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Interesting Events

A Garden of the 3 Gardens

That is how Giardino Bardini is called in Florence, having 700 year-old history

Entire garden fell into producing sounds and odor, while the first Rosa Odorata in its red gold color hang softly above rufescent foliage permeated with sun rays…These are the lines from H. Hesse’s story, that was read a long time ago, then forgotten out and away but now came suddenly to my mind and vision after I made some steps in the “Garden of the 3 Gardens”. This is the name of Giardino Bardini in Florence that dates back to the XIII century. A definition “Three gardens in one” is fairly conventional: drastic transformations took place here over such long period of time and not to the best favor to the Gardens.

In 1259 the town document gave the first mentioning of grape vine terraces at the upper part of the garden in the suburban villa owned by family Mozzi. Time went on, fruit trees and citrus plants grew, flowerbeds and vegetable gardens enlarged and developed: villa garden was taking shape of a classic Firenze garden. One might see there a utility of vegetable beds and fruit trees peacefully existed with impracticability of flowerbeds and decorative sculptures. These things lasted till the mid of XVII century, then changes came.

The baroque epoch dictated new architectural canons, topiary art and park-laying trends. And in the middle of XVII century Gherardo Silvani, a famous Florentine architect, reconstructed the old-fashion house of his friend Francesco Manadori. The garden concept was cardinally changed: the habitus acquired a fashionable baroque style, which can be expressed in F. Beckon’s words: “the nature of things identifies itself in artificial lack of space better than in the natural freedom”. The governing principles were: regularity, neutral balance, arrangement of longitudinal (along slopes) and transversal (cross-over) vistas, slope terracing, water supply by introducing cascade systems, main courses and pools. A variety of entourage was paid more attention to than even fresh flora. Representativeness of grand entrance ought to satisfy new tastes. Staircases, balusters, garden theatre with tuff niches in sustaining walls, fountains, pavilions, allegoric figures of gods and goddesses, animals, stone benches and vases zealously conceal all the beauty of surrounding nature. Sculptures at the background of leafage, a fancy trimming of trees and bushes, exploiting the advantage of scenery points and gradual transition from villa’s enclosed space to the organized garden space made a mash on every visitor due to some theatrical effects. Grand staircase in baroque style became one of the core beautiful elements in the estate. It lead to the belvedere that offered a panoramic view of Florence highlighted by its terra-cotta domes and roofs (because in descriptions of Giardino Bardini the Villa Manadora was often mentioned as Villa di Belvedere).

Centuries passed, villa owners changed and each of them made the upgrade in his own style. Cambiagi family paid special attention to fruit gardens. At the beginning of XIX century Luigi Le Blanc and his son Giacomo laid down the English landscape park, in Chinese style with dragons and other exotics in it. In 1839, several centuries after, the estate was transformed to the original appearance during Mozzi dynasty. In 40 years, German princess Wanda von Carolath Beuthen acquired this complex, but regretfully did not pay due attention and invested no money for its maintenance. All buildings and structures fell into decay, the park was neglected, vegetable garden overrun with weeds and water supply systems were ruined.

In 1913 Stefano Bardini, who was known as the king of bric-a-brac (antique dealer), bought back this estate with all property. In his time an intensive modernization of building and garden-park complex was carried out. Nevertheless, road construction and re-arrangement of territory profoundly crippled medieval walls and cultivated land. Besides, a part of this territory was changed into a show site for “a sculpture salon in the open air”. In sequence this exposition showed genuine masterpieces, well-made and so-so replications, eclecticism, some decorative elements and just marble fragments. One considered it a stylish fashion to buy something there. This estate’s new name started to be called as “Giardino Bardini”, and when Stefano died, his son inherited it. Afterwards, when Ugo Bardini passed away in 1965, within 35 years a bureaucratic maze dragged on about how to hand over inheritance to the Florence municipality. At last it was bequeathed to the City and in 1998 a special La Fondazione Parchi Monumentali Bardini e Peyron was founded for managing and financing all reconstructions, restorations, research efforts and museum activities. Profound rehabilitation works lasted for five years and in 2005 the Garden was opened to the public.

A charm of camellia in blossom, pretentious Hydrangea (60 species), languish Azalea, a splendor of Roses fill the vicinity by a play of colors and sweat smell from spring to autumn. A saturated verdure color set is formed up predominantly by local species: Ilex, Cypress, Laurus Nobilis, Buxus, Fraxinus, Cytisus (golden chain). By old-established tradition in Tuscany, Iris germanica florentina neighbor Oliva. An argent haze of olive leaves with mosaic dissemination produced by Iris fascinates all visitors by its fine coloration. Small meadows covered by rosemary (Rosmarinus), aspic (Lavandulla spica), bur grass (Echinaria) and pride-of-India (Koelreuteria paniculata) seem so nice and pleasant beds…

If you ask me what is the best time for visiting this Garden, the answer is unambiguous: Giardino Bardini is marvelous at any season.

Bardini Gardens Bardini Gardens
Florence. View from the Villa Bardini Upper terrace Villas Bardini
Bardini Gardens Bardini Gardens
Bardini Gardens. Belvedere Bacchus and Ceres
Bardini Gardens Bardini Gardens
Fragment of the garden with rozariem Grand staircase in baroque style
Bardini Gardens Bardini Gardens
Belvedere Cafe Blossoming cherry at the entrance of the exhibition hall
Bardini Gardens Bardini Gardens
Green hedge on a slope The stone guard of the garden
Bardini Gardens Bardini Gardens
Pink roofs of Florence Blossoming camelias
Bardini Gardens Bardini Gardens
Blossoming camelias Blossoming camelias
Bardini Gardens Bardini Gardens
Costa San Giorgio Fort Belvedere

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