Stone dragon sculpture near the staircase of the Horticulture Garden in Florence.

Beyond UNESCO: the parks and fantastical aspects of Statuto

The other side of Florence’s fifth district is green, fairy tale-like and elegant, perfect for entertaining little ones!

Florence is known for its priceless artistic treasures and Renaissance history, but it also offers lesser-known places beyond the usual tourist paths waiting to be discovered. Here are some things to do and see in Florence to experience the city uniquely and memorably.

After having explored the Novoli side of District 5, the Rifredi neighborhood, it's time to move beyond the Mugnone river, immediately after the large Fortezza da Basso, to discover the Piazza della Libertà - Statuto area. It's a place packed with life and spaces to visit that seem like they've come straight out of fairy tales. From parks with dragons to armour, it's a perfect spot for entertaining children who may be fed up with the usual tours of the historic centre!

Things to see in Statuto!

Piazza della Libertà, Giardino dell’Orticoltura, Via Bolognese

The northernmost border of the historic centre is marked by Porta San Gallo in Piazza della Libertà. The central hub is an oval-shaped piazza where you can find the Triumphal Arch of the Lorraine, erected in 1737 on the occasion of the arrival of the homonymous dynasty in Florence. Just behind the piazza, cross the historic Ponte Rosso (Red Bridge), which was once made of red bricks and is now built from stone, and through which Grand Duke Leopold entered on his return from Vienna. You'll find yourself in front of one of the most-loved gardens in Florence, Giardino dell'Orticoltura (the Horticultural Garden).

It's an iconic garden full of surprises, starting from the imposing Tepidarium by Giacomo Roster, a large greenhouse that now hosts various events. You won't want to miss the Renaissance loggia in the middle of the garden, the kiosk that's open all summer, and, of course, the spectacular Orti del Parnaso, found at the highest part of the park. Accessed from a panoramic entrance on Via Trento, this part of the garden boasts a beautiful terrace that overlooks the city. It's a fairy-tale experience that's perfect for kids thanks to the unusual sculpture of a giant dragon (some say it's a serpent!) reminiscent of Catalan modernism, which explains why locals call it the Dragon Garden.

Leaving the garden by taking Via Bolognese, you find yourself along the historic connection route between Florence (from Ponte Rosso) and Bologna, which passes through the Mugello and the Futa Pass. Right here in Via Bolognese, you'll come across another unmissable attraction that will appeal to the whole family: Pratolino Park, with its Giant of the Apennines.

Stibbert Museum and Park, Fabbricotti Villa and Park

Heading towards Careggi, there's no end to the surprises! Taking the long Via Vittorio Emanuele II, we come across Fabbricotti Villa and Park, where Napoleon's sister, Paolina Bonaparte, died. It's an example of an English park that's placed on the slopes of the Montughi hill, with many species of birds, a small chapel that recalls the Pantheon, and the trunk of a great tree of peace (24-meter Lebanese cedar).

A short distance ahead, you enter the fantastic world of the Stibbert Museum and its garden, a true paradise for all ages. It's a spectacular museum due to its rare collection of centuries-old weapons, armour and costumes. Arab soldiers, European knights, Japanese after another, you discover truly astonishing characters who seem like they're just about to strike!

Where is the Statuto area?

The Libertà – Statuto area is easily reached from Santa Maria Novella station by walking straight along Via Nazionale or taking the tram towards Careggi.

Giardino dell'orticoltura photo credits: