A green valley within the walls of the city of Siena.
The gardens are located near Porta Tufi and are accessed through an entrance on the street adorned with two pools with aquatic plants, which was opened in 1866.
The Semplici Gardens attached to the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala and used for the cultivation of medicinal plants was first mentioned at the beginning of the 17th century. By order of the Grand Duke Peter Leopold of Tuscany in 1784 it was transformed into the University Botanical Gardens, and a century later in 1856 it was relocated to a rented plot near the Accademia dei Fisiocritici for expansion purposes.
The current size and layout is the result of various interventions over time. In 1875, the warm greenhouse (antica serra) was built of iron and stained glass for the cultivation of exotic plants. In 1964, the extension was doubled, and new buildings were constructed for the university institutions, incorporating a small 19th-century cold greenhouse.
The botanical gardens cover two and a half hectares of valley within the city walls of Siena. Over 2000 plant species are conserved here with the aim of supporting research as well as promoting environmental education. The gardens including the park are designed in the style of 19th-century Italian gardens and consists of numerous specimens, many of which are rare or of considerable size including Ginkgo biloba, several species of fir, giant sequoias and junipers. Special plants that were already present in the 19th century are the well-known quince, the Judas thorn or the fascinating Osagi orange.
With the aim to highlight the importance of biodiversity, various environments are reproduced in the park, with a focus on plants typical of central-southern Tuscany. We can find a coastal area, with holm oaks and myrtle, a hilly area and a mountainous area with beech and chestnut trees. Aquatic environments, rocky environments and a classic fern forest can also be admired.
Don’t miss the greenhouse simulating the tepidarium, a phenomenon found in the hot and humid climate of the equatorial forests, and the lemon grove.
Meanwhile, the Herbarium Universitatis Senensis is a repository for more than 90,000 dried specimens with historical elements from the 18th century and contemporary samples used for research. Among the many carefully preserved specimens are vascular plants, lichens, bryophytes, fungi and algae.
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