Florence city center does not have many trees or live plants, not even a small weed or a few blades of grass. Now that it is March, a few shops and restaurants have put out pots with (sometimes fake) bushes and flowers, but unless an inner courtyard has a few trees (most likely also in pots), there is not much plant life. For the first weeks, I had not noticed it much – too many views of the Duomo peaking through an opening, another alley that could be out of a movie, or another large sculpture. But whether I noticed it consciously or not – I did miss (and still miss) plants – especially large trees and grass. Why is there no grass? Back home in California, grass (wild grass) is stubbornly pushing its way through little cracks in the driveway and makes use of any half-inch of dirt next to a road. Here – nothing.
If you want green and plants, you have to visit one of the gardens in Florence or at least get on the “other” side of Florence, where some houses actually have a backyard.
I visited one of these gardens – Giardino Bardini – on a rainy Sunday early afternoon, which meant that I had the grounds mostly to myself. A few couples were risking the walk under threatening rain clouds, but I would not see a person for half an hour at a time (which is nearly impossible in Florence outside one’s apartment). The garden offers a great view over the city with of course the Duomo as its focal points, but also a view to the hills surrounding Florence as well as the Basilica San Miniato del Monte (supposedly San Miniato was beheaded in the center of Florence but then decided to pick up his head and walk up into the hills to rest there – and that is where the basilica was built).
I am sure in spring and summer the orchards, rose gardens, and Wisteria pergolas are beautiful, but I was just excited to see grass, a few daffodils, and a few bushes that were blooming. And there were birds chirping and the water of the Dragon Canal rushing! I was ready to hug a tree (maybe I am more West Coast than I realized), but at a minimum I had to touch the grass and smell the crisp green scent of broken blades of grass. Who knew that one could miss the smell of grass (after only five weeks).
The entrance to the gardens with the museum in the villa on the grounds (see previous post) is 8 Euro. The opening hours on the website were not the ones I was told when I bought the ticket (the gardens closed much earlier), so keep this in mind, but it might have been because of the rainy weather. For more details, see the official website.