Florence is a lovely old city on the Arno River filled to the brim with Renaissance art and architecture that is presently under an assault by hordes of tourists. And therein is the conflict because this city lives on income derived from tourism, so like it or not, the crowds are the life blood of this city. Florence is still impressive, but because of the crowds, not very enjoyable at times. Generally the less well known the attraction, the further its location is from Il Duomo, Brunelleschi’s dome on Santa Maria del Fiore, the church that dominates its region of the city, or the Ponte Vecchio across the Arno River, the more enjoyable the tourism is. Thus the intrepid Botanical Geek Tour team (replacing the recently departed Rent-a-Mob (inlaws), located the L’Orto Botanico, Giardino dei Simplici (medicinal garden ca. 1545) part of the natural history museum complex of the Universita degli Studi de Firenze. However, the garden is much more than just medicinal plants. While fairly small in size the collections were very impressive, especially a few magnificent specimen trees (e.g., Zelcova serrata, cork oak). A large portion of the tropical specimens are pot grown and moved into old fashioned, but very effective quarters for the winter. Plants were well labeled and organized loosely into taxonomic groups, so sure enough Pilularia, Marsilea, and Regnellidium were right there next to each other. BGT gives this little garden four thumbs up for plant geeks. The garden is located a short walk from the Piazza San Marco, and you can definitely escape the crowds just a few blocks away. What could they be thinking? What’s more interesting than a botanical garden? This image is looking up into the huge crown of the cork oak, Quercus suber.
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