Botanical Garden, via Luca Ghini

Esterno (Museo Orto botanico)
Esterno (Museo Orto botanico)
One of Cosimo I's greatest projects was to reform the Pisan educational system. The Botanical Garden, born as Giardino dei Semplici in 1543 created by naturalist Luca Ghini, is today the oldest university botanical garden in the world. Its first location was the Lungarno, near the current Arsenali Medicei, then it was moved behind the Monastery of Santa Marta, to then find a definitive location with Ferdinand I in the current spaces (around 1590). Three hectares of land, hundreds of species from all over the world, this great green lung of the city is a magical place, full of picturesque corners, such as the bamboo forest or the water lily pond. It also hosts the Botanical Museum, introduced by a beautiful eighteenth-century facade decorated with the grotesque style, from the Gallery founded by Grand Duke Ferdinando I in 1591.

Curious fact: one of the most important directors of the Pisan Botanical Garden was Andrea Cisalpino, a pupil of Ghini, who enriched the collection with species from the Americas and Asia. His classification work De Plantis is considered the basis of modern botanical research. His most important discoveries, however, were linked to the study of the heart and blood motion: going against Aristotelian notions, he demonstrated that the blood circulation had the heart and not the liver as its only motor.
The garden was born mainly with a didactic intent, to begin a collection of seeds, plants and a herbarium that would collect specimens from the territory and then from all over the world. As soon as you enter, going left you find the cedar garden divided into flowerbeds intersected by paths, built in 1783.

  • The fan tree, one of the oldest in the garden, was planted in 1787, its trunk has a circumference of about 4.5 meters.
  • The wisteria, an ornamental creeper, is near the border wall of the garden and its main trunk has reached 120 cm in circumference.
  • The camelia japonica was introduced in European gardens in the eighteenth century.
  • The camphor tree, Cinnamomum camphora is originally from China, Japan and Indochina.
  • The American vine originally comes from China and Japan.
  • The magnolia, planted in 1787, is believed to be the first introduced in Tuscany. It arrived from London together with the fan tree and a cedar from Lebanon.
  • The American sequoia.
  • Bamboo. There are many different species, most of them are native to Asia and can be found at various altitudes, even at 3000 m. in the Himalayas.
  • The Ginko biloba, a plant native to China, of very ancient origins, is considered a fossil plant.
  • The botanical garden has a seed bank that preserves plants threatened with extinction, such as Sophora toromiro, the extinct tree of Easter Island.

In the succulent greenhouse you can find a wide variety of plants such as, for example:
  • The Cereus peruvianus, from the Andes.
  • The saguaro from the deserts of central and north America.
  • African euphorbias, from Madagascar...
  • The Echinocactus grusonii, from Mexico.

There are also many greenhouses, including the tropical one where we find, for example:
  • Ficus repens originally from China, Japan and Australia.
  • Orchids typical of warm and humid environments such as tropical rainforests.
We enter for a romantic walk in the botanical garden. We go to the left and, after passing the greenhouse of succulent plants, we pass through the herb garden where we see and smell the scents of mint, marjoram, sage, rosemary... there are also calendula, aloe, lily of the valley, foxglove, mallow, coriander… and then we are distracted by the sound of the wind in the bamboo grove. Going further, we find ourselves in front of the magnolia, one of the oldest specimens of the garden. Behind it, we can see the pergola with the wisteria, where English visitors loved to meet during the Grand Tour period.Continuing to walk we meet the camellias, and then we reach one of the huge ginkgo biloba. On the opposite side of the garden there is a small pond usually covered with water lilies and lotus flowers in June and July.
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