By: Victor Sanchez
We all know cities are great places to do anything and everything that might come to mind. This week however, I want to reach out to the environmentalists and practitioners of meditation. In the following article I want to discuss a great place in Florence where you can go and unwind, meditate and relax, surrounded by nature. It is also an area that is inside the city walls, which means not having to travel miles from the downtown area. In the area the Florentines call “oltrarno”, which is to say past the Arno river, there is a beautiful palace which has an immense garden, beautiful statues, lovely fountains and multiple art galleries.
The Boboli gardens, inside the Pitti palace have the largest green area in Florence. The land was purchased in 1418 by Luca Pitti with plans of building a palace and that is how the name originated. It took years to build said palace, but after decades of work the palace was brought to life. The areas have a rich history, having been commissioned in 1549, and have been since expanded over several stages of construction. The most notable family to have been here was, of course, the famous Medici family; they extended the garden all throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Although the gardens are huge there are some things that stand out:
This area is one of the most notable of the palace. It has the Roman basin and an Egyptian obelisk at the center brought by the Medici family all the way from their villa in Rome. This area is the first you will encounter and it is as breathtaking as the next.
In Italian, this fountain is known as the Fountain of the “Fork” or “Neptune’s fountain”, named after the sculpture in the middle which holds a large trident. Be sure not to confuse it with “The Fountain of Neptune” the one located in Piazza della Signoria, near Palazzo Vecchio.
If you enter the gardens from the Piazza dei Pitti, you’ll come across the Bacchus Fountain. This one is one of the site’s most peculiar fountains. It depicts a jester of one of the Medici family members (Cosimo) as the Roman god of wine seated on a gigantic turtle.
The hidden grottoes are also an amazing experience of the gardens. These are like hidden treasures in these areas where natural beauty can be found. Some of these are:
The grotto of the “Madama”
This area is also called the grotto of goats. It was built by Buontalenti around 1570 in honor of Francesco de’ Medici’s wife. The goat is the theme of the grotto because it was one of the emblems of Cosimo de Medici within the family.
The Moses Grotto
This one is called the grotto of Moses because of the statue in the area. This area was created by Raphael Curradi, although the sculpture was the work of a cooperation between Curradi and Cosimo Salvestrini.
Adam and Eve grotto
This area was created by Giuseppe Cacialli in 1817, making it the newest grotto of all.
Be sure to check the dates and tours for more information as the site could close according to restorations or Italian holidays. One should also keep in mind that the site is a historical and artistic place so, because of the age of the items inside, there are continuous restorations to some areas. Be sure to schedule your visit according to what you might want to see and also keep in mind that the site is immense. I recommend getting lost in there and in the beauty of nature, located conveniently inside the city walls.
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