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Vatican Gardens and other gardens in Rome and Florence.

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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.

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    I first learned about the Bardini Gardens in Florence in a newspaper article written by our local gardening guru. The photos & description inspired us to visit in May 2011.

    The Bardini Gardens were simply lovely! The baroque staircase is the garden's centerpiece. It is flanked by flower beds & adorned with statues. From the top of the staircase, we were treated to sweeping views of the garden below and Florence, beyond!

    We were too late to see the wisteria corridor, azaleas & rhododendrons in bloom. We were too early to see hydrangeas. But we did see roses! As we wandered along the paths, we discovered a small canal, a grotto & statues tucked amongst trees. Bardini Gardens felt intimate and peaceful.

    In contrast, the Boboli Gardens were vast with large open spaces.

    You will be seeing the gardens in the Fall. No less stunning, just different! I imagine the Fall colours will be beautiful in October! Hope you have a dry day for your garden visit!

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    The Villa Borghese gardens are really a large public park. Some parts of it are very attractive and well landscaped, but a good deal of it is not what comes to my mind when I think of gardens. In the southwest corner of the park, the Pincian gardens are probably most like what you have in mind.

    The Villa Medici is on the southern edge of the Borghese Gardens, but belongs to the French academy. You can visit the villa, which has a fairly nice garden.

    I've never been to the Vatican Gardens; from photos I've seen, it seems to be a formal Italian garden with clipped hedges forming geometric designs.

    Some other gardens in Rome, although not spectacular, that are worth seeing are at the Villa Farnesina, and on the Palatine Hill (the Farnese Gardens).

    The most beautiful garden I've ever seen in Italy is Ninfa, which was created in and around the ruins of a medieval town. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to get to, and it has very limited openings. In October, it will be open only on the 3rd and 4th of the month, a Saturday and Sunday. The nearest train station is Cisterna di Latina, which is about 7 miles from the garden. There may be taxis there, but you'd also have to arrange to be picked up again.

    The Giardini della Landriana, south of Rome, are having an autumn festival on the 9th-11th of October. Their web page has an intriguing heading, "How to reach us by train and shuttle", but it's followed by "****". Maybe it will be updated.

    Outside of Rome, the easiest garden to reach is probably Villa Lante, in Bagnaia. You can get to it on the old Roma Nord-Viterbo railway, which leaves from Piazzale Flaminio, just outside the gates at Piazza del Popolo. The trip takes over two hours, because the train is slow and stops at every chicken coop. It might be faster to take a regular train to Orte; there's a bus that leaves from the station heading to Viterbo, which stops at Bagnaia. However, it doesn't run frequently.

    The condition of many Italian gardens is enough to make a garden lover weep. They're often poorly maintained, if not actually falling to pieces. Villa Lante is fairly well maintained.

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