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Trip Report Rose lovers - hie thee to florence - rose gardens open 15 May to 30 June.

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I know that I've already got 2 threads open, one about my italian trip, and another about my yorkshire trip, which someone suggested was a bit greedy, but after yesterday, i just could not resist posting this for any who may be in/near florence in the next 6 weeks and who loves gardens and/or roses.

In my researches, i had come across mention of the rose garden [actually in the fodder's 2010 guide to Italy] but not given it a lot of thought. Then yesterday, after my perambulations had taken me up to the piazzale michelangelo, I thought that i might try to find it, but the signs gave me no clue, and I'd almost given up. Finally, on my way down from the church at the very top, I came across it quite by accident.

and I am so glad that it did - it was glorious. just heavenly. loads and loads of roses, climbers, ramblers, bedding roses and a lots of really old varieties and species, all in more or less full bloom so the scent was fantastic. and very well kept - far more so than the botanical gardens I'd seen earlier in the day [yes, I'm a bit of a garden nut, can you tell?] I spent a good hour wandering round, sitting, admiring the blooms and the fabulous view over the doom, and looking at the very many different varieties [all named, and so far as I could tell, accurately]. Unusually, you are allowed onto the grass so you really can admire the blooms, see what the varieties are, and best of all, smell the perfume of the flowers.

to get to it, if you are standing above Piazzale Michelangelo to the right of the pizza restaurant/gelateria below the Franciscan church that overlooks the valley, head straight down. After about 5 minutes walk, you will find the rose gardens on your right.once you have finished your visit, and can bear to tear yourself away, if you walk through them exiting by the gate that goes straight into the road, and then turn left and right, that will bring you down under the old gate in the city walls that leads in to Oltrano. If you are in need of refreshment, the wine bar just before you get there on the left called Fuori Porta ["outside the walls"] is very nice, and IME, unlike that of the fodors reviewer, the staff were very nice and helpful too! Glasses of wine from €4 each, [quite a good choice of wines by the glass but their wine-list is VERY extensive] and a limited menu of bruschetta, crostini and some pastas starting at €3 or so.

I can also recommend the very nice bar just below Piazzale Michelangelo to the left of the main steps - the one with the fabulous views. i initially rejected it though i was very thirsty from my walk up the hill, but I didn't fancy an overpriced gelato, so i sat down under an umbrella anyway and had a medium beer [which came with a little bowl of crisps] for €7. ok, not cheap, but they are charging €5 in the bars down in town and with it, you get to "rent" the view for the time it takes you to drink up. Which in my case was quite a long time!

I'd be interested to hear/read and other fodorites who make it to the rose garden this year. it really is worth the effort!

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