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  Logic Path: Home Page >> The garden >> Il Giardino dei Semplici

Il Giardino dei Semplici

Ever since medieval times the so-called "semplici" - vegetable varieties with medicinal properties - have been grown in various kitchen gardens in the city. In the 16th century, with the increase in interest in scientific studies, duke Cosimo I dei Medici decided to institute an Orto Accademico, literally an "academic garden" open also to students. In 1545 he purchased a piece of land for this purpose between the Maglio Monastery and the Medici stables. The garden was laid out by Niccolò Pericoli, a landscape gardener known as "il Tribolo", who created a typical 16th-century garden along clear geometric lines. Botanist Luca Ghini, founder of the Botanical Gardens in Pisa, chose the plants and established how they would be arranged. The history of the garden down the ages has been quite an eventful one. In the early 18th century it enjoyed a period of splendour when Cosimo III put the running of the garden into the hands of the Botanical Society, which, under the direction of Pier Antonio Micheli, Giovanni, Ottaviano and Antonio Targioni Tozzetti, organised the cultivation of plants for medicinal extracts and other scientific purposes. In 1753, when the Botanical Society merged with the Georgofili Academy, the garden became part of a special system of studies into plants and herbs for "agrarian experimentation". The layout of the garden changed: the diagonal divisions were removed, and the parterres became large bordered squares. In the 19th century the garden was opened to the public, hothouses were built and the high walls on Via La Pira were replaced by lower walls and a gate. The present-day layout is based on rectangular areas with centuries-old trees, including a yew dating back to 1720. The garden is famous for its stunning show of flowers in season, and its collection of azaleas, including some hundred-year-old specimens


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