Il Giardino dell’Iris in Florence

July 17, 2014 / Places
Florence, Tuscany

If you happen to have the good fortune to be in Florence in spring and need a respite from the crowded piazzas and museums, head across the Arno to Piazzale Michelangelo. You can’t miss it! David towers over his city and it is the location of a famous not-to-be-missed view of Florence.

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However, there’s something else nearby that you won’t want to miss. Just look over David’s right shoulder, walk across Viale dei Colli and you’ll find the entrance to Il Giardino dell’Iris, the Iris Garden.

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The symbol of Florence since 1251, the perennial iris (giglio in Italian) takes its name from the Greek word for rainbow. The red stylized iris (also recognized as the fleur de lis) in the coat-of-arms of Florence originated from the white iris which is native to and once grew within Florence.

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The symbol of the white iris with a red background was reversed changing the iris to red and on a white background when…well, there are several versions – one attributes it to the Medici family, the other to the triumph of the Guelfs over the Ghibellines. Whatever the case, it sparked a long time effort to create a red iris hybrid (and they’re still trying!).

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A non-profit organization dedicated to cultivating irises, the Società Italiana dell’Iris, has owned and operated the gardens since 1954. Open only from April 25th to May 20th, in addition to over 2500 types of irises, the gardens offer a tranquil setting accentuated with paths lined with blooming rose bushes and olive trees, and the twittering of very happy birds. There are benches to sit and admire both the lovely irises and, of course, spectacular Florence.

The garden is free to the public although donations are welcome, and what a good cause! After all, what price beauty?

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Victoria De Maio

by Victoria De Maio

Victoria is a lover of all things Italian! A travel advisor, blogger, writer, tour leader, and published author, she is passionate about traveling to and writing about Italy.

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15 Responses to “Il Giardino dell’Iris in Florence”

  1. Giuseppe Spano
    Giuseppe Spano

    they too are blooming here in the states as a second round of gardens beauty….they burst onto the scene with incredible color as if to say ‘watch this’….we enjoyed the splendor of the lilacs the tulips the dafs and the roses…now the Glads….such competition of eye pleasures……Glads will be a tough act to follow…..Thank you for the note and photos…giose

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  2. Christina

    I visited this spring and was very disappointed. The beds were more full of weeds than Irises, in fact I have a better display in my own garden. I thought it was a disgrace.

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  3. Linda Boccia

    Sorry to be a stickler for language, but strictly speaking giglio is a lily and iride are iris botanically. The story is charming and the photos are lovely.

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  4. Grazie for your comments – whatever your experience –
    Linda: as far as “giglio” vs. “iride”, I gleaned my info from the Botanical Garden’s site.
    Christina: As far as the garden being mostly weeds during your visit, that’s too bad. Even though my visit was at the end of the “season” I didn’t find this to be the case and found it all to be quite charming and worthwhile.

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  5. Allan Mahnke

    Alas! We were in Florence in late April – early May. I wish we had known about this place. There might have been iris blooming at the time.

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  6. Dan Johnson

    When we visited Florence, we parked at Piazzale Michelangelo and caught the Hop-On/Hop-Off bus there. Wish we knew about this garden so close by.

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  7. Alan, Cecelia & Dan,
    I actually found out “by accident” about this garden – the view alone is worth it – it was so quiet and serene there, too – on your list for your next visit, si?

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  8. We only just found about the significance of the Iris this past spring when we were in Tuscany…who knew? It is so marvelous to see them growing and blooming in the wild too!

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  9. Gian Banchero

    Thank you Victoria for the beautiful photos, just what I needed to see after a hard day at work!!!!

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  10. David Bridges

    Bellissima! The iris is the state flower of Tennessee here in the US. My wife and I have some iris plants in our garden that date back to the 1960’s. When we lived in Florence, we visited many gardens in the area but we were not able to see the gardens because of our travel schedule. Many thanks for the note.

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  11. Marianna Raccuglia

    I enjoyed reading about this Iris garden as I have them in my garden. Your photos are so lovely. Thank you

    Reply

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