterized by the presence of two small obelisks. The two columns are in red Egyptian granite and hold up the white marble vases originally belonged to Lord Cower. The Chamber is surrounded on the curved side of a series of plane trees regularly interspersed by twelve green niches with statues, the straight side is composed of a hedge with niches containing four antique busts, that of Jupiter Serapis Jupiter a male god no ascertained and Emperor Claudius. Also the beautiful statue of Vulcan operates Chiarissimo Fancelli.
Continuing along this avenue you arrive at the Piazzale dell’Isolotto (L), characterized by being surrounded by hedges of considerable height ilex, over 20 meters. The Piazzale dell’Isolotto gets this name because of the presence of the Island Basin, also called “islet”, designed by Alfonso and Giulio Parigi. The work was finished in 1618. Many of stone and marble statues depicting mythological subjects, common people and historians. In the center of the square there is a bathtub that given the size occupies most of the square itself. The central island in the tank can be reached via two bridges closed by wrought iron gates whose columns are topped by two Capricorns. The island is characterized by a railing that surrounds it and just behind vases containing citrus plants. At the center of the work of Giambologna, the Fountain of the Ocean in 1576. The sculptural group consists of the figures of Oceanus and the Nile, Ganges and Euphrates, located within a tank supported by a pedestal with bas-reliefs. A curiosity, this fountain was placed at the center until the 1600-1700 Amphitheatre.
Taking the road of Viottolone are three cross paths. It can turn left on Third Avenue and at the bottom you will find La limonaia (P). This structure was originally a factory of mosaics and statues, then transformed into a menagerie of exotic animals offered as a gift to Cosimo III then finally transformed by the Medici in a greenhouse for citrus. Citrus fruits were exotic plants that did not stand the Tuscan winter, but of great ornamental effect and above all demonstrated the “possibility” of those who possessed them. For this reason, limonaia was needed within the Boboli Gardens. After the limonaia you may return to the Viottolone turning right at the second cross street.
Taking the road of Viottolone are three cross paths past them you get to Prato dell’Uccellare (T) from where turning right you reach the top of the garden by means of a bend to the left until the Knight Garden (I) which is located at culmination of the first axis. To access this garden you have to climb the stairs with ramps successive curves that intersect on a terrace built over a small circular room. The garden is characterized by low hedges at the center there is a fountain with a cherub called Fountain of the Apes for the presence of three monkeys in bronze at the base of the fountain. It ‘a building called the Knight Casino which now houses the Museum of Ceramics. Originally, this building was used by Cardinal Leopoldo de ‘Medici to the artistic and literary conversations and then the Lorena used it as a venue for summer celebrations. Below the Knight Garden there is a storage for water called trout. Depart from this store all the pipes for irrigation of the garden.
Once descended on the right is the statue of Abundance, designed by Giambologna as a model in wax and then realized by his pupil Pietro Tacca in 1636. Giambologna gave the appearance of the statue of Joan of Austria, wife of Francesco I de ‘Medici . From this location you can enjoy a splendid view.
Going down to the Palazzo Pitti on the axis you get to the Pool of Neptune (H) at whose center stands the Fountain of Neptune, the sea god who emerges from a rocky outcrop also host nymphs and newts. The statue is the sculptor Stoldo Lorenzi and the fiorentinacci have dubbed the “fork fountain” because the contested trident of Neptune. The grass terraces around the fountain reproduce the shape of the amphitheater below.
From Neptune Fountain bends to the right until you reach the Kaffeehaus (D) building in rococo style with a characteristic green tint pastel. Its realization is due to Lorena. It is an eighteenth-century tower with windows and terraces marked by a string course by Zanobi del Rosso of 1776. A style reminiscent of Turkey, very fashionable at the time, building used to enjoy a good coffee, a tea or a hot chocolate. The structure now houses a bar and it is a beautiful scenic spot. The building faces a meadow called Ganymede lawn at the center is the fountain of Ganymede. Going beyond the Kaffeehaus to the entrance of the Belvedere Fortress (E).
Always on the right (down) the first axis is the Garden Madama where there is the Madama Grotticina decorated with sponges, stalactites and a spa surmounted by four statues of goats in water gushed origin. A little further down below the garden of Jupiter by Jupiter seated statue, work of Baccio Bandinelli, 1556.
Recommend returning centrally along the first axis to get the Amphitheatre (F) shaped cavallonel iron center of which is an Egyptian obelisk. The obelisk was brought to Rome in the Villa Medici from Egypt in 30 BC and then from Rome to Florence on the orders of Grand Duke Peter Leopold. The base presents bronze turtles of the late eighteenth century made by Gaspare Paoletti and hot granite comes from the Terme di Caracalla and transported to Florence in 1841. The amphitheater terraced origin with evergreen groves was changed in 1599 making the surmounted by tiers niches containing marble statues and terracotta urns. Interesting to know is that originally the amphitheater area was a quarry where they brought out the “pietra forte” which was built Palazzo Pitti.
Going down to the left you come to a square where there is the Palazzina della Meridiana (S). This building was very much loved by the various rulers for being secluded. It is a neoclassical building started in 1778 under the Grand Duke Peter Leopold of Lorraine and designed by Gaspare Maria Paoletti. Between 1822 and 1840 Pasquale Poccianti built the facade at noon and the body of the building with the ball room. It was restored in 1971. Today the Palazzina della Meridiana is home to the Costume Gallery and Collection Contini Bonacossi.
Returning to the Palazzo Pitti back continue over the lane exit that descends and then bends to 180 ° right to bring us back to the Palace. Once at the bottom and turning right is the avenue where the bottom is located the Cave of Buontalenti (B). Looking up to the left is the Vasari Corridor that connects the Palazzo Pitti and Palazzo Vecchio rising above the rooftops of Florence and Ponte Vecchio. The Grotta del Buontalenti was begun by Vasari but the real construction is due to Bernardo Buontalenti. built between 1583 and 1593 is now a beautiful finest works contained in the Boboli Gardens. The cave is a masterpiece of architecture and melts between their architecture, painting and sculpture. There are three rooms.
The first room is done by creating sponges, stalactites, stucco anthropomorphic and zoomorphic made by Peter Mati so that look like real rock walls. The paintings were done by hand Bernardino Poccetti and represent pastoral scenes to give the illusion of a natural cave where shepherds and animals could flee. A fountain in the center of the room consists of a rock oozing water on the sides and the vascha to collect it. The angles of the first room are the famous four Prisoners by Michelangelo, today replaced by copies and the originals preserved in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence. In the 90’s they were made on the occasion of the restorations and were found a number of earthenware grooves running along the walls and the ceiling from which to dripping water to achieve a real cave effect.
In the second room there is the marble group of Paris who kidnaps Elena by Vincenzo Rossi da Fiesole and in the third room, considered secret because not easily visible to the eye of the tourist, there is the Venus emerging from the bath surrounded by satyrs the spray water on him, a work of Giambologna.
Walking toward the exit of the Palazzo Pitti, one last fountain called Fontana del Bacchino (A) that has a grotesque, an art fashionable in the period between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This is a statue by Valerio Cioli in 1560 depicting one of the five dwarfs present at the court of Cosimo I, naked and riding a turtle. This is the Dwarf Morgante became famous as portrait several times to pay homage to Cosimo I. The Florentines guys have always mocked the dwarf calling it “buddha” and rascals put a chewing gum to the nozzle of the fountain (the mouth of the turtle) shouting satisfied “Now no buddha more»
Leaving from there the Boboli Gardens is found in the Pitti Palace courtyard where you can find a bar for refreshment, even if you pay very dearly for this refreshment. Before he left you can see the Palazzo Pitti donkey that we talked about this LINK.