Friday, January 15, 2016

Giardino Bardini

The Bardini Garden originated in the Renaissance, but it has evolved over the centuries. It only recently opened to the public, in 2005. From the main part of the city of Florence, when you look across the Arno (behind the houses in the photo below), you can see terraces on one of the hills. These terraces are part of the Bardini Garden on the south shore of the Arno.

I think the Bardini is rather short shifted. Because it is much smaller than the Boboli, it is hidden behind the Boboli, and because you get to see it as an add-on when you buy a ticket for the Boboli, it does not tend to be appreciated as much as it ought to be.

You enter the garden on the top terrace at the back of which is a building called the Kaffeehaus (you can get coffee there,  but not in winter). It is the large loggia that provides a panoramic view of the city.

The loggia bordering the Belvedere

This large terrace in front of the loggia is the Belvedere. The main feature of the garden is the long flight of stairs (la scalinata barocca) that begins between the two statues at the edge of the Belvedere shown below, directly across from the loggia.


The top section of these stairs, being very steep, is closed to the public.

La scalinata barocca

Instead, you turn to the right and go down, in a more leisurely way, a wisteria-covered lane. It must be stunning when the wisterias are in bloom.

Instead of going down right away, you can turn to the right after these pillars. The path then takes you to a service area  along the city wall, which is part of the garden's boundary.

You also find a vegetable garden (belonging to the staff?) and a storage area for clay pots.

Let us go back to the wisteria alley. The path switches direction (back) and  takes you further down. On the way there are displays of various methods of growing fruit trees. The garden is, in large part, an orchard,  in which there are many fruit trees.

You eventually get to the second (lower) terrace.

Going straight ahead would take you to the Bosco inglese, a series of switch-backs leading back up, set among trees that must have looked English to its builders in the middle of the nineteenth century.

Skipping the Bosco inglese, you can take the central steep stairs (that section of them is open) to the lowest level.  They are between the two terracotta urns shown above.

On the way, you pass the flower gardens, three narrow double borders of perennials, one for spring, one for summer and one for autumn.

At the bottom of the garden, you get to the statue of a reclining Pomona who is being chatted up by Vertumnus. A theme apparently popular with sculptors of the 1700s.

It is very appropriate to this garden.  In mythology Pomona has locked herself in an orchard and refuses to see all suitors.  Vertumnus sneaks into the garden with a basket of apples and seduces her.

Why would he think she can be seduced with apples, if she lives in an orchard?

Perhaps Vertumnus was smart enough to only take in varieties he knew she did not already have.

Pomona and Vertumnus with his basket of apples

There are a few other sections to the garden (including collections of azaleas, viburnums and hortensia). The most interesting at this time of the year is the Chinese garden with its dragon canal. It has hardly anything to do with Chinese gardens, but it is quite attractive.

The canal in the Chinese garden

It is a mini dragon. You can spot it at the bottom of an urn of some sort in the following picture.

To end with, the clay pots tradition continues. The Bardini has its custom-made pots. This one from 2001.


  1. It's a little different when they have so many statues to go in their gardens.

    1. When you read about the meaning of them, you realize, as in the case of Pomona, that the choice is very appropriate.

  2. You had a wonderful time visiting all these gardens, it make me want to visit Florence!

    1. I still have one to visit and a couple to write about.
      At first sight you would not believe how many gardens there are here.

  3. Having a veggie patch for staff is a really good idea. Wouldn't it be good if large factories etc did the same thing so in their lunch break, or after work, the staff could have some fresh air, exercise and also grow some fresh veg for themselves. It could provide green oases in the midst of industrialisation.

  4. What a steep garden! I rather like the idea of apples to Pomona as a saying - it sounds so romantic compared with the usual, 'coals to Newcastle'. What a wonderful garden. I love Florence - I went there a lot when I was younger, but I haven't been for years & I'm desperate to return. You must have had a wonderful time there!

    1. It is a superior saying you have made up there. We still have two weeks here. It is indeed a wonderful place. I read that Unesco considers that a third of all western artworks are in Florence (it does not say how they made the calculation!)

  5. If I were Vertumnus, I would have brought cake (or maybe baklava, given the time and place). But who am I to argue with success? Thank you for the tour of another fascinating Florentine garden.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I also think baklava would have been a better choice but, as you say, the proof is in the pudding.

  6. I can't tell from the picture but are the fruit trees trellised or, is it some other method that they are using? Looks absolutely lovely.

  7. Hi Steve,
    It was a demonstration of the different ways of growing apple trees. That is why some were on a trellis, others pruned in a vase shape. The orchard was quite extensive (everything beyond the hedge).

  8. This really is a garden with a view. A little gem and when I as there, hardly any people, even in summer.


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