Art, Travel & Life in Italy & Europe

The Limonaia in the Boboli Gardens


When life gives you lemons, build a big limonaia. The historic collection of citruses in the Limonaia in the Boboli Gardens is made up of unusual, perfumed varieties that the Medici family collected. For a scent-based learning experience, you can visit the Limonaia this spring and receive a pamphlet explaining the types of citrus you’re looking at. The special opening dates are on Wednesdays in March (5, 12, 19, 26) and in April (2 & 9) as well as on Fridays April 4 & 11) from 10am to 1pm.

About the Limonaia


The Limonaia at Boboli was built between 1777 and 1778 upon commission of Pietro Leopoldo di Lorena by the architect Zanobi del Rosso. It’s in a general European style, rather Classical. Previously in this location was a greenhouse commissioned by Cosimo III in 1677 in which he kept exotic animals, not lemons, but this structure was falling down and would not be sufficient for the Lorraine prince. The building was necessary to house the hundreds of citrus plants that are placed around the garden between May and October during the winter months, and it is still used for this reason. The building is just over 100 meters long and about 8 meters wide, a huge space, but a lot of plants. The garden just outside this structure was developed in conjunction with the building, in four regular areas that contain beautiful roses in the early summer.

About the citruses

Arancio Otaitense, Bizzarria, Cedro Diamante, Cedro mano di Buddha

Arancio Otaitense, Bizzarria, Cedro Diamante, Cedro mano di Buddha

Numerous rare types of citrus are preserved in the limonaia, like the arancio scannellato (Citrus aurantium‘Canaliculata’), brought to Florence by Francesco I, or the agrume ‘Bizzarria’ (Citrus aurantium bizzarria) which is truly rare, and also very odd! This collection was in fact begun by Cosimo I, who collected citruses btween 1554 and 1568. Cosimo III was the main contributor though, who introduced the Citrus bergamia and the Citrus grandis L. The Bizzarria cited above was brought in by Ferdinando II, Cosimo III’s father. This later Cosimo ended up with 116 varieties of citrus in his garden, which he had painted by Bartolomeo Bimbi.

Bartolomeo Bimbi, Cosimo III's lemon collection

Bartolomeo Bimbi, Cosimo III’s lemon collection


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By: arttrav

Alexandra Korey aka ArtTrav is a Florence-based art historian and arts marketing consultant.

  • Isabella Medici

    The Limonaia! What a wonderful article Alexandra. And great images. I love the bizzarria! And I remember the scents of so many citrus so well.

    (psst, the 1st time it’s used, the name Cosimo III is misspelled)

  • Jacqueline Ahn

    How fun, the Limonaia is open to the public! Can’t wait to visit with my little girl, she just loves lemons!

  • arttrav

    Fabulous! Let me know how it goes – i cannot sneak out during the day unfortunately :(

  • StephinOttawa

    This is gorgeous, Alexandra. I can smell the lemons from here. So sorry I’m not there to visit it. Do you ever go to the Villa Gamberaia? I love the limonaia there.

  • arttrav

    Hi Stephanie! No, where is villa Gamberaia? I think you should write me a guest post on it :)

  • StephinOttawa

    Ha ha. I don’t think you want me to guest post! It’s in Settignano. Gianni’s taken me there a couple of times to walk. The views of Florence are spectacular and the gardens and surrounding countryside are lovely. The villa itself is not open, but you can stroll about outside. The property was featured in Monty Don’s series on Italian gardens. It’s probably also in Edith Wharton’s book on Italian Villas and their Gardens, which I have in the other room.

  • Jenna Francisco

    I’m glad I saw this because I had no idea the limonaia existed in the Boboli Gardens. I love plants and trees and will enjoy seeing these one day.

  • arttrav

    You’d have to live here year round to get to do the various neat things… So many are seasonal, like this one :)