Only a few hundred metres from the back gate of the Boboli Gardens and the Costa San Giorgio will lead you to another wonderful, less crowded garden.
The Bardini Gardens and villa were only re-opened to the public in 2005, after five years and 12 million euros had been spent in restoring them. A lot of people still don’t know about the gardens and that is a pity, as they are missing a treasure, but it also means you have the gardens almost to yourself. It’s one of the few places in Florence where you can be “relatively” private and the entrance fee is included in the ticket to the Boboli Gardens.
The lower entrance is around the corner from the Ponte delle Grazie in Via de Bardi, over the road from the Museum Bardini. This is definitely Bardini territory. Looking up from the opposite bank of the Arno River you can clearly see the steep terraced hillside with its lush grass and flower-beds.
This ten-acre garden was originally planned by the Mozzi family way back in the 13th century, but it has greatly changed since then. One of the oldest areas are the flower terraces towards the bottom of the hill. Each terrace is protected from the prevailing winds by an arched mosaic wall with a fountain on it.
From here a long and steep baroque stone staircase leads up the hill. An easier alternative is to climb up the path through the shady wisteria arbour, bordered by hydrangeas. The hill is crowned by a pair of baroque statues and the Belvedere Terrace, which has magnificent views of Florence. On one side you can see Brunelleschi’s dome and the tower of Palazzo Vecchio, on the other is the Piazzale Michelangelo and San Miniato al Monte.
When you reach the Belvedere, there’s pleasant café. There are also a few secluded benches on the way up, where you can discreetly have a picnic. Either way, you can enjoy the stunning panorama.
Above the terrace, the garden has been developed in more romantic style, but still boasts many statues. The luxuriant oak and cypress trees attract wood pigeons, blackbirds and robins. From the flower beds comes the fragrance of roses, early crocuses and mimosa.
The villa at the top of the park goes back to the 14th century. In 1641 the architect Gherardo Silvani restructured and enlarged it. It was later acquired by Stefano Bardini, a distinguished antiquarian and art historian, who extended the house further and added the loggia and the lemon house to the property.
Stefano’s wonderful collection of antiques is displayed in the Bardini Museum in the square below. The house itself now houses two small galleries. One displays dresses and drawings by fashion designer, Robert Carpucci, the other shows a permanent exhibition of 120 paintings by Pietro Annigoni, whose work was inspired by the great artists of the Renaissance - a fitting tribute to the epoch on which Florence’s fame is based.
The entrance fee to the Bardini Gardens costs € 7.00. You can purchase a combined ticket for the Boboli Gardens and Bardini Gardens for €10.00.
Opens at 8.15am to various times, depending on the month, i.e.:
Until 18.30 in April, May, September and October.
Until 19.30 in June, July and August.
Closed 1st and last Monday of each month.
Entry: Valid for all exhibitions €6.00.
Summer: Wed. to Sun. 10-1800
Winter: Sat./Sun. 10-1800 * Wed. to Fri. 10-1600
Closed Mon. & Tues.
By bus: From the main train station, Santa Maria Novella: Line 23 or 12 (stop Lungarno Torrigiani, Piazza dei Mozzi) This leads to the lower entrance in Via de Bardi, so you still have a steep walk uphill.
By foot: Walk through the Boboli Gardens to the top of the hill at the left & out through the back gate. From there it’s a five minute flattish walk.