The Botanical Garden
In the first half of the 1500s, there was a renewed interest in the natural sciences, pharmacopoeia (the preparation of medicines) and medicinal plants, also called “semplici”. Botany became a science that could offer new potential in the therapeutic field.
The Medici family showed great interest in collecting and classifying rare plants so they promoted the creation of two botanical gardens, or “giardini dei semplici”. The first was the one in Pisa, created in 1543 and which is recognized as the oldest university botanical garden in the world. The second was that of Florence, created in 1545 near the Medici-controlled area of San Marco.
Cosimo de’ Medici created a large “Giardino dei Semplici”, entrusting Tribolo with the architectural project and Luca Ghini (already director of the garden in Pisa) with the botanical one. Tribolo’s radial plan was centered on a large octagonal pool with a central island onto which eight pathways converged.
In 1783, management of the garden was transferred to the Accademia dei Georgofili who subsequently modified the layout, destroying the design by Tribolo. In its place, a simpler distribution plan was created, in line with modern plant species classification systems. Starting in 1866, large greenhouses (hot for tropical plants and cold for citrus fruits) were constructed along the new road dedicated to the botanist Pier Antonio Micheli. In this period teaching activities also increased in the garden that in 1880 became the Botanical Garden of the University of Florence.
Its subsequent enlargement towards Via Gino Capponi was the last significant intervention in this area, whose layout is still substantially that of the eighteenth-nineteenth centuries.
Here there are also five rare centuries-old plants: such as a common yew (Taxus baccata) planted by Micheli in 1720. The pools and pond contain many aquatic species such as water lilies and lotus plants. In spring, the azalea collection colors the garden’s central avenue, offering visitors entrancing vistas.
Timetables and address
Via Pier Antonio Micheli 3, Firenze
- Sunday and Saturday 10 am – 6.30 pm
Events in the gardens
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