Let’s start with the Orti Dipinti. There is a hidden garden in Florence, concealed in the center of a community. It’s the only urban garden contained within a UNESCO site. A community garden that has been collecting rare plant species and citizens to care for them for over 10 years. Il Bisonte is the new travel companion of Orti creator, Giacomo Salizzoni. And the Journal will be the faithful narrator of their shared project and their shared values. The story, though, begins when our garden was just an abandoned athletics track.
On June 15 the Journal arrived at Orti Dipinti with the other invited guests. The flowerbeds which would supply us with herbs for our personalized herbal teas already showcased the new bags from Il Bisonte’s SS2023 collection. A jazz group played in the center of a red patch marked with white lines and some writing. Giacomo Salizzoni moved among the lanes, the flowerbeds, and the guests; he offered me an ancient variety of apricot picked from a low branch that shaded a clutch bag, or maybe a shoulder bag; then we sat outside to do his first Journal interview.
The new collection among fragrant plants.
«In 2010 I was looking for a place in Florence, for an urban garden. It had to be a secluded spot, hidden really, that could be revealed to the city. And it had to start out gray, meaning covered in cement, so that it could, in turn, become covered in green. With these two requirements in mind I visited the neighborhoods from above using Google Maps.»
Here’s a curious coincidence: we who today are telling this story, like the creator of Orti Dipinti, also approached from on high, with a bird’s eye (and slightly chilly) view. Curious, don’t you think?
Hidden in plain sight.
«But this place from up high appears to be more red than the gray I was looking for. It was hard to understand how to get in: all around it were apartment buildings and a park that isolated this old athletics track. At that time I lived nearby in Via Alfani which crosses Borgo Pinti. Once I recognized the door – even if it didn’t seem to hide a garden – I kept coming back, sometimes taking a longer route home in the hopes of finding it open.»
The first steps in the Garden.
Until one day…Beyond the door, Giacomo talks about walking a few meters in under a wide green canopy. A piece of forest at the edge protecting the oval track, beaten by the sun. While he speaks it’s as if he can feel the heat of that day. He shows me on his iPhone the first photos he snapped. The garden has certainly made strides. Looking at the pictures it seems you can hear the cicadas and other typical sounds coming from a pine forest, one you might pass through to get to a sunny beach.
All the Community Garden parties.