Chilling in the Cascine

Curious Florence

Rose Mackworth-Young
December 12, 2013

Have you ever wondered what a pyramid is doing in the Cascine? Just off viale degli Olmi, which runs the length of the park, this mysterious structure was once an ice house. Built in 1796 by Grand Duke Ferdinando III’s architect Giuseppe Manetti, it was used to store dairy products and to preserve ice for the summer months. The ice was harvested from small purpose-built ponds near what is now the Le Pavoniere swimming pool (the buildings of which once housed the head warden of the Cascine). The ice house, now used as a storage space by the Cascine’s gardeners, underwent extensive restoration in 2009, along with the nearby Fountain of Narcissus. Not only ice chilled in the Cascine: a windy autumn day there in 1819 inspired Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind.

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