Art, Travel & Life in Italy & Europe

The Limonaia in the Boboli Gardens

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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

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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.