Rose Garden, Giardino delle Rose
Along the way to Piazzale Michelangelo, one of the best panoramic views in the city, there lies a small rose garden. With over 800 species of roses and an amazing view, this garden, though small, is a place of tranquility and relaxation. Many tourists stop for photos if they happen to come across it, and the best time of year to go is in May when the roses are in full bloom. Best of all, it’s free. Open daily 8am-8pm.
The largest garden in all of Florence, Boboli Garden belonged to the Medici family, and lies behind Palazzo Pitti. Although not so much as a garden than a sprawling outdoor museum, you can find sculptures, statues, fountains, and even small museums inside standalone buildings around the property. It’s a gorgeous escape from the concrete streets of Florence if you’re in the mood for something closer to nature, yet you still can experience some Florentine history. Open everyday from 8.15 a.m. to 4:30pm (Nov-Feb), to 5:30pm (March), to 6:30pm (April-May, Sept-Oct) and to 7:30pm (June-August). Last entrance is 1 hour before closing time. Full price for entry is €10.
Equally beautiful, but much less crowded are the Bardini Gardens. Only recently has the garden been open the public (since 2005). It underwent years of restoration after being abandoned for many generations from the last of the historic Mozzi family. Twelve million euros later, the beautiful green garden overlooks Florence and is full of giant ancient trees, stone terraces, and seating areas. They also host a number of outdoor events in the spring and summer months.
Torrigiani Gardens, Giardino Torrigiani
Who knew Florence was the home to the largest private garden in all of Europe? You’d never even know by walking by since the tall walls are deceiving, inside, however, they hold beautiful secrets, tranquil spaces and dozens of species of plants that can’t be found anywhere else in the city. The garden is private, and still owned by the descendants of the family, so in order to go inside, you need to book a private tour. They also boast having the world’s oldest botanical garden (according to them), but surely a gem to find behind the cold stone walls. Visits are by reservation only so be sure to schedule in advance.
Although this park is off the tourist path, it’s definitely accessible. Over 118 hectares of green space that runs along the Arno river, this park is popular with runners, dogs, children, and even some markets and summer events. This park can be a bit rough around the edges, and it’s not recommended to go at night, but during the day, it’s a great spot for a quiet picnic, or nature walk. Historically it was a hunting reserve for the Medici family, and centuries later it was said to have been Queen Victoria’s favourite part of Florence. If it’s good enough for a Queen, it’s good enough for us.
Gherardesca Gardens at the Four Seasons in Florence
Although this is a private garden is owned by the famous Four Seasons Hotel, you still have a chance at having a peek. Before being part of the hotel, this garden had been hidden from the public for hundreds of years and had been planted originally as a Renaissance garden in the 15th century. Now, however, even if you’re not a guest of the hotel, you can see it during one of the ‘open days’ throughout the year for the public.
Villa Strozzi Garden, Giardino di Villa Strozzi
Known to the locals as Il Boschetto (the little woods), this place is well known and loved by those who live nearby. It has one of the best closed dog parks in the centre, picnic tables, a playground for kids, and you can even enjoy drinks and pizza in the summer months. The historic green space is near Polimoda University and just a 20 minute walk near the San Freudiano neighbourhood.
Horticulture Garden, Giardino dell’Orticoltura
This is another green space in the city closer to Piazza della Libertà, just outside of the common tourist area. It’s a 19th century garden which transforms into an event space for the summer months where you can find anything from a street food festival, to a plant fair.
Keep your eyes open for small courtyards as you walk along the side streets. Many old Medici buildings hide beautiful private gardens in the centre of the property, and you may even be able to enter some of the public buildings if they’re open.