Florence 5: Boboli Gardens

The Isolotto (“little island”) in Boboli Gardens was built in the 17th century by architect Alfonso Parigi. (Photo by Matthew Ginn © 2014)

On our last full day in Florence, the weather was beautiful. Perrie had to present her poster at the conference in the morning, so I headed out to Boboli Gardens to enjoy the sunshine and everything else the park had to offer.

Situated on a hill behind the Pitti Palace (which housed the Medici from the mid-1500s through the end of their lineage (1737), as well as the succeeding Grand Dukes up to the unification of Italy in the 1860s), Boboli Gardens offer a panoramic view of Florence. Construction of the gardens began around 1550. They were enriched and enlarged over the centuries; today they cover about 11 acres. Various landscapes are represented, from an amphitheater, to manicured hedges, to meadows, to meandering, semi-wild pathways. Grottoes, fountains, and sculptures from ancient to modern abound throughout the facility. It’s overwhelming, really.

One observation I wanted to offer: Walking around Florence, I was surprised by the paucity of birds. Like any urban area, Florence has plenty of pigeons and a few sparrows, but that’s about it. Of course there aren’t a lot of trees in town. It turns out all the birds are Boboli Gardens. It was like a breath of fresh air. (A lot like that, actually.) I recognized a European robin, but the rest were unfamiliar to me.

I could easily have spent another hour or two exploring the place (there were parts I didn’t even get to) but I had to meet Perrie for lunch. I did reserve just enough time to take a very quick walk—a jog, really—through the Royal apartments inside the Pitti Palace. From my quick assessment I would describe them as very average for Florence, which is to say, stunning. I wish I had more time to spend there, and to explore the other art museums within the palace. Next time …