Design and construction of the Boboli Gardens behind the Palazzo Pitti began in 1549 under Cosimo I de Medici. The architectural quality of the buildings, collection of sculpture, and spectacular views of Florence have made the site a popular destination over the centuries. The Limonaia, a greenhouse for citrus plants, encloses the gardens on the north and south with two beautiful neoclassical wings. Built between 1777 and 1778 for Piertro Leopoldo di Lorena, it houses one of Europe’s most important collections of rare and exotic citrus plants. The glazed façade of the northern wing functions as a greenhouse, and a reproduction of this surface in trompe-l’oeil can be found over the blind wall of the opposite façade. Progressive decay of the structure was hastened by poor maintenance as the original customized interior systems of ventilation, heating, and humidification fell into disrepair. In addition, the original stucco façade, never conserved, had also become fragile.
1998 World Monuments Watch
The Limonaia in the Boboli Gardens was included in the 1998 World Monuments Watch. Beginning in 2001, WMF assisted local authorities with the restoration of the roof and the façade of the Limonaia. Through extensive documentation and laser scanning, conditions of the façade were mapped and treatment proposals were prepared. This study revealed an alteration of the surface along a vertical crack hidden under a layer of plaster on the façade, which confirmed evidence of the extension of the building. Following this discovery, the surfaces of the structure were cleaned and its cracks repaired. Lime putty and sand mortars were used for the integration of missing parts. Broken stained glass windows were replaced with new glass from Germany.
The Boboli Gardens are located in the populous quarter of Florence called the Oltrarno. It forms an integral part of city life and constitutes the most beloved park in the city. The Limonaia is an important feature of the Boboli Gardens and its restoration allows visitors to have an even richer experience in appreciating the grandeur of the grounds envisioned by the Medici for the area surrounding the Palazzo Pitti.