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Gardens in Rome and Florence, including Vatican Gardens

Gardens in Rome and Florence, including Vatican Gardens

Mar 18th, 2015, 04:57 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2010
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Gardens in Rome and Florence, including Vatican Gardens

I am a gardener and love visiting public and private gardens where ever I travel.

We were in Italy in 2011 and didn't get a chance to see the Vatican Gardens. We will be in Rome for 6 nights in October this year and I really want to see the gardens this time around.

I see on the Vatican site that tickets are not available for October yet. I'm guessing these open up 90 days or so before the dates. Does this sound right?

Does anyone have any idea if these tickets book up quickly when they are released?

Also, does anyone know of any other gardens that I could visit while in Rome? We will spend time in the Borghese gardens of course.

We have 5 nights in Florence before we will be in Rome. Last time around we wanted to see the Boboli Gardens but it rained the day we had planned to go and decided to bump them for other activities. Are there any other gardens near Florence anyone can recommend?

This trip we have fewer "must sees" on our list and more time for strolling and sitting and just Being in Italy.

We will not have a car so anything we see has to be accessible by foot or public transportation.

Thank you all.

Cindy P.
Cpelk is offline  
Mar 18th, 2015, 07:00 AM
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The Villa Borghese gardens are really a public park; it isn't exactly what comes to my mind when I think of a garden. I haven't seen the Vatican Gardens. I believe it's a formal Italian garden with clipped evergreen hedges in various patterns.

The most beautiful garden I've seen in Italy is Ninfa, which is a garden created in and around the ruins of a medieval village. However, it's not easy to get to without a car, and it's only open a few days a year. In October, they'll be open on the 3rd and the 4th. The closest train station is at Cisterna di Latina, about 7 miles away. You'd have to take a taxi, and make arrangements for the driver to pick you up later. I'm not sure that there are always taxis waiting at the station, though.

Really well-groomed and cared-for gardens are rare in Italy. I've seen a lot of gardens that would make a garden lover weep because of the rampant neglect.

The Boboli gardens didn't really make an impression on me, but I was there on an awfully hot day.

I'm sure you realize that October isn't the best time to be visiting gardens. They're usually a bit bedraggled by then, especially in Italy, which tends to have hot, dry summers.
bvlenci is offline  
Mar 18th, 2015, 09:48 AM
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In rome also visit the botanical gardens in trastevere, the villa sciarra, villa pamphili and villa ada (parks)
vinoroma is offline  
Mar 18th, 2015, 09:55 AM
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In Rome, you can visit the gardens of the Villa Medici at the top of the Spanish Steps. www.villamedici.it for tour times. There's a beautiful frescoed studiolo in the garden.

Botanical gardens (near Trastevere) also worth a visit.

In Florence, the botanical garden is more devoted to medicinal plants, but a lovely quiet place to spend an hour nonetheless. The Bardini gardens in the Oltrarno re-opened a few years ago; they're mostly vertical, but there are interesting perspectives and some statuary. This is a twinned ticket with the Boboli, but you can't pass from one into the other, despite the fact that they adjoin; you have to go out of one and into the other.
colonna is offline  
Mar 18th, 2015, 10:07 AM
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After traveling in Italy since 1980 we finally toured the Vatican Gardens last May and were definitely underwhelmed. The Ville di Este in Tivoli was much more elegant and interesting. It can be reached by bus from Roma.

Buon viaggio,
rbciao47 is offline  
Mar 18th, 2015, 10:34 AM
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We have been to the Vatican Gardens, and I don't recall that the tickets were hard to come by.

I can't say that it was my favorite ever experience in Rome, but it was interesting. The gardens were more as bvlenci describes them, with several special areas and monuments of sorts. I believe we had to see them with a guide.
tuscanlifeedit is online now  
Mar 18th, 2015, 12:23 PM
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I commented about the Bardini Gardens on your other post!

Just wanted to come back to second the suggestion of visiting the Renaissance gardens at Villa D'Este in Tivoli. Seeing the terraced gardens, the fanciful fountains & numerous ponds was one of those heart-stopping, take-my-breath-away experiences!

We took a Dark Rome Tour to Tivoli with Hadrian's Villa and Villa D'Este.
2010 is online now  
Mar 19th, 2015, 08:23 AM
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I just realized that there are two separate threads on this topic. After answering here, I couldn't find my reply, so I replied again on the other thread. I knew I had mentioned the Villa Medici, but rereading this response, I didn't see my mention of the Villa Medici, and became thoroughly confused!

I can confirm that you can visit the Vatican Gardens only on a guided tour. After the tour, the ticket gives you entry to the Vatican Museums, which you visit on your own, without a guide.

The Villa Doria Pamphilj is a very large park, but even less like a garden than the Villa Borghese.

In Tivoli, the Villa D'Este is primarily a water garden, with fountains and other water features. It's not outstanding for its botanical features. I myself didn't find it heart-stopping. I enjoyed the nearby Villa Adriana, an ancient Roman villa belonging to the Emperor Hadrian, more.

Also in Tivoli, the Villa Gregoriana is a typical Romantic-era garden with features that were de rigueur in the 19th century, such as a grotto, a temple (a genuine ancient one), a waterfall, and so forth. It's on a very steep site, so there's a lot of climbing involved. I haven't seen this one, as it was closed for a long time, and I haven't been back in Tivoli since it reopened. You can get to Tivoli by train or bus from Rome.
bvlenci is offline  
Mar 19th, 2015, 08:47 AM
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There is a lovely garden in Fiesole, just outside of Florence that we really enjoyed last year.
ekc is offline  
Mar 19th, 2015, 09:01 AM
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This is the one we visited: http://www.poderesantapia.com/gardens/villapeyron.htm
ekc is offline  
Mar 19th, 2015, 09:17 AM
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My own experience of the Vatican Gardens is that there's a lot of them - and that, if you have the right connections in the Curia or with an Order, it's not too difficult to get a private tour.

Horticulturally, they're not much. But they've had various Papal hands involved in their design on and off for 700 years, which is longer than any other European monarch's garden I can think of. For much of those 700 years the Pope was limited in where else he could travel, and had a limited range of self-indulgences he could be seen to cultivate.

So, if you can find the right guide (there's bound to be a garden historian in some order somewhere in Rome: gardening is one of the civilisations monks developed in Europe) it's a fascinating place to be taken round. There is more than plantsmanship involved in gardens - and the Vatican's far more fun than most other Roman gardens.
flanneruk is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2015, 05:32 AM
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Thank you all. The thing with the two posts.....I couldn't find the first one I posted, thought it didn't go through, so I posted a second one. Then of course I found the first one, I hadn't tagged it Italy, but I wasn't able to delete it. Too bad Fodors doesn't let you fix stuff like that.

I do realize that gardens in fall won't be quite what they would be in the spring. But sometimes it allows you to appreciate the "bones" of the garden, the permanent structures, trees, shrubbery, etc..and I imagine that some of those types of things could be pretty impressive in a garden that has existed for a loooong time.

Thanks for the tips on the gardens in Trastevere. I had noticed them on the map. I'll have to dig for some more info on them. Also the villamedici sounds very interesting.

The medicinal botanical gardens in Florence sound like they are right up my alley. They might still be in pretty good shape in the fall, seems like a lot of the plants could be herbs or perennials.

I am definitely going to do some research on Tivoli/Hadrian options. I've been considering it but didn't know if I wanted to devote a day to it.

I'm trying to not overbook myself in Rome this time around but I keep adding more things to my list that I want to do.

Not complaining though. I'm blessed to have to make these kinds of choices.

Thanks again.

Cpelk is offline  

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