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PARKS & GARDENS

August in Florence conjures up visions of a city broiling in a hot, humid haze. However, we have endeavored to find a few green, cool areas of the city in places where one might find respite from the heat. It goes without saying, though, that one must be in rhythm

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Thu 24 Jul 2008 12:00 AM

August in Florence conjures up visions of a city broiling in a hot, humid haze. However, we have endeavored to find a few green, cool areas of the city in places where one might find respite from the heat. It goes without saying, though, that one must be in rhythm with the time of day. In Florence, in August, you do not venture out in the hot midday sun unless you are on your way to the emergency room at Santa Maria Nuova for some dire need. After lunch is the time to do as the wise Florentines: close the ‘persiane’ and take a nap ‘til things cool off.  So, with this caveat, we are happy to share some small and unique green spaces in the historic center to visit in the cooler moments of the day.

 

 

IL GIARDINO DEL PALAZZO VIVARELLI COLONNA

Via delle Conce 28, between via Ghibellina and via dell’Agnolo in the

Santa Croce neighborhood; open Tuesday to Thursday 10am-6pm

 

This elegant, traditional Italianate garden, an oasis of tall, leafy linden trees, azaleas, magnolias, lemon trees, dates back to the fifteenth century and belonged to the Granacci family. It has a melancholy air, and its aging splendor, plus the fact that there are only a few stone benches, probably discourages many a visitor. If the quietude doesn’t break your concentration, it is the perfect place to sit in the cool shade of one of the trees with a good book and escape the August heat.

 

 

GIARDINO COMUNALE DI BORGO ALLEGRI

Borgo Allegri 18, in the Santa Croce neighborhood;

open daily 9:30am-12:30pm, 3pm-6pm. Dogs not allowed.

 

This neighborhood ‘people’ park has plenty of benches in the shade among the trees. It is nestled between two residential, historic buildings of Borgo Allegri and is a favorite place for young mothers and grandmothers pushing strollers. There are children at play, elderly men reading their newspapers, middle-aged women catching up on the neighborhood pettegolezzi. The park is good place to take a picnic lunch and partake, at least as a spectator, in the lively interaction of the residents of the neighborhood.

 

 

GIARDINO ALESSANDRO CHELAZZI

Via dell’Agnolo, between Borgo Allegri and via M. Buonarroti in the

Santa Croce/Sant’Ambrogio neighborhood; open daily 9am-7:30pm. Dogs allowed.

 

Near the Piazza dei Ciompi, just a block away from the Loggia del Pesce is another neighborhood park: Giardino Alessandro Chelazzi. There are plenty of benches in the shade where the locals hang out. In the late afternoon, it fills up with all ages, and attracts dog owners as well, who can let their pets loose in this small iron-gated park surrounded with lavender-colored flowering hedges. Since the park lies in the heart of the Ciompi antiques area, take advantage and browse among the antiques you’ll see propped outside of these small storefronts. When you’ve had enough, pick up a panino from a nearby baker, a cold bottle of frizzante and enjoy the afternoon in this delightful little garden.

 

 

LE CASCINE

Near Porta al Prato, alongside the Arno, on the west side of Florence

 

Not to be confused with small neighborhood parks is the roughly 280-acre park along the Arno by the name of Le Cascine. Once a private hunting reserve for the Medici dukes, Le Cascine has been the green refuge for the city of Florence for centuries. Even in the hottest point of the day, you are bound to find cooler temperatures in this woody, green island. A bike path meanders through the entire park, with plenty of space for rollerblading as well. Find the right spot on the grass and spread your picnic blanket under this canopy of green. Just don’t stay after dark, and avoid going on Tuesday (market day) or Sunday, when it’s packed with people.

 

 

BENCHES

On the way up to the Piazzale Michelangelo

 

If green spaces combined with a panoramic view is what does it for you, go up to the Piazzale Michelangelo from the Torre di San Niccolò. Before reaching the top, you will find scattered along the curving road benches half-hidden among the trees and a magnificent view of the skyline of Florence. The dazzling view of the Duomo, the diverse trademark bell towers of Florence, and the Arno with its graceful bridges is breathtaking.

 

 

JAPANESE ROSE GARDEN

Open daily 8am-8pm

 

Before reaching the Piazzale, you come upon an iron gate entrance, which seems like the entrance to a private villa, but upon closer examination of the worn-out sign, reading Giardino Giapponese, you will discover what lies beyond. The view of Florence and the hills beyond will simply take your breath away. This is one of the most panoramic gardens in Florence. The carefully mowed prato inglese gives a bucolic feeling to this terraced garden with over 1,000 varieties of roses.  The Japanese Rose Garden can be reached by following the curving road up to the Piazzale Michelangelo from the Torre di San Niccolò; it lies just below the Piazzale. There are plenty of shady benches where you can spend a few hours away from the broiling stones of Florence.

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