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Boboli Gardens Florence

AN ETERNAL GIFT

Listen to the song of the birds, the whisper of the wind and the see the sunbeams surfing through the Pond of Isolotto. Walk into the sculpted landscape of the Boboli Gardens and have a royal picnic with the Medici family. Learn of the passions and the tragedies of the frail but proud and fair Eleanora di Toledo and her husband Cosimo I, as they planned the beautiful Boboli Gardens. Discover the dramatic fusion of an English lemon grove by the Lorraines who took over the Palazzo Pitti. Indulge for a while in a Renaissance lifestyle of the rich and famous. The secrets of the Medicis and their royal past lives on in their final but everlasting gift of the Boboli Gardens.

The romantic history of Florence displays an eternal and natural talent which adorns every facet of its art, architecture and lifestyle of a fascinating race. So it is easy to fall in love as you walk into the pages of a true and passionate story. Stroll down the Oltrarno till you reach Via Piazza Pitti 1, 50125, Firenze Palazzo Pitti. Come and discover pride, love and exquisite craftsmanship, as you walk through the palace initially constructed by Luca Pitti. With the declining fortunes of the Pitti family, Buonaccorso Pitti, the great grandson, of Luca Pitti, sold the palace to Eleanor di Toledo, wife of Duke Cosimo I Medici and daughter of Emperor Charles V in 1549. Though unfinished, the palace was improvised on the same lines into a grander structure.

The past guides your feet from Santa Trinita over the Ponte Santa Trinita under which the Arno runs. Go on south down Via Maggio till you come to Sdrucciolo dei Pitti. And now..you have arrived at Florence's biggest and most beautiful Palazzo Pitti. Can you hear the murmurs of deep discussion as the royal Medici pair with the famous landscape architect, Niccolo Tribolo, sat for hours planning the lovely Boboli Gardens? Eleanor di Toledo with an imperious command sent Tribolo to transport a huge block of granite which was six meters in diameter to form the basin of the beautiful fountain of Prato. Tribolo carved the garden from the hill site to display the most breathtaking and awesome Boboli Gardens. A veritable fairyland, the Boboli Gardens evolve over a vast area of 320.000 square meters with the semblance of an open-air museum like a Renaissance theater with a spectrum of gorgeous grottoes, awesome fountains and a range of elegant statues. But the master craftsman passed away and his work was carried on by his talented peers, Vasari, Ammannati, Giambologna, Parigi, Guilo and Bernardo Buontalenti. Amongst beautiful and verdant surroundings, Valerio Cioli's 'Morgante' which was Cosimo's favorite dwarf sitting astride a sad looking tortoise shows a detailed sculpture near the exit.

THE MAGIC BEGINS...

Go into the entrance of the inner court of Pitti Palace and near a beautiful staircase you will find a big square with the lovely Fontana del Carciofo (Artichoke Fountain). Come and wander around a scenic and spectacular backyard of the Palazzo Pitti and the first wonderful view would focus on the magnificent Amphitheater which is still the center of concerts and plays today. Grab a glimpse of ancient Egypt as you see the tall obelisk rising behind the Pitti Palace. Turn to your left and stare in awe at La Grotta Grande (The Large Cave) whose walls display a mural of Michaelangelo's 'Four Prisoners'. The Boboli Gardens takes you on a magical ride into an ancient world. Take a deep breath and step into the Mannerist fantasy world of the Grotta del Buontalenti sculpted by Bernado Buontalenti. Everywhere you turn, your eyes will settle on a wondrous depiction of stalagmites and stalactites, sculptures of sheep and shepherds with Roman goddesses in aesthetic poses. Walk on and find three mysterious chambers leading one into the other and you will discover a copy of Michaelangelo's 'Prigoni', with the second chamber exposing a marble statue group which shows Paride and Elena sculpted by Vincenzo Rossi da Fiesole and the third chamber echoes with an imaginary sound of water with 'Venere al Bagno', showing the lovely Venus rising from its waters after a bath, sculpted by Giambologna. The stucco work of pastoral scenes was frescoed by Poccianti with the facade by Giovanni Battisata del Tadda and the bas-relief by Pietro Mati. Begun by Vasari and completed by Ammannati and Buonotalenti, the small grotto of Madama and the Large Grotto seperates the palace from the garden.

Go down the quiet and romantic 'Viottolone' (broad lane) with its avenue of cypress trees and view the most entrancing sight. Filled with the essence of fantasy, the Piazzale dell'Isolotto was built by Guilo and Alfonso Parigi in 1618. Unfolding a scenic delight, the moated Pond of Isolotto was structured as an island with lemon trees and flowers in an emerald green pond with statues of Pereus and Andromeda and a sculpture of the Ocean Fountain with the statue of Oceanus by Giovanni da Bologna. The island was described by Burkhart as, 'more simple and majestic than any other fountain in Italy or the whole western world'. Stop off and catch your breath as you walk up the hill and refresh yourself at the 18th century Coffee House. Picnic with the family on the Lawn of Columns and view the Lemonary introduced by the Lorraines as an example of the English Garden which was opened to the public by Pietro Leopoldo in 1776. White round pebbles that line the garden paths roll under your feet as you walk down the garden paths sculpted with care and love. Go past the Neptune Fountain and sit on the benches around it and gaze at its perfection and the depths of imagination.

A CLASSIC PARADISE

Classic and traditional, the Boboli Gardens showcases a stupendous view with its magical grottoes, garden temples, statues of mythical gods and goddesses. As your eyes move slowly from one amazing scene to another, you will encounter Giardano del Cavaliere (Garden of the Knight) at the top of the hill as a private enclosure. Take in the lovely old Fort Belvedere, a palace that contains the Porcelain Museum and relax in the finest European garden. Sit back in a lavish ambience of the Boboli Gardens whose unique design has captured the hearts of millions and has been the standard for other famous gardens in Europe. Consider the artistry of this masterpiece and rest in its classical and stunning beauty which transports the mind into another time, another place.

Spend a sunny, balmy day at the Boboli Gardens and walk down its numerous paths. Find a treasure at the end of every path and every detour and let your mind skip into the past with a tremendous tradition. Lined with statues, the entire atmosphere takes you back into royal courts and at any given minute you would expect to see a knight cantering on his steed. Step back into the 16th century and see the transformation of the amphitheater by Guilio and Alfonso Parigi who infused a walled architectural module as well as labyrinths. Study Giambologna's statue of Abbundance completed by Tacca which adorns the garden and wonder at the blend of intelligence and power as Cosimo's menagerie of rare animals commissioned by him added to the decoration of the garden. Spot familiar and rare herbs and plants at the Botanical Garden, which was started in1737, to showcase a unique collection which became part of the Museum of Physics and Natural History.

THE ESSENCE OF GARDEN ART

Though during the 19th century, Boboli Gardens was slightly modified, most of its beautiful landscape still retains its original creations. Come and listen to the music of the gods at the Boboli Gardens as it echoes around the stone walls of the amphitheater. Stand on its stone benches and imagine the crowds that thronged this ancient garden to listen to the music of the 20th century. Can you hear the applause that reverberated through the air at the Boboli Gardens as they listened to the concert directed by Pietro Mascagni in 1906, the operas of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in 1933 and the Euridice by Jacopo Peri directed by the famous Franco Zeffirelli in 1960? Can you imagine a huge amphitheater that housed 5,000 people which staged mock wars and pageants? Go through the Laurel Walk and discover gargoyles with moustaches and concealed fountains that spray you with water when you least expect it!

Can you smell the fragrance of roses? Come into the rose garden and wonder with delight at the sights and aromas of the famous enclosure at the Boboli Gardens. The Medici family had planned the Boboli Gardens as a small township for their family that was enclosed by a long wall. This legendary family had fish in their ponds, game from the woods and vegetables and herbs from the herb garden which they used for food and medicines. Extraordinary and extravagant, the Medici royals employed over 200 servants to maintain their ravishingly beautiful Boboli gardens. As the gardeners moved the big pots of citrus into the orangery, the others had to bring back snow from the mountains to keep the perishable foods fresh. Let the enchantment of the Boboli Gardens draw you down the steps to enjoy the Prato dell'Uccellare through the shady grove of cedars of Lebanon.

Surprise yourself at this august, awesome and amazing Boboli Gardens which remains as a unique example of garden art.