Although the Renaissance city is not exactly known for sprawling greens and wide open spaces, Florence does have a few parks and gardens where you can spend a leisurely afternoon. Since, today is the first day parks and gardens in Florence are allowed to reopen to the public, we thought it only fitting to compile a list of some of the central parks of Florence. Whether you prefer to plop down with a book, meet a group of friends for a picnic (after social distancing of course), or simply want to immerse yourself in nature, here’s a list of lush, green spaces where you can do so.
The largest public park in Florence, Parco delle Cascine is set on what used to be Cosimo de Medici’s hunting grounds. On any given day, you will find people jogging, walking, and rollerblading through the park's many paths. On Tuesday mornings, it turns into a large outdoor market, and there’s also a pool (with an entry fee) that becomes a hot spot to cool down in the spring. The park hosts other events such as concerts and fairs throughout the year is an ideal picnic spot.
Compact and small but endlessly charming, the Giardino delle Rose is one of the most beautiful spots in Florence. It often is overlooked by tourists as they climb up the neverending stones steps on their way to Piazzale Michelangelo. The garden has a number of intriguing statues - the most prominent of which is a large stone cat curled smack dab in the center of the garden. In the spring, rose bushes in every color bloom, peppering the slanted surface with aromatic splashes of pink, red, and yellow. The best part? From the garden you have a beautiful view of the Duomo and the tiled rooftops of the city below.
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Another flower-themed garden near Piazzale Michelangelo, this park is property fo the “Società Italiana dell’Iris” and of course, dedicated to the iris flower. The flower of Florence and inspiration for the fleur-de-lis, this garden hosts an international competition for its cultivation. If you happen to be traveling to Florence in May when the garden is in bloom, you’ll have to make the hike up there for a stunning view.
Giardino dell’Anconella is the second largest public park in Florence. Located on the left side of the Arno, extending about 30 acres from ponte de Verrazano to the Marco Polo overpass, the park has plenty of space and facilities for playing sports and getting exercise or reclining for the afternoon. There are various courts for basketball and volleyball as well as an amphitheatre, picnic tables, and playgrounds.
Perhaps the most famous of all gardens and parks in Florence, the Boboli Gardens are a sprawling expanse of lush greenery behind the Pitti Palace. Although it’s a private park and requires an entrance fee for tourists, it is free for residents of the city. Whether you’re looking to get lost in thought and lost in the maze of hedges which you’ll find in abundance here, or want to bring a book and claim your own patch of grass for the day, you can easily do it all here. The former private gardens of the Medici are curated in a regal Italian style with abundant fountains, statues, grottos, and winding rows of hedges. Rumor has it that the pet hippopotamus of Cosimo de’ Medici used to roam free in these gardens. How’s that for a mental image?
If you were wondering about the immaculately groomed hill on the Oltrarno, that would be the manicured slope of Giardino Bardini. Another private garden that requires an entrance fee, this garden and park is a delightful place to wander and daydream. It has another mouthwatering lookout of the entire city of Florence as well as a little museum with occasional art exhibits, a restaurant, a coffee bar, and several benches scattered throughout the gorgeous property, perfect for reading, writing, chatting, or reflection.
This public space was opened in 1859 as a sort of experimental garden when horticulture was somewhat of a trend in society. In 1880, a greenhouse was established there, which is now still operating and used for events and cultural activities, such as the biannual Market of Plants and Flowers. There are also meadows and areas for children to play. This garden is a bit outside the city center, but it can still be reached on foot.
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