Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Archeological Museum Garden

This Florentine garden is not very big, but it is beautiful. I have some merit in getting to see it, since in winter it only opens on Saturday mornings. I went a few Saturdays ago  and was told to come back on the next Saturday morning. The next Saturday I was back, but I was told they did not open that particular week-end. If there were not enough people or the weather did not cooperate, they did  not open!

 Well I was back there last Saturday morning. A different clerk was at the desk. I asked if I could see the garden, and he answered "Of course, I will call the guide".





The only people in the garden were the guide and the gardener, and both were most helpful, answering questions (as far as we could manage since my Italian and their English were at similar, rather low levels).

I took this opportunity to ask them about the dates on the clay pots I had seen at the Giardino dei simplici. The answer is that, yes, these dates, from the 1850s and 60s correspond to the dates these pots were made! The gardener at the Archeological Museum pointed out to me some of their own old pots with markings. They do not have dates, but they have the maker's name.


Interestingly enough, the told me their oldest containers were recycled objects, a kind of clay roofing tile. He showed me a neighboring roof at the top of which was one of these, but I could not figure out what it was for. They make good plant pots (the manufacturer's name is indicated...however, what is the bottom part in the garden now,  is the top part on a roof, so the writing seems upside down when you use the object in question as a planter).



These days, the gardener is mostly worried about the fact that the weather is so mild. Past mild winters have brought on problems for olive trees, and one recent mild winter all the boxwood was defoliated. Their irises that bloom at the end of February were out (the yellow ones below, the blue ones were from an other garden, but both pictures were taken the same day). Roses were still sporting quite a few blooms.





Etruscan Tomb





One problem they have in this garden is that when it was created about 100 years ago, because it was the Archaeological Museum garden, someone thought it would be a good idea to move into it several very large Etruscan tombs and all sorts of artifacts like massive prehistoric containers, pre-Christian era amphora and so on.

Of course something like this would never be done nowadays. Now they cannot move the tombs back where they came from, so they are stuck with a garden full of rare artifacts that have lost much of their significance because they have been dismantled when they should never have been moved. This is no doubt why you can find a lot of information on the museum, but very little on its very attractive garden.

Prehistoric container in front of the remains of an Etruscan tomb
These big stones are prehistoric funerary urns
Clay pots are spending the winter in cold frames and lemon trees are in the greenhouse
The gardener pruning his standard roses around 2,200 year old amphora

14 comments:

  1. Hi Alain, it seems you have your answer to the age of the clay pots! This garden looks quite charming and seems to have a cloistered garden as part of the whole (the photo with the fountain). We were in similar situation recently with warm temperatures and plants thinking they might start growing again. However just this morning we got a few centimeters of snow and are expecting more later today. All the best to you in this New Year.

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    1. Hi Patty,
      You were right all along. I expect though that at the G dei Simplici they do not use much these very old pots. This garden does indeed have the feel of a cloister. The guide told me that initially the whole ground floor of the building was a loggia. It must have been beautiful with the difference between indoor and outdoor being blurred and it would have been even more cloister-like. I also hope you have a good 2016.

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  2. The history and the depth of years is so very different from our experience here in the middle of North America. Our ancient history is underappreciated--that of the Native Americans who were the first inhabitants. I remember being struck by the historical significance at every turn when we were in Italy. You are gaining access to some amazing properties. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us!

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    1. This is one of the nicest we have seen. It is not very big (50 x 200 feet?).

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  3. You had VIP treatment - a reward for your persistence

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    1. I believe it had a lot to do with the clerk!

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  4. That is some garden. I'm glad that you were persistent enough to get to see it.

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  6. This garden was founded 100 years ago, wow! I'm glad you have the answers to your questions now, Alain. These clay pots are pretty, but I think they're heavy.

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  7. Clearly you have the virtue of persistence, from which we all benefit. A beautiful garden. How strange that they had such a cavalier attitude toward such priceless and ancient artifacts.

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    1. Persistence helped but I think a different clerk made most of the difference!

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  8. What a fascinating place, one I missed when I was in Florence. Your perseverance paid off, thank you for sharing it.

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    1. Regardless of the artifacts it is a beautiful place. It is actually rather small (50 x 200 feet?) so they can maintain it to high standards.

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