I was lucky enough to pay a visit recently to the beautiful garden behind the Palazzo Guicciardini in the Oltrarno in Florence. Florence is blessed with a multitude of these private oasises, but they are difficult to visit for obvious reasons.
You enter this garden through an arched entryway, and the visual excitement mounts as you get closer to the garden.
Upon leaving the arched walkway, you suddenly are presented with this beautiful borrowed view of the Santo Spirito campanile, the back of which abuts the garden.
Please notice the pale lavender blooms of the wisteria vine that trims the arch. In a word: gorgeous.
The campanile forms a truly dramatic backdrop for the large, grassy garden.
On the back section of the wall that surrounds the Giucciardini garden, a large elaborate fountain was built many centuries ago, and it most certainly was placed in this particular spot to make the optimum use of the borrowed vision of the campanile.
As you can see in the pictures below, together the fountain, tall trees, and borrowed campanile form a composition that invites the eye to travel up, up and up.
As seen in these pictures, the fountain itself was decorated with the rough, 3 dimensional plaster work typical of a garden grotto. I have seen many such fountains around Italy, and think they were probably a less-expensive way for the owner of the garden to create an impression of a grotto, even if they couldn’t for some reason have a true grotto experience created.
The central back section of the groto-esque fountain doesn’t have any significant sculpture or inlaid mosaics, which are typical of such compositions. This makes me wonder if it once had something to draw the eye to this privileged spot in the structure, but whatever it once was, it has simply disappeared over the centuries.
In any event, the fountain is still a lovely asset in the large garden, and it almost magnetically draws the visitor to it, where you can stand in the shade and listen to the small splashing fountain water play and watch the koi swimming to and fro in the at the base of the fountain.
The view below shows you the garden’s relationship to Santo Spirito.