In between the 15th century Palazzo della Gherardesca and the “Conventino”, a 16th century Palazzo, which was once a convent is an 11 acre botanical garden in the Renaissance city of Florence. It is on the right bank of the Florentine Arno River The Giardino della Gherardesca, a refined, lush garden of magnificent, natural beauty and one of the largest, privately owned gardens in the city of Florence.
The garden began in the latter half of the 15th century when Bartolomeo Scala assigned Giuliano da Sangallo to design his palace, the garden was part of the palace property. Two centuries later, the Medici family, by its representative, the Cardinal Alessandro de Medici had ownership of the garden which subsequently became the property of Constanza de Medici. The latter married Count Guido Alberto della Gherardesca; hence, the name of the Garden. The layout was redesigned by the count and filled with rare species of plants, trees and interspersed with several small architectural structures, such as an Ionic temple and a tepidarium.
During World War II the garden was damaged, it was restored by Piero Porcinai and its past charm was brought to light. As it was a private garden and hence not open to the public it was used for various scientific and cultural events in Florence. The Gherardesca Garden is bordered by Via Gino Capponi, Via Giuseppe Giusti, Borgo Pinti and Viale Giacomo Matteotti.
The Giardino’s Renaissance beginnings were designed by Italian politician, author and historian Bartholomeo Scala and have evolved over time to be the massive garden setting for guests and visitors to the Four Seasons Hotel in Florence. It is a garden of delights with paths, shrubs, trees and an iconic temple and tepidarium.
On a recent trip to Italy, we took the time to visit to see for ourselves this monumental garden and we were not disappointed. On arrival, we strolled out across the terrace from the Hotel to find a lush forest of magnificent old trees and beautifully manicured, verdant lawns. As we rounded the corner there, dotted from place to place were ancient-looking sculptures in the distance on the vast lawn and at every turn of the path. At first glance, one might think the women were on a stroll through the garden in the Louis XV1 period.
The garden hosts many flowers and shrubs, including a specimen red Australian bottle brush. What really takes your breath away are the trees. Towering over us, they are spectacular and embellish the garden in a grandiose way as they arise from the lawn like huge monuments. In summer the splendid shade must be wonderful on a hot Florentine day. Our day was light spitting rain which added to the lushness of the greenery around us.
This beautiful green space of the garden is nearby to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Academy Gallery, San Lorenzo Church, Piazza Donatello, and Bargello Museum. Throughout the garden are hidden gems and small private gazebos. A sanctuary created by the walls of trees and hedges, hidden pathways and modern art installations perfect for a picnic or a quiet sit away from the frenzy of the Florentine crowds.
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