Florence's Best Parks and Gardens
By Viator, June 2015
It’s nice to take walking tours of Florence‘s best parks and gardens regardless of the time of year, although of course they’re more pleasant when the weather is nice and things are in bloom. Keep in mind that some of the gardens listed here are behind walls and so have open hours, rather than just being public and accessible at all times.
Florence’s most famous gardens are the Boboli Gardens, which spread out behind the Palazzo Pitti on the Oltrarno side of the river. The palace was once the home of the Medici family, and the gardens were once their private backyard (and what a backyard!). First laid out in the 1540s, the gardens were expanded twice over the next two centuries. There are 11 acres to explore, with winding pathways, ornate fountains, sculpture-filled grottoes, and even an Egyptian obelisk. The gardens are open daily, at times that vary depending on the season, and you can get a combined ticket that includes the Palazzo Pitti and the Bardini Gardens, too.
Access the garden just like the Medici did with a tour of the Vasari Corridor and Boboli Gardens
One entrance to the Bardini Gardens is through the Boboli Gardens, so you can combine the two in one garden visit. The Bardini Gardens have been recently reopened to the public after many years, having been restored to its Renaissance glory. You’ll see the same kinds of things here that you’ll see in the Boboli Gardens – manicured lawns, statues, and fountains – but without the crowds. There’s a seperate entrance if you don’t come from the Boboli Gardens. A combined ticket includes the Boboli Gardens and several museums.
For a green escape just outside the city center, head for Cascine Park, located on the bank of the Arno River. It’s Florence’s largest public park, and this is one that’s always open with no admission fee. This area was once the private property of the Medici family, and in the 19th century the park became public property. There are wide pathways for walking or jogging, and even facilities like a horse-racing track and amphitheater.
Florence’s Botanical Gardens – also called the Giardino del Semplici – were built by the Medici in 1545 to grow medicinal plants. There are walkways through the garden and a fountain at the center. The gardens are open Monday-Friday, and there’s a small admission fee.
The Torrigiani Gardens are an example of English-style gardens in the city of Florence, with sculptures and even an astronomical observatory. These gardens are private property and are only open to the public on a limited basis (typically only by appointment), but if you’re a real garden aficionado you’ll want to add this one to your list.
Rose & Iris Gardens
If you’re visiting Florence in May, don’t miss the Rose Garden and the Iris Garden, both located near the Piazzale Michelangelo. They’re free and open to the public all year, but they’re really only spectacular during May when everything is in bloom. Because they’re on a hill overlooking the city, you also get great views in addition to blooming flowers.