In Piazzale Donatello in Florence is a monumental gate to what was once a grand, private garden. It still is a very nice garden, and it is still private in that it belongs to the Four Seasons Hotel. Luckily, paying guests can have a look at the garden, notwithstanding Covid.
What caught my eye on my recent walk through the Piazzale were the plaques that tell the story of this storied garden:
You can see them above the doors on either side of the central arch.
The plaque on the proper left side reads something like this: “1810. Guido Alberto Count of the Gherdesca planted this garden, vaguely ornamented, and dedicated it to the enjoyment of the public.”
The plaque on the right side reads approximately: “1873. Ugolino, Count of the Gheradesca, constructed this entrance about the time the city of Florence removed the old medieval walls and replaced them with wide streets.”
What I love most about the garden entrance (which is actually now a back gate entrance to the Four Seasons) is this doorbell.
The garden’s caretaker has his own doorbell. How magnificent to be able to ring a bell and get a gardener!
I would have loved to be the caretaker of this garden when it was being built or commemorated in the 19th century. It wouldn’t have been possible though, for only men would have had such a position.