A secret garden in Florence: Giardino Torrigiani

In the Florentine Oltrarno there is one of the largest private gardens in Europe located within the walls of a city, the Torrigiani Garden, which with its surface of almost ten hectares extends into the area between the ancient walls that go from Porta Romana to Piazza Tasso, Via dei Serragli and Via del Campuccio.


The property, already known in the sixteenth century as a botanical garden, was expanded between 1802 and 1817 and transformed into a Romantic English garden with an itinerary rich in symbols related to Masonry, of which the then owner, the Marquis Pietro Torrigiani, was part of.

The project was entrusted to the architect Luigi de Cambray Digny, who had already renovated the Orti Oricellari, who created a path with a precise emotional course, blending natural and architectural elements and works of art. Merlin's cave, the citrus and flower garden, the arcadia, the hermit, the covered carousel, the gymnasium, the aviary, the lemon house; there was so much to discover in the garden that they had to create a visitor's guide. Even today you can see the hands carved on the columns to indicate the paths to follow.


After Digny the project passed into the hands of Gaetano Baccani, who had already designed the bell tower of Santa Croce. He was responsible for the design of one of the most characteristic and interesting elements of the garden, the neo-Gothic style tower, which refers to the family crest, a tower surrounded by three stars.

The tower, about twenty-two meters high, is located on a hill that makes it seem even more imposing. Inside there is a library, a collection of astronomical instruments and a terrace for observing the sky. To access the various floors of the tower, there were a spiral staircase and a particular mechanical chair that allowed a rapid ascent to the top.

The three levels of the tower allude also to the levels of knowledge: the square base, the octagonal intermediate level and finally the cylindrical top, a symbol of perfection and therefore of divine knowledge.


Among the works in the garden still today we find the sculptural group representing Seneca with the young Pietro Torrigiani by Pio Fedi, also author of the Ratto di Polissena which can be admired in the Loggia dei Lanzi, the baroque work of Baratta depicting Atteone fleeing after having seen Diana while bathing, the statues of Janus and Aesculapius and the statue of Osiris who holds the tables with the rules of behavior to be followed when visiting the park.


The garden is also an important botanical garden, which preserves many centuries-old plants, including cedars of Lebanon, sequoias, ginko biloba, plane trees, cypresses, holm oaks and the rare tricolor beech.

Wild animals such as deer and roe deer were once hidden among the rich vegetation of the park.

Today the Torrigiani Garden is one of the most important private gardens in Florence. It is possible to visit it by reservation only, but it's really worth it!

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