Jo’s Monday walk : A garden extravaganza

Where do you think we might be for today’s walk?  I can tell you that we have passed by the Pitti Palace and are standing on the threshold of the magnificent Boboli Gardens, in Florence.  For me, this was somewhere I was always going to go, even if it bounced with rain.

Of course, blue skies would be preferable and, on our first full day, after crossing Ponte Vecchio we beelined to the gardens, bathed in luxuriant azure.   Alas, it was a Monday, and the gardens were firmly closed.  Undaunted, we carried on up to Piazzale Michelangelo and the city walls for a feast of views.  Tweaking our plans a little, next day found us back at the palace gardens.  The skies were somewhat leaden, but there was always hope of better.  And there were grottos and sculpture to explore, while we waited for the sun’s appearance.

The gardens were designed for Eleonora di Toledo, wife of Cosimo 1 de Medici, and have been in existence since the 16th century.  Extremely lavish for gardens intended for the sole use of the Medici family, such was Cosimo’s power and prestige in those days. Highlights include an Amphitheatre, staggering in its scale.  Stone was excavated from the hillside for their Pitti Palace home, creating the perfect arena.  Neptune with his trident sits centre stage as you climb the steps. For most of our visit he had the company of a heron, out for a day’s sightseeing.

Isolotto, a pond surrounded by romantic greenery, is crowned by Giambologna’s fountain, ‘Ocean’, on the central island.  For a twist of modern, see the ‘face’ sculpture by Polish Igor Mitoraj.  The gardens reach a crescendo with the Grotta del Buontalenti, or ‘Grotta Grande’.

Sometimes your expectations can be too high.  Or maybe it was those heavy skies, and the quantity of steps.  This bank of the River Arno can certainly be a bit of a workout.  Nor is this the best time of year for gardens.  But, as sometimes happens, there was a surprise in store.  The garden ticket included admission to the Costume Museum.  Curiosity had me pull the door ajar.

And gasp!  That morning I had been at the Uffizi, and thought my eyes had had their fill of beauty.  This was totally unexpected.  The only museum in Italy dedicated entirely to fashion, it occupies several rooms in the Palazzina della Meridiana (the small palace of the sundial).  A private residence of the ruling families of Tuscany until 1946, the ornate ceilings had me spellbound.

The funeral garments of Eleonora di Toledo are dramatically displayed within the collection, but for me the decor outshone the content.  I couldn’t help but wonder at the rest of the Pitti Palace, seeing all this grandeur before me.

Stepping out into sunshine altered my perspective entirely.  It was time to head steadily uphill again, in search of a gate.  Did I tell you this walk would be strenuous?  I’d read that it was possible to slip from the expansive Boboli Gardens into the much more intimate space of Giardino Bardini.

Not quite so simple, but we did find the gate and emerged alongside Forte di Belvedere.  The lower part of the Giardino Bardini belonged to the Mozzi family back in the 13th century, when a wall with mosaic alcoves protected the garden from prevailing winds.  In the 18th century the estate was extended up the hill to the walls of the city and a Baroque staircase was added.  In 1913 art collector Stefano Bardini bought the hillside villa, extending and adding yet more changes.  Renovation began again in 2005 and the gardens are now open to the public.

It felt like a triumph to finally reach Giardino Bardini, perched high above the city.

The lower part of the garden is still in a poor state of repair, but there is a lovely old worldly feel to the place, suspended there in the clouds.  My main regret, not being a few weeks later to see the wisteria walk in all its glory.  I had to content myself with the views down over this lovely city.

The lower entrance brings you out on Via Bardi, close by the river, and your mission is complete.  I limped home, tired but happy.  I suggest that you take it at a slower pace and sit awhile.  There are many places to admire the beauty, including a cafe on the terrace at Giardino Bardini.

Jude, I think you might like this link.  Visit Florence is an excellent website which will give you all the details you need, including ticketing information.  Do note that the Palace and gardens are closed on the first and last Monday of each month.

Thanks, everyone for reading and participating in my walks.  It wouldn’t be the same without you.  Details of how to join in are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Do come along!  Let’s pop the kettle on now and settle in for a good read :


Becky reminds me of just what I’m missing in the Algarve.  I’ll be back soon!

Exploring the hamlets of the Guadiana

I’ve been bombarded with walls lately!  But in a good way.  Thanks, Jude!

Lincoln Castle : Medieval Wall Walk

A flashback to a beautiful Autumn with Eunice :

An autumn walk round Bolton Abbey

And where would we be without him?  Cheers, Woolly!

Jo’s-Monday-Walk2017-Wk 10-Rhine Falls

Nobody can meander quite like Jackie!

Mazatlan Meanderings

Rosemay has been garden wandering.  I think you’ll find she’s a wonderful companion :

Strolling round the Neuer Garten – Potsdam

Susan has many interesting walks in her home city, New York.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one :

A Winter Walk through Riverside Park

And I’m delighted to be joined again by Tobias, where there might be cake!


That’s it for another week!  I seem to have tempted the sun out in my part of the world.  See you soon!



  1. I’ve raved about Florence before and no doubt will again. How could one not love such a wonderful, beautiful, city. And I was pleased to read yesterday that the city authorities are going to “wash away” all who sit eating hamburgers on the steps of the magnificent churches. Drastic, I know, but – Respect! When I first went there we were so awe-struck and felt so privileged to be there that we almost spoke in whispers when faced with such magnificence. Your pictures have brought many happy memories back to me and although I cannot walk so far these days, I was with you in spiriti. Thanks for that.

    1. I worried that it might disappoint, Mari. When you’ve waited to see somewhere for as many years as I had… But I needn’t have worried. It was a love affair. 🙂 🙂

    1. The great thing about keeping a blog is the memories that flood back as you visit a post, Sherri. Thank you so much for your company and for reminding me what a wonderful time I had. 🙂 🙂 Hugs, darlin!

  2. I think one of things I liked most about Italy are the colors. Ancient works of art and buildings worn down into lovely soft hues. I adore your first shot, the ceiling – is that in the Pitti Palace?

  3. Wonderful. I am admiring how magnificently You managed with Your walks presentation. I had to look at few times your photos, stop for a while and continuing. Thank You. Happy weekend!

    1. That’s so kind, Sartenada! I’m attempting to build a post to do justice to Palazzo Vecchio but I’ve been away a few days and am back in ‘catch up’ mode. I’ll come visit as soon as I can. 🙂

  4. WooOooOOoooooOow!!!! I don’t know what to say … anyhow you have convinced me that Florence will happen March next year. All your post from Florence is so beautiful and soul-filling. Excellent images and superb story-telling.

    1. As long as they reflect the joy I found there and people enjoy my posts, I’m happy, Vivi 🙂 🙂 Thanks so much for your kind words. I’ve not been home long after a 5 hour drive so I’m wrecked and I still hope to write my Palazzo Vecchio post tonight. We’ll see! Love you, darlin.

      1. Have I forgotten to tell you that I got your lovely card … ????!!!! You’re a brilliant travel author!!! Great with details. Love that about your images.

  5. Jo, I’m giving you partial credit (blame) for a recent set of negotiations between my wife and myself. We decided to return to Italy for our first Spring vacation this year but we couldn’t agree on a location. My preference was a return to Florence (inspired, in part, by your immersive walks recently), while my wife wanted to visit Venice for her first time. As a dutiful husband, I know that I’m contractually obligated to obey when it comes to picking vacation spots, so Venice it will be.

    But as a compromise, we agreed to take several walks – perhaps a few of them will be decent additions to the bottom on your Monday morning walks. Hope you’re having a great week Jo!

    1. Italy is beautiful in so many ways, Gabe. I don’t think you’ll go far wrong. 🙂 I presume you’ve been to Venice? She is an incomparable lady and I’m sure the same holds true for your wife 🙂 🙂
      I’m just home from a few days with friends on the island of Anglesey so my head’s a bit mixed up but we had a lovely time, thanks.

  6. Jo, you must feel mind-blown after such beauty throughout the day – and isn’t it amazing to come down to that stunning view of Florence again. The Costume Museum is a treasure and I love the sound of the gardens. Wonderful photographs taking the reader along with you! Luckily our legs don’t ache too much!😀

    1. What a city, Annika! How could you not love it? 🙂 🙂
      Thanks, hon! I’ve just come back through the door after a couple of days in Anglesey with friends. It’s an all or nothing year, this one!

  7. Great walk through Florence’s gardens, Jo. We smile at the inherent tension between doing “too much” and trying to fit it all in, and the temptation to just open the next box of delights. Beautiful photographs of the cityscape.

    I particularly resonate with the fashion museum. It is always a unique treat to find a museum that is curated with a well focused editorial mission, and I find it always more rewarding to visit a thematic museum rather than the larger, more famous “catch all” museums.

    Thanks for the stroll through the gardens’ fountains and sculptures… A real treat.


    1. Hi Ben! 🙂 Lovely of you to stop by. I’m just back from a few days in Anglesey with friends so Florence has almost gone from my head, but as soon as I look at the photos, I’m there 🙂 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed it all.

  8. Come home soon! I can’t take much more of your Florentine holiday as I’m eaten up with jealousy. This week has been the worst as in five visits to Florence over 40 years I’ve never seen the Palazzino della Meridiana. Bowled over by your photographs too. Your pleasure in the trip is so obvious from them and I know your memories will last forever.

    1. I’m actually on the island of Anglesey right now, Mari, with friends for a day or two. Very lovely in it’s own way too 🙂 You’re right! Wonderful memories and I love looking back at the photos. Thanks so much 🙂 🙂

    1. I knew there was a Porcelain museum, Suze, and it was a standby in case it rained, but the Costume one was a complete surprise. 🙂 Did you have a good birthday?

  9. Oh, I have an envious soul. Now I have the beach within hearing, I want to be in your Florence. Those photos of the city through the wisteria are stunning. I’m also amazed that you’ve eradicated crowds. You’ve shown so much ancient beauty, and a Polish sculpture to boot. A lovely rich post. Sending you hugs from the other hemisphere, wrapped in a muggy day with occasional freshness of breeze, and with sound effects of the sea added!

    1. Thanks sweetheart! I’m in a tiny harbour town on the island of Anglesey staying with Lynne and Martin for a couple of days. It’s exquisite and I want to go poking in rock pools but my hosts aren’t up yet. Soon! Love you hon xxx

  10. Wow, Jo! I can totally see why that museum blew you away, especially after the dull colors of the first garden. And then after all that flashing gold, the blue sky welcomed you back outside. I truly love that first sunny shot, with the city behind the walls and the museum. You must have been exhausted after all that walking. Thanks for taking me with you! 🙂

    1. The funny thing was, we’d spent the morning in the Uffizzi, Liesbet, gazing at all the masterpieces. The last thing we expected in the gardens was all that splendour! I honestly have never seen a more photogenic city in my life 🙂 🙂

  11. How am I going to see all this and go to Siena, Pisa and Bologna in a week? Well I’ll be doing it in that skin pink embroidered dress for a start, would it fit around my ample bits?
    I like the second garden and would love to see it in high summer, I like that it isn’t pristine and manicured. Like Jude I prefer my garden statuary/sculpture to be modern but old is good too. So is Florence your favourite European city now honey?

    1. I think it possibly is, Gilly, but that might just be the shiny newness of it in my memory. I managed all this and Pisa and Lucca in 3 days so I reckon you’re in with a shout! And the main thing is to enjoy what you find, isn’t it? And I can definitely see you in that frock, twirling a parasol 🙂 🙂

      1. Oh yes Lucca too! I’m too much of a tomboy for a parasol, I’d wear it with welly boots and dreadlocks 🙂 🙂 🙂
        I’ll go with a few wishes and try to let it pan out as it will. You okay babe, settled back in the real world?

      2. Not really… Going to Anglesey tomorrow for a couple of days. Joining our friends Lynne and Martin in a cottage. Bit of a long drive but I couldn’t resist the invitation. 🙂 🙂 You know what I’m like. Still no good news for James.

  12. Wow this is such a beautiful garden, very unique and interesting.

    Thanks for sharing JO! and if you have a second maybe you could check out a short story of mine 🙂

    Happy Monday!

  13. Firenze è una città in cui camminare non è uno scherzo! puoi fare kilometri e Kiliometri e ancora non avere visto niente! vedo che ti sei data molto da fare ( poveri i tuoi piedi) il reportage dice la Bellezza dei giardini e di panorami, gran bel lavoro mia cara
    cia bella

  14. I am fascinated and delighted walking up made it through images.
    Sculptures, paintings architecture of the city, all I enjoyed.
    Thank you so much for sharing with us.
    You have a fruitful week. Hugs, Stefania ❤ 🐻

  15. Such a beautiful place Jo – the grounds and architecture, and amazing detailing. This is a very special walk – thank you for taking us with you! Happy week ahead my friend.

  16. I like how all the art just fits together so perfectly. I don´t know anything about art in Italy, but I feel like I should know the basics. If I go to Florence I´d like to follow in your footsteps to those places!

  17. It seems the sun peeked through just enough to give you gorgeous skies for your photos, Jo. What a wonderful walk with so much grandeur and so many vistas. I love that stream meandering through the garden and that crackled face statue. I must go to Florence one day!

      1. I’m sure I would love it, Jo. Yes, for now, I have plenty to do and an adventure ahead. Mike doesn’t plan to join me this time. It’s such a long way to go and a few days wouldn’t justify it such a long trip. I only have one week tacked on to the end in which to travel, other than weekend outings. Maybe he’ll change his mind. Otherwise, if I don’t get that English Language Fellowship for September, then we’ll do our trip to Croatia, Budapest and Prague in the fall, I hope. 🙂

  18. Another fabulous walk Jo – just about kept up with you!! Well worth the climb to the the Giardino Bardini and the wonderful view from the top over Florence! The Costume Museum would be right up my street and the decor is beautiful! Never got here when I went to Florence as a backpacker – I know I’d appreciate everything far more now! Thanks for including my post this week too – much appreciated! Your gorgeous photos are a wonderful way to start the week. Hope you have a lovely one! 🙂

    1. Had a horribly muddy English walk, that I definitely will not be sharing, this morning Rosemay! Life can’t be glorious all the time but I share whatever beauty I can. Thanks, hon 🙂 🙂 Wishing you a good week too.

  19. I’m not a big fan of park-like gardens and the associated formality as you probably know by now. It must be the plantsman in me (or woman) that prefers the more secluded and intimate gardens with ‘rooms’ of flowers and shrubs and trees. I do admire your stamina in getting up there and presenting us with delights such as the ‘Face’ (preferable to the older statues) and the views. The smaller garden is more my style and I hope that one day it will be restored. My favourite parts of this walk is not the garden, but the inside of the costume museum and the view of the city, then the pretty photo of the trees and stream in Giardino Bardini and the statue lying on the staircase, and I love the lion in the sunlight and those black clouds. Poor old Mick – I bet he couldn’t walk for the rest of the holiday!

    I’m wandering in your neck of the woods today:
    I’m sure you have better photos then me though 🙂

    Enjoy your Monday – I’m off to buy a bed and get a new grill for the car – such an exciting life…

    1. The Costume Museum was incredible! There’s a Porcelain Museum in the grounds of Boboli too, but we gave that one a miss. Shortage of time and we were tired of climbing upwards!. Which was a joke because we ended up backtracking in search of the ‘gate’. Probably easier to do it from the main entrance on Via Bardi, and the Museum Bardini is down that way too. Artworks, I believe. Loved the slightly forlorn garden though and it will be so fabulous with the wisteria and azaleas in bloom. 🙂 🙂
      Horribly muddy English walk this morning. Ugh! I shall enjoy a Durham stroll 🙂 Took Mick for a cream scone to Crook Hall one day last week.
      Going to Anglesey tomorrow. Bit of a marathon drive for a couple of nights but can’t turn an invitation down. 🙂 See ya!

      1. Ooh, I have never visited Anglesey though OH lived there briefly when he was nobbut a lad at uni in Bangor. Have a fab time and take some photos! Tish seems to enjoy it on the island.

    1. I waited years and years to get there, Geoff, and I absolutely made the most of it. One look at the Duomo by moonlight and I was hooked 🙂 🙂
      Many thanks to you.

  20. Amazing walk, Jo. So much architecture all over, and so many photos. Wonderfully captured. Such delicate historical attire at that fashion museum – really has that another era feel world through your photos 🙂 Also, lovely view from the top. Such a treat. I don’t know how you can walk and see so much. If I tagged along, I’d probably be exhausted by midday 😀

    1. My husband requested a pair of new knees at the end of that day, Mabel, and I have to admit I knew how he felt. 🙂 🙂 But it was all so beautiful. How could I not? Thanks, hon! Hope your week goes well 🙂

    1. You’ll need a new pair of legs when you come home, Eunice, but it’s worth the climb for those views. Many thanks for the link. No trying to correct it this week- right? 🙂 🙂

  21. Amazing, what a wonderful walk in Florence… 🙂
    Everyone should at least one time visit this beautiful city.
    Excellent captured, dear Jo… 🙂

    Been so buzy the last few weeks, so there haven’t been time for taking the time for a walk. But later today there’ll, neede the fresh air… 😀 😀

    1. That could be my Christmas wish for everyone, Drake- a trip to Florence! It was our Christmas present to each other. We don’t do presents much. A trip is my best present ever 🙂 Thanks, hon- no worries! Join us whenever you can.

  22. Oh I love these Italian villas/ palazzi!!!
    With the statues, the balustrade, and the magnificent gardens!
    Thanks for sharing and have a nice week! 🙂

    1. Completely fabulous, aren’t they? We have some very grand English country houses too, but somehow not the romance of Italy. 🙂
      Good to have your company 🙂

      1. Our friends who lived in Durham now have a pub in Sheffield. They have a daft collie dog and always used to like a cottage holiday in Northumberland. Anglesey is only a couple of hours drive for them so they’re giving it a go, and we’re invited. 🙂

  23. Wow, that was an extravagant walk indeed Jo.
    YOu’re opening shot was fantastic in its own right and the DIY in the fashion museum is incredible. Maybe they have a handyman who could come and help me!
    I lie the smaller quainter garden too – I like the slightly rustic edge to it and those views …..
    Florence is definitely calling to me!

    And I have a walk this week – mine is snowy and a lot flatter than yours, beauty in a different way :

    1. Beauty in a very different way, Debs! 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing. I really did get a bit carried away with Florence. I think I may be halfway through my photos now 🙂

  24. Oh my Jo…those are extensive gardens and can see why the grey skies had the impact they did. Thank goodness for those incredible ceilings…what a glorious palace. And you got both blue and dramatic skies in the end…..fabulous post 😎

    We’re off to Lisboa after lunch, so will be leaving the Algarvian blue for a rather more mixed sky by looks of it. Got so much planned though it won’t matter 😊 thanks for the link x

  25. Two of my favourite gardens – wonderful! We discovered giardino Bardini by chance (because I love that narrow streed that runs up the hill just in front of it, and I wanted to show it to my wife), and immediately fell in love with it. Thanks for sharing, Jo!

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