Five of the best Tuscan gardens

Tony Bassett of Tuscan Secrets explores a few of his favourite green spaces in Tuscany… how many have you visited?

Images by PG Media; Getty Images

Villa reale Giardino spagnolo e Grotta di Pan

Villa Reale, Lucca
Once home to Napoleon’s sister Elisa. It has several different gardens including camellias, which flower during February and March, as well as a Spanish garden, and a lemon garden where John Singer Sargent painted a number of his splendid watercolours. The gardens are also home to an amazing theatre that was created in 1690 using yew hedges. The theatre was used extensively during the 1800s.

Tuscany garden

Giardino dell’Iris, Florence
The views from Piazzale Michelangelo, high on a hill on the River Arno south bank, are a delight during late April to late May, when you get free entry from the Piazzale into the Giardino dell’Iris. The iris has been a symbol of Florence since the 13th century, and you’ll see thousands of varieties in bloom here, some of which are at risk of extinction.

Boboli Gardens Florence

Boboli Gardens, Florence
The origins of these gardens right next to the Pitti Palace date back to the 15th century. Known as the ‘lungs of Florence’, they are a place to see nature, embrace the scents and to marvel at the Roman and Romanesque statues, which create an open air museum.

Garzoni Gardens, Pistoia

Garzoni Gardens, Pistoia
These historic gardens, part of Villa Garzoni, were originally designed in the 16th century. There is also a fantastic butterfly house here, which is open from March to October. The popular Pinocchio Park can be found directly next door.

Orto Botanico FlorenceGiardino dei Semplici, Florence
One of the oldest in the world, the Giardino dei Semplici was created by the Medici as a garden for medicinal plants. It has hot and cold greenhouses and a collection of both old and modern roses as well as cacti (like the example on the left) and a selection of carnivorous plants. Today it is part of the Natural History Museum of the University of Florence. There are also accessible routes here for the less mobile visitor.