Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Taste of the Tuscan Countryside in Florence - Le Cascine

Blending a love of the countryside with Florentine history and prestige dating back to the Medici era, the wonderful Le Cascine park is a favourite for Florence families and citizens. Pack your picnic in your Florence apartment and head over towards the Porta al Prato neighbourhood, to spend a day in the Le Cascine park along the river Arno.

Le Cascine, literally meaning “The Farmsteads” had its beginnings in Medici times, when the first Duke of Florence commissioned the land for cattle farming and a farm house in around 1530. This plan was to change after his death, when Cosimo I de Medici turned the vast area into private woodlands for the Medici family, turning the farmhouse into a mansion, creating boulevards and covering the area with new oak groves, pine, elm and maple trees. After the end of the Medici line in 1737, Le Cascine park was granted to the city of Florence and its public by the new Grand Duke of Tuscany.

In the last two centuries there have been many beautiful additions to the park. There are several squares and avenues, somel Neo-classical fountains, such as the Fonte di Narciso which was made famous by the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and more modern features for enjoyment.

During the summer, the outdoor swimming pool and Pavionere bar makes a great spot for cooling off. Le Cascine is popular for joggers, horse-riding and biking. There’s also a hippodrome and ampitheatre space, which host events and productions over the milder months.
Florence’s biggest market also takes place in Le Cascine park every Tuesday morning, where you can buy fresh products, flowers, as well as clothing, shoes, jewellery and antiques.
Whatever your interests, the best thing to recommend in Le Cascine park is a relaxing day with a picnic and good company. The beauty of Tuscany can be found here in Florence’s finest park.

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