Going back down the hill to the northeast, where there is the Statue of the Abundance, you will reach the Kaffeehaus, a pavilion with an exotic rococo dome with windows and terraces, by Zanobi del Rosso (1776) , at whose base, surrounded by a double staircase, there is a little cave. The building, that now houses a bar, is in a highly scenic position and is also the visual point of the great avenue which is the second axis of the enlargement of the garden, ideally leading to the Villa Medici at Poggio Imperiale. From here, going toward north, you will arrive at the entrance of the Forte Belvedere, at the foot of the defensive ramparts.
-The lawn of Ganymede
Before the Kaffeehaus is the sloping lawn with the Fountain of Ganymede, the seventeenth century (instead of the marble group, today there is a copy).
-The garden of Madama
On this side, you will also find the little Cave of the Goats or the Cave of Madama, built by David Fortini and designed by Tribolo. Decorated with sponges, stalactites and a marble basin surmounted by four statues of goats who, once, threw the water. The cave is located at one end of the so-called Garden of Madama, with some geometric flower beds, built around 1570 for Joan of Austria. The garden in front of the cave, featuring some flower beds bordered by hedges, is called the Garden of Madama.
-The Garden of Jupiter
Further down below there is the Garden of Jupiter, from the statue of Zeus seated in the centre of it, by Baccio Bandinelli (1556), while near the garden are two large statues of Dacian prisoners,ancient sculptures of the second century, already at Villa Medici; the two submissive barbarians with their hands tied and dressed in red granite are likely to come from the Forum of Trajan.
-The level of the palace
Going down to the level of the building through a serpentine path used by coaches, one arrives at an area covered with gravel, where cars once stationed with horses.
Near the exit on Piazza Pitti is the Fountain of Bacchus, a grotesque example of the style so popular in the gardens of the period between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It is constituted by the Nano Morgante's obese figure, the most popular dwarf in the court of Cosimo I, portrait, by Valerio Cioli, naked and astride a tortoise (1560). The statue is now replaced by a copy.
Slightly further still along the edge is the famous Cave of Buontalenti.
Italian Gardens A Cultural History
Italian Parks & Gardens
the Cave of the Goats
The Garden of Jupiter
Italian Gardens of the Renaissance (Reprint Series)
Italian Villas and Their Gardens: The Original 1904 Edition
Poetique du secret: Paradoxes et manierisme.(Book review): An article from: Renaissance Quarterly
Renaissance, Maniérisme Baroque. Actes du XIe Stage International de Tours.
Buontalenti architettura e teatro
MOSTRA DI DISEGNI DI BERNARDO BUONTALENTI, 1531-1608 (Exhibition of Drawings by Bernardo Buontalenti, 1531-1608) - Gabinetto Disegni E Stampe Degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy - 1968
Mostra di Disegni de Bernardo Buontalenti (1531-1608)
-The Cave of Buontalenti
The Cave of Buontalenti or the Great Cave is one of the finest and most famous areas of the Boboli Gardens in Florence.
History: It was begun by Giorgio Vasari, who created the lower part of the facade, but its construction is mainly due to Bernardo Buontalenti, who built it between 1583 and 1593, commissioned by Francesco I de 'Medici. The grotto is a masterpiece of Mannerist culture and is a singular blend of architecture, painting and sculpture.
The external facade: the exterior of the cave heralds the bizarre and amazing internal. It features a large entrance between two columns surmounted by an architrave, with sponge-like stalagmite concretions above the capitals, which seem to be "cast" opening in irregular bezel top, where there are concretions similar to typical stalactite caves . On both sides of the entrance are many niches containing the statues of Ceres and Apollo by Baccio Bandinelli. The upper register, dominated from the opening above, is also decorated with two frames made of mosaics, with colorful pebbles, within which there are stucco with sea scallops and Capricorns. Even the gable is decorated by spongy concretions on each board, while in the center there is the emblem of the Medici. It is assisted by two female figures lying just below, made a relief mosaic.
The first room:
The first room of the cave is much wider than the other and is decorated, where pictorial elements, sculptural and architectural blend giving a sense of wonder and bewilderment.
The theme is the formless matter, the chaos, through the metamorphosis it finds order and harmony, a theme linked to alchemy so dear to Francis I. The walls, because of the rocks, stalactites, sponges, shells seem to be alive, composing an anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figures. Only later the image is restored as the scene of a natural grotto in which shelter the shepherds (both made of stucco or fresco) defend themselves from wild animals. The fresco paintings of Bernardino Poccetti blend beautifully with other factors, continuing up to the ceiling that is decorated like a pergola with illusionistic oculus open to the center from which filters the light. At the center of the room is still a fountain with a rock that once oozed water.
The second room : in the second room, aligned between the first and third and smaller in size, we find the similar shells and it is all around decorated with stalactites and frescoes. On the side walls are painted Juno and Minerva by two niches with illusionist eardrum. At the center of this room there is the marble group of Paris carrying off Helen (or Theseus and Ariadne) by Vincenzo de 'Rossi (1560)
The third room: the last room is well laid out like a cave with an artificial sky where the birds fly. The room is dominated by the fountain of Venus emerging from the bathroom, by Giambologna, which rises above the marble basin on which climb the four malicious satyrs. All the decorations can also be read according to an erotic theme that, though sublimated from mythology and philosophical schema, is too obvious to savvy for a modern visitor: in the first room the victims were stunned by the sense of the beautiful and grotesque, in the second issue of the kidnapped beauty, it facilitates attempts to approach, while in the third room the perfect nudity of Venus could provide the final goal of Beauty.
particular of the external facade
an another particular of the external facade
the first room
the second room
Paris carrying off Helen
Venus emerging from the bathroom
Il Luogo Teatrale a Firenze: Brunelleschi, Vasari, Buontalenti, Parigi
L'officina delle nuvole: Il teatro mediceo nel 1589 e gli Intermedi del Buontalenti nel Memoriale di Girolamo Seriacopi (Musica e teatro)
3) To the right of first axis
If from the garden of the Knight, coming down, we go instead to the south, before reaching the Bird Garden (inlet point of view of the second axis of the garden, or the Grand Boulevard) is found a second staircase flanked by hedges and decorated with two seated statues of the Muses. Soon there is the marble group called "Lavacapo" (1595-1597), by Valerio Cioli for Ferdinand I. From here you enter a field that follows from the basin of Neptune, where there are some buildings that once served as homes for gardeners, store tools and plants during the winter. Here lie the dense woods where they put out nets to catch the small birds.
In the shady paths that occupy the space between the amphitheater and the lawn of the Pegasus, surrounded by tall trees, there are two curious architectures covered by domes and partially buried: they are two ice houses of Boboli, the precursors of refrigerators. Here, thanks to the ice that were transported daily from the Abetone and the environment through which recreate the conditions of the caves, the food was stored for the grand ducal kitchens.
the lawn of Pegasus
statue of Athena at sunset
a boulevard leading to the lawnof Pegasus