Tag Archives: Florence

Il Giardino Bardini – no longer a secret garden

Bardini Gardens (4)

I Giardini Bardini
Villa Bardini
Costa San Giorgio, 2
50125 Florence
Tel: 055-2006-6206

Email: info@bardinipeyron.it
Website: www.bardinipeyron.it

Everyone who visits Florence is familiar with the Boboli Gardens, but few are aware of another magical garden nearby. I Giardini Bardini remained hidden, so to speak, until a thorough restoration of the gardens and the villa by the city of Florence brought them back into the light and open to visitors in 2010. Even though I have been visiting this art-encrusted city off and on for over fifty years, I had never heard of the Bardini Gardens. Today Florence in her abundant generosity spills out another gem from her treasure chest.

Bardini Gardens (3)

The 10-acre gardens are divided into three terraced sections, just above the banks of the Arno River near Ponte Vecchio. The Belvedere at the top offers extraordinary views of the city, without the crowds of Piazzale Michelangelo. In fact, just about every part of the garden offers an unobstructed view, for you alone, to enjoy – The Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo, the Palazzo Vecchio, the city’s rooftops and bell towers with the shimmering river leading your eye from treasure to treasure, memory to memory.

Bardini Gardens (2)

The garden dates back to the 13th century when it was owned by the Mozzi family. It was most probably a fruit orchard to supply the family’s needs for food rather than beauty. It remained in the family until the last of the family members died in 1880. Over the course of the centuries, the gardens were expanded and modified to include statuary and flowers. The stunning Baroque staircase was added in the 17th century, then embellished with statues and fountains in the 18th century. It remains the focal point of the garden and offers heart-stopping views of the city. When the property came into the possession of Stefano Bardini in the early 20th century, the gardens continued to blossom into the masterpiece they are today.





By Nemo bis (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

We are here on a sunny October day, celebrating my daughter’s 40th birthday, and the garden offers us gifts at every turn. First to enchant us is the Fontana del Drago, part of an early 19th-century Chinese- inspired garden with a water channel running along its one side fed by the “dragon.” We savor the silence of the fruit orchard, that reminds us of its simple past. Each terrace offers separate gardens, delightful even if we have missed the colorful blooms that painted them earlier in the year – azaleas, roses, irises and over 60 varieties of hydrangea, giving us every reason to come back in the springtime. To stroll beneath the wisteria-covered pergola and see the city gilded by the late afternoon sun, or better yet, at sunset would be reason enough to come back.

The original villa was constructed in the 14th century and was restructured and enlarged in the 17th century. As new owner, Stefano Bardini enlarged it again, adding the loggia and the limonaia, or lemon house. Known as the “Belvedere,” it now houses two galleries, one displaying fashions and the other hosts a permanent exhibition of paintings by Pietro Annigoni. The loggia serves as an outdoor café, where one can enjoy an aperitif and drink in the views. Or shall we wander and, sip by sip, savor the views as sustenance for our souls?

Open daily with hours:
8:15 to 16:30 (during the months of November, December, January, February)8:15 to 17:30 (in March)
8:15 to 18:30 (in April, May, September, October)
8:15 to 19:30 (during June, July, August)
Closed 1st and last Monday of each month, 1 January, 1 May and 25 December

Entrance fee:
7 € for the Bardini Gardens
10 € combined ticket for both the Bardini and the Boboli Gardens

copyright Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com


Behind the city walls of Florence – a magical garden

I am pleased and proud to welcome my daughter, Rachel Pfaff, as my guest writer today.

Torrigiani GardensTG - estate
Via de’ Serragli, 144
+39 055 22 4527
Visits by reservation only

On all of my travels I indulge my senses by exploring the local gardens, waterfalls, and city and national parks. The true beauty of each country comes through not just in the traditions of foods and architecture, but in nature’s bounty surrounding you. I have traveled through Florence several times over the past 20 years and spending time in its gardens is one of my favorite past times. Behind the old city wall of Florence is a hidden jewel, a secret garden so to speak, just waiting for you to peek inside. Visiting I Giardini Torrigiana has been something I have been wanting to do since I first learned of their existence, and I would recommend a visit to everyone. The garden is Europe’s largest privately owned garden within city limits.


The gardens, including an English style garden, a fairy tale-like tower and bridge, and green houses, new and old, have witnessed centuries of change. The villa and land have been in the Torriagina family since the 16th century. While as an American I am able to can trace my family back to Italy, Germany, and England; Veiri, the owner, has the joy of walking along paths of ancient trees planted and stone “temples” designed by his very own ancestors. He lives in the villa built in the 17th century, and shares the land with many generations of his family.

TG - gardens

It is not just the charming nature that brings this space to life, it is Vieri himself. His name, a popular Florentine name (Oliver to English-speakers), can be traced back to the word for “olive” and, is very fitting; coming from the root of a tree that has played a significant part of the region’s history. Vieri, who guides visitors on private tours himself, feels deeply connected to the land and the trees he tends. Having learned hands-on as a child and studied agriculture and botany as a young adult, Vieri’s life has been dedicated to plants and he now runs the nursery on the property as his business. He was recently joined in the business by his son, and their passion and love for what they do is evident as I watch them communicate among the greenhouses.

As you stroll through the acres of greenery, Vieri tells tales that breathe life into the very paths you walk. He tells of the land’s history as it came into his family, as well as the story of his family’s businesses over the years selling wine, imported furs, and banking. Your imagination will take you away as he tells of soldiers occupying the villa during the war and of his ancestors that built the neo-gothic tower bearing the family crest.TG - Vieri

Walking through this garden is like breathing in part of Florence’s history. Vieri gives a voice to each tree, flower, and fruit. Like an artist, he paints you a picture to take home with you. The sights, the smells, the stories will stay with me as a memory of Florence forever.

Vieri offers private tours to small groups for a cost when he is available, and for an additional fee visitors can enjoy tea in the villa afterwards . Be sure to make reservations  in advance of your trip to enjoy this special experience for yourself.

TG - Vieri & Son


copyright ginda simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com

Golden Moments – Golden Views

Golden View Open Bar

Golden View Open Bar
Via dei Bardi 58r (Ponte Vecchio)
50122 Firenze

A golden moment, a golden wine, and above all else, a golden view – of the Ponte Vecchio and its shimmering reflection in the waters of the Arno.  This Florentine restaurant/wine bar opened in 2001, dining rooms perched over the river, offering unobstructed views of the old bridge.  The décor is contemporary, sleek yet understated; a perfect visual balance for the fabulous view framed by large windows that slide open this evening to welcome a summer breeze.

Golden View -Chef Edo diGiulioChef Edo di Giulio manages to keep everyone happy with his culinary skills and cheerful presence in the dining room when he comes to check on his dinner guests.  His cooking is superb, novel re-creations of traditional Italian dishes, featuring specialties from the land and the sea – a spaghetti with shellfish for my friend while I feast on tagliolini Amiata, a thin pasta with a beef and veal ragù, and peas and porcini mushrooms, a dish inspired by nearby Monte Amiata.  A Pinot Bianco sees us through to meal’s end, desserts that were stellar creations made by their in-house pastry chef.

Golden View Bar - fruit dessertThe young waiters and waitresses are friendly, energetic and speak enough languages to communicate with an international clientele. The Golden View is open from 11:00 a.m. until the wee hours of the morning – continuous hours to cater to every wish – a family craving pizza in the middle of the day, business friends discussing their affairs over a glass of wine, ladies enjoying a sweet pastry and a coffee together, or sweethearts celebrating a romantic evening.

Golden moments…


copyright – Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com


A View over Florence at La Loggia

Ristorante La Loggia

Ristorante La Loggia
Piazzale Michelangelo, 1
50125 Florence



History, Location, Cuisine… La Loggia has it all.  In conjunction with the creation of the Piazzale Michelangelo designed by architect Giuseppe Poggi, La Loggia was originally built in 1865 to house a Michelangelo museum.  The tree-lined avenues leading up from the banks of the Arno to the impressive piazza, the square itself, and the Loggia were all part of an ambitious plan to give the city a facelift following, and in celebration of, the unification of Italy and the establishment of the new government in Florence.  Instead, in 1876 this lovely neoclassical building became the Panoramic Restaurant destined to become a historical institution, not only for its architectural beauty but also for its cuisine, and the part it still plays in the social life of the city, drawing Florentines and foreigners from all over the world to its tables.

From the tables in the dining room, and through the arches of the loggia, or from the rooftop terrace, La Loggia offers incomparable views of the city – the Arno, the Ponte Vecchio, the turrets and towers and domes of Dante’s city – most spectacular of all the Duomo, especially when softly illuminated at night.  This evening the dining room tables are graced with silver chargers set on fine table linens, with fresh flowers.  The atmosphere is relaxed, yet elegant.  Our waiter opens a bottle of Chianti Classico, Tagliafune 2005, produced for the restaurant by the University of Florence’s Agricultural Department.  It has earned a DOCG classification, and it is well merited.  La Loggia has a team of six chefs, and during high season, six more join the team.  Tonight Franco Carnivale has prepared some marvelous dishes, but the filet mignon of Tuscan beef, made with lardo and a reduction of Chianti wine is superb.  In fact, Chianti also starred in our pasta course, flavoring the very tasty ragú that topped fresh pici.

Soft music makes conversation easy and silent moments enjoyable.  As we sip the sweetness of Passito di Pantaliera, Sicily’s noted Moscato, it is easy to understand why La Loggia has remained popular for 130 years, whether one comes to dine or to simply enjoy an aperitif as shadows lengthen and day turns into dusk.  Claudio Nobbio, in his poem entitled “Aperitivo sulla terrazza di Firenze” ends his day – and his verse – with these words:

In the meantime, they bring me an iced aperitif

And it is in these moments that I love Florence

Even more…


copyright – Ginda Simpson – http://www.rooms-withaview.comhttp://www.gindasimpson.com

A Toast to the Views

2016c-view-from-palazzo-magnani-feroniPalazzo Magnani Feroni
Borgo San Frediano, 5
50124 Firenze (FI), Italy

+39 055 2399544

As we rest in our richly frescoed room of the Palazzo Magnani Feroni, I study its long history. Oh, the stories these walls could tell us of this elegant residence, a story which began in the 15th century when it was constructed by the Serragli Family. A century later, the palace was divided into two parts which were later reconnected in 1770 when purchased by the extremely wealthy Marquis Ubaldo Feroni. The Feroni renovations included the widening and refurbishment of the courtyard and of the principal stairwell. The ground floor and first-floor apartments underwent extensive redecoration. The spacious areas of the interior of the ground floor were designed to be used as stables, carriageway and storage area for the coaches. In 1821, the Feroni heirs sold the property to the Magnani, a prestigious family who owned important silk looms and paper mills.

Palazzo Magnani Feroni has remained in the same family for over two centuries and in recent years the decision was made to transform their private residence into a luxury residence where today’s guests could experience an aristocratic slice of life in a Renaissance palace. To maintain the palace’s original style, great care was taken to preserve its architectural features while incorporating 21st century comforts. The family’s heritage is evident in the furnishings, tapestries, and portraits on display. The twelve suites are on the three floors of the palace. The staff can arrange a private dinner in your room or on the terrace, a service we took advantage of on our first night, when we enjoyed a simple feast in the privacy of our suite. The sumptuous salon with its magnificent chandelier centered over a banquet table serves as the breakfast room, where offerings are fit for a prince.

But the treasures do not end here. They are simply magnified from the palace’s rooftop terrace where the panoramic views of Florence could easily make you sing for joy in a voice that only you can hear. Hold your wine glass up to a sunset view and drink in the golden light of this Tuscan city.

Read more about my books featuring other lovely hotels and restaurants:


Italian Wanderlust

ITALY – the Beauty and the Feast

and Rooms with a View.

More about my other books.

All content on artfulroomswithaview.wordpress.com/, both images and writing, is copyrighted material © Ginda Simpson unless otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this content without express and written permission from Ginda Simpson is prohibited.



2016c-hotel-pierre-webHotel Pierre
Via De’Lamberti 5
50123 – Firenze

Tel.+39 055 216218

Tucked away on a quiet street off the main pedestrian thoroughfare of Florence is a stately palazzo converted into a hotel several decades ago. By keeping our approach to the sidewalk, we almost missed the simple yet elegant architecture and decor of its facade which welcomes guests to its warm hospitality. But the real selling point is Location, Location, Location. Within a five-minute walk of Hotel Pierre are the key sights of Florence – the Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi, the Palazzo Vecchio, the Duomo, the Porcellino Market, making it easy to come back and forth to the comfort of your room and rest between visits.

The breakfast room is bright, its main colors of melon and dove gray seem to compliment and reflect the buildings that are visible outside its windows. One is the beautifully etched building across the street embellished in an architectural decoration technique known as sgraffiti, in which the design is scratched into the colored surface, exposing the white plaster beneath. The colors of this particular structure are a mauve-brown and white, a visually pleasing effect.

But what isn’t visually pleasing about this city? And the pleasure is in the wandering with no purpose but to enjoy its treasures. At some point, though, it is necessary for the visitor to rest from his travels, thoughts of art and cuisine stilled and bone-weary, drop into a dreamless sleep. Hotel Pierre provides each room with quiet comfort, whether for a quick siesta or a full night of restorative sleep.

And in the early morning, it is tempting to slip away from your hotel to share the deserted streets and squares with the pigeons. Hotel Pierre offers you its immediate neighborhood, beckoning you to savor its delights at leisure. Then simply wander back to your room and ready yourself for their generous breakfast buffet. You will be glad you did.

Read more about my books featuring other lovely hotels and restaurants:


Italian Wanderlust

ITALY – the Beauty and the Feast

and Rooms with a View.

More about my other books.

All content on artfulroomswithaview.wordpress.com/, both images and writing, is copyrighted material © Ginda Simpson unless otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this content without express and written permission from Ginda Simpson is prohibited.


Towering Views


Original watercolor painting of the view from Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni 1

Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni n.1

via Tornabuoni n.1
50122 Firenze
Tel: +39 055 2658161

The Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni 1 is celebrating its 15th year since opening in 2001 as one of the first residenze d’epoca or historic residences/inns of Florence. Nestled among the many old palace residences of the Strozzi neighborhood, it has been beautifully restored, occupying the fourth and fifth floors of a medieval tower with incomparable views of every landmark of the city. I believe that the Tower succeeds in more than marking an anniversary, it celebrates a way of life reminiscent of a time when life was slower-paced, more graceful, more soul-satisfying. One only has to look up from their tables in the intimate breakfast room or from one of its terraces, to know how privileged they are to be a guest in one of its twelve rooms, one of them a luxury suite.

This 13th-century palazzo was owned by the Gianfigliazzi family until the end of the 18th century. Hospitality is not new to the old tower, as it housed the Pensione Piccioli in the 20th century, a small inn that was to become a favorite stop for many famous aristocrats, writers, and artists. That atmosphere of warmth still prevails and the clientele, not surprisingly, are not merely tourists in Florence, but travelers who appreciate the elegant and sophisticated charm of its interior while savoring the care and thoughtfulness of an attentive staff.

My husband and I are certainly made to feel special as we sit quietly on our private terrace and gaze at the Arno, the Santa Trinità belltower, and to our right the dominating Duomo. As if this were not enough to satisfy us, in the evening we shift to the Torre’s terrace for an aperitif and a sweeping view that includes the Palazzo Vecchio, the Santa Trinità Bridge, the domes of Santo Spirito and San Frediano, and a patchwork of terracotta rooftops. There are other terraces and other views and oh, how spoiled we feel!

Read more about my books featuring other lovely hotels and restaurants:


Italian Wanderlust

ITALY – the Beauty and the Feast

and Rooms with a View.

More about my other books.

All content on artfulroomswithaview.wordpress.com/, both images and writing, is copyrighted material © Ginda Simpson unless otherwise indicated. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this content without express and written permission from Ginda Simpson is prohibited.