The wonderful Bardini Garden, which provides one of the most beautiful views of the city of Florence, is situated only a few hundred metres from Costa San Giorgio and the back gate of the Boboli Gardens, through which the main characters in Dan Brown’s Inferno escape into pathways.
While not as famous as nearby Boboli Gardens (one can purchase a combined ticket to enter both!), it is more quiet and has a romantic feel and a varied layout. It is a large, four hectare garden situated between the Piazzale Michelangelo and the Boboli Gardens in Oltrarno, across the river from the historic center of Florence.
The history of the garden dates to the late 16th century when the Mozzi family acquired an estate just outside the city walls on the left bank of the Arno river consisting of a palazzo with a walled garden and a steep, terraced slope.
In the 18th century, Giulio Mozzi enriched the property with a Baroque staircase on the slope adorned with sandstone statues. He also added a long fountain wall decorated with mosaics.
In the mid-19th century, the garden was expanded with the addition of the estate of the villa Manadora (now the Villa Bardini), which contained woodland in addition to an English-Chinese garden, a waterfall, a pond, and a fountain.
Financial struggles forced the Mozzi family to hand over the garden to the prince Carolath von Beuthen, who introduced Victorian elements. In 1913, the antiquarian Stefano Bardini acquired the domain. He made some drastic changes which included building a road to the villa, demolishing the medieval walled garden in the process.
After the death of Bardini’s son in 1965, the garden was neglected. It wasn’t until 2000 that the Ente Cassa di Risparmio (Florence Savings Corporation), acting through the Fondazione Parchi Monumentali Bardini Peyron, initiated a project to return the garden to its former splendor. Finally, five years later, the Bardini garden was opened to the public.
When entering the garden along Via dei Bardi, one passes by a small rose garden.
A wooded area ahead is the original English garden, once part of the Manadora estate. There is a lawn with azaleas where on can also see ferns, vibernums, camellias, and a collection of citrus fruits.
A winding path leads through the gardens uphill and brings you to the Villa Bardini, now home to a restaurant, cafeteria, and bookshop. The path continues west to the top of the slope.
On its way up, the path passes along the central Baroque staircase, the centerpiece of the garden, with its view over the city and its six fountains with mosaic bottoms made from various materials.
On either side of the long staircase are terraced lawns, and its top is decorated with elegant statues.
There are many other picturesque areas in the Bardini garden that can be discovered by aimlessly wandering around the garden. You will come across a grotto, several fountains, a small canal, a tempietto, and an agricultural park with orchards. Depending on the time of the year, the garden can be very colorful thanks to the many flowering plants, including roses, irises, hydrangeas, and a beautiful wisteria pergola.