We visited several gardens during our visit to Florence – watch this space for reports on Villa Gamberaia and Boboli Gardens – but by a stroke of luck, Bardini Garden was literally just around the corner from our flat.
The garden, like many, is a work of love – several times over. The current garden has been part of a renovation project lasting several decades, since the last member of the Bardini family left in 1965. The fact that this significant green landmark was then abandoned led it to being called the ‘Bardini question’. In the guidebook, the back page is given over to a quote from Raffaello Torricelli, who led the garden back into its current beauty: ‘The Bardini Garden is part of the countenance of Florence. A reason for giving new thought to the city. We must make something that lives.’
Walking round the gardens, it was clear that this goal has been reached. This isn’t just a ‘historic garden renovation’, but a living place. At the heart is a central stairway, which was once lined with vines.
Admittedly we didn’t go in the best time, plant-wise, but it was still clear to see how the separate parts of the garden – the flower garden, the olive grove and rose garden, the camelia garden, the peony garden, the fruit orchard, the English wood – would all work together to form a harmonious sanctuary from which to both escape, and watch, the busy commercial world of Florence down below.
Even though it’s now open to the public, it still retains this feeling of a private sanctuary. And this is enhanced by the surprisingly tender statues, that seemed to make it less a place to impress (as so much of Florence is) and more a garden for conversation, love and stolen moments..
I definitely want to go back and see it in full bloom – the ‘Calendar of the Blossoms’ in the guidebook make me think, hmmm… I need to be there in May for the Hydrangeas, Wisteria, Judas Tree and Peonies…. although there’s June for the Roses, Iris, and Viburnum. And then July, for the Dahlias….
And then again, there’s something about seeing a garden stripped down to its bones. Certainly it made it easier to look out…
And so, for my creative inspiration, I took the view (and what we might say that could be true or false in conversations) …
Ten True Facts I’ve been told about Heights…
* When David Collins’s dad went up to the top of the Post Office Tower in London, he got a certificate to say he’d been in space.
* If you throw a penny from the top of the Eiffel Tower and it lands on someone in the street below, it will kill them.
* Until the spire collapsed in the 16th century, Lincoln Cathedral was the tallest building on earth.
* There are a number of buildings that are haunted because a construction worker died in the lift shaft. There is nothing more scary than a haunted lift shaft.
* Women over 35 can’t go on rollercoasters because their balance changes.
* In the 18th century, hairstyles got so elaborate they could reach three foot high. Hair was wound over horsehair pads, and could be designed in the form of ships, buildings and gardens. Rats were a problem.
* The front row of the top deck of a London bus is a good place to eat tomato sandwiches.
* The tallest dog living is called Zeus. He’s a Great Dane and measures 44 inches.
* The average woman uses her height in lipsticks every five years.
* The West Tower of Ely Cathedral is so tall, and the land around it so flat, that it’s possible to see the tower from all the churches in the diocese.
* If you counted all of these and found there are actually eleven not ten, you probably aren’t aiming high enough in life. On the other hand, it’s lonely at the top.