While the Boboli Gardens are famous and draw international crowds, its next-door neighbor offers romantic pathways, rare species and fabulous views of Florence with relative solitude. Abutting the city's medieval wall, the historic property has been a formal garden continually since the 1300s. Originally the property of the influential Mozzi family, the garden on the left bank of the Arno River was later joined with the neighboring property, Villa Manadora. It was purchased by Stefano Bardini in 1913, renamed and restored while leaving the original gardens intact.

Like the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, this park was the home and playground for the wealthy, a showcase of wealth and a place for opulent parties. Today, the themed areas are retained: there are various gardens such as the Italian, the English and the Anglo-Chinese areas. There are roses, orchards, meadows and woods. Man-made waterways flow among the plantings. A picturesque pathway covered by wisteria leads to rare varieties of camelias, hydrangeas, and peonies.

Scattered throughout the 10-acres are hidden niches, fancy fountains, and mysterious grottoes. A beautiful Baroque staircase beckons visitors to climb it, and an amphitheater is the venue of special musical and theatrical evenings. There are hedge trimmed arches and a limonaia (for citrus trees). The steeply sloping property offers stunning views of the city's terracotta rooftops and domes, with the luminous Tuscan hills beyond.

The Villa Bardini houses a contemporary art museum, the Tuscan Horticultural Society and a restaurant, as well as a caffe' that boasts wide terraces for the pretty panoramas. They offer sporadic musical concerts and special events. The entrance fee also includes admission to the Porcelain and Silver Museum, Fort Belvedere at the summit of the hill, and the adjacent Boboli Gardens. The Bardini Gardens are open daily from 8:15 am until sunset. Closed the first Monday of each month.

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Address in Florence:

Via de' Bardi, 1.