Boboli Garden
Giardino di Boboli
Museum's plan
Egyptian obelisk and Roman basin are authentic, brought from Villa Medici in Rome

The Garden that extends from the hill behind the Pitti Palace as far as Porta Romana, reached its current extension and appearance, becoming one of the largest and most elegant Italian style gardens, through several stages of enlargement and restructuring work carried out at diffrent times. The first works initially affected the area that was closer to the palace, after the buildung had been purchased by Cosimo I de´ Medici and by his wife Eleonora di Toledo, who had chosen this place for new grand ducal palace. The initial plan was drawn by Niccolò Tribolo, although the works were completed, after his death in 1550 by other architects including also Giorgio Vasari (from 1598 to 1561) along with Bartolomeo Ammannati and Bernardo Buontalenti under the reign of Francis I, who succeeded to his father Cosimo.

The Medici and the Lorraine families continued to enrich and enlarge the garden also in 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Besides adding lovely meadows, avenues, small groves and beautiful panoramic views, they made the garden more precious by including extraordinary decorative complexes, thus forming an outdoor museum that exhibited both Roman and 16th and 17th century statues.

The first phase led to the creation of an "Amphitheatre" adjoined to the hill behind the palace. The early amphitheatre, initially formed by “edges and evergreen meadows”, was later replaced by a stone one decorated with statues based on Roman myths such as the Fountain of the Ocean sculptured by Giambologna, then transferred to another location within the same garden, the small "Grotto of Madama", and the "Large Grotto", which has begun by Vasari and ended by Ammannati and Buontalenti between 1583 and 1593. Despite the fact that it is currently undergoing complex restoration work (1998) due to the damages suffered over centuries these statues continue to be remarkable examples of Mannerism architecture and culture. Decorated internally and externally with stalatites and originally equipped with water plays and a luxuriant vegetation, the fountain is divided into three main sections. The first one was frescoed to create the illusion of a natural grotto, that is a natural refuge to allow shepherds to protect themselves from wild animals, and originally housed the Prisoners of Michelangelo, which were moved to this location after they had become part of the Medici collection (the original statues have now been replaced by copies). The rooms that follow exhibit valuable sculptures like the "Bathing Venus" of Giambologna and the group of "Paris and Hellen" of Vincenzo de Rossi.

Other fine works are also situated in the area above the amphitheatre. This is the location of the fountain known as the Fountain of the "Fork" or "Neptune`s fountain", named after the sculpture by Stoldo Lorenzi located in the middle of the fountain that appears to be holding a large trident. In the park we also find the large statues of the "Abundance", located on the top of the hill, started by Giambologna, to represent Giovanna of Austria, the wife of Francis I. The statue was actually ended in 1637 as allegorical figure.

Walking through the garden towards Porta Romana, after the so-called "Prato dell`Uccellare", we find the "Viottolone, a large avenue flanked by cypresses and statuettes that leads to the open space of "Isolotto", begun by Giulio and Alfonso Parigi in 1618. In the centre of the space, you can admire the fountain of the "Ocean" by Giambologna,surrounded by other three sculptures representing the rivers Nil, Gange and Euphrates. All around there are other statues based on classic and popular subjects (belonging to the 17th and 18th centuries) like those that shows groups of children playing traditional games.

The house of the Lorraine made further additions in the 18th century, such as the "Kaffeehaus" (1775), the "Lemon House" (1777-1778), both built by Zanobi del Rosso and the "Palazzina della Meridiana" begun in 1776 by Gaspero Paoletti. The Egyptian" Obelisk" brought from Luxor was placed in this location in 1789.


Due to their very nature, these historical garden require constant restoration and maintenance. A schedule has therefore been established which provide for their seasonal, yearly and long-term care through periodic renovation and upkeep.
Clearly, the architectural component and plant life are involved more frequently than the inorganic structures of the garden and its decorations, and although the different types of work are not necessarily interdependent, they have been planned for during the same period of time.
Moreover, the need to safeguard sculptural works from degradation by atmospherical agents and vandalism often requires housing the originals indoors and replacing them with copies for display. Thus, the gardens' furnishings are necessarily in an incomplete and constantly changing state.


View from Pitti Palace
Neptune's Fountain
Statue by Stoldo Lorenzi - 1571
The Abundance
1608 - 1637
by Sebastiano Salvini - Giambologna - Pietro Tacca
White marble with wheet bouquet of bronze
Casino del Cavaliere
(Porcelain Museum)
Grotto by Buontalenti
On the left the door to Vasari Corridor
The old coffee house
The Dwarf Morgante
by Valerio Cigoli
The orangerie
Ragnaie (spiders lane)
by Aristodemo Costoli - 1865
Statue of the Roman emperor Adriano
Statues in Boboli Garden
Isolotto's Basin
Perseus on Horseback
Cypress lane
Harvest Fountain
Valerio and Giovan Simone Cioni
Annalena Grotto
Adam and Eve
Michelangelo Noccherini
Grotto by Buontalenti
Copy of the Antinoo Capitolino in Rome
by Francesco Carradori
Grotto by Buontalenti
Paris abducts Helena
by Vincenzo de Rossi
Grotto by Buontalenti
Venus (replica) by Giambologna
Original in Bargello Museum
Isolotto's Basin
Triton Fountain
The Fontana dei Mostaccini (literally, Fountain of the Little Ugly Faces) is about all that remains of the Ragnaia della Pace (literally, Spiderwebbery of Peace). This somewhat peculiar kind of bird-hunting was popular with Lorenzo de' Medici and others of his time and social class; the fountain spouted water from a succession of 16 'masks' and was a way to attract the birds. Typically, a ragnaia was a carefully-pruned, precisely geometric area of shrubs and ilex. Nets were hung up and 'beaters' would flush the small birds. The fountain was a creation of Romolo Ferrucci del Tadda, most likely installed between 1619 and 1621.
Isolotto's Basin
Isolotto's Basin
Ocean (replica) by Giambologna
Original in Bargello Museum
Isolotto's Basin - Detail
Medusa shield in the Boboli Garden
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