A short history of the park
In 1531, the land was bought by the Medici so they could use it as an area to hunt and spend private time amongst the family in the outdoors. It stayed this way for a long time, but Peter Leopold of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, Grand Duke of Tuscany, decided to transform the Cascine, long in disrepair, to bring it back to its former glory.
The new park was inaugurated in July 1791 with a party that lasted for three days. From that moment, the park has always been open to the public.
Walking through Cascine Park, you can count over 20,000 trees and 60 different species. As you enter the park from the city center, you’re welcomed by the equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel II, originally designed by Emilio Zocchi in 1890 for piazza della Repubblica and brought to its current location in the 1930s.
Heading toward the center of the park, you will find the Pavoniere, an area, now a public pool, that boasts elegant, temple-like structures that were built to be birdcages. And of course, you can’t miss the Pyramid, an ice-house that over the winter stored the ice meant to be used in summer and where the cheeses produced in the Grand Duchy were kept.
On the right side, you can find the Visarno hippodrome, which hosts large concerts, especially in the summer.
Continuing your walk, you’ll arrive in the park’s central piazza, where the main building is located. The neo-Classical structure was also designed by Manetti in the 1700s to be the Palazzina Reale, or Villa Granducale, and is today the home of the Department of Agriculture at the University of Florence.
Two large fields lay on each side of the piazza, the Tinaia and Quercione. As you pass by them, you will run into a long tree-lined street that brings you to an amphitheatre that was dug from a sand pit in the 1970s and which also hosts open-air concerts and theatre performances.