The Four Seasons Hotel Firenze features historic architecture dating from the late 1400s with superb Renaissance detailing—the frescoes alone are a visual feast. But what makes it stand out even more is its surprising setting. It is a metropolitan oasis and the largest private garden in central Florence.
The hotel occupies the grand Palazzo della Gherardesca, originally built for Bartolomeo Scala, chancellor to Florence’s fabled Medici family. Its 11-acre garden boasts majestic trees, such as the evergreen thuja, or tree of life (arborvitae); umbrella pine; yew; weeping beech; ginkgo; and even a sequoia redwood. Like the mandarin orange tree—an Asian import also found in the garden—this California native reflects the garden’s historical role as a botanical preserve.
The prevailing style of the garden is 19th-century romantic, marked by hedge-lined lawns, curving paths, shady copses, wildflowers, fountains, statues, and an Ionic temple. Each year, hotel gardeners augment well-established azaleas, hydrangeas, roses, and maples with myriad seasonal plants. “It’s a bucolic environment but in the heart of the city,” observes General Manager Patrizio Cipollini. A wooded hillock offers guests alfresco dining with views of the Duomo.
The property also contains La Villa, a former convent with a smaller, Italian-style garden where boxwood-edged lawns and paths create a graceful geometry, centered on an 18th-century folly with an arched opening framing a statue. The hotel’s Garden Suite overlooks this picturesque view. Guests step out into the busy city and return to the tranquility of the gardens— the best of both worlds.
Florence Area Gardens to Visit
- The Giardino dei Semplici, the Botanical Gardens of Florence, with both warm and cold greenhouses
- Giardino Bardini, a beautifully restored terraced garden with views of Florence
- The famous Boboli Gardens, whose artful features make it an open-air museum
By Jeff Book