Great Place Wednesday: Boboli Gardens, Florence, Italy

The Boboli Gardens are the expansive grounds located behind the Pitti Palace in the Oltroarno neighborhood of Florence, Italy.  The gardens are home to  a collection of sculptures dating from the 16th through the 18th centuries, with some Roman antiquities.

In the 16th Century, the Medici family controlled major financial and trade routes across Europe.  Their seat of power was Florence, and they made there home at the Pitti Palace.  With the cramped and crowded city surrounding them, the built the beautiful Boboli Gardens as a refuge, connecting to the hills above Florence.

The mid-16th century garden style, as it was developed here, incorporated longer axial developments, wide gravel avenues, a considerable “built” element of stone, the lavish employment of statuary and fountains, and a proliferation of detail, coordinated in semi-private and public spaces that were informed by classical accents: grottos,nympheums, garden temples and the like. The openness of the garden, with an expansive view of the city, was unconventional for its time. The gardens were very lavish, considering no access was allowed outside the immediate Medici family, and no entertainment or parties ever took place in the gardens.

The garden lacks a natural water source. To water the plants in the garden, a conduit was built from the nearby Arno River to feed water into an elaborate irrigation system.