The morning after I arrived in Florence, I ran down Porta Romana for my morning espresso at Bar d’Angelo and then on to Italia Power Yoga for my DIY yoga retreat week (meaningly 2-3 classes a week, scattered around my eating, reading and relaxing time in the city). I pulled myself to a halt as I passed number 144, via dei Serragli. The drive way is of grande size, lined with big beautiful trees on both side. The name on the small door was written in perfect illuminati style – Giardino Torrigiani (Torrigini Garden). I have not heard of it in any travel sites, especially when in Oltrarno, Bogoli Garden took the crown jewel.
After blissful yoga, I went home and started my digging. Do you know Giardino Torrigiani is Europe largest private garden? 17 acres of lush English style garden is solely own and managed by the Torrigiani family since 16 century. The catch to visit it – an invitation from of the 2 owners who would then accompany you around. That’s what it said on the website.
I went on to send a nice admiring email to the property hoping to arrange a visit within my time in the city. And so I waited. 10 hour later, the reply came with details of the visit which worked really well. They typically hosting a party of minimum 4 people but lucky me, Mr Torrigiani agreed to host myself and 2 other fellow traveller, on Thursday afternoon, at 5.30pm. Great time to finish with an aperitif afterwards.
The family has owned this garden all along and it was near the very first fortification of the city, built by Cosimo I de Medici in early 16 century to defend the city from Siena’s attack.. I did recommend anyone who want to visit Italy to read a bit about the Medici family – fascinating bit of history! In side the garden now stay 3 residence – one of the Vieri, one of his sister and the other of his cousin, making it 2 branches of the family that own the garden together – the Torrigiani Malaspina and Torrigiani di Santa Cristina.
As Vieri shared, the name Torrigiarni meant “the man at the tower”. Pietro Torrigiani inheritted the small botanical garden in 18 century from his mother’s brother, Cardinal Torrigiani, as well as the Torrigiani name. He started acquiring the neighbouring lands to build up from the famous botanical garden. Within his property he built a 3 tier tower (square, hexagon and cylinder shapes) for his astronomical observation.
The garden boasts some wonderful architecture with statues, artificial river, bridges, arch, grotto, temple, tower, etc. The botanical collection ranges from the Far East to the Americas. This used to be a famous botanical garden of Italy due to its owner’s passion for plants. Till now, Vieri and his son still provide many plants for the city from their own plant nursery and greenhouse within the garden. They also host events at their wonderful home.
After the long walk, Vieri invited us in for some refreshing white wine, a perfect end for a hot summer afternoon.
I wish the Torrigiani many good years ahead to maintain this wonderful oasis inside wall of Florence.
Maybe next time you are in Florence, take a chance to visit!