Boboli Gardens, Florence

Exploring these grand gardens in Florence: green spaces, views and a great place to visit

The Boboli Gardens (Giardino di Boboli) are rich and extravagant pleasure-gardens with large expanses to explore, and photogenic views over Florence. Designed by the Grand Dukes as a venue for extravagant parties and celebrations, the garden is dotted with statuary, fountains and a variety of features commissioned specially, or taken from the fabulous Medici art collections.The Boboli Gardens spread over the steep hillside behind the vast Pitti Palace, over the Arno from central Florence.

This rare green oasis close to the centre of Florence is a great place to relax, picnic and dodge the crowds, especially on a hot day, when the shady walkways and fountains are cool and refreshing. There are plenty of good picnic spots, so visitors may wish to come prepared with food and drink.

Sculpture by Igor Mitoraj in the Boboli gardens

Among the highlights are a lake with an ornamental island garden at its centre (just begging to be a banquet venue), a variety of wooded hillside pathways, the central water features in a green amphitheatre facing the palace, and the Neptune Fountain. The grandest of the Boboli’s grottos is the spectacular Grotta di Buontalenti: peering through the bars at the entrance you can see three successive ‘caves’ festooned with decorations, ornamental stalagtites, and sculptures by Michelangelo (now replaced by copies) and Giambologna.

One of the most charming parts of the garden is to be found at the highest level: a little formal garden, laid out on a vantage point with lovely views over vineyards, olive groves and villas. The casino, or summerhouse, up here contains a small museum of porcelain.

The gardens cover a lot of ground. There are entrances through the main Pitti Palace courtyard, on Via Romana, and by the Porta Romana. The gardens lack amenities, but toilets and refreshments (if you haven’t brought your own snacks) can be found in the Pitti Palace courtyard. The Kaffeehaus, an attractive 18th-century pavilion in the garden overlooking the Florentine panorama, should be open as a cafe (but hasn’t been on our visits).

Full price entry to the Boboli Gardens costs €4, and includes entrance to the Museo degli Argenti and the Museo delle Porcellane (silver and porcelain museums). Like the other state museums, admission is free to EU citizens over 65 and under 18, and reduced for those aged 18-25. There are also various combined tickets available.

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