The Rose Garden in Florence
When in Florence, it is definitely worth visiting the Rose Garden, a park in the Oltrarno neighbourhood that is full of surprises.
Legend has it that at the time of the birth of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, if someone said the three code words “under the rose”, it meant they knew a big secret.
And this secret code is as old as the subject, namely the rose. In fact, it seems that the earliest specimens date back 35 million years.
This was certainly a topic dear to the heart of architect Giuseppe Poggi, who in 1865 was employed by the City of Florence to create the marvellous Rose Garden and adjoining Piazzale Michelangelo, when the city was about to replace Turin in being the capital of Italy.
The oldest-known rose is over 450 years old
The Rose Garden covers approximately one hectare of terraced land, offering extraordinary panoramic city views. The best time to visit is from April to June when the roses are in bloom. There are over 350 species to admire, the oldest dating back to 1550, as well as beautiful lemon trees and small artificial lakes home to dozens of carp.
The garden has three entrances: at the junction between Via dei Bastioni and Via del Monte alle Croci, from Viale Poggi, or via the steps from San Niccolò.
Jean-Michel Folon represented this city in art
If you love flowers or you’re simply a huge romantic at heart, the Rose Garden is truly one of the most magical places in Florence, especially since the widowed wife of artist Jean-Michel Folon donated twelve sculptures created by her late husband.
Among the most impressive is Partir, an enormous bronze frame positioned on one of the panoramic terraces. When looking through it, you can enjoy a truly unforgettable view of Florence.
Then there is Je me souviens, featuring a gentleman reading intently, sat on one half of a bench – visitors are invited to sit next to him and admire the city, keeping him company.
Other fascinating sculptures include Envol, a man who, with his hat tipped upwards, seems as though he is about to take flight into the sky, and Chat, a large cat who sleeps among the roses.
Equally intriguing is the bronze 25ème Pensée, depicting a man with a vase on his head, a clear reference to the surrealist art of Magritte.
The Japanese oasis, a homage to Kyoto
Finally, the icing on the cake: since 1998, the garden has been home to a space created by Japanese architect Yasuo Kitayama. It is a real Shorai Oasis, donated to Florence by the city of Kyoto, which it has been twinned with for almost 100 years.