When I joined AILO (International League of Florence last November one of the things I volunteered for was working in the iris garden.   Il Giardino dell’Iris at Piazzale Michelangelo was founded in 1954 with the aim of hosting an annual International Competition for the best Iris varieties. I had been here several times and thought it would be a fun outdoor experience and something that Zoe would also enjoy. Plus it was a great excuse to go up to Piazzale Michelangelo and take in one of the best views of Firenze.

It is breathtaking from all directions.

I included “the weather” in the title of this blog because it had so much to do with the gardens and my experience.  I also have put this in chronological order of visits to show the transition of the garden. 


The first two pictures are looking down Ino the garden to give you an over view.  A little bleak with lots of weeds.  That was my job, pulling weeds.  It’s not the most exciting thing but being part of this wonderful place made up for it, and to watch Zoe running around was a huge plus.


The place is a little hidden down a little hill at the end of a parking lot across from the Piazza.

This being November it was cold and after a very long hot summer the ground was very dry. 





We continued our visits until the weather changed, It got very cold and the rains started so visits were cancelled.  This is a very rare site in Florence. It snowed only the one day but it rained every other day in Florence. Rain is good and we surely needed it but the iris also need some sun to bloom.  The gardens are only open for one month. 25 April to 20 May. Mother Nature wasn’t giving us much time to get those blooms started.


It’s opening day but someone forgot to tell the iris. The weather had changed and we were getting some nice bouts of sunshine so we hoped it was only a matter of days before we would see some gorgeous specimens.


What a difference two weeks has made.  This won’t go down as the best season ever It still looks spectacular.  The sun has been shining and they have responded. I feel like the iris, the sun helped my disposition as well. Zoe started to go under the bed whenever I would bring out her rain coat.  


One is just as pretty as the next. Hard to have a favorite.




I’m also very fond of the all white.


The Italian Society Of Iris is a non-profit cultural association with the aim of promoting knowledge through the cultivation of the iris. The man on the left, Vincenzo Corti is the president and the one that makes it all happen. The gentleman on the right, Carlo is the head gardener who volunteers there every day.  

The City of Florence and the Iris society have hosted an international competition since 1954.This is a very serious competition and the judges go through a rigorous training that lasts a few years 

On this day the Iris Society was having a little party for members, noted society of Florence, judges and future judges.  I was very lucky to be invited because of my association with AILO and putting in some time working in the garden. It was a very nice affair.

This smiling face is Valeria Roselli who is on the board of AILO and a longtime judge  Her knowledge of iris is amazing.

These two ladies are studying to become judges. Deirdre Pirro on the left, author and contributing writer for many Florence publications and also AILO member. Bergljot (Begga) Leifsdottir is on the board and in charge of Community Service.  I am very proud to know these fine ladies.

This pretty purple wonder is called Iris Cake the specialty of Pasticceria Gualtiero here in Florence. It is a secret recipe passed on from the middle 19th century and is particularly popular during  the iris garden season.

Well as they say nothing lasts forever and suddenly in the middle of our garden party the sky’s opened to a torrential down pour. No warning and no one had umbrellas. A mad dash to cars and buses.  We even had hail.

I ran to the bus stop was able to buy an umbrella but was already drenched. These pictures I took through the bus window. They look black and white but you can pick up a little color in each. 

A dramatic ending to a very nice day.