The Medici's Florentine villa, now one of the world's most august galleries, has a famous garden. The original 1549 garden, designed by the sculptor, Tribolo, was similar to his work at Villa Castello. His clients were Duke Cosimo I and his strict, demanding, arrogant, but loyal Spanish wife, Eleonora of Toledo. The renaissance design was as regular as it could be on an undulating site. During the century after its inception, the garden changed and developed with help from many prominent designers. It became Florence's grandest garden, with an early baroque drama and some avenues. This suited the theatrical events which were held. The great grotto, designed by Buontalenti, is near the Palace and contains Giambologna's Venus and Michaelangelo's four Slaves. There used to be water tricks and games. The natural amphitheatre behind the Pitti Palace was made into a real amphitheatre after 1600 and continues to be for plays. The garden was then extended to the west (c1620). Walks lead up to a ridge and down to an enchanted oval garden with the famous Isoletto, an island of lemon trees and sculpture. The island has Giovanni da Bologna's statue of Oceanus, described by Burkhart as 'more simple and majestic than any other fountain in Italy or the whole western world' [Gothein p.292].
Pitti Palace, Firenze, Tuscany, Italy
All year, Daily (except first and last Monday of each month), 9am to closing (varies according to season)
For me the avenue leading down to the Isoletto (rabbit island)and the Isoletto itself were worth visiting this garden alone. You could almost see Hitler and Mussolini driving down the avenue in 1932. The Isoletto was wonderful and a delight to see. The garden was a stage set and a place for Cosimo Medici to show his power to the public and also a place to show his large collection of sculpture. Like most gardens of the renaissance and in this region not for the weak of heart as the climbs are at times hard. Without doubt the grotto is a wonderful work and quite breathtaking.
over 4 years by
NC Garden Traveler
2 / 5
We visited Biboli on a late August afternoon (probably not the best time of year or day) and had roughly 2.5 hours to share-between the Biboli and Bardini gardens. We entered through the back entrance off of Costa San Giorgio and walked through a portion of the original garden (pre-1600), but did not visit any of gardens to the west of the Forcone Basin. Given these caveats, my comments are: 1) this is a very large garden (80 acres) that probably needs 3-4 hours to do even a quick survey, 2) the area we saw is a city park where you can go to exercise, rather than a garden with excites the senses,3) although basic maintenance is being done, it clearly has a limited operating budget, and 4) if your visit is time constrained, either focus on Bardini Garden or try visiting areas of Biboli to the west of the Forcone Basin.
For a garden of such historical note, it is a shame it is quite so indifferent in its upkeep. Maintenance is underfunded, sadly.
As a garden in itself..tremendous, made especially so by the central drives.
If you are fed up cooking yourself in Firenze, a stroll around Boboli can be cooling and a chance to sit in some shady places. Go on to the Giardino Bardini afterwards..lovely!
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