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Explore Florence’s Parks and Gardens

Find playgrounds, grottos, a maze, swimming pools, a fort, rowboats and more kid-pleasers in the city’s parks.

 

For a city as compact as Florence, Italy, it manages to squeeze in a lot of public green space. These spots provide an ideal respite for family travelers on a Florence vacation: a breath of fresh air and a place for the kids to run around.

Boboli Isn’t Just For Pizza

From the central city side of the Ponte Vecchio, cross to the Giardino di Boboli, the Boboli Gardens, behind the Pitti Palace. The Medici Grand Duke Cosimo I began designing the gardens soon after he moved into the palace, and in typical Medici style he spared no expense.

He would likely be proud of them today, beautifully kept and manicured, although he might not be happy at having the public romping through them on family vacations. And romp our girls did, exploring every corner as we climbed higher and higher. The Viottolone is a stately avenue bordered by cypress trees that lead the way up a hill. As the gardens climb higher, there are belvederes for more sweeping views over this beautiful Tuscan city.

The statues here are far more interesting for kids than those in the museums, with Oceanus plowing through the water and the court dwarf riding a turtle. A faux grotto is built into the hillside, with fountains and rusticated walls. See if your kids can guess the origins of the amphitheater—it is the hole left from quarrying the stone to build the palace. Look also for the maze.

More Medici Greenery

Larger even than Boboli is Le Cascine, along the river to the west, beyond the Porta al Prato rail station. Several playgrounds are scattered throughout this park, along with a swimming pool. Roller blades are offered for rent. On Sundays you’re likely to find fairs, entertainment, shows and other activities going on in Le Cascine.

Small children are likely to enjoy—and so will you—the flower-filled Giardini di Borgo Allegri, which has a playground. It’s near Santa Croce. 

North of the city on Via Bolognese is another big Medici garden, at Villa Demidoff di Pratolino. The original villa is gone, but its fantastic gardens have been restored, along with the fountains that spray arches of water over the walkways. The girls loved walking under these repeatedly, trying to see how dry they could remain.

This Medici park has the requisite fake grotto, and from a pool rises a gigantic one-eyed figure called Appeninno, carved right out of the bedrock by the sculptor Giambologna. More statues used to be here, but they were moved to the Boboli Gardens some time ago. Wander around through the woods and gardens to discover little surprises: statues, fountains and an octagonal chapel.


Destinations: Florence, Italy

Themes: Family Travel

Activities: Parks and Playgrounds


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