The Boboli Gardens and its Many Water Fountains
The Boboli Gardens is a park in Florence, Italy that was created and added to through the 16th to the 18th centuries, with a collection of statuaries, fountains, and architectural design. When visiting the Boboli Gardens, there are many entrances into the garden, in fact, if you buy a combined garden ticket, you can visit the garden and the Pitti Palace.
The villa came into the hands of the Medici Family in 1549 when Eleanora di Toledo purchased the Palazzo Pitti. The most reputable landscaper at the time was hired by her husband, the Duke Cosimo I, to create the expansive sloping garden terrain directly behind the palace. This garden would be expanded several times throughout the years, and officially opened to the public in 1776. The garden has both formal and natural parts to it, some with strict geometric patterns while other parts freely flow. Statuary and fountains have been added and removed over the years as well. The Gardens are always an exciting visit because of the undulating topography, the changes in the layout, and the differing decorations.
There are many exciting features presented throughout the gardens. The Bacchus Fountain is an entertaining water feature. If you enter the gardens though the Piazza dei Pitti, you certainly cannot miss this fountain. It is a depiction of Pietro Barberino, the court jester for Cosimo I, as the Roman god of wine. At this particular entrance there are also two Dacian prisoners flanking the entrance. The Grotto Grande is an artificial grotto to the left of the park’s entrance. It is basically a decorative cave that was built between 1583 and 1588. The Grotto consists of three connected chambers where there are a number of sculptures. In the first chamber you will find replicas of the statues of four slaves, unfinished statues done by Michelangelo for the tomb of Pope Julius II. The originals are located in the Galleria dell’Accademia. The statue in the second chamber is of ‘Paris and Helena’ that was sculpted by Vincenzo de’ Rossi in 1560. The final chamber features the statue of the bathing Venus. The grotto, however, is often closed to visitors.
North of the Grotto Grande is a terrace garden that leads to the Kaffeehaus. This is a stunning pavilion in the Rococo style in 1775. This is typically used a coffee house. There is a lovely little fountain in the center of the garden below this pavilion depicting the Greek Hero Ganymede climbing onto the eagle. Right behind the Pitti Palace, in the Boboli Gardens, is the amphitheater. The amphitheater was actually the old stone quarry, where the stones came from to build the palace. Decorated with niches featuring classical status and urns, the amphitheater has a lot of beauty. In the center of the amphitheater there was an Egyptian Obelisk that had been erected in Heliopolis by Ramses II originally. Medici had installed it here. The amphitheater leads to a small pond and the central Neptune Fountain, created by Stoldo Lorenzi during 1565-1568.
If you take a small uphill climb you come to the terrace known as the Giardano del Cavaliere or the Knights Garden, a stunning formal rose garden. In the center of this garden is a small beautifully sculpted fountain. It is from this terrace that you see a stunning view of the surrounding areas.
The more formal part of the Boboli Garden is located towards the western part. It consists of woodlands. There is a wide lane in the center known as Il Viottolone that cuts through the natural area. The lane is lined with cypresses and statues, which leads to an island called the Isolotto. On this island there is a replica of the Oceanus Fountain that sits in the Bargello.
Visiting the Boboli Gardens is an exciting and beautiful way to spend a day. There are so many different features to take in and enjoy!