Travelogue: Time Alone in the Rose Gardens

My digital camera view of the Duomo

By Rory Dulecki, Syracuse University

This is an excerpt of a travelogue produced for Professor Isabella Martini’s class Fictional Tuscany: Travel through Text. The assignment asked students to reflect on a site visit in Florence or a trip elsewhere in Tuscany, either a Syracuse Florence field trip or a destination they explored on their own, enriching it with their own research of the site.

While there were many more places I would have loved to visit during my time in Tuscany, I call Florence home for a reason. During the first weekend off of traveling I made it my mission to find my place here. Saturday morning my roommates and friends wanted to head to Zara for possibly the 4th time this week. Broke and bored, I made the courageous decision to venture out on my own.

It was still February so I did not want to do the Boboli gardens yet, but it was a gorgeous day that month and I wanted to be in nature. I had heard of the Rose Gardens but was not nearly as familiar with their importance or location as the Boboli.

“The landscape design and materiality of the gardens in the HP [Hypnerotomachia Poliphili] are testament to a profound shift in cultural sensibility and developing renaissance aesthetic, and it is through walking that the novel and the gardens are understood and experienced, where the protagonist is developed, and how a new perspective on Renaissance … can be approached, through the constellational thinking.”

Oneill, Sage Journals

This quote from a research experiment tracing Renaissance ideals in the gardens of Florence just further made me appreciate what I felt that day in the Rose Gardens. I walked by myself from Piazza Repubblica to the Oltrarno in search of the gardens. Apple maps, however, is not up to date with the entrance of the garden and I found myself walking up and down an extra 10 hills in search of where to go. Eventually I wandered in the direction of many families entering the rose gardens and followed them.

Fish pond where I read my book

The gardens in Florence are held in a very high regard. There is a stereotype about the gardens that you have not visited Florence if you did not go to the gardens. Stereotypes about how gorgeous something is puts pressure on me to enjoy the place as much as everyone else does. When I reached the top of the garden and looked out at the view, I suddenly understood why everyone says what they do. I picked out a bench near the fountain of fish so I could admire the view of Palazzo Vecchio and the Duomo while I read my book.

This was the first place I had been in Florence by myself. This was the first time I felt myself developing my own personal connection to the city. I think that having a perspective over the city reminds you how small it truly is. Smelling the fresh air and the roses beginning to bloom from above was the most relaxed I had felt since arriving.

The first post in this series, “A Meditative Moment in the Duomo of Florence,” is here.