Sanniccolini proudly take their children there for play dates. Giardino della Carraia is a breath of fresh air extending up the hill from Porta San Miniato.
The name comes from the fact that it was once a carriage track that led as far as Ponte a Ema. Up until the 1970s it was known as the Giardino degli Arcieri, home to the city’s archery club. Once the garden lost its bow and arrows, it fell into disrepair and disrepute, a known haunt for the city’s homeless and drug taking.
Parco Carraia got its mojo back in the 1990s thanks to the untiring efforts of Piero Filippi, then president of the San Niccolò Committee. Filippo assembled a group of volunteers who cleaned up the park, returning the space to its original purpose: a well-maintained garden open to all just outside the city walls. In honour of the president’s work the City of Florence renamed it Giardino Piero Filippi, although most people continue to call it Giardino della Carraia.
To reach the park, walk up via dell’Erta Canina under the tree-lined street that leads to the gate. Pack a picnic and nab one of the tables and benches in the shade of tall trees. BBQ enthusiasts will be in their element with the grilling facilities, while football fans can kick a ball around for free (and without the need to book) on the synthetic five-a-side field. All this while your children let off steam in the playground.
In September, the volunteer committee is running a series of fun children’s activities as part of the Viva Carraia project. Attend a tie dye t-shirt workshop (Sept. 13), learn how to make a recycled pencil case (Sept. 19) or add coloured plaits to your hairstyle (Sept. 21). Celebrate the Giardino della Carraia on September 23 for a group clean-up of the garden, followed by a community lunch.
For more information, call the San Niccolò Volunteer Committee 055 234353 or visit the Facebook page Comitato di San Niccolò.