At this time of year, tourists in Florence, Italy, can easily outnumber the local population. For our three days of taking in art and history in this capital city of the Tuscany region, crowds were more than heavy. But we discovered they weren’t all here for the history. As we were leaving Florence, Snooki and her gang from MTV’s Jersey Shore were touching down at the airport. I’d like to call the TV series they are filming locally, “New Italian World Collides With Old Italian World.”
Florence is renowned for history, rich in architecture and home to perhaps the most important Renaissance art collection in the world. I discovered that at one time or another, the city has been the birthplace or home to Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Dante, Michelangelo, Donatello and many more famous artists. Museum admission is routinely sold out during the peak season.
When the city became too crowded for me, I found needed solitude in nature nearby. Crossing over the Arno River on the Ponte Vecchio (1345) with its shops selling gold and silver to hoards of pedestrians, my sister and I took a short walk to the Giardino di Boboli, a huge 11-acre park on a steep hillside behind the Pitti Palace, once the seat of the powerful Medici family.
Pathways led through a variety of formal and informal gardens dotted with a multitude of sculptures from Roman times to the Baroque period, plus one we found that was dated late twentieth century.
Sunny formal gardens blended well with cool shaded pathways that led to lakes, grottos and caves, meadows, stone steps, hidden benches, fountains, and knot gardens.
This was his garden and he stood in defense of his territory. We knew we were as welcome here as MTV’s Snooki was welcome in the ancient city of Florence. It was time to leave his gardens and make our way downhill and back to the crowded city.
Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester