The largest botanical garden in Italy has just been re-opened between Florence and Fiesole with nearly 50 hectares of land and a 12 kilometre footpath. The park is built around a beautiful pool which was recovered by John Temple-Leader in the 1850s from a former quarry known as the Cava delle Colonne, exploited by Lorenzo del Medici and Michelangelo for some of the most extraordinary masterpieces of the Renaissance period amongst which the Chapel of the Princes in the Basilica di San Lorenzo and the Laurentian Library staircase. Later it was also used for the columns of the Uffizi.
In the 8 hectares surrounding the lake, Temple-Leader had stone-cutters and gardeners transform the landscape into an English romantic garden on a huge scale, while the ruins of the nearby Castle of Vincigliata were reconstructed in the neo-gothic style. People flocked from afar to visit his castle and admire the grounds, which were even visited by Queen Victoria in 1893. For this today the botanical garden is known as Parco Romantico della Regina, the Queen’s Romantic Park and the new project commenced in 2010 is supposed to finish in 2020.
The area has totally been redeveloped, maintaining the woodland in the north and creating farmland in the south where research and didactics will be carried out. In fact, the whole area is an open-air laboratory which doesn’t only count plants but also animals such as the Limousine cattle and the Amiatina breed of donkey.
Open every day from 9.30 am to 7 pm. Entrance fee 7 Euros, free admission for children up to 4 years old.