At the end of last summer, on September 19, 2014 to be more precise, a freak hailstorm hit Florence. The city’s Botanical Garden, called the Giardino dei Semplici, was hard hit. The garden, started in 1545 for Cosimo I de’ Medici, is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. The 2.5 hectares in Florence’s historical center offer a rich collection of centuries-old trees and potted plants, a patrimony of the entire world.
Watch the storm and aftereffects on the Botanical Garden
On that day, the hailstorm and a small tornado hit the garden directly. About 30% of the centuries-old trees and plants were destroyed, either broken in half or uprooted by the storm but 80% of the garden was affected in one way or another. The Museum of Natural History of the University of Florence, which manages the garden, also reported classrooms and greenhouses as severely damaged. This has unfortunately meant a long closure of the gardens to the public.
You can help restore the garden
The Museum of Natural History has launched a crowd-funding campaign to raise € 20,000 to finance very specific projects that will enable the garden to reopen on April 1, 2015 with a pop of color.
The largest cost for restoring the garden is being undertaken by the Museum of Natural History directly (there were over € 500,000 in damages), but the museum wants to involve the public in two stages of works: the first, in making the garden more beautiful and colorful by the day of reopening through replanting flowers and rare plants; the second in rebuilding two greenhouses.
The first, “Color the Giardino dei Semplici“, consists in replanting a rainbow of colorful plants, from azaleas and hydrangeas to more rare plants, across 4 areas of the garden, each area with a different mix of colors.
Once this first project has been funded, the next stage will begin to fund the restoration of the two greenhouses that hold orchids and bromliads. Once restored, the public will be able to once again enter and admire the beauties housed within.
The garden is the heritage of all: it doesn’t belong to one person nor to the city but to everyone in Florence, Italy and the world who go visit it. By going through a crowd-funding campaign, the museum is letting all of us participate in its rebirth.
You can Donate now!
VisitFlorence.com is a media partner for the crowd-funding campaign on PlanBee, the first crowd-funding online platform in Italy dedicated to funding “green” projects, to support the reopening of the Giardino dei Semplici by April 1. You can help us reach this goal!
The campaign is running until the end of March, you can pay with PayPal or a credit card and donate as little or as much as you want.
The Botanical Garden will offer thank you gifts to donors who donate certain levels:
10 euro – thank you on website
20 euro – thank you on website, plus entrance tickets for 2 adults
50 euro – thank you on website, entrance tickets for 2 adults and + 4 children + a certificate
100 euro – thank you on website, entrance tickets for 4 adults + 4 children + a certificate
200 euro – thank you on website, entrance tickets for 4 adults + 4 children + guided visit
Before the garden reopens, all those who participate in the campaign will receive an email to print and show at the ticket office to take advantage of any extra benefits of your donation.
The Botanical Garden, the Giardino dei Semplici, is located to the side of the Convent and Museum of San Marco, on Via G. La Pira and Via A. Micheli.
Take part and donate on http://www.planbee.bz/en/project/4. Details are only in Italian but working through the system is pretty easy. Just enter the amount you want to donate below the main picture at the top, hit “sostieni” (which means “support”) and register (you can use your Facebook profile to make it easier).
A little more on PlanBee
PlanBee is an online crowd-funding platform by Treedom, a locally-born company dedicated to reforestation projects across Italy and the world. Born in 2014, PlanBee is just for funding “green” projects in Italy such as public gardens and playgrounds, cycling lanes, urban landscaping and solar panels in schools, to give some examples.
The “plan B” is for when local projects have been authorized and all permits obtained, and the last hurdle is just funding. As these projects directly affect the public, PlanBee was born to get the public involved in contributing to get over that last hurdle and get projects from paper to real-life.
As our team is locally-based, cares for “green” projects and is involved in getting visitors to love and appreciate what they see when they come to Tuscany and Florence, we hope you’ll join us in our support of this project for the Botanical Garden by donating whatever you can to the restoration and reopening of the garden!
About Lourdes Flores
An American living in Florence for over 10 years, Lourdes continues to explore and discover new places in Tuscany with the eyes of a tourist but with the experience of living in Italy. She shares her experiences on this blog and website, particularly offering lots of travel planning help on the Forum!