As a time to meditate and relax after my adventures, I walk over to the Orto Botanico to see what types of treasures await for me in the realm of Italian flora. And though I'm used to large parks like those that line Lake Michigan or Central Park in NYC, the Orto Botanico is easily one of the most beautiful gardens I've seen.
For some reason, before I stepped beyond the gates, I had imagined I would see plants previously unknown, wild and exotic from this foreign land. However, as I step though the building and outside into the world's third oldest botanical garden, I realize that most of what is here is known and familiar. Actually, it's all so reassuring after these past several days of being in a place where you really don't know the language, the streets or people. In my time in Firenze, the Orto Botanico provided solace and solitude for this traveler.
This garden was founded in 1545, when Grand Duke Cosimo dei Medici purchased the land from the Dominican sisters. It was used to cultivate and raise medicinal plants and is the third oldest botanical garden after those of Padua and Pisa.
One aspect of Italy that has had a profound impact on me is how old everything is when you come from a relatively young country like the United States. I couldn't help but to imagine who had walked these pathways, planted these flowers, decided what went where and how it should all be laid out.
I wondered from corner to corner, taking in plants that I could recognize and some that were new to me. After a while, I found a bench and just laid down, gazing at the sky, daydreaming the afternoon away.