by Melinda Gallo

Delighting in the Giardino dell’Iris

Florence comes alive in the spring. Trees are waving their bright green leaves, roses are budding, fruit trees are blossoming, the wisteria is flourishing, and the irises are blooming. I keep my heart and eyes open to admire and appreciate all of the gifts this season offers us. While I enjoy visiting every giardino (garden) in Florence, my favorite one to visit is the Giardino dell’Iris because it reinforces the idea of living fully in the moment. It’s only open for only a few weeks while the irises are blossoming.

Living in Florence :: Delighting in the Giardino dell’Iris

The other day, I trekked up to Piazzale Michelangiolo and zipped through the open area to arrive at the Giardino dell’Iris. I picked the hottest time of the day to visit the giardino in the hopes that everyone else would be having lunch. I strolled along the uneven stone paths and marched between the aisles of irises to admire them up close. Some of the irises have not yet blossomed, which only prolongs the pleasure of this giardino. I snapped a few photos of the ones that grabbed my attention.

I love the grounds of the giardino. I don’t know the history of it, but it looks like it was initially an olive grove with a few rose bushes sprinkled around it. Maybe it was bought or repurposed and now irises have been planted in rows inside of asymmetrical plots or land.

After taking a few photos of the irises, I was delighted to find a bench made of three slabs of stone. I sat alone under the shade of an olive tree, facing a small patch of irises. What a pleasure it is to be so close to the irises. The colors are magnificent shades of purple, white, yellow, magenta, orange, rust, and pink. I have no favorites, but I am drawn to the purple ones.

While I enjoyed admiring the irises, I listened to the city humming in the background: church bells ringing every half hour, cars traveling along the Arno and across the San Niccoḷ bridge, and birds chirping as they flew overhead. I love embracing so many of the city’s facets all at once. Just when I thought my senses were overflowing, a white butterfly bounced between the irises.

Not only do I enjoy admiring the beauty surrounding me in the giardino, but I also like receiving the energy from it as well. I ended up staying for a couple of hours in the giardino so I could admire its beauty, ponder a little, and write in one of my notebooks. Immersing myself in nature is probably one of the most enriching things I do. Not just for my mind, but also for my heart. My whole body buzzes as my heart fills up on the beauty around me.

Before the Giardino dell’Iris closes on May 20, I will certainly return a few more times hopefully at different times of the day and maybe even after a light rain. Yesterday when I went running up to Piazzale Michelangiolo, I took a peek at the giardino to check up on the irises. Just seeing all the bright colors sprinkled around the garden like confetti filled me with joy.

Florence's vibrant energy is definitely palpable. Even though it’s cloudy with a chance of rain today, I’m looking forward to seeing how the colors pop even more when the sun emits its light through the grey clouds.

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