An afternoon walk through the Oltrarno

Nicoletta Curradi
July 7, 2005

On the hillside behind Palazzo Pitti are the magnificent Boboli Gardens, which are among the most beautiful and best-preserved gardens in Italy. Our second stroll in search of discovery in the wonderful and unusual city of Florence begins from these gardens of paradise, laid out in the 16th century for Cosimo I with evergreen plants and potted citrus fruit trees. There is always something new in Boboli:from May 28 until September 18 (hours: 11am-6pm), an interesting exhibition of sculptures by Antonio Manzi will join the natural beauties of the green park and the other, ancient sculptures, including some restored Roman works. The new exhibit is displayed in the splendid Tepidarium and Pineapple Garden.The Boboli Gardens’ opening hours are 8.30am to 7.30pm during the Summer.


Behind the amphitheatre with an Egyptian obelisk, terraces with fountains and statues rise up to the top of the hill. On the left side you can easily reach the romantic Kaffeehaus building, which has been recently restored. The Pompeian-red of the external walls was replaced, during the restoration, with a tender light green, which was the walls’ original colour. Guided tours are organised at fixed hours, during which you can admire the delicate frescoes by Giuseppe del Moro. The Kaffeehaus will soon be reopened to the public; hot chocolate, coffee, and other delicious drinks will be served in a delightful atmosphere.


The Boboli gardens are full of wonderful corners: the 17th century “Isolotto” with the fountain of Oceanus, the statue of Pegasus near the “Meridiana” wing, and the 16th century Grotta Grande by Bernardo Buontalenti create together a very peaceful atmosphere. During Pitti Immagine Uomo, the Boboli Gardens are often the stage of many elegant fashion shows and “défilés.”


Going out from the gardens, you have the opportunity to visit, in the Sala Bianca of the Galleria Palatina, the exhibition “From Parmigianino to Tiepolo,” which comprises a selection of drawings coming from Bucharest and exhibited in Italy for the first time (hours: 8.15am - 6.50pm, closed on Mondays, exhibit ends in July).


Just out of Piazza Pitti, on the left you find Via Romana, the street of the museum called “La Specola,” a Natural History museum, and, opposite it, the Oratorio dei Bini, a little museum created in 2003 with a miscellany of Florentine works of art (open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays only, from 3 - 6pm). At the end of the street, in the Piazzale di Porta Romana, the restored Gipsoteca of the Istituto d’Arte opens its doors with the exhibition of Mario Botta “Prayers of Stone - Sacred Architectures,” showing the projects of the famous Swiss architect who worked on many churches both in Italy and abroad.


Via Senese rises up on the opposite side of Piazzale di Porta Romana:on the left, at number 89r the r estaurant “Ruggero” (closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays) is the right place for a relaxed dinner to conclude an interesting, but also tiring afternoon.


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