Barbie pink roses cover remarkably green bushes. It may be a fairytale, but the handful of tourists with fanny packs pull me out of this dream, but only for a moment. Spring has arrived in Florence, but you wouldn’t know it in the historic center with little patches of greenery to be found. The store windows may be the only indication that it is time to change that winter wardrobe of coats and scarves to floral dresses and sandals.
One of my favorite moments with spring came in the Boboli Gardens in Florence. The Boboli Gardens sit perched above historic Florence, Italy. From certain vantage points within the garden, you can see the cityscape as the neighboring Pitti Palace acts as a barrier between the gardens and the rest of the Florentine world.
The Boboli Gardens are not natural. Rather, they were the work of a who’s who of Italian artists and architects. A compilation of talent created such idealized Renaissance order for the needy Medici of Florence. The end result came in 1550 after Niccoló Tribolo, Giorgio Vasari, Bartolomeo Ammannati, and Bernardo Buontalenti, just to name a few, all picked up their rakes, shovels and pencils to imagine what is also the name of a popular store-bought pizza crust.
Within the Boboli Gardens, Mannerist and Baroque sculptures scatter about. The gardens cover 11 acres of Florence, providing that necessary greenery to the city. I remember living in Florence and reaching this point during spring. I had yet to see one tree within the city. Oranges, yellows, and rusty reds are the only color palettes here. The Boboli Gardens provided those trees and moments with nature, even if man constructed them. I can’t really explain this sensation to crave green spaces after living in such a city state of mind. Maybe some other city slickers can relate. It is almost like taking medication for a cold or that runny nose will not go away. The Boboli Gardens were my decongestant when Florence wouldn’t let me breath.
On my last visit to Florence, I overheard some tourists griping about the Boboli Gardens. One man said, “Oh don’t go to those gardens on the other side of the river, the Boboli. There is nothing there. They are terrible.” I couldn’t believe someone could have such a negative opinion of these gardens that I found so comforting. Spring had passed by this point. Perhaps the man just missed the miracle that is the season throughout the Boboli. That, or he wanted to maintain his masculinity, rejecting all things pink and perfect.
On days when the city is quiet, the Boboli are quiet. You will find yourself walking down a path with manicured bushes creating a cave of sorts, a tunnel to what is up ahead. You can’t hear a sound for some reason. There may be noise, but it isn’t heard in my rose-colored state of mind throughout these gardens.