Pass through the arched entrance of Florence’s stately Pitti Palace and into the serenity of the sweeping Boboli Gardens, once the private playground of this Renaissance capital’s ruling Medici family. Dating from the 16th century, the Giardino di Boboli is among the earliest examples of formal Italian gardens, commissioned for the wife of Cosimo I de Medici in 1540. The gardens were expanded in the 16th and 17th centuries, and now cover 11 acres (4.4 hectares) of hillside and include a collection of outdoor sculptures dating from ancient Rome through the 17th century, making it a veritable open-air museum.
The Boboli Gardens are among Italy’s most famous gardens, and a popular attraction in central Florence as they offer a respite from the crowded city streets. Visitors can stroll along tree-lined paths on a private tour—or, for those traveling with kids, a family-friendly garden tour—to admire the expanses of manicured lawns, Renaissance fountains, classical grottos, nymphaea, temples, and an amphitheater with an Egyptian obelisk at its center. Tickets to the Boboli Gardens include entrance to the Porcelain Museum, inside the garden’s 18th-century Palazzina del Cavaliere, and the neighboring Bardini Gardens. Admission is free on the first Sunday of each month.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A visit to the Boboli Gardens is perfect for kids who need to let off a bit of steam, but stay on the walking paths as some sections of lawn are off limits.
- The gardens can be toured only on foot, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and a sun hat.
- You may bring food and drink into the gardens for an impromptu picnic on one of the many outdoor benches.
- There are four entrances to the Gardens: Pitti Palace, Annalena (Via Romana 37/A), Porta Romana, and Forte Belvedere.
How to Get There
The Boboli Gardens are located between Palazzo Pitti and Porta Romana in Florence’s central Oltrarno neighborhood. The main entrance on Piazza de’ Pitti can be reached in 30 minutes on foot or 15 minutes by bus from the Santa Maria Novella train station. Florence is a popular destination for shore excursions from the port city of Livorno.
When to Get There
The gardens are best visited from spring through fall, when the weather is mild, and early in the morning or late in the afternoon during the hottest months of the year.
Important Works in the Boboli Gardens
The Boboli Gardens hold an important collection of Renaissance statues and fountains. Notable works include “Bathing Venus” and “Fountain of the Ocean” sculpted by Giambologna, a copy of “The Prisoners” by Michelangelo, and a number of pieces by Buontalenti.