April 2013

Spring at the Boboli Gardens

by Rebecca Bricker on April 21, 2013

I’ve never waited so long for Spring. We’ve had 40 days and nights of chilly rain here in Florence during the past month — do the math. 😉

So when the sun burst forth in all its glory last Sunday, I grabbed my camera and hustled to the Boboli Gardens. (I live near an entrance to the gardens used mostly by local residents, which feels a bit like slipping in the back door.)

The Boboli Gardens — a lavish 111-acre park that adjoins the Pitti Palace, on the south side of the Arno — is the sterling template of 16-century Italian landscape design, replete with grottos, temples and sculptures that date back to Roman times. The enormity of the Boboli is staggering. In fact, after my first tour of the gardens, I staggered home, feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

Last Sunday’s visit, however, was a delightful surprise. This corner of the Boboli — inside the ‘back door’ — has an intimacy I didn’t expect. Yes, there are jaw-dropping vistas, basins and fountains. But there are also shaded meandering pathways and quiet places of repose.

On a sprawling unmown lawn, carpets of wildflowers seemed to have been rolled out for lovers, sleepyheads and two little boys who found a crawly creature in the grass. >>>






I found these lovely jewels of nature in my own little patch of lawn. >>>

And this tiny, dazzling gem…









I wandered off the well-worn paths — as is my habit — and discovered something many visitors miss: the Fontana dei Mostaccini (Fountain of Little Ugly Faces). Installed in the early 1600s, the fountain spouted water from 16 little ugly faces to attract birds hunted by Lorenzo de Medici.


I came upon a grotto with a ceiling of shells and pebbles. It’s home to a statue of Adam and Eve, who don’t look terribly happy. But I couldn’t stop laughing when these puckish American students struck this pose…





I scurried toward the exit just as the gatekeeper was locking up…








In the fading light of day, every new leaflet seemed to glow…

I savored the moment, on the first real day of Spring.